10 Best Substitutes for Mirin [Ultimate List of 2021]

Mirin is among the key ingredients in many Japanese sauces. And if you aren’t aware of this, then you’re likely to have tasted it in the past.

While it can be compared to wine, Mirin isn’t used for drinking. Instead, it’s mainly a condiment. But it’d be quite wrong to compare it to ketchup, though it has the same versatility. And once it’s on the table, many are tempted to try it with everything.

But unless you have an Asian grocery store nearby, it’s probably going to be a tad bit difficult to find Mirin. And even if you buy it online, it’s unlikely going to be quickly available at the exact time that you need it.

So this is why we think you’d probably appreciate the list of Mirin substitutes that we prepared just for you. Though let’s first talk about a quick overview:

Best Mirin Substitutes
A bowl of mirin, a Japanese sweetened rice wine used for cooking. Photo taken in Kent, Ohio with a Panasonic Lumix digital camera (model DMC-LS75). The mirin was purchased in a Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Korean grocery store. Photo: Badagnani. Added background, elements & logo.

What is Mirin?

Mirin is a kind of rice wine. It’s high in sugar content, sometimes up to 45%. Nevertheless, sugar isn’t added. Instead, it’s a complex carbohydrate that forms naturally as it ferments. And as the liquid is heated, the alcohol content is reduced.

During the Civil War from 1467 to 1603, Mirin was a type of luxury liquor. And because of its high yeast and sugar content, it tended to expire rather quickly. So lots of communities resorted to making it with distilled wine to increase its shelf life. But as it was easier to come by than sugar at that time, it was more commonly used as a sweetener.

Today, there are three main kinds of Mirin. These are:

  • Hon Mirin (true Mirin) — This has 14% alcohol;
  • Shio Mirin — This has 1.5% alcohol and was developed to avoid alcohol tax; and
  • Shin Mirin (new Mirin) — Also known as Mirin-fu chomiryo (Mirin like seasoning), which has 1% alcohol.
Mirin Types
Photo Credit: Vegan Feast Catering licensed under CC-BY-2.0. Added background, elements & logo.

For many Japanese sauce recipes, there are various ways Mirin can be used. Sometimes, it’s briefly boiled to reduce its alcohol content. Others use it with fish as aside from adding flavor, it takes away strong smells.

Mirin is used to make many other Japanese sauces, such as Teriyaki, Kabayakim, Nikiri mirin, and Sushi su. So with such a vast range of uses in Japanese cooking, it’s no wonder one day of the year is dedicated by the Japanese to this condiment. November 30th is the Day of Hon Mirin.

While extremely popular, it should only be used in small quantities. It has a very powerful taste with quite a kick to it. That being said, you won’t detect the flavor of alcohol. Mirin falls under the umami category, one of the 5 Japanese basic tastes. It’s a mixture of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

So now let’s take a closer look at some of the best Mirin substitutes. We selected the most widely used ones this year:

Top 10 Mirin Substitutes

1. Ají-Mirin or Takara Mirin

Aji-Mirin is a Japanese phrase, which in English translates to “tastes like Mirin.” This means the Japanese appreciate this as a substitute, especially since it has lower alcohol, yet a higher amount of sugar. And depending on the brand, some may even have 0% alcohol.

Ají-Mirin or Takara Mirin
A bottle of 200 ml Kikkoman Kappou Sashimi Soy Sauce. Photo: Geographer. Added background, elements & logo.

While Aji-Mirin tastes similar, it isn’t made in the same way. Instead, it’s made from water, rice, alcohol, salt, and corn syrup. And as for its salt content, it’s around 2%. This, along with its corn syrup content, means it isn’t ideal for those with low sugar, low salt diets.

Both Aji-Miran and Mirin have the umami flavor. They’re different in color and texture. Aji-mirin is thicker and has a dark golden color.

Meanwhile, Takara Mirin has a closer consistency to Mirin. Instead of distilled wine, it’s made from Sake Wine. This provides a richer flavor. But it has 12% alcohol though there aren’t salt and sugar additives.

As Takara Mirin is produced in the same way as Mirin, the flavor is closer to Mirin. Your recipes will result in a taste similar to that of authentic Japanese cooking. Aside from sauces and dips, you can also use it to marinade meat. It produces a wonderful shiny glaze for a variety of food.

If you’re looking for an option to tone down strong smells or tastes in meat, then Takara Mirin is a slightly superior choice. Keep in mind, rarely does a synthetic option perform like the real deal. Instead, its natural sweetness and alcohol have a better effect on meat and fish. Also, it can enhance other ingredients.

Try adding Aji-Mirin to recipes like marinated BBQ pork, baked ham or broiled fish. Takara Mirin is also often more suitable for broths and soups.

For dips, sauces, and sushi — Aji-Mirin and Takara Mirin usually work well. And as mentioned, consider the flavor of your ingredients. If you prefer a sweeter option, then use Aji-Mirin. But if you’re looking for a more realistic taste, then Takara Mirin is likely a much better option.

As Aji-Mirin has a golden color, which is more similar to syrup, it can change the look of your meat if you’re using it as a glaze. But Takara Mirin will glaze the meat without changing the appearance of your dish.

Both options are cheaper than Mirin, but may still be difficult to find. If you manage to spot either of these alternatives, then you can substitute the same amount of Mirin for Takara Mirin or Aji-Mirin.

2. Sherry

Dry Sherry is already widely used in cooking, so it’s a logical choice. It’s a fortified wine made from grapes in the Spanish province of Andalusia. The first sherry was produced in 1100 BC.


The concept of distilled wine came from the Moors when they conquered the area some 400 years earlier. Christopher Columbus took sherry with him on his journey to the Americas. It’s said that he spent more on sherry than he did on weapons.

There are various varieties of sherry. But they are normally classified as dry or sweet. You can use either as a substitute, though it’s worth looking at its alcohol and sugar content.

Dry sherry typically has an alcohol content of 15 to 17%. During cooking, this will be naturally reduced so that it can have content closer to Mirin. There are 0 to 5 grams of sugar per liter. Also, dry sherry will add a strong acidic taste to your recipe.

Sweet sherry has an alcohol content between 15 and 22%. These can also have a sugar content of more than 160 grams per liter. For example, Pedro Ximénez has a sugar content of over 212 grams per liter.

And if you have medium sherry, then this is often a suitable option. It has the same amount of alcohol as sweet cherry, but its sugar level ranges from 5 to 115 grams per liter.

But if you only have dry sherry, then you can add sugar to get the right balance. One tablespoon of dry sherry mixed with one teaspoon of sugar is the same amount as one tablespoon of Miran. And if your sherry is medium, then replace one tablespoon of Mirin with one tablespoon of medium sherry.

You can also get sherry cooking wine. It can add some sweetness and saltiness to your recipes. Cooking sherry is preserved with salt. Its alcohol content is around 17%.

Sherry produces a very acidic taste, especially if you don’t add sugar or use sweet sherry. Also, there tends to be a lack of bitterness and possibly saltiness though you might find its flavor to be closer to Mirin as you add a pinch of salt.

A delicious soy dipping sauce uses ½ cup of soy sauce, ¾ cup of dry sherry, two tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of bonito flakes. This is a smoked tuna that has been dried. And if you mix all of these ingredients, then you’ll end up with a sauce that can be used for Japanese recipes.

You’re also recommended to use sherry as a substitute when you’re cooking with rich leafy greens. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage are naturally bitter. So the combination of sherry and sugar with bitter vegetables will bring you closer to the taste of Mirin.

And going back to the ketchup analogy, if somebody gives you a brand of ketchup that isn’t your favorite, then it’s good for dipping your fries. But you know it doesn’t have the same taste. Sherry is the same. It’s a good substitute to create a flavor similar to Mirin, but it won’t provide a 100% authentic Japanese taste.

3. Vermouth

Vermouth is more often used as a key ingredient for cocktails like Martinis and Manhattan. But some use it for cooking instead of white wine. In trendy cafés in Turin, Vermouth is served as an aperitif.


It’s fortified white wine, usually flavored with roots, bark, flowers, herbs, and spices. After the wine has been fortified and aromas have been added, it’s sweetened with sugar cane or caramelized sugar.

Like sherry, there are several varieties, but the main types are dry and sweet. Dry Vermouth contains no more than 4% sugar. Meanwhile, sweet Vermouth can contain 10 to 15% sugar. When possible, you’re recommended to use sweet Vermouth.

Also, the Italians have a type of Vermouth labeled “Rosso.” It’s red and has a bitter-sweet taste. On the other hand, the French add nutmeg or bitter orange to their Vermouth, which adds more bitterness.

Vermouth can work particularly well in Japanese-style soups. For example, Kombu chicken soup can be made with traditional Japanese ingredients if you can find them. Otherwise, you can replace them with easier to find food. So here’s our recipe for this:

Kombu Chicken Soup

  • 3 6×4 pieces of kombu (alternatively use dried kelp)
  • 1 cup of bonito flakes
  • 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 carrot cut into 2” slices
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet Vermouth

Homemade chicken stock allows you to have more control over its saltiness. And if you can’t find bonito flakes, then add dried kelp and mushrooms. This soup is full of Japanese flavors without a drop of Mirin.

But if you want to make a dipping sauce to go with sushi, then you can mix soy sauce, dry Vermouth, salt, cinnamon and a small amount of sugar. And an even simpler dipping sauce is 1 cup of Vermouth with two tablespoons of sugar. Bring the Vermouth to the boil to melt the sugar, and leave it to cool. This will thicken the Vermouth just a little bit, creating a better sauce consistency. Also, this can slightly reduce its alcohol content.

Your homemade Mirin is ideal for salad dressings, soups, dips, and a glaze for meats. Once you make this substitute, you can replace it for the same amount of Mirin.

Though remember, Vermouth alone won’t replace Mirin. But when you combine it with other ingredients, you can cook several Japanese recipes with similar flavors.

4. Marsala Wine

This is Sicilian wine that’s fortified with brandy. An English tradesman discovered it when he landed in the port of Marsala. At the time, only Spanish and Portuguese fortified wines were popular in England.

Marsala Wine

The English appreciated the stronger flavors and higher alcohol content than what they were used to. Mass production and commercialization began in 1796. A decade later, the new markets opened across Europe and America.

There are dry Marsala wines and sweet Marsala wines. As with Vermouth, you can add sugar to Marsala wine. For this reason, if you’re planning to buy a bottle, then choose a dry bottle. You’ll be able to use it in more recipes.

Colors and time of aging are different. Colors can be golden to amber, or red. Fine Masarla wine is aged for one year. Meanwhile, Vergine is aged for at least ten years. Also, there are three classes of sweetness.

These are:

  • Secco — A maximum of 40 grams of sugar per liter;
  • Semisecco — 41 to 100 grams of sugar per liter; and
  • Sweet — More than 100 grams of sugar per liter.

And if you want to compare the sweetness of Marsala wine to sherry, then dry sherry isn’t as sweet as Marsala wine. Meanwhile, sweet Sherry is often equal to or sometimes a tad bit sweeter than Marsala wine.

Marsala wine has a lovely sweetness to it. But it retains a balance of acidity. The most significant flavor you’re likely to notice is nuts, or maybe even vanilla and brown sugar. Some of the lighter wines may taste like apricot. But bolder, high-quality Marsala wines have subtle hints of Tabaco, licorice, and cherry.

Some recipes that are well suited to Marsala wine instead of Mirin are teriyaki sauce, tonkatsu, and tempura. Let’s take a closer look at tonkatsu sauce. This is so straightforward to make because it doesn’t require Japanese ingredients, but you can still get the perfect flavor.

Tonkatsu sauce

  • 1/3 cup of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Marsala wine
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Place all ingredients into a saucepan, and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken very slightly. This sauce is a perfect combination of sweet, bitter, acidic, and salty.

Don’t be tempted to add salt. The soy sauce already has a salty flavor. And if you have sweet Marsala wine, then remove the sugar from the recipe.

You can use this sauce for dipping, or to go with fried meats. It can be used to marinade meat. Best of all, it adds a delicious twist to sautéed vegetables.

Marsala wine may not be as easy to find as Sherry, but it’s a more suitable alternative for Mirin. The additional nutty flavor will enhance the taste of your other ingredients.

Marsala wine is extremely popular in Italian cooking. With one bottle, you can master Japanese and Italian cuisine.

5. Sake

Sake is as Japanese as Sangria is to Spain. Almost everybody has heard of this alcoholic drink, thanks to pop culture. But what many may not know is that in recent years, it has had a make-over.


Sake is made from rice. And before selecting one of the 90 variants of rice, it’s important to know that the water selected in the process affects the taste of the sake.

Japan is a country rich in water. 70% of land and substantial rainfall mean water is fresh from the mountains. This water is not only used for cooking the rice, but it’s also necessary for rice plants to grow.

Sake has been around for at least 2500 years. Luckily, the process of how it’s made has become more modern. In 500 BC, Chinese villagers chewed rice and nuts, and sit them in one big tub. It was their saliva that fermented the rice.

But today, the rice is polished and steamed. Then, the starch in the rice is saccharized (converted into sugar). And finally, it’s fermented to make sake.

It’s still used today for celebrations and formal ceremonies. You’ll typically see people drinking sake from a tall bottle, which is called a tokkuri, and poured into a small porcelain cup called a sakazuki.

Sake is the ideal substitute for Mirin. The two have been used hand in hand in Japanese cooking for the longest. But sake isn’t as sweet as Mirin. Instead, it has higher alcohol content and lower sugar content.

You might only know sake as a drink, but it’s also excellent for cooking. If you marinade fish in sake, you can take away its strong smell. This also works for meat with stronger smells.

And for the best use of sake, marinade meat to tenderize it. As a marinade, it still has higher alcohol content, making it more effective. So leaving the meat in the marinade will cook the meat until it falls off the bone.

Sake has the much sought-after umami taste in Japanese cuisine. It’ll add authentic flavors to soup, stock and sauces. Also, it simmers nicely and can be added as a glaze for grilled meat and fish.

And if you replace Mirin with sake, you’re likely to notice that this can bring out the flavors of the other ingredients in your recipe. Plus, you’ll get a more intense aroma for your dish.

So to substitute Mirin for sake, use 1 tablespoon of sake plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. For example, we use sake instead of Mirin to make Ramen eggs. This is a splendid side dish, and can also be placed on top of noodles. And here you go:

Ramen Eggs Recipe

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons of water

Mix all ingredients in a plastic ziplock bag, and leave to one side. Hard boil your eggs, and this normally takes around 7 minutes or so, but leave them in iced water for 3 minutes. Peel the eggs and put them in the ziplock bag. Leave them in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Meanwhile, aside from being gluten-free, sake may reduce the risk of cancer, boost your immune system, and improve your skin.

6. White Grape Juice

For some reason, a few of us don’t want to use alcohol, not even in cooking. So white grape juice provides the solution for those on an alcohol-free diet, or those looking for a healthy option.

White Grape Juice

Grapes are filled with massive amounts of vitamins and minerals. One cup provides:

  • Vitamin C — 27% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
  • Vitamin K — 28% of RDI
  • Potassium — 8% of RDI
  • Copper — 10% of RDI
  • Manganese — 5% of RDI

They’re great for the heart, for managing blood sugar levels, and may even improve memory, attention, and mood.

Grape juice became popular due to the temperance movement, a group of people who were against the consumption of alcohol. The Secretary of State chose to serve grape juice instead of wine at a diplomatic function in 1913.

The following year, the Secretary of the Navy banned all alcoholic drinks on naval ships. So sailors were offered grape juice instead.

Grapes are often picked from the middle of September. They are transported to the processing factory daily. They first pass through a rotating perforated drum to remove stems and leaves. They’re then crushed and then pushed through the holes in the drum.

The mushed grapes are heated to 60°C. A press aid (sterilize rice hulls or ground wood pulp) and a pectinase enzyme are added. The mixture is filtered and then reheated to 85°C before it’s cooled and stored in tanks.

Another great thing about this alternative is that you don’t need to add sugar. The grape juice will have enough sweetness, making it even healthier. We suggest adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to each cup of grape juice. The acid in the lemon juice will mellow out the sweetness.

And here’s how you can make the typical Japanese dessert, Mirin pudding, with grape juice as a substitute:

Mirin Pudding Recipe

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • A small amount of vanilla essence
  • 1 cup of grape juice with a teaspoon of lemon juice

First, bring the grape and lemon juice to a boil, let it reduce, and then cool. Second, warm up the milk. Beat the 2 eggs into the reduced grape juice.

Third, slowly pour the warm milk into the eggs. It’s important not to let the eggs cook. Finally, add the vanilla essence. Pour the mixture into non-stick pudding containers — Bake in a water bath for about 20 to 25 minutes at 140°C. The best way to eat Mirin pudding is with caramel sauce.

As it doesn’t have alcohol, grape juice might not be the best substitute for marinading meat, or as a meat glaze. Nevertheless, when reduced to a type of syrup and mixed with soy sauce, it makes an ideal base for a dipping sauce.

7. Rice Vinegar & Wine

Rice wine is made from fermented rice. Yeast converts natural sugar into alcohol. While used in a lot of Asian cooking, it’s more commonly used in Chinese cooking.

Rice Vinegar & Wine

Shaoxing is a type of Chinese rice wine. Keep in mind that Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine, while sake is a dry Japanese rice wine.

On the other hand, rice vinegar is made similarly. But once its sugar content is fermented into alcohol, it’s then fermented into an acid. Also, rice vinegar is superior to white distilled vinegar because it’s less acidic and has a sweeter flavor.

In Japanese cuisine, rice vinegar is used in sushi to season the rice. Some may choose to use it instead of Mirin as a marinade, or add it to raw vegetables. You may also mix it with soy sauce to make a dip that’s quite similar to Mirin.

When you’re ever in Nagoya, Japan — You can visit a rice vinegar museum. Here you can find information about Mizkan. He started in a sake distillery and went on to create the largest rice vinegar company.

As well as learning about the history of rice vinegar from the Edo period (1603) up to today, you may pick up some tricks on how to make the best rice vinegar. Consider the recipe and the technique before deciding on whether to use rice wine or rice vinegar. Both will add depth to your dish.

Rice vinegar will increase the acidity of your recipe’s overall taste. And you might not want to use it if the recipe already calls for an acidic ingredient.

While rice vinegar is sweet, it still has a more powerful sour taste. One tablespoon of rice vinegar with one teaspoon of sugar will make a very close copy of Mirin. It lacks the bitterness to call it umami, but with a pinch of salt, you’re around 75% there already.

Meanwhile, if you plan to use rice wine, then first taste to see if it’s dry or sweet and if it’s dry (like sake), then you just need to add a little sugar. Also, you can use it in the same way as you would sake.

Use rice wine or rice vinegar as a salad dressing, marinade for fish and meat or as a base for sauces. If you add to soups, then you’ll appreciate the Asian kick.

Rice vinegar is an energizer, helping your body fight fatigue. It’s also good to stimulate the appetite. Meanwhile, rice wine can improve blood circulation and aid the digestive system. Bear in mind that out of the two, rice vinegar is non-alcoholic.

8. Cider

Again, there may be some confusion between cider, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar. This isn’t simply a case of using less of one than the other.


Cider is fermented apple juice. It has an alcohol content of between 4 and 6%. On the other hand, apple cider is its non-alcoholic version.

Meanwhile, apple cider vinegar goes through a second fermentation process and is non-alcoholic. Because of this, and also due to its natural sweetness, apple cider is a better substitute for Mirin.

No one country can claim ownership to the development of cider. As apples are native to many European countries, it’s quite hard to pinpoint the first cider.

Today, the UK has the highest consumption of cider per capita. And they’re also the world’s largest cider producer.

Cider is most commonly made from Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji apples. These apples are collected and ground down into a pomace. The pulp is then removed, and the juice is pressed.

Fermentation occurs in the same way wine is fermented. Simple sugars are converted into ethanol. Cider is fermented at a lower temperature than usual. This produces cider with a more delicate aroma.

White ciders tend to be sweeter with an alcohol content of 6 to 8%. English cider has a cloudy appearance and can be slightly stronger, up to 9%. Any cider will provide a sweet and sour taste, similar to Mirin, but not umami.

We recommend reducing the apple cider down using some salt and sugar. Once it becomes more of a type of syrup, you can add other ingredients, such as soy sauce for dipping or salad dressings and vegetables.

Reduced cider with sugar and salt pairs exceptionally well with pork. Try using it as a marinade, glaze or both. Any additional cider you have goes well in Japanese style soups and broths.

If you prefer an alternative that doesn’t have alcohol, then try using apple cider. It won’t be as good at tenderizing meat, but it still has a lovely sweet and sour flavor.

Whichever cider you choose, we advise against using it for meat that you’re going to a barbecue. It is a bit of a waste because the BBQ will overpower the flavor of the cider.

9. Balsamic Vinegar

Of all the kinds of vinegar in this roundup, Balsamic vinegar has the highest quality. It’s thicker, darker in color, and has a stronger flavor. Also, it’s rich and slightly sweet. In terms of color, it resembles Aji-Mirin.

Balsamic Vinegar

It originated in Italy, dating back to 1046. It was a gift for the Emperor Enrico III of Franconia. Its name is derived from the Italian Aceto balsamico. The root of both words, balm, means to heal. We can see vinegar in Roman medical manuals.

Balsamic vinegar is made from the entire grape, traditionally Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grape is crushed along with the skin, seeds, and stem. It’s aged for 12 years in a series of wooden barrels, with each barrel getting smaller.

There are three types of balsamic vinegar. These are:

  • Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP
  • Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale de Reggio Emilia DOP
  • Aceto Balsamico de Moderna IGP

The first 2 come from the province of Modena or Emilia. The European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin secures them. Meanwhile, the third is cheaper balsamic vinegar where white wine is added during production.

Traditional balsamic vinegar has a glossy, dark appearance. Aside from its complex sweet and sour flavor, you can detect hints of wood, possibly cherry, ash or oak, depending on the barrels used.

Modern balsamic vinegar is an imitation. It might be a combination of grapes blended with white wine or just wine vinegar. They often have colors, caramel, and thickeners added to it like guar gum. It must be aged for a minimum of 2 months.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is used in desserts like crème caramel and panna cotta. It can be dropped onto fresh fruit, steaks, and eggs. Also, it can enhance the flavor of scallops and shrimp, and it’s known to bring more life to a pasta dish.

Due to the powerful flavor of traditional balsamic vinegar, you only need a tiny amount. If a recipe requires one tablespoon of Mirin, then you can use 2 teaspoons.

10. White Wine

Not everyone has a bottle of white wine in their kitchen, but it’s generally cheaper than other alternatives and much easier to find. You might assume we’ll decide on using sweet white wine, but today, we’re going to look at dry white wine.

White Wine

Dry white wine has more body; it’s aromatic and tangy. There’s a wide range of flavors, depending on the type of grape, the soil, and the production process. Some dry wines will be lemony or nutty, while others have a floral taste. Dry white wine can safely be paired with any food.

Oysters and seafood have a high level of salinity, so the acid in a dry white wine will enhance this flavor. Also, white wine is one of the best beverages to accompany cheese.

The acidity of white wine balances out dishes with more fat. The dish becomes less heavy. It’ll tenderize meat by breaking down its fibers. You can also de-glaze meat juices with dry white wine, making rich gravies.

We decided to use white wine as a substitute for Mirin in a Japanese Sesame Chicken glaze recipe. Also, we swapped out the Mirin for the correct ratio of white wine and sugar (1 tablespoon of Mirin = 1 tablespoon of white wine + ½ tablespoon of sugar). So here you go:

Japanese Sesame Chicken Glaze Recipe

  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 cup of white wine and sugar (heated and slightly reduced)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • The zest of one lemon

All you need to do is put all of the ingredients together and glaze your chicken. The combination of these flavors will give you an authentic umami Japanese taste.

Dry white wine is very versatile and can be used as sake is used. Try adding it to soups, stock, and meat. The more you reduce the liquid, the more it resembles a type of syrup. At this consistency, you can start adding your flavors to make dips.

What’s the Best Mirin Substitute?

In 2013, traditional Japanese cuisine “Washoku” was added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. That’s quite an achievement, so it’s only fair we try to stick to the authentic flavors Japanese cooking has to offer.

When deciding on the best substitute for Mirin, remember the umami flavors: Bitter; Sweet; Salty; and Sour. So the best substitute is one that can encompass all four tastes. And we may consider only 2 of the substitutes that fall under the umami category.

So sake and balsamic vinegar are the 2 best substitutes for Mirin. Sake is better for preparing food that has an overpowering taste, such as fish. This rice wine will also tenderize meat as much as Mirin would. Meanwhile, Balsamic vinegar is a delicious rich alternative for sauces and dips.

But they have their disadvantages. Sake may still be hard to find, and balsamic vinegar is expensive. Putting that aside, once you have a bottle of either, it’ll last for a long time, and you can even use it for other recipes outside Japanese cuisine.

On the other hand, Aji-Mirin and Takara Mirin may be as good as both sake and balsamic vinegar. Even the Japanese recognize their similarities. But these didn’t make it high up our list because if you need to go to an Asian grocer, you may as well buy Mirin while you’re there. And the same can be said if you’re buying from online stores.

Although not the most similar, Sherry would be our easiest option as an alternative to Mirin. Sherry is widely available, and with a little bit of experimenting with salt and sugar, you can get a very close substitute. But before you start to use Sherry, check if it’s sweet or dry. And if it’s already sweet, then you won’t need to add more sugar.

If you want to make a dip or sauce, then blend a few leaves of spinach with Sherry. Make sure it becomes a paste, and not lumpy. The spinach will add a bitterness that’s found in Mirin. Sherry can be used as a glaze, marinade and can also tenderize the meat while adding a robust flavor.