Many people who’ve had teriyaki often wonder what exactly mirin is. Mirin is a sweetened rice wine that’s earned its place as a staple in Japanese cuisine. Its sweet, tangy richness has made it a key ingredient in many sauces and even ramen-style dishes.
Mirin is pretty similar to saké as it’s a rice wine, but it sips much sweeter, and even though it can be consumed on its own, it’s more often used as a cooking ingredient. The alcohol content in mirin does cook off with heat, but some great non-alcoholic mirin substitutes are rice wine vinegar, white grape juice, Kotterin mirin, aji-mirin seasoning, and Blutol bianco vermouth.
How Much Alcohol is There In Mirin?
Mirin is sometimes consumed as an alcoholic beverage in line with a dessert wine. It’s very sweet and contains roughly 14% alcohol content compared to 40 to 50% sugar content. More often, mirin is used as a cooking wine in simmered dishes or in noodle-based soup dishes.
Mirin is also often used in Japanese sauces such as teriyaki or kabayaki, which is a thicker soy-based sauce that is definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity.
Is There a Non-alcoholic Mirin?
Yes and no, as mirin is a rice wine, not using wine wouldn’t technically be mirin, but there are alcohol-free variants of mirin that are either a mixture of rice vinegar and honey or a corn-syrup sugar water blend.
It’s also worth noting that even though mirin is a wine, it’s so low in alcohol content that all the alcohol will burn off during the cooking process leaving behind only subtly sweet and tangy flavors.
It’s completely up to you if you’d rather have a non-alcoholic mirin substitute, but you will lose some of the great characteristics that make mirin so tasty.
What are some Non-alcoholic Mirin Substitute That You Can Use?
If you’re overly sensitive to alcohol or prefer not to use cooking wines in your cuisine, here are some fantastic non-alcoholic mirin substitutes that pack a punch and can enhance any dish.
1. Rice Wine Vinegar
Both mirin and rice wine vinegar are created by fermenting the sugars in the rice into wine, so they have a similar flavor profile. If you were to compare rice wine vinegar to regular distilled white vinegar, rice wine is far less acidic and has a delicately sweet taste.
This is excellent pickling vinegar!
2. White Grape Juice
White grape juice is another fantastic substitute if you want to add sweetness to your dish or simply deglaze the pan. You can think of this stuff as a sweet, non-alcoholic white wine.
If you want to add a little more flavor to the dish, try adding one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of grape juice.
3. Kikkoman Kotteri Mirin
Kikkoman Kotteri Mirin is pretty similar to regular mirin. It’s another sweet rice wine, but like rice wine vinegar, the entirety of the alcohol content is eliminated by the time it’s bottled.
This non-alcoholic mirin substitute is a great way to add authentic Japanese flavor to any dish, offering a mildly sweet glaze to grilled meats or sautéed vegetables. It’ll also work as a great substitute in teriyaki or any other sauces.
4. Aji-Mirin Seasoning
Aji-mirin seasoning is another great substitute. In western culture, we often associate the word seasoning with powder, but aji-mirin seasoning is actually another sweetened rice wine that has all the alcohol removed.
5. Blutul Bianco Vermouth
Blutol Biano Vermouth is a really cool creative way to substitute mirin as it’s made from alcohol-free white wine mixed with herbs to make a really tasty spirit-free vermouth.
In addition to being great for cooking, Blutol Biano Vermouth tastes great when added to tea, coffee, or mixed into cocktails. Try a Manhattan or classic martini with Blutul in place of regular vermouth. You won’t be sorry!
6. Regis Chardonnay
St. Regis Chardonnay might sound like it has alcohol in it, but it’s actually an alcohol-free white wine. It has an elegant golden color with floral and fruity notes of stone fruit such as apricot and pear.
It’s delicious on its own but makes for a great non-alcoholic mirin substitute tossed into any sautéed dish or broiled meats.
How Do You Make Homemade Mirin Without Alcohol?
Since mirin is a rice wine, without being a wine, it can’t be mirin—but—you can make a dang good substitute. Not only will the substitute be tasty, but it’s also extremely easy to make.
- 4 TBS Rice vinegar
- ½ Cup of sugar
- ½ Cup of water
- Add ½ a cup of sugar, ½ a cup of water, and 4 TBS to a saucepan and cook over medium heat.
- Stir sugar occasionally until fully dissolved with water, but don’t cook so long that the mixture thickens into a syrup.
- Remove from heat and leave the pan to cool before transferring the mixture to a liquid-safe container to store in the refrigerator.
There you have six delicious non-alcoholic mirin substitutes, and if you’re a DIY kind of home cook, you can even make a substitute yourself that adds sweet and tangy flavors to your meals and sauces.