10 Best Substitutes for Sherry in French Onion Soup – A List

If you have ever ordered French onion soup at a restaurant, you’d probably have appreciated the taste and how delicious it is, and is no surprise that you might want to try it out at home. One of the key ingredients in many French onion soup recipes is sherry.

You may have run out of sherry, perhaps you are having a hard time sourcing it, or you just want to make a soup without any alcohol. This does not mean you can’t have French onion soup. In this article, we will be sharing our ten best substitutes for sherry in French onion soup.

Why Substitute Sherry in French Onion Soup

Sherry is a common ingredient in French onion soup and is used to add a distinct flavor and depth to the dish. However, there are several reasons why someone may want to substitute sherry in their recipe.

Religious or personal beliefs that prohibit alcohol consumption may be one reason why someone may choose to substitute sherry. In this case, there are several non-alcoholic substitutes that can be used to achieve a similar taste.

Another reason why someone may choose to substitute sherry is if they have health conditions or are taking medications that interact with alcohol. In these situations, it is important to avoid using sherry in cooking to prevent any negative health effects.

Preference for non-alcoholic cooking ingredients may also be a reason why someone may choose to substitute sherry. This may be due to personal preference or dietary restrictions. For example, some people may avoid alcohol due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or addiction issues.

It is important to note that when substituting sherry, it is important to select an ingredient that complements the other flavors in the soup. This will ensure that the dish maintains its intended taste and consistency. By selecting a suitable substitute, individuals can enjoy French onion soup without compromising their beliefs, health, or personal preferences.

What Are the Best Substitutes for Sherry in French Onion Soup?

You do not need to have sherry to make and enjoy French onion soup. Check out these popular substitutes for sherry in French onion soup to see what may work for you.

  1. White wine vinegar
  2. Brandy
  3. Vermouth
  4. Madeira
  5. Apple cider vinegar
  6. Marsala
  7. Port
  8. Rice wine vinegar
  9. Sherry vinegar
  10. Rum

White wine vinegar

First on our list is white wine vinegar. White wine vinegar is gotten from fermented, oxidized white wine. White wine vinegar should not be confused with white vinegar as it has a completely different taste. You shouldn’t swap one for the other.

White wine vinegar tends to be milder and not as acidic as other types of vinegar. If you would like to keep alcohol out of your broth, you should go for some white wine vinegar. For every quarter cup of sherry that your recipe needs, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.


Brandy is a type of distilled liquor made from fruits. Apart from being a personal favorite, brandy is also one of the most commonly suggested substitutes for sherry in French onion soup.

As sherry is a fortified wine, you’ll only need a small amount of brandy as a substitute in your recipe. 1 tablespoon for ½ cup of sherry should do the trick.


Vermouth is another of our best substitutes for sherry in French onion soup. It is a fortified wine just like sherry is, but infused with aromatic herbs and spices.

Vermouth would definitely add some extra flavor to your dish. If this might pose a problem for you, then you could pass on it. We believe, however, that you’ll love it if you like to add a little dazzle to your recipes.


Of the substitutes for sherry in French onion soup, this is right there at the top. Madeira is known as the Island wine. It is a fortified wine, like sherry. It has a unique flavor that comes from repeated heating.

To use Madeira as a substitute, you would need to go for the dry styles, Sercial and Verdelho for instance.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermenting apples with yeast. Apple cider vinegar has some pretty great health benefits, and also happens to be one of the best substitutes for sherry in French onion soup.

If you decide to go with this, substitute 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every ¼ cup of sherry your recipe demands.


Like sherry, marsala is also a fortified wine. It originates from Italy and has a variety of flavors and styles ranging from dry to sweet.

As a substitute, you would want to go for the dry marsala wines. Like vermouth, it also leaves a residual taste that adds extra spice to your soup. So, watch out for that.


Port is also a fortified wine, like vermouth and sherry. It originates from Portugal and comes in several flavors and styles.

To substitute sherry for Port in French onion soup, you want to go for its white or rose styles. Those are best for cooking.

Read also:  Best Chile De Arbol Substitutes – A List

Rice wine vinegar

Rice wine vinegar is also known as rice vinegar. It is non-alcoholic and one of our favorite substitutes for sherry in French onion soup.

Just like other vinegar substitutes, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar can substitute ¼ cup of sherry.

Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar is prepared from sherry wine and has a higher acidic content.

Although they are both used for cooking, sherry vinegar and sherry wine are not often interchangeable. In making French onion soup, however, sherry vinegar does just fine in place of sherry wine.

1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar for every ¼ cup of sherry wine and you’re good to go.

Read also: How to Use A Pizza Stone for The First Time


Last on our list of best substitutes for sherry in French onion soup is rum. Rum is a type of liquor produced from fermented and distilled sugarcane products.

Rum is not a fortified wine, unlike sherry. You’ll only need a splash of rum as a substitute for sherry in French onion soup. Like brandy, 1 tablespoon of rum is enough to substitute ½ cup of sherry.

So, those are our 10 best substitutes for sherry in French onion soup. To conclude, we’ll leave a few tips you should keep in mind when deciding which substitute works for you.

First, the sherry wine used in cooking French onion soup must be dry sherry, not the sweet style.

If you want to avoid using alcohol to cook your French onion soup, then vinegar substitutes are your best bet.

In choosing a wine substitute, it is always a better idea to stick to white wine as opposed to red wine. White wines are great sherry substitutes in French onion soup.

When substituting with vinegar, the ratio is 1 tablespoon of vinegar to ¼ cup of sherry. Remember, white wine vinegar is NOT the same as white vinegar. Don’t make that mistake.

You can’t interchange sherry vinegar for sherry wine in all recipes, but sherry vinegar works well as a substitute in French onion soup.

Remember that each of these substitutes will produce a slightly different flavor than sherry will. They are all great substitutes, but if you need the exact sherry flavor, then you should use sherry wine.

Rose wines are great when your beef or chicken stock is a bit dark. You might want to keep that in mind. When working with vinegar substitutes, remember to add a bit more of your meat stock to the recipe.

Why is there alcohol in French onion soup?

Sherry or white wine are commonly used in French onion soup to add a complex, rich flavor to the broth. When the alcohol is added to the soup, the heat causes the alcohol to evaporate, leaving behind only the flavor and aroma of the wine. The wine helps to enhance the taste of the caramelized onions, while also providing a slightly acidic note to balance the sweetness of the onions. The use of alcohol in cooking is also believed to help tenderize meats and add depth to sauces and soups. However, it is important to note that not all French onion soup recipes include alcohol and it is possible to make a delicious French onion soup without it.

How to Use Substitutes in French Onion Soup

When substituting sherry in French onion soup, it is important to take several factors into consideration to ensure that the soup maintains its intended taste and consistency. Here are some tips on how to use substitutes in French onion soup:

  1. Select a suitable substitute: As discussed earlier, there are several substitutes that can be used in place of sherry in French onion soup. When selecting a substitute, it is important to consider its taste, acidity, and cooking properties. For example, dry white wine is a popular substitute that adds acidity and complexity to the soup. On the other hand, beef broth is a milder substitute that adds depth and richness to the soup.
  2. Adjust the amount of substitute used: The amount of substitute used should be adjusted based on personal preference and the intensity of the other flavors in the soup. As a general rule of thumb, start by using half the amount of substitute as the recipe calls for sherry. Taste the soup and adjust the amount of substitute used accordingly.
  3. Maintain the same flavor and consistency: The substitute used should not significantly alter the flavor and consistency of the soup. To maintain the same flavor, select a substitute with similar taste and acidity as sherry. To maintain the same consistency, use a substitute with similar viscosity as sherry. For example, using water as a substitute may result in a thinner soup, while using beef broth may result in a thicker soup.
  4. Pair the soup with suitable breads and cheeses: French onion soup is traditionally served with crusty bread and melted cheese. To enhance the taste of the soup, select suitable breads and cheeses that complement the flavors of the soup. For example, sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese are popular choices that add texture and flavor to the soup.

By following these tips, individuals can successfully substitute sherry in French onion soup without compromising its intended taste and consistency.

French onion soup is a timeless dish. We’re sure that no matter what substitute you go with, it’ll be amazing regardless!

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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