Marsala wine is a fortified wine, which contains a mix of distilled spirits. People often use it in Italian recipes to make delicious, savory, and creamy dishes. In fact, if you are a big fan of Marsala Chicken, you are already pretty familiar with this special ingredient.
However, using the real thing isn’t always an option, and there are moments when you need a quick and reliable alternative. Fortunately, there is always a perfect substitute for Marsala wine, regardless of what dish you are preparing. Let’s check out some of them!
Marsala Substitutes Containing Alcohol
Madeira is another fortified wine, made out of five kinds of grapes, which possess a strong flavor. And while it is usually enjoyed as an apéritif, a few restaurants serve it as dessert.
What’s interesting about Madeira is that it is identical to Marsala in terms of flavor and color. And, just like Marsala, Madeira becomes more complex with aging. Therefore, it is a perfect substitute for Marsala wine, especially if you plan a creamy and delicious dish. Just be careful and make sure you choose the right type of Madeira, as some bottles have a better quality than others.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Madeira
2. Dry Sherry
Dry Sherry is another popular substitute for Marsala wine loved by cooks all over the world. But even though Marsala adds a more luscious flavor to most dishes, Dry Sherry can achieve similar results.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Dry Sherry
While Dry Sherry is a great alternative to Marsala, its flavor profile can be a bit too much for some recipes. But, by using Sweet Vermouth, you can adjust the taste of Dry Sherry to your liking:
1 Cup of Marsala = 1/2 Cup of Dry Sherry + 1/2 Cup of Sweet Vermouth
Yet, it is important to mention that you need to use actual Sherry wine, and not the cooking Sherry wine. Why? Because cooking Sherry has high sodium content, and can drastically change the flavor of your dish.
Port is a fantastic yet pricey substitute for Marsala that works best for desserts and other sweet recipes. And while most people know Port as a sweet red wine, it comes in a variety of flavors. In fact, you can find dry, semi-dry, rose, and even white variants of Port, each with its own flavor profile. So you can experiment with different types of Port wine and see which one works best for your dish.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Port
4. Brandy and White Grape Juice
If you don’t have any Marsala wine nearby, you can rely on white grape juice and brandy to substitute it. All you need to do is to combine white grape juice with Brandy or Cognac, depending on your preference.
1 Cup of Marsala = ¼ Cup of grape juice + 1 Teaspoon of Cognac or Brandy
Alternatively, you can use white wine instead of white grape juice. And since Marsala is a brandy-fortified wine, this substitution is very similar to the original.
1 Cup of Marsala = ¼ Cup of Dry White Wine + 1 Teaspoon of Brandy
5. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a famous red wine made from identically named grapes and is often used as a substitute for Marsala Wine. Its slightly sweet flavor can add a complex flavor to any dish, especially desserts. And best of all, you can find Pinot Noir in most liquor and grocery stores.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Pinot Noir
If you want to better replicate the unique flavor of Marsala wine, you can add a bit of sugar to your recipe. Just don’t overdo it, or you risk ruining your dish.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Pinot Noir + ½ Tbsp of sugar
Alcohol-Free Marsala Substitutes
1. White Grape Juice, Sherry Vinegar, and Vanilla Extract
As previously mentioned, white grape juice is a great substitute for Marsala, especially if you combine it with Brandy. Yet, you don’t have to use alcohol to replicate Marsala, and, instead, you can add some Sherry vinegar and vanilla extract.
1 Cup of Marsala = ¼ Cup of white grape juice + 2 Tbsp of Sherry vinegar + 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2. Rosemary and Figs With Sage
At first glance, this substitute for Marsala wine might sound a bit weird. However, you can make a purée using rosemary, figs, and sage that can replace Marsala in most recipes. You can use this purée as is or water it down according to your needs.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Teaspoon of purée
Generally speaking, a teaspoon of purée is enough for most recipes. But you can always taste your dish and use more purée if needed.
3. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar can be a reliable substitute for Marsala wine, especially if you need a quick and affordable alternative. Even so, you shouldn’t use balsamic vinegar for sweet recipes or desserts, as it can alter the overall taste.
If you want to use balsamic vinegar, you should first make a reduction with it. Afterward, you can use some sugar to adjust the dish based on your preferences.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of balsamic vinegar + ½ Tbsp of sugar
4. Red Juice
You can use red juice as a substitute for Marsala, particularly for cakes and most baked goods. And while the flavor is not identical, it is pretty similar, making red juice a perfect non-alcoholic alternative. What type of red juice you want to use depends on your own needs, but usually, most people go for cranberry juice.
1 Cup of Marsala = 1 Cup of Red Juice
5. Figs, Prunes, Or Plums
You can use fruits, such as figs, prunes, and plums to replace the Marsala in your dish. Simply simmer the fruits over low heat and then strain them through a fine-mesh sieve. Once that’s done, add some balsamic vinegar and voilà, your Marsala wine replacement is done.
1 Cup of Marsala = ½ Cups of Figs or ½ Cups of Prunes or ½ Cups of Plums
6. Vegetable Broth or Chicken Stock
Last but not least, you can use vegetable broth or chicken stock as a viable alternative to Marsala wine. But just like balsamic vinegar, you shouldn’t use these for sweet recipes or desserts. Instead, meat dishes, especially those cooked or simmered work best with vegetable or chicken stock.
1 Cup of Marsala = ½ Cups of Vegetable or ½ Cups of Chicken Stock