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What Is the Best Sake Substitute in Cooking? 4 Sake Alternatives

What Is the Best Sake Substitute in Cooking? 4 Sake Alternatives

Last Updated on 25th August 2021 by

Sake is a Japanese alcohol drink that comes from rice. The rice passes through the fermentation process to come up with Sake. The fermentation helps this drink to have one of the best flavours in comparison to other wines. Sake is not carbonated or distilled and has a sweet, dry taste that is so refreshing.

What Is the Best Substitute for Sake in Cooking?

Here are 4 sake alternatives that can used without sacrificing too much on that distinctive sake taste.

  1. Rice Wine Vinegar
  2. Chinese Shaoxing Wine
  3. Sweet Sherry
  4. White Grape Juice

Sake is slightly yellow, so in case you see other colours, just know it is not Sake. The substitutes of Sake do not resemble the original colour of Sake but rather give similar flavour and nutrients. Sake has 18% alcohol, 25 mg potassium, 5 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 134 calories, and 2 mg sodium.

Additionally, Sake is useful in the kitchen to make meat tender, used in soups, and sauces. Sake can also be taken together with any type of spicy food as it helps to make the food sweeter. There are varieties of other recipes that you can substitute for sake and bring out a similar effect on the menu.

If you can easily access Sake, it would be better if you use Sake to feel the original taste that comes with it, however there are alternatives for sake in cooking that will give the same effect as sake.

History Of Sake

Sake is a traditional Japanese drink and is the national drink of the country. Often served in important ceremonies and events. The exact origins of Sake are still unknown due to the first drink being enjoyed in 500BC, prior to recorded history. It is thought the first Sake drink was drank in China.

Prior to mass fermentation, villagers would chew on hard rice to try and achieve the flavours and effects of what we now know as Sake.

How Is Sake Made?

Sake, similarly to beer and wine is made through the process of fermenting yeast. When you ferment yeast it creates alcohol and carbon dioxide from sugar. Added to this is water, rice and rice koji and that is how Sake is made. Here is the 5 step fermentation process:

  1. Grounded rice is soaked in water and then steamed to make the rice a softer consistency.
  2. Part of the rice is then spread out which creates Koji fungus. Koji can release the enzyme that changes starch to sugar. This is a specific part of the rice which is referred to as Koji Kome.
  3. Next, water is mixed with steamed rice and the koji mixed rice. Lactic acid is then added to allow the formation of yeast.
  4. This mixture is then added to a large container and the process of mixing the koji rice, steamed rice and water is repeated in the same container over a 3 week period.

Creating your own Sake would be massively difficult so here are some Sake alternatives you can use:

1. Rice Wine Vinegar

This is an excellent substitute for Sake since it is a product of rice. Therefore, it will be possible that your food will have no difference in taste. Rice wine vinegar is non-alcoholic, making it a perfect recipe for those who do not take alcoholic substances.

So, if you have a party, it will be easy for you to entertain your guests with a similar recipe. You will not have to cook different meals since now you have an excellent substitute for Sake, which is non-alcoholic and can be taken by alcoholic and non-alcoholic guests. Make sure that you follow the exact procedure used with Sake to bring out a similar flavour and taste. The only ingredient changing is only Sake.

Vinegar in this drink/recipe helps to make it last long such that you can use it as many times as you want. You can use it on occasions such as parties to spice the food and also in your family meals. This sake substitute has health benefits similar to those in Sake, so you are safe to use it and expect unusual health changes.

Due to its non-alcoholic nature, you can serve your children these meals for the benefit of their health. Children have recurring digestion and other related problems that do not heal with frequent treatment. Make sure you use this rice wine vinegar as a recipe in their food occasionally, and you will realise change. Stomach upset and constipation will no longer be an issue.

2. Chinese Shaoxing Wine

This a Chinese wine that also originates from fermented rice. It is an alcoholic and has loads of health benefits when used as a recipe. It is another excellent substitute for Sake as it brings out your food with similar taste.

However, if you love taking Sake with food and it is not on your local shelves, make sure that you look for Chinese Shaoxing Wine. This Chinese wine has no difference in taste, and the cost is a bit cheaper.

Use this wine in moderation to prevent altering the taste, the amount used in Sake should be similar to the one you will use in this Chinese wine. This Chinese wine has additional benefits to your health as it reduces the risk of a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis is known to cause a heart attack. This Chinese wine can control atherosclerosis and prevent cases of heart problems. In case you have heart problems, it is advisable to take Chinese Shaoxing Wine regularly.

3. Sweet Sherry

It is another recommended substitute for Sake. It comes from Moscatel grapes, which have to undergo a process of dying. Sweet sherry also processed from drying dry Pedro Ximénez (PX) to produce a glass of delicious and nutritious wine.

You need to use little wine especially in those recipes that you use. Therefore, you will have to use it sparingly as you cook to bring out an almost similar taste. You can use sweet sherry in case you do not want your meal to have too much alcohol or Sake is out of stock.

This substitute is gluten-free and has a sweet, dry flavour, just like the Sake. You can confuse them but the colours will help you differentiate them. If you want to take more of this drink, use a glass but do not gain excess in food. In case you do not know much about the recipe, make sure you ask for help. You can also pay a professional chef to come and prepare the meal you wanted so that you can watch the procedure and try it next time.

4. White Grape Juice

This is another fantastic substitute for Sake that will make you lick your finger’s as you eat any food made from it. It comes from green-skinned grapes and comes with lots of health benefits. Lemon zest, used together with white grape, helps to maximise the quality of tenderising.

White grape juice has impressive health benefits, such as acting as an oxidant. Additionally, vitamin C in white grape juice increases your immunity and helps your body to fight disease.

Take white grape juice occasionally to expose your body to these health benefits. Make sure that you follow the recipe procedure used with sake to bring out the exact taste and feel.

White Grape juice needs to be stored in a refrigerator so that it can last longer and retain its fresh taste. However, you can buy the grape juice that has just been processed and keep it in a cool, dry place for it to stay longer.

Benefits of Sake

Sake has numerous health benefits to anyone who takes it. However, if you are a heavy drinker, make sure that you do not take Sake to solve any of your health problems. The reason for this is that Sake will make your situation worse. Read on the benefits that tag along with Sake.

Helps to maintain a Fit Body

The components in Sake are not similar to those in beer; therefore, Sake has very little sugar and any other calories. Moderate intake of Sake will help you maintain proper body shape. To obtain a healthy BMI, you will need to observe a balanced diet, routine exercise, and daily intake of Sake.

Prevents Blood Pressure and Diabetes

I recommend the blood pressure patients to consider adding Sake to their diet. This is because Sake contains nine peptides that regulate blood pressure to the standard rate. Additionally, diabetes patients benefit from Sake since it helps them be able to cope with the side effects that come along with medication.

Helps to moisturise your skin

In comparison to other alcoholic beverages, sage has more components that make your skin look young. These components include amino acids, glycerin, and glycerol. Regular intake of Sake helps improve your skin texture, remove wrinkles, and sunburns.

As you wait for changes on your skin, make sure to clean it twice a day and do not sleep with make-up. This will help transform your loose skin into a tight one, giving you a gorgeous look.

Prevent Allergies

Are you suffering from pollen, dust, and food allergies that do not respond to any medication? You will need to drink Sake regularly, use it in food, and apply it on the affected areas. It will help reduce the itchiness and heal the broken skin. All you need is to be patient and avoid the environment and foods that trigger the allergy.

Heals the Stomach

There are so many health problems that come along with the stomach. Sake helps to ease your digestion by speeding up the process and solves the problem of constipation. Make sure you involve Sake in our meals if you want to experience a refreshing feeling in your intestines.

Additionally, Sake helps to soothe ulcer pain, and if taken regularly, it creates a lining along the stomach walls that heals any existing ulcers. Sake also has cancer-killing agents that will help prevent your stomach from any form of cancer.

Recipes That Include Sake

As Sake is similar to Wine, it can be used in a wide variety of dishes and can be key to flavouring a dish.

Cocktails with Sake 

Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Sake Mojito

Prep Time5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: mojito, sake, sake mojito
Servings: 3
Calories: 95kcal
Cost: 10


  • Handful Mint Leaves
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 5 oz Sake
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Pint Soda Water


  • In a cocktail glass, add your handful of mint leaves, lime wedges and sugar.
  • Crush the ingredients with a muddler.
  • Add the Sake.
  • Add soda water to fill the glass.
  • Garnish with mint leaves.


Serving: 250ml | Calories: 95kcal

Fish with Sake 

Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Sake Glazed Salmon and Rice

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Keyword: sake salmon, Salmon, salmon and rice
Servings: 1
Calories: 400kcal
Cost: 7


  • 1 Salmon Fillet
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 20 ml Sake
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Caster Sugar
  • 1 cup Wholewheat Rice


  • Add vegetable oil, sesame oil to a pan and allow to heat.
  • Add salmon, skin side down to the pan of hot oil.
  • Cook the salmon for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Remove salmon from pan and cover on a plate to keep it warm.
  • Heat rice in a pan.
  • Rinse pan so there is no oil remaining and add butter, sake and sugar to the clean pan and heat. Bring the glaze to the boil.
  • Serve the salmon with rice and drizzle with the glaze.


Serving: 500g | Calories: 400kcal


Substitute for Sake Conclusion

The above-discussed substitutes for Sake are some of the best recipe alternatives that will bring out a similar taste. Do not overuse these substitutes if you want you to have a feeling similar to that of Sake. Overused replacements bring out a different taste and feeling that you can never want to taste again.

Some of these substitutes are non-alcoholic. So, if you do not like alcohol, you are able to enjoy a meal with the sake flavour without the alcohol. I recommend that you use any of the available sake substitutes, and you will realise there is no difference. The replacements perfectly represent Sake.

To enjoy the health benefits of Sake, you have to drink it in moderation. I recommend women take one glass a day while men take two glasses a day. That consistency will allow you to realise the health benefits.

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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

Recipe Rating

Mrs Oscar

Wednesday 7th of April 2021

This is the 3rd article and review i have landed on for your site this week. love the simple approach.

Georgina Lewis

Wednesday 7th of April 2021

Where is the best place to buy Sake from?


Wednesday 7th of April 2021

Delightful read, off to buy some Sake or rice wine or....

Paul Anderson

Wednesday 7th of April 2021

Thanks for this didnt even know what Sake was before this but now feel like its got to be in the next thing that I cook.