The 5 Best Alcohol-Free Alternatives to Cooking Wine

alcohol-free alternatives to wine

Uh-oh, out of wine! Or maybe you don’t drink wine, but the recipe calls for it. What you need are alcohol-free alternatives to wine.

Wine is used in cooking to offer flavor (and aroma) with a little tartness. And it tends to tenderize meats. All of that can be accomplished without alcohol, but it may take a little practice. It’s worth it, though, for the variety in flavor and the uptick in your nutrition.


Diluted vinegar is tart, it tenderizes, and it can add some flavor. Red for red, white for white, but diluted. It’s too acid to use straight.

But remember, alcohol-derived vinegar, like wine or cider types, may still contain small traces of alcohol.

Tart Fruit Juices

Aside from tartness, some fruit juices offer a wide range of flavors (and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). Here’s where practice comes in. Which flavors pair well with which dishes? Try cranberry, pomegranate, or diluted lemon juice. Or tart cherry juice!

Vegetable Juices

Vegetables are good for us. But often the juice is wasted, especially in canned vegetables. And they make such good alcohol-free alternatives to wine.

Vegetable juices with strong flavors give entrees a real boost. Try the juice from a can of mushrooms. Mushrooms are known for their umami (oo-MAH-mee), a savory, meaty taste category that’s very appealing in an entree.

Sweet Fruit Juices

OK, these may not be easy to work into a main dish. But if you’ve ever had orange chicken, you know it’s doable. You may want to “tart it up a little” by adding vinegar or lemon juice to taste. Or you can simply dilute the sweetness of orange, grape, or apple juice with water.

Ginger Ale

It’s a little tart, it tenderizes meat, and it even comes with its own seasoning. But match it to a dish that benefits from the ginger. And does the small amount of ginger outweigh the sugary downside?


When wine isn’t an option, alcohol-free alternatives to wine can save the day. You may even find that you prefer them.

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