Shaoxing Wine Substitute for Cooking, Baking and Flavoring

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Looking for a good Shaoxing wine substitute can be tricky. The taste of this yummy Chinese wine can be hard to duplicate. And you might find Shaoxing wine difficult to find to use in all your favorite Chinese dishes. So, what can you do?

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In this post, we’re going to dive into all the different options you have for imitating the Shaoxing wine flavor, without having to go hunting for the real thing in stores.

Shaoxing Wine Substitute For Cooking, Baking And Flavoring

Table of Contents

What Is Shaoxing Wine?

Shaoxing wine hails from China and has been around for thousands of years. It’s a popular ingredient in Asian and Chinese dishes that produces a very unique flavor that may be difficult to replicate at home if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Shaoxing wine may be used for deglazing pans and woks, for adding distinct flavor to dishes, as a marinade, or even can be consumed as a beverage on its own. 

What Is a Good Substitute for Shaoxing Wine?

A good Shaoxing wine substitute will include mirin, dry sherry, and sake, but that’s not all. There are many other substitues you can use as well.

Don’t worry, I’ll detail each for you!

Which Substitutes for Shaoxing Wine Work Best

When it comes to finding a good Shaoxing wine substitute, it really just depends on your intended final outcome concerning the dish.

There are many methods of cooking that may use Shaoxing wine. But don’t worry. I’ve broken down these top substitutes so you can choose the best substitute for this Chinese cooking wine for your dish.

Tip: Please note that though I may mention certain Shaoxing wine substitutes as best for one dish or another, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use the substitute for Shaoxing wine in other instances as well. When choosing your substitution, be sure to choose which you think would work best based on the description we provide, as well as what you have on hand.

Alright, enough of the chit-chat. Let’s hop into Shaoxing cooking wine substitutes that might work best for your next flavorful dish.

Shaoxing Wine Substitutes for Cooking

It may be helpful to break down each popular Asian dish and the way you may find a Shaoxing rice wine substitute for each.

  • Chicken or beef stir fry: Making a delicious stir fry? A bold combination of sake with mirin will make a great substitute for Shaoxing wine. When using this substitute for Shaoxing wine, make sure to pay close attention to the type of sake you use. Cooking sake will be less sweet than the traditional sake used for drinking. Thus, keep this in mind if you’d like your stir fry to have either more or less of a sweet flavor.
  • Kung pao chicken: Kung Pao chicken is known for its spicy kick and savory peanuts in a rich sauce. To substitute for Shaoxing wine when a recipe calls for it in Kung Pao chicken, your best bet is to use a mixture of Worcestershire sauce and dry sherry. While both will work on their own, a combination of the two at a 1:1 ratio is what provides the best flavor in this instance.
  • Fried rice: We all love delicious fried rice, right? Well, to achieve the authentic flavor of Shaoxing wine without needing to have a bottle of it, you may want to consider using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and soy (cup for cup)to get the job done. Either light soy sauce or regular will work well as a substitute for normal Chinese rice wine, but that will depend on the level of boldness and saltiness you desire.
  • Mongolian chicken or beef: Last but not least, we’d recommend you substitute Shaoxing wine with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio to achieve that deep, robust, umami flavor often associated with Mongolian beef or chicken.
Chicken or beef stir fryCooking sake with mirin1:1
Kungpao chickenWorcestershire sauce and dry sherry1:1
Fried riceApple cider vinegar and soy sauce1:1
Mongolian chicken or beefBalsamic vinegar and soy sauce1:1
Shaoxing Wine Substitute

Shaoxing Wine Substitutes for Flavoring

Now let’s talk about some favorite Shaoxing wine substitutes for flavoring dishes.

Many of the suggestions you’ll see here are ones we’ve already mentioned above, only this time, you may see each mentioned on its own rather than in combination with another.

This is because when it comes to a good substitute for Shaoxing wine, you’ll find that many alternatives work well on their own.

Here we go!

  • Dry sherry: Dry sherry is one of the most common substitutions for Shaoxing wine. It is a Spanish wine that is popularly used for both cooking and dining purposes. Dry sherry is a great substitute, albeit a bit sweet. Because of its sweetness, I do recommend that you reduce the amount you use to about half of what you’d normally use for Shaoxing wine. This will prevent the dish from becoming too sweet as a result of the substitution.
  • Sake: Sake is a popular Japanese rice wine often used in sushi. Its flavor is quite a bit more sweet than sake cooking wine you may find in the store. Thus, you’ll want to substitute the two differently when it comes to using them for flavoring. Cooking sake, for example, is less sweet than traditional sake. Because of this, you can use cooking sake at a 1:1 ratio and have the dish turn out just fine. As for traditional sake, you may find that the wine provides too much sweet taste, and thus, you may need to only use half of it to cut down on its sweet flavor.
  • (Very) Dry white wine: Speaking of sweet flavors, dry wine is usually thought to have a very tart flavor, but when it comes to substitute for Shaoxing wine, even the driest of dry wines may be too sweet. Thus, a white or yellow wine, especially white drinking wine, may need to be substituted alongside a dash of ACV to help cut the sweetness of the wine. A ratio of 1/3 cup of dry white wine along with a dash of apple cider vinegar or lime juice should do the trick.
  • Mirin: Mirin is another great substitute for Shaoxing wine, although it tends to be a bit sweet. Nevertheless, you can feel free to substitute mirin for Shaoxing wine cup for cup, although, if your recipe calls for sugar as well, you may want to reduce your sugar by a smidge so as not to overwhelm your dish with sweetness.
  • Champagne vinegar: Champagne vinegar has a light and delicate taste to it with just the right amount of acidity that makes a beautiful substitute to Shaoxing wine. Though the taste isn’t exactly identical, its similarities in relation to acidity and sweetness are spot on.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar has a pungent zingy taste to it, but in a pinch, it may serve as a decent replacement for Shaoxing wine. Use this sparingly, and only when Shaoxing wine is needed in small amounts. To make it less pungent, consider combining it with water to mellow out its flavor so as not to overtake your dish.
  • Stock + light soy sauce: This is another one that works great in stir fry sauces. It provides just the right amount of umami flavor without being overpowering. Just note that this might be a little more savory than anything you’d get with Shaoxing wine. For that reason, you may consider using light soy sauce instead of regular, and also, be very careful with sodium in the recipe, especially if the recipe calls for added salt.
SubstituteDifferencesRatio (Shaoxing : Substitute)
Dry sherrysweeter1 : 1/2
Cooking sakesweeter1 : 1/2
Drinking sakevery similar1 : 1
Dry white winetarter, sweeter1 : 1/3
Mirinsweeter1 : 1
Champagne vinegarlighter1 : 1
Balsamic vinegarmore pungent1 : 3/4
Stock + light soy sauceno acidity, salt

Shaoxing Substitutes for Baking

Note that Shaoxing wine isn’t very often used in baking. Still, if you find a rare recipe that indeed calls for Shaoxing wine and you have none on hand, you can consider using the following substitutes to get the job done instead:

  • Grape juice: Using white grape juice instead of Shaoxing wine in a baking recipe is a good non alcoholic white wine substitute to imitate the flavor or Shaoxing wine. Still, it is important to note that white grape juice is extremely sweet compared to the complex flavor of Shaoxing rice wine. Therefore, you’ll need to tame it a bit to get the right flavor profile. Consider combining a white grape juice with a bit of apple cider vinegar to cut its sweetness, or try dulling the juice by watering it down with water. Either way, using grape juice while baking is a practical and inexpensive way to imitate the flavor of Shaoxing rice vinegar in baking.
  • Apple juice: If you’ve got a baking recipe that has a lot of brown sugar or caramel-like flavors, using apple juice with a splash of vinegar in place of Shaoxing wines might provide the perfect amount of sweet and tangy flavor to help you get by without needing to run to your local Asian grocery stores. If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, consider squeezing in a splash of lemon juice to mimic Shaoxing’s mild taste so that your dish doesn’t inevitably become too sweet.

BONUS: Shaoxing Wine Substitute for Braising

Last but not least, we also have a very good Shaoxing wine substitute for braising.

Although virtually any of our previous suggestions would work, the following combination works best, and that’s dry sherry and Worcestershire sauce.

Combining dry sherry with a little bit of Worcestershire sauce can do wonders for dishes that call for Shaoxing wine like braised pork belly and others. Once cooked up, serve these yummy braised dishes with a bit of brown rice and voila … you’ve got a perfect meal!

This substitute also works well for beefy meat dishes not involving braising and for savory soup broths.

Shaoxing Wine Substitute For Cooking, Baking And Flavoring

Shaoxing Wine Substitutes? Take Your Pick!

When it comes to using good rice wine for cooking, there’s no doubt that Shaoxing wine is one of the best. Still, it isn’t every day that your pantry might be stocked with this mildly sweet cooking rice wine.

So using any of the mentioned substitutes in this post will work well to assist your recipe when you’re in a pinch.

Just remember to make note of any necessary adjustments you may need to make to your recipe in terms of sodium, sugar, or umami savory flavor in order to strike the right balance when finding a worthy substitute for your Shaoxing dish.

Hope you’ve found this helpful. See you next time!


Can I use rice wine instead of Shaoxing wine?

Yes, you can. Remember that Shaoxing wine is a type of rice wine. So using another rice wine in its place, though not identical, is also a good substitution.

Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of Shaoxing wine?

Yes, you can, but it will be stronger than Shaoxing. Combine it with a little water or chicken broth to help mellow things out a bit.

Is sweet rice wine the same as Shaoxing wine?

Shaoxing rice is made from fermented glutinous rice, while some sweet rice wine vinegar types are not. Thus, someone who uses the term “sweet rice wine” may be referring to Shaoxing, but it isn’t a guarantee. 

Is Shaoxing wine a type of vinegar? 

No, it isn’t. Shaoxing wine is a type of wine, although, there are some vinegar types, like apple cider veingar, that can help you mimic the flavor of Shaoxing wine when combined with other substitutions. 

Can you find Shaoxing wine in the U.S.?

Yes, you can. If you can’t find it at your normal grocery store, you may need to search the Asian market in order to find it. 

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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