8 Best Mirin Substitutes [Easy Cooking Ingredients]

Need a last-minute mirin substitute? These best eight ingredient alternatives will get you out of trouble.

best mirin substitutes

Mirin is a type of Japanese rice wine widely used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by combining steamed glutinous rice with distilled liquor. Once combined, the mixture is left to ferment. The process can take anywhere between two months to several years. The color of mirin gets darker with time and its flavor becomes intense too.

Mirin has a sweet taste that pairs well with ramen and teriyaki sauce. Its high sugar content creates a balance with the salt in soy sauce. Its consistency is similar to a syrup, making it suitable to be used as a glaze.

Mirin also has an alcohol percentage of about 14%. It is less than what you will find in sake, but all the same, it does the trick. It’s is sold in various forms, ranging from true mirin to mirin-fu or aji-mirin, which are types of condiments.

Sake

closeup of cold sake poured into cup

Sake is an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It is also called rice wine. It can either be served hot or cold. It tends to bring out a richer flavor when it is cooler. The high-end sakes are usually served chilled. Lower-end sakes need to be warmed up. However, it’s important to keep the sake between the temperatures of no less than 40°F (4.5°C) and no higher than 105°F (40°C).

Sake is the best substitute for mirin because of the similarities between the two ingredients. For this reason, mirin is also a fantastic sake replacement.

The differences lie in sake’s higher alcohol content and unsweetened flavor. You can add sugar to it to bring the flavor profile closer to mirin. Mixing sugar in sake also helps lowering its alcohol level. To replace one tablespoon of mirin, mix one teaspoon of sake with two tablespoons of sugar. You can also substitute mirin with sake on its own if you don’t want the sweet notes in your recipe.

Rice Vinegar

rice vinegar on table

Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. It is also a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and is used in the same way that mirin is used. Mirin and rice vinegar both make great substitutes for each other. Like mirin, rice vinegar also has a slightly sweet flavor. It is also sold as rice wine vinegar in stores as the rice wine is fermented to make rice vinegar.

It makes a good mirin substitute because of the similar flavors.  However, as vinegar is also sour, you will need to add about half a teaspoon of sugar to every tablespoon of rice vinegar.  

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar on wooden table

Balsamic vinegar is a dark, dense, glossy vinegar with a rich texture to it. It originated in Italian cuisine and is made from grapes that are boiled down. The sweet notes make it a good substitute for mirin, though it is also sour as it is vinegar. To counter the sour notes, you can add a dash of sugar to the balsamic vinegar. However, balsamic vinegar is better used as a condiment rather than a cooking ingredient. Use an equal amount of balsamic vinegar as the recipe calls for mirin. 

Dry Sherry

dry sherry

Dry sherry is a type of wine that is fortified with brandy. The process increases the alcohol content and makes an excellent cooking wine, and as such, it can be substituted in recipes that require mirin to be cooked. While mirin is sweeter, dry sherry has similar stiff and acidic notes.

If you want to get the same taste as mirin while using dry sherry, you may add sugar to it. For each tablespoon of mirin, use a tablespoon of dry sherry mixed with half a tablespoon of sugar.

Vermouth

vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, just like sherry. It is often confused with spirits because of how strong it is. However, it can be easily infused with herbs and spices to tailor the taste.

It makes an excellent mirin substitute as it adds a sweet flavor to dishes. You can get either red or white vermouth as both can be used in place of mirin. White vermouth will give a dry taste, while red will give a sweeter taste. However, you may need to increase the amount of sugar no matter which one you use as a mirin substitute. You can add two tablespoons of sugar to every ½ cup of vermouth to make it taste more mirin-like.

Marsala Wine

marsala wine

This is a fortified Sicilian wine. It is often used in recipes, especially for cooking caramelized sauces. It makes an excellent substitute for mirin while also adding a rich and nutty flavor. You can find Marsala wine in various flavors such as vanilla, apricot, tamarind, and brown sugar. Use as much amount of Marsala wine as the recipe calls for mirin.

White Wine

white wine for cooking

Different types of white wine can be used as a mirin substitute. You can choose based on what would pair well with your meal. However, dry white wine is a popular choice. For each tablespoon of mirin, use one tablespoon of white wine sweetened with two tablespoons of sugar.

White Grape Juice

white grape juice

White grape juice is an excellent alternative if you are looking for a substitute with no alcohol content similar in sweetness. However, it is not as tart as mirin, so you will need to add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each cup of grape juice to replicate the flavor.