Need a Marsala Wine Substitute? (20 Options)

Out of Marsala wine and need a good substitute? Below we have researched the top marsala wine substitutes so that you can continue on with your recipe with an extra trip to your local grocery / liquor store. 

There are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic substitute options on the list, so no matter what your dietary needs are — there will be an option for you.

Marsala Wine Substitute

What is Marsala Wine?

Marsala wine is a type of fortified wine that originates from Marsala, Sicily.  It is made from white grapes and has a characteristic sweet, yet dry taste. Marsala wine is made with local white grape varietals including Grillo, Inzolia, Catarratto, and Damaschino (although it can also be blended with red grapes.) Marsala wine is often used in cooking (especially in Italian cuisine. Hello marsala chicken.) where rich nutty sauces need to made. Marsala wine comes in three levels of sweetness:

Dry Marsala Wine

(Contains about 1 tsp. of sugar per glass.) Dry Marsala wine a perfect choice for savory dishes. Unlike its sweeter versions, dry marsala wine only has a bit of sugar per glass. This lack of sugar, paired with complex flavor, help to add an incredible nutty flavor and caramelization to dishes such as beef tenderloin, mushrooms turkey and/or veal.

Semi-Sweet Marsala Wine

(Contains about 2 tsp. of sugar per glass.) Semi-sweet marsala aides in balancing out rich, heavy flavors like those found on blue cheese or nuts. The slightly sweet flavor of semi-sweet marsala wines also complements delicate fruits such as apples and pears beautifully.

Sweet Marsala Wine

(Contains about 4 tsp. of sugar per glass.) Sweet Marsala is typically used to make very sweet and viscous sauces. You’ll commonly find it in desserts such as zabaglione or main dishes with chicken or pork loin, but there are many ways you can use this wine for your own cooking!

20 Substitutes for Marsala Wine

If you don’t have Marsala wine on hand, or if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, there are several substitutes that can be used in its place:

Alcoholic Substitutes

1. Madeira: 

Madeira wine is the best substitute for marsala wine. Just use a 1:1 ratio. Meaning for every cup of marsala wine that your recipe calls for, simple swap in the same amount of maderia wine.

Madeira wine is a fortified wine that is similar to Marsala wine. Madeira has the same color and flavor as its Italian counterpart, making Maderia an excellent substitute for Marsala wine. Maderia wine has a sweet, nutty flavor and can be used as an easy substitute for marsala wine. 

2. Sherry: 

Sherry is a type of fortified wine that is similar to Marsala wine. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and can be used as a substitute in most recipes. 

Dry sherry also is a great marsala wine replacement ingredient since it also adds nutty and complex flavor to dishes in a similar way that marsala wine does. If you decide to go the dry sherry route, we highly recommend using a Amontillado wine (a type of dry sherry), since it has a similar nutty flavor and amber color as many marsala wines.

Please note, you should AVOID using cooking sherry wine since cooking sherry wine tends to have higher sodium levels.

3. Fortified wine: 

If you do have any fortified wine on hand, you can use it as a substitute for regular Marsala wine. It is a bit sweeter and has a higher alcohol content, but it will still work well in most recipes.

4. Red wine: 

If you need a Marsala wine substitute for cooking, you can use any type of red wine. This won’t give you the same flavor as Marsala wine, but it will add a similar depth of flavor to your dish. A light but complex wine such as pinot noir can work well if you are our of marsala wine.

5. Port: 

Port wine is another type of fortified wine that can be used as a Marsala wine substitute. It has a sweet, rich flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for Marsala wine.

6. Sweet Vermouth: 

Vermouth is a type of fortified wine that is often used in cocktails. It has a bittersweet flavor and can be used as a Marsala wine substitute in most recipes.

7. Pedro Ximenez Wine: 

Pedro Ximénez “peaceful king” grape is a white Spanish wine variety that can be found in several different regions of Spain (but most notably in the Montilla-Moriles region). The sweet and dark dessert sherry produced from this particular strain makes it a great Marsala subs.

8. Dry White Wine: 

You can use any type of white wine as a Marsala wine substitute. This won’t give you the same flavor as Marsala wine, but it will add a similar depth of flavor to your dish. Please note that sweet wines such as a moscato or a sweet riesling DO NOT make for good marsala wine replacements for savory dishes. However, these sweet wines can be used in based goods and sweeter dishes.

Non-Alcoholic Marsala Wine Substitutes

9. White grape juice: 

With some simple modifications, white grape juice is the best alcoholic marsala wine substitute.

Marsala wine is made from white grapes, so white grape juice is a good substitute. It won’t have the same alcohol content, strong flavor, or sweetness, but it will still add a fruity flavor to your dish.

To turn white grape juice into “marsala wine”, combine a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • ¼ Cup of White Grape Juice 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract

10. Non-alcoholic Marsala wine: 

There are several brands of non-alcoholic Marsala wine on the market. These can be used as a Marsala wine substitute in most recipes.

11. Grape juice: 

You can use any type of grape juice (including red grape juice) as a Marsala wine substitute. This won’t give you the same flavor as Marsala wine, but it will add a similar depth of flavor to your dish. Follow the recipe listed until “White grape juice” section to turn your grape juice into a decent marsala wine replacement.

12. Cherry juice: 

Cherry juice is a good Marsala wine substitute for cooking. It has a sweet, fruity flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for Marsala wine.

13. Cranberry juice: 

Cranberry juice is another Marsala wine substitute that can be used in cooking. It has a tart, fruity flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for Marsala wine.

14. Honey and Balsamic Vinegar: 

Honey and Balsamic Vinegar can be a good Marsala wine substitute. The combo creates a sweet, floral flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for Marsala wine. 

However, depending on your choice of honey and balsamic vinegar, you should play around with the ideal ratio before adding it to your dish. I typically start by whisking together small mixture of 1/3 honey and 2/3 balsamic vinegar over low heat in a separate bowl, then I add either ingredient based on taste and the type of of marsala wine (dry vs. sweet) that the recipe calls for.

15. Maple syrup: 

Maple syrup is another Marsala wine substitute that can be used in baking. It has a sweet, rich flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for sweet Marsala wine.

Please note, make sure to match the viscosity of your maple syrup to marsala wine. If you have to thin out your maple syrup, slowly add a thinner liquid to your maple syrup in a separate bowl and whisk together until you get the desire consistency. 

16. Brown sugar: 

Brown sugar is a good Marsala wine substitute in dishes that need marsala to help create a sweeter sauce. While this is also an option should be be used as a last result, we have had some success using the sweet and caramelized flavor of brown sugar instead Marsala wine.

17. Fruit syrup: 

Any type of fruit syrup can be used as a sweet Marsala wine substitute. This won’t give you the same flavor as Marsala wine, but it will add a similar depth of flavor to your dish. 

18. Vanilla extract: 

With a few modifications, vanilla extract is a good Marsala wine substitute for baking. It has a sweet, rich flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for Marsala wine.

To turn vanilla into “marsala wine”, combine a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Cup of White Grape Juice 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar

19. Chocolate syrup: 

Ok, admittedly this one is a stretch. However, chocolate syrup can be used as a substitute for Marsala wine in some baking recipes. Since chocolate obviously has rich, chocolatey flavor (similar to some marsala wines), water-down chocolate down syrup may be used as a marsala substitute if you are in a absolute pinch or if you love chocolate flavors.  

20. Brewed Coffee: 

Brewed coffee can be a decent Marsala wine substitute when marsala wine is to create a dish with a deep rich flavor. Since coffee tends to have a rich and robust flavor, coffee can be used in some savory Marsala wine recipes.

Two keep points. First, the flavor profile of the dish may take on hints of coffee. Second, while typically a 1 to 1 ratio should be use, go slow when using coffee as your substitute so that you can make sure not to overpower your dish.

20. Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock:

Use chicken stock or vegetable broth to make a non alcoholic Marsala substitute for your savory dishes. Recipes, especially meat recipes that will be simmered or cooked longer periods of time work best with this wine alternative.

As you now see, there are a number of substitutes for Marsala wine available. From chicken stock and white grape juice to Madeira or dry sherry, there are many options available. Finally, many of these substitutes can be added on a 1 to 1 basis. Just add the substitute ingredient slowly so that you can better control the affects of your chosen substitute on your dish.


Looking to learn more about how to substitute other ingredients? Check out our research on the top recipe ingredient substitutions.


Top Marsala Wine Substitutes (17 Plus Options)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.