What Are The Best Mirin Substitutes?

Every day more people are encouraged to introduce Japanese recipes in their kitchens.

Although it is not easy to get close to Japanese gastronomy, it has an incredible diversity of foods, ingredients, and recipes that make it irresistible. Who has never thought of their rice, sushi, ramen or soups?

Maybe for that reason, you are reading this blog today as you are about to make one but you lack one of its ingredients, that is mirin.

Mirin is a rice wine similar to sake but unlike this popular drink, it does not have the same alcohol content. Another attractive characteristic of this is its high sugar content, which is achieved naturally during its fermentation.

It is produced with distilled sake (shochu) mixed with cooked glutinous rice and koji mushroom. 

This mixture once rested and pressed, is filtered, obtaining the mirin. It has an amber color and a very strong flavor. 

It is used only for cooking and is the base of many marinades and dressings of Japanese cuisine, along with soy sauce. One of its main uses is to give a grilled and glazed touch to grilled fish.

Do you know that it is also one of the key ingredients in teriyaki sauce? It is one of the most famous in Japan that is made up of mirin, soy, and sugar.

Without a doubt, it is one of the most versatile ingredients in oriental cuisine that can be used to experiment with numerous recipes.

We know that making Japanese recipes is more difficult when you don’t possess one of the key ingredients but don’t worry, we are going to tell you the best and easy substitutes for mirin.

#1. Sherry

Sherry is one of the most accessible options to gently replace mirin.

It is a fortified wine raised in the southern part of Spain. It typically has a low alcohol content just like mirin and a sweet taste.

Sherry is a very versatile wine that allows you to create different combinations when cooking. You can use the same amount of sherry as mirin.

Without a doubt, it will give your dish the sweetness you are looking for. You can find it in many supermarkets, and it is not very expensive.

Related: What Are The Best Substitutes for Sherry?

#2. White Wine and Sugar

White wine is also a viable alternative. Like sherry, it is easy to find in supermarkets and it is cheap and has a lot of varieties to choose from.

If you use this alternative, you have to mix the wine with brown sugar. Brown sugar helps sweeten white wine and create a frosting in the recipe.

Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar in a 1/4 cup of wine. Use this solution instead of mirin in the recipe.

#3. Sweet Marsala

Marsala is a sweet Italian wine used as an aperitif and as an ingredient in many recipes.

It is named after the Sicilian city of Marsala and can release you from trouble if you want to utilize it as an adequate substitute for mirin.

It has many qualities that naturally make it an ideal candidate. It is sweet and fortified. It is widely used in cooking due to its pleasant aroma and gentle sweetness.

It is an excellent alternative if you are going to prepare a sauce to accompany meat or poultry. It can additionally serve you if you are going to prepare some types of dessert.

Substitute it in the same measure as you would use mirin.

#4. Water, Sugar and Sake

This option requires more elaboration time, but who doesn’t like to experiment in the kitchen?

To replace mirin, you can use water, sugar, and sake. The process is as follows: 

Add 1/4 cup of white sugar and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Mix and place over medium-high heat on the burner. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes, then add 3/4 cups of good quality sake and mix.

This is an ideal option if you want to make teriyaki sauce on your own.

We know that the four options mentioned above carry alcohol and you may be looking for a substitute because you don’t want to add alcohol to your recipe. If this is your case, you have two options below without alcohol that will work well.

#5. Rice Vinegar

This vinegar is a characteristic culinary ingredient of Asian gastronomy. It is the only type of vinegar that is used in Japanese gastronomy, within which it is an essential ingredient.

Rice vinegar is the one that gives the characteristic flavor that rice typically has in the most universal dish of Japanese cuisine, sushi.

After telling you all this, it is not surprising that it is a very viable option to replace mirin, right?

All you have to do is add sugar to make it as similar as possible. Make sure to include a tablespoon of sugar for every tablespoon of vinegar.

#6. White Grape Juice

White grape juice is an economical and very accessible option.

The only downside to this option is that the juice is milder than the mirin itself. To fix this, add a tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of grape juice you add.

This substitute without alcohol will naturally give a perfect sweetness to your dish.


These alternatives are fine if you are in a hurry and need quick solutions.

Regardless, if you have an Asian store nearby, you can go and see if they have some kind of mirin that might work too. Other establishments where you could find it would be gourmet stores.

Either way, remember that online stores can additionally be your best ally.

Have you ever cooked with mirin? Tell us.

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