Shaoxing wine is a popular Chinese cooking wine that’s ubiquitous in Chinese cuisine.
Its combination of dry, sweet, briny, and umami flavors with slight acidity and nutty and fruity notes effortlessly enhances the taste of meat, seafood, stir-fries, sauces, marinades, and more.
But there may be times when you can't find Shaoxing wine at your local grocery store. When this happens, it’s helpful to know about Shaoxing wine substitutes that can still provide that distinct flavor to your dish.
And we’re here to give you the 22 best options out there that are equally delicious and more readily available!
|Shaoxing Wine Substitute
|Nutty and sweet with a hint of tang and acidity
|Three cup chicken, drunken chicken, and other meat dishes; stews, sauces, marinades, salads
|Mild, light, slightly sweet with an umami flavor
|Sweet, slightly acidic
|Sauces, fillings for spring rolls, dumplings
|Rich, savory flavor
|Dry white wine
|Crisp, refreshing, fruity with a hint of acidity
|Chinese lemon chicken and various recipes calling for Shaoxing wine
|Strong alcohol taste with notes of juniper, citrus, herbs
|Suitable for strong-tasting beef dishes
|Light soy sauce
|Marinades, veggies, meats
|Mild flavor, subtle sweetness
|Any dish needing Shaoxing wine
|Fujian cooking wine
|Rich and flavorful with a little sweetness
|Marinades, steamed dishes, braises
|White wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar
|Combination of sour, fruity, and slightly sweet flavors
|Any dish needing acidity
|1:1 (mixed with water)
|Acidic and mildly sweet
|Beef and broccoli stir-fry, ginger chicken
|1:1 (mixed with sugar and soy sauce)
|Sweet and slightly acidic
|Slightly acidic, subtly fruity
|Braised dishes, marinade sauces
|Citrusy and tangy
|Braised fish, chicken, salad dressings
|1:1 (mixed with water)
|Fruity, slightly tart
|Marinating, tenderizing meat
|Sweet, tangy, umami flavors
|Vegetables, beef, other recipes
|White grape juice and rice vinegar
|Balance between sweet and acidic flavors
|Dishes needing a splash of Shaoxing wine
|Non-alcoholic white wine or beer
|Light fruity or malty, citrusy flavors
|Dry and tart; fortified with herbs, fruits, spices
|Recipes needing dryness or sharpness
|Sweet, nutty, umami flavor
|Deglazing, pickling, improving sauces
|Neutral, crisp, slightly sweet, floral aroma
|Drunken chicken, fried chicken
|Similar flavor profile to Shaoxing wine
|Drunken chicken, braised pork, chow mein, wonton soup
The 22 Best Shaoxing Wine Substitutes
Don’t have Shaoxing wine in your kitchen? Don't worry; plenty of alternatives can be used instead.
Whether you're looking for a non-alcoholic option or one that can add a whole new twist to your recipe, here are the best Shaoxing wine substitutes:
Sherry wine is often considered the best substitute for Shaoxing wine since it has a similar nutty flavor profile and sweetness level, with a rich aroma and a hint of tang and acidity.
This can be used in stews, sauces, and meat dishes. It's also a great addition to marinades and salads, giving them added dimension and a heady flavor.
Now remember that not all sherries are created equal, so different types may suit different dishes.
Tip: Use dry sherry as a substitute for Shaoxing wine in savory recipes (like three cup chicken and Chinese drunken chicken) and sweet sherry for sweeter recipes.
Substitution instructions: You can use a 1:1 ratio or the same amount of Sherry wine as Shaoxing wine in your recipe.
Like Shaoxing wine, sake is a rice wine. It comes in many types and colors ranging from clear to light yellow, and it’s used in many Asian recipes.
With its mild, light, and slightly sweet taste, it can lend an umami flavor that elevates the taste profile of any dish.
It's also a supremely versatile ingredient, which can be used in place of Shaoxing wine in various recipes, such as stir-fries for added subtle sweetness or marinades to tenderize the meat while removing odor and enhancing flavor.
Substitution instructions: Go for a 1:1 ratio since sake has a similar dryness to Shaoxing wine.
Mirin is a sweet, slightly acidic Japanese rice wine with a clear, golden color, a distinct taste and aroma, and a thick, syrupy consistency.
It's more commonly used in Japanese sauces and dishes, such as teriyaki sauce, sukiyaki, and yakitori.
However, it's essential to be aware of the differences in sweetness and flavor profile. You may need to experiment and adjust the quantities to achieve the desired taste in your specific recipe.
Tip: Consider reducing the recipe's need for sugar since mirin is already sweeter than Shaoxing.
Substitution instructions: If a recipe requires 1 cup of Shaoxing wine, try ½ cup of mirin as a substitute.
Chicken or vegetable stock is a great substitute for Shaoxing wine in many recipes due to its rich flavor and savory aroma. It’s made by simmering bones, vegetables, and aromatics for an extended period.
It may not have as complex a flavor as Shaoxing wine, but it can yield flavorful results in stir-fries and vegetables.
Tip: It's important to remember that stock is not as sweet as Shaoxing wine, so add sugar when necessary. You can also add a splash of vinegar if you want to capture Shaoxing wine’s acidity.
Substitution instructions: If a recipe calls for one cup of Shaoxing wine, you can use one cup of stock.
5. Dry White Wine
Another versatile ingredient that can be a great substitute for Shaoxing wine is dry white wine.
This is noted to have a crisp, refreshing, fruity taste with a hint of acidity.
This flavor — along with its herbaceous aroma — adds an alcoholic flavor and a more complex flavor to various recipes, like Chinese lemon chicken and other dishes that require Shaoxing rice wine.
Substitution instructions: Go for a 1:1 ratio when substituting Shaoxing wine for dry white wine.
If your dish requires a slightly strong taste, you can replace Shaoxing wine with gin.
Generally, gin's taste has notes of juniper, citrus, and various herbs, while the aroma exhibits a hint of cardamom and coriander.
With these botanical and fruity characteristics, gin can be an interesting swap for Shaoxing.
Note: Gin has a minimum bottling strength of 37.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), whereas Shaoxing wine has 14% to 20%. So it’s best to pour it in gradually to avoid making your food too bitter.
Substitution instructions: Opt for ¼ cup of gin for every cup of Shaoxing wine and work your way from there.
7. Light Soy Sauce
Light soy sauce can be a suitable replacement in dishes where Shaoxing wine is used mainly for an umami flavor, such as marinades, veggies, and meats.
It also has the same light brown appearance as Shaoxing wine, although it lacks its slight sharp taste, sweetness, and citrusy aroma.
Tip: To mimic the sweet and acidic qualities of the wine, you can tweak your light soy sauce by adding a squeeze of lemon and a bit of sugar or molasses.
Substitution instructions: Since light soy sauce is salty, you can start with a 1:⅛ ratio and add more as needed to avoid overpowering the flavors of other ingredients.
If you want a Shaoxing wine substitute also made from fermented glutinous rice, you can try mijiu.
Due to its mild flavor and subtle sweetness, this substitute can be used practically in any dish that needs Shaoxing wine.
From thinly sliced beef to quick stir-fries, mijiu will save the day when you run out of Shaoxing wine, although it’s usually lighter and less complex.
Substitution instructions: Generally, you can use equal parts mijiu when replacing Shaoxing wine in recipes if you want the same consistency.
9. Fujian Cooking Wine
Fujian cooking wine is another Chinese wine that can be used as an alternative to Shaoxing wine.
It's a fermented rice wine mixed with red rice yeast and white yeast of over 60 herbs, giving it a rich, aromatic flavor with a little sweetness.
Because of this, Fujian cooking wine can be added to your marinades, steamed dishes, and braises.
Apart from enhancing flavors, this cooking wine is also ideal for removing unwanted fishy flavors from seafood dishes.
Substitution instructions: Use Fujian cooking wine to replace Shaoxing wine using a 1:1 ratio.
10. White Wine Vinegar + Apple Cider Vinegar
Want to get creative with ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen? Well, you can mix white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar to create a fantastic substitute for Shaoxing wine.
White wine vinegar has a mild, slightly fruity taste and a light color, while apple cider vinegar has a tangy, slightly sweet taste and a golden color.
Combining these two vinegar types gives you the acidity Shaoxing wine offers!
Note: This mixture does not have the exact same flavor profile as the Chinese rice wine. As such, it’s best to use them only in dishes that need a splash of acidity from Shaoxing wine and not its sweetness.
Substitution instructions: Mix white wine vinegar and apple cider with water and use the mixture to replace Shaoxing wine in a 1:1 ratio for a tangy flavor.
11. Rice Vinegar
Another vinegar alternative for Shaoxing wine that works in several recipes is rice vinegar.
It’s also made from rice, which is why it has a mildly sweet taste like Shaoxing wine.
But because of the differences in their fermentation processes, Shaoxing wine has more depth and complexity with its nutty and umami flavors.
To compensate for the rice vinegar's lack of complex flavors, add a bit of sweetener and soy sauce for a hint of umami — perfect for beef and broccoli stir-fry, ginger chicken, and more.
Substitution instructions: Mix three parts rice vinegar with half part sugar and half part soy sauce. Use one cup of this mixture for every one cup of Shaoxing wine.
12. Apple Juice
If your recipe only calls for a small amount of Shaoxing wine, apple juice would be your perfect non-alcoholic and fruity alternative.
Like Shaoxing wine, apple juice can give your dish a bit of a zing with its sweet and slightly acidic taste.
Note: Apple juice lacks the umami flavor and complexity of Shaoxing wine, so it may not provide the same depth of flavor in dishes where Shaoxing wine is a key ingredient.
So apple juice is often recommended as a substitute for Shaoxing wine in recipes where the wine is used for deglazing or marinating.
Substitution instructions: The amount of apple juice you need is typically only half the amount of Shaoxing wine your recipe calls for, so adjust accordingly.
13. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar is a suitable option for replacing Shaoxing wine for braised dishes or marinade sauces that only need a bit of rice wine.
This is because it can give dishes a slight acidity and a subtle fruity taste, similar to some of the notes in Shaoxing’s flavor profile.
Note: Champagne vinegar gives a lighter, more delicate flavor as compared to Shaoxing wine's relative depth. So expect that the taste and aroma of your dish to be slightly altered.
Substitution instructions: Use half the amount of Shaoxing wine called for in the recipe and modify as needed.
14. Lemon Juice
If all you have at home is a bottle of lemon juice, you're in luck!
Lemon juice can replace Shaoxing wine in recipes as a tangy and sour option. Using it will introduce a more pronounced citrusy flavor in braised fish or chicken and salad dressings.
Tip: You can always adjust other seasonings and ingredients to balance the taste, and add a bit of sugar to mimic some of the sweetness of Shaoxing wine.
Substitution instructions: Mix one part lemon juice with one part water and use the same amount of the resulting mixture as the Shaoxing wine required.
15. Grape Juice
For another non-alcoholic alternative, grape juice can be used in recipes that require the fruity and slightly tart flavor of Shaoxing wine.
It’s great for marinating and tenderizing meat or deglazing pans.
Note: Like the other fruit juices on our list, grape juice doesn’t have Shaoxing wine’s nutty, umami taste, so it’s best to avoid using it in recipes where these flavors need to come through.
Substitution instructions: Use grape juice in equal parts as the Shaoxing wine.
16. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar, with its sweet and tangy taste, can serve as a Shaoxing wine replacement in smaller quantities.
It’s rich in umami flavors, just like Shaoxing wine. Also, it has a distinctly deep and rich aroma and a sweet, tangy, and tart flavor without being too pungent.
You can add this to your vegetables, beef, and other recipes.
Substitution instructions: Start with half of the amount of Shaoxing wine you would normally use and adjust to taste.
17. White Grape Juice and Rice Vinegar
If your recipe only needs a splash of Shaoxing wine, a combination of white grape juice and rice vinegar can work as a substitute.
This creates a balanced and refreshingly sweet flavor that will work well in dishes that don't need a lot of Shaoxing wine.
Substitution instructions: Use equal parts of both ingredients and adjust the ratio as needed.
18. Non-Alcoholic White Wine or Beer
Non-alcoholic white wine or beer can also stand in for Shaoxing wine in certain recipes.
Both may have light fruity or malty and citrusy flavors, depending on the brand or variety you choose.
Tip: Ideally, you should opt for mild-flavored, non-alcoholic wines or beers to avoid overpowering your dish.
Consider either of these substitutes for deglazing or using in marinades.
Substitution instructions: Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Shaoxing wine with a non-alcoholic white wine or beer.
19. Dry Vermouth
Searching for an alternative that imparts a unique flavor to your dish? Dry vermouth is a superb option.
It is an aromatized and fortified wine flavored with herbs, fruits, or spices, giving various recipes a complex flavor profile.
However, this is different from the flavor of Shaoxing wine, meaning it may alter the final taste and aroma of the dish.
Still, it can still be a suitable option in recipes where you want the dryness or sharpness of Shaoxing wine.
Substitution instructions: Use the same amount of Shaoxing wine called for in the recipe.
Also called Korean rice wine, cheongju is also on the list since it has a sweet, nutty, and umami flavor that resembles Shaoxing wine.
It is made from fermented rice and has a clear and transparent appearance, which makes it a great substitute for recipes where the wine is used for deglazing, pickling, or improving the flavor of certain sauces.
Substitution instructions: Replace Shaoxing wine with cheongju in a 1:1 ratio.
Soju is a clear, distilled liquor made from wheat, rice, or barley. It has a neutral, almost crisp taste and a slightly sweet and floral aroma.
While it has a somewhat different taste and aroma than Shaoxing wine, it can still add a unique and authentic flavor to dishes where the wine is a key ingredient, like drunken chicken and fried chicken.
Substitution instructions: Soju has a lighter taste than Shaoxing wine but can be used in equal parts as a substitute.
Lastly, huangjiu — another Chinese rice wine — can work as a Shaoxing wine substitute, since they both share a similar flavor profile. In fact, Shaoxing wine is deemed a variety of huangjiu.
As such, you can use it for any recipe that usually calls for Shaoxing wine, such as drunken chicken, braised pork, chow mein, and wonton soup.
But other varieties of it my be slightly sweeter than Shaoxing wine, so use a smaller amount first and gradually add more until the desired taste is achieved.
Substitution instructions: Use huangjiu in a 1:¾ ratio to replace Shaoxing wine.
What To Consider When Choosing a Substitute for Shaoxing Wine
The key to successfully replacing Shaoxing wine in your recipe is to find an alternative that works well with your recipe without compromising taste and consistency.
Here are some important aspects to keep in mind when choosing your Shaoxing wine substitute:
The flavor of the rice wine substitute should depend on the recipe you're making. If Shaoxing wine plays a vital role in the dish, you'll want a substitute that closely mimics its unique taste.
For instance, dry sherry shares a similar flavor profile and is often recommended as the best alternative.
Meanwhile, other options, like fruit juices or certain types of vinegar, may still work if the Shaoxing wine isn’t a key ingredient in the recipe you’re making.
Depending on the selected substitute, you may need to modify the amount used compared to Shaoxing wine.
Some alternatives can be sweeter and require less in the recipe, so always start with a conservative quantity, and tailor the amount to your preference as you taste-test the dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Good Substitute for Shaoxing Wine in Kung Pao Chicken?
Dry sherry and sake are excellent options for this, especially if you mix them with ingredients that add Shaoxing wine’s signature depth, such as Worcestershire sauce.
Can I Omit Shaoxing Wine From My Recipe Instead of Looking for a Substitute?
Technically, you can, but this may affect the flavor profile of your dish and lead to unsatisfying results. For instance, forgoing Shaoxing wine in dishes that need acidity may result in unbalanced, overly rich flavors.
So if you run out of Shaoxing wine and can’t find it anywhere, the best thing to do is usually try a substitute that delivers what your recipe needs.
Keep Your Dishes Tasty With Shaoxing Wine Substitutes!
If you run out of Shaoxing wine or simply want to experiment with different flavors in your cooking, you’ll be glad to know there are substitutes that you can use to achieve your desired flavor in certain recipes.
While these substitutes may not have the same exact taste and aroma as Shaoxing wine, they can save the day in a pinch and add a unique twist to your favorite recipes.
So keep exploring and have fun experimenting with these Shaoxing wine substitutes to create scrumptious meals with amazing new flavors!
Discover More Food Substitutes!
Read these articles: