Mirin Substitutes

17 Best Mirin Substitutes

Teriyaki sauce isn’t the same without a touch of mirin! It’s one of the most popular and necessary ingredients in Japanese food, just like soy sauce. It’s also used in salad dressings, sushi rice, and a variety of other dishes. So, if you want to reproduce an authentic Japanese eating experience at home, this is a must-have. If you’ve already run out of this ingredient, try one of the mirin substitutes on this list!

Hon mirin (commonly shortened to “mirin”) is a sweet rice wine with a 14 percent alcohol concentration. It is comparable to other types of Japanese rice wines, such as sake, but it has a more pronounced sweetness.

Mirin has a distinct flavor that cannot be missed when combined with a bright and mild umami flavor. It is a clear liquid with a faint amber color.

Best Mirin Substitutes

Below are the 20 best mirin substitutes you could try should you run out of mirin.

1. Aji-Mirin

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When we consider a main substitution for mirin, nothing stands out more than aji mirin. But wait, aren’t they the same thing? Despite their resemblance in pronunciation, these two are not the same!

This condiment’s name literally means “tastes like mirin.” It tastes similar to the real thing but has a higher sugar level because it is made with corn syrup and a variety of additional sweeteners.

It’s a popular substitute because it’s easier to find at grocery stores than the conventional variety.

2. Dry Sherry

Dry Sherry
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Dry Sherry

Dry sherry is a Spanish fortified or brandy-distilled wine. Aside from being an excellent cooking wine and dessert drink, it is also an excellent Japanese mirin alternative!

Though sweeter kinds may be more appealing for this purpose, we suggest adding a tablespoon of dry sherry for every tablespoon of mirin in a dish. This produces precisely the proper amount of sweetness, as well as a crisp acidity that simulates the complex flavor of mirin.

If a recipe requires more sweetness, a tiny amount of white sugar should suffice! Although sweetened dry sherry is an excellent substitute for mirin, mirin may not be the best alternative for dry sherry substitute since it’s sweeter.

3. Sake

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As previously stated, sake is a light-colored Japanese rice wine. The fact that it is an alcoholic drink of the same type immediately qualifies it as a viable mirin substitute.

It has a similar depth of flavor, albeit we suggest using the unfiltered variations because they are sweet. However, a drier variety will suffice in a pinch.

Simply replace one tablespoon of mirin with a teaspoon of sake and two tablespoons of granulated sugar or honey. It’s a great mirin alternative for recipes like teriyaki meatballs!

4. White Wine with Sugar

White Wine with Sugar
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White Wine with Sugar

Combining white wine with sugar is an excellent alternative for mirin in recipes. Use a dry white wine and mix it with an equal amount of sugar to achieve the desired sweetness.

Simmer the mixture to allow the alcohol to cook off, leaving behind a delicious mirin-like flavor.

5. Honey with Water

Honey with Water
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Honey with Water

Honey diluted with water is a natural and sweet mirin substitute. Mix equal parts of honey and water and use it in recipes where the sweetness of mirin is essential.

Keep in mind that honey has a distinct flavor that can influence the final taste of the dish.

6. Sweet Marsala Wine

 Sweet Marsala Wine
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Sweet Marsala Wine

Sweet marsala wine, as the name suggests, is one of the most significant ingredients in meals like chicken marsala, but who would have guessed that it also works well as a mirin substitute? Sweet Marsala wine is a fortified wine produced in Marsala, Italy.

It comes in both dry and sweet types, but we recommend the latter for capturing the sweetness of the Japanese condiment. In all, it has a nutty and burnt brown sugar taste that would undoubtedly complement any recipe.

To substitute, use a tablespoon of this sweet wine for every tablespoon of mirin called for in a dish. If you can only find dry marsala, combine it with sugar to make it sweeter.

7. Dry White Wine

 Dry White Wine
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Dry White Wine

Get a bottle of dry white wine, because this alcoholic liquid can also be used as a mirin alternative! Essentially, this is pure white wine without any residual grape sugars. In other terms, it’s a non-sweet wine.

To achieve the sweetness and tartness of the Japanese condiment, simply combine it with sugar to taste. It also has less alcohol than mirin, at only 10% ABV.

Although sweet types are available, we recommend avoiding them because they aren’t usually suitable for cooking.

8. Vermouth

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Vermouth is another fortified wine that can be used in place of mirin. In comparison to the others, this one is flavored with herbs and spices. It has a fragrant and spicy depth at moments, as one might expect.

But it’s the acidity that makes it a decent alternative to rice wine. A spray of this liquid can enhance the flavor of your fried sushi!

9. Chinese Cooking Wine

Chinese Cooking Wine
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Chinese Cooking Wine

This condiment, also referred to as Chinese Shaoxing wine, is a type of rice wine from Shaoxing, China. It’s a common ingredient in dumpling fillings, stir-fries, and other popular Chinese dishes.

You can now add ‘mirin substitution’ to its long list of applications!

Chinese rice wine may appear to be just another form of sake, yet it’s excellent for cooking. When raw, it may be too strong for some, but it’s the ideal complement to meals that requires a dash of brightness, mild sweetness, and umami taste.

You may even add sugar to it to make it taste more like a genuine thing. Overall, the flavor richness of Shaoxing wine is similar to that of mirin. That’s why it’s unquestionably a favorite among other home cooks.


8. Rice Vinegar

Rice Vinegar
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Rice Vinegar

This condiment, commonly referred to as rice wine vinegar, is a type of vinegar created from fermented rice. Some people may be confused, however, this is not the same as mirin, a type of Japanese rice wine.

This condiment, on the other hand, is an excellent mirin alternative! While it is not as sweet as the genuine thing, it has a similar crispness.

To enhance the flavor, use half a teaspoon of sugar with each tablespoon of vinegar you intend to use.

9. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar
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Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a dark-colored Italian condiment that is commonly used in sauces, salads, and other similar meals. Because they are prepared from pure grape or unfermented grape juice, the classic types are sweeter, more mellow, and much more expensive.

The ones commonly found in supermarkets mix grape and wine vinegar, giving a tangier flavor. Whatever sort you have, you may use this rich-tasting condiment in place of mirin.

To get the desired sweetness, blend the vinegar with your preferred amount of sugar first.

10. White Vinegar And Sugar

White Vinegar And Sugar
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White Vinegar And Sugar

The most popular and aggressive vinegar on the market is distilled white vinegar. After all, it’s just acetic acid and water.

This condiment has a strong, mouth-puckering acidity. Before using it as a mirin alternative, blend half a teaspoon of white sugar with each tablespoon of white vinegar.

That is, without a doubt! Otherwise, your wakame salad may lack the sweetness provided by mirin.

11. Apple Juice or Apple Cider

Apple Juice or Apple Cider
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Apple Juice or Apple Cider

Apple juice or apple cider is a creative mirin substitute that adds a fruity twist to your dishes.

Opt for unsweetened versions to control the sweetness. Reduce the juice or cider to concentrate the flavor before using it in your recipes.

12. White Grape Juice

White Grape Juice
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White Grape Juice

There are various varieties of grape juices available, and white grape juice is an excellent non-alcoholic mirin replacement! What exactly is it, you ask? It’s a white-skinned grape extract.

In contrast to the dark purple drink that many of us are familiar with, this version has a bright amber tint that resembles mirin. It can add sweetness to a meal but lacks the acidity of the Japanese condiment.

This is where a dash of lemon juice or zest is helpful. Add a tablespoon of citrus flavor to every cup of fruit juice used to make the perfect mixture.

13. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup
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Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a unique substitute for mirin, offering an earthy sweetness to your dishes. Use it sparingly, as its distinct flavor can easily overpower the other ingredients.

14. Ginger Juice and Sugar

Ginger Juice and Sugar
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Ginger Juice and Sugar

For a fragrant and aromatic alternative, combine ginger juice with sugar. Grate fresh ginger and extract the juice, then mix it with an equal amount of sugar to create a sweet and flavorful mirin substitute.

15. Brown Sugar and Water

Brown Sugar and Water
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Brown Sugar and Water

For a more intense and bold flavor, mix brown sugar with water to replace mirin. Brown sugar’s molasses add a depth of richness to the dish, making it an excellent choice for sweet recipes.

16. Kombucha

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The most basic kombucha is simply fermented green or black tea, which is all you need as a mirin alternative.

While there are many fruit-flavored variants available, they may not be the best elements to incorporate into savory Japanese meals.

If pure kombucha isn’t available, ginger-flavored kombucha will suffice. It, like mirin, can provide sweetness and acidity to a dish. However, keep in mind that this carbonated beverage is rather bubbly.

17. Agave Nectar And Water

Agave Nectar And Water
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Agave Nectar And Water

To use as a mirin alternative in meals that do not require a strong level of acidity, simply add one part agave nectar to three parts water.

This is another great alcohol-free choice because the “nectar” is only a type of agave sweetener. What was the end result? A clear, bright golden liquid with a sweet, honey-like flavor.

Just a warning: this lacks the acidity and umami punch of traditional mirin


With these 17 best mirin substitutes at your disposal, you can confidently experiment with various flavors in your cooking.

Whether you opt for sake or get creative with ginger juice and sugar, these alternatives will allow you to achieve the desired taste in your dishes without the need for traditional mirin.

So go ahead and elevate your culinary delights with these versatile mirin substitutes.