Best Mirin Substitutes

Best Mirin Substitutes for Delicious Japanese Cooking

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Are you looking for alternatives to mirin for your Japanese cooking? Mirin is a sweet rice wine that is a staple in many Japanese recipes, but not everyone may have it on hand or may be looking for substitutes due to dietary restrictions.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top best mirin substitutes that you can use in your cooking.

Best Mirin Substitutes for Delicious Japanese Cooking

Sake: A Sweet and Acidity-Packed Substitute for Mirin in Japanese Cooking

If you’re looking for a mirin substitute for your Japanese dishes, sake can be a great option. Sake is a Japanese rice wine that has a sweet and acidic taste, much like mirin. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be added to a variety of dishes, from sauces to marinades to soups.

When cooking with sake, it’s important to choose the right type. Generally, a medium to dry sake works well in cooking. Sweet and fruity sakes may alter the flavor of your dish too much. Keep in mind that sake has a higher alcohol content than mirin, so you may need to adjust the amount you use accordingly.

Sake can be used in a variety of Japanese dishes as a mirin substitute:

Dish How to use sake as a mirin substitute
Teriyaki sauce Replace the mirin with sake in a 1:1 ratio. Increase the sugar slightly to balance out the acidity.
Miso soup Replace a portion of the dashi stock with sake to add sweetness and complexity to the broth.
Sukiyaki Use sake to deglaze the pan and provide sweetness to the savory beef and vegetables.

In conclusion, sake can be an excellent substitute for mirin in Japanese dishes. It has a similar sweetness and acidity and can be used in a variety of recipes. Just remember to choose the right type and adjust the amount according to your taste and preferences. Happy cooking!

Rice Vinegar and Sugar

Another great alternative to mirin is a combination of rice vinegar and sugar. This mixture creates a similar sweet and sour flavor that is commonly found in Japanese dishes.

To get the right balance of sweetness and acidity, start by combining 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Adjust the ratio to your liking, depending on the recipe and your personal taste.

This mixture works particularly well in marinades for fish and meat, as well as dressings for salads. It can also be used as a glaze for grilled or roasted vegetables.

When using rice vinegar and sugar as a substitute for mirin, keep in mind that the final flavor may differ slightly. Mirin has a unique flavor profile that cannot be replicated exactly, but this substitute comes very close and can be a great alternative if you do not have mirin on hand.

Using Honey as a Mirin Substitute

If you’re looking for a natural sweetener to replace mirin, honey can be a great option. Honey is a natural sweetener that can add depth and complexity to your Japanese dishes. Here are some tips for using honey as a mirin substitute.

Choosing the Right Honey

When choosing honey to use in place of mirin, it’s important to look for a mild-flavored honey. For Japanese cooking, clover or orange blossom honey can be good options. Avoid using dark, robust honey, as they can overpower the other flavors in your dish.

How to Use Honey in Japanese Cooking

Honey can be used in a variety of Japanese dishes, from marinades to sauces to desserts. Here are some tips for using honey in your Japanese cooking:

  • Use one tablespoon of honey for every tablespoon of mirin called for in a recipe.
  • When using honey in marinades, be sure to balance the sweetness with some acidity, such as vinegar or citrus juice.
  • Honey can be used in traditional Japanese desserts, such as mochi and dorayaki, to add sweetness and depth of flavor.

Final Thoughts

While honey may not be a perfect substitute for mirin, it can be a great option for those looking for a natural sweetener. By choosing the right type of honey and following these tips, you can successfully use honey in your Japanese cooking.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a sweet and natural alternative to mirin that can be used in Japanese cooking. It has a similar viscosity to mirin, making it useful as a glaze or marinade in savory dishes, but it is also a common ingredient in Japanese desserts.

When using maple syrup as a substitute, it’s important to note that the flavor is not exactly the same as mirin. Maple syrup has a distinct taste that may not be appropriate for certain dishes, but it can add depth and complexity to others.

Some tips for using maple syrup in Japanese cooking include using it in teriyaki sauce or marinades for meat or vegetables, adding it to salad dressings or sauces, or using it in baked goods and desserts. When substituting maple syrup for mirin, use a one-to-one ratio and adjust the amount to taste.

If you’re looking for a natural and versatile substitute for mirin, maple syrup is definitely worth considering. Just be sure to experiment with it in different dishes to find the best application for its unique flavor profile.


If you’re looking for a mirin substitute that has a similar flavor profile, sherry is a great option. It’s a fortified wine that has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, which can complement a variety of Japanese dishes.

When choosing sherry for cooking, you’ll want to select a dry or medium-dry variety. Avoid using sweet sherries, as they may be too cloying and overpowering in flavor. You can use sherry in the same amounts as mirin in recipes, although you may need to adjust the sugar or salt levels to taste.

To use sherry in cooking, you can add it to marinades for meat or seafood, or use it to deglaze pans and create flavorful sauces. It’s also a great addition to stews and braises, as it can help to tenderize meat and add depth of flavor to the final dish.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Sugar

If you’re looking for a mirin substitute that is easy to find in most grocery stores, apple cider vinegar combined with sugar can be a good choice. This combination creates a sweet and sour flavor that is similar to mirin, making it a great option for Japanese sauces and glazes. Here are some tips on how to use it:

Ingredients Instructions
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar Combine the apple cider vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small saucepan.
1 tablespoon sugar Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Use the mixture in your recipe as a substitute for mirin.

When using apple cider vinegar and sugar as a mirin substitute, it’s important to get the right balance of sweetness and acidity. Start with the ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts apple cider vinegar, and adjust based on your personal preference and the needs of your recipe.

Keep in mind that this substitute may not provide the same depth of flavor as mirin, so consider using additional ingredients such as soy sauce or ginger to enhance the overall taste.

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Here are some frequently asked questions about mirin substitutes:

How do I choose the right substitute?

The right substitute will depend on the recipe you are making and your personal taste preferences. Consider the flavor profile you are trying to achieve and choose a substitute that will complement the other ingredients.

How do I adjust recipes when using a substitute?

When using a substitute, start with a smaller amount than the recipe calls for and adjust to taste. You may need to add more sweetness or acidity depending on the substitute you are using.

How will the final result be different?

Using a substitute may result in a slightly different flavor profile than using mirin. However, it can still create a delicious dish that is similar in taste. Experiment with different substitutes to find your favorite.

Do you have any additional cooking tips or substitutions?

Yes! You can try using balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar as a substitute. Alternatively, you can also use corn syrup, white grape juice, or pineapple juice as sweeteners in place of mirin. Remember to always taste as you go and adjust the recipe according to your preferred taste.

We hope these tips and substitutions help you in your Japanese cooking adventures!