Rice cooking wine vs. mirin | Can I substitute one for the other?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 3, 2022

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Rice cooking wine is a common ingredient added to Asian dishes. One popular type of rice cooking wine is mirin, which is a sweet and tangy condiment that’s usually added to marinades and sauces.

Rice cooking wine vs. mirin | Can I substitute one for the other?

Shaoxing cooking wine is a good substitute for mirin. However, if you can, it’s best to use mirin itself. Other rice wines mixed with a little sugar are better substitutes for mirin.

Wondering about the differences? This article describes rice cooking wine and mirin as ingredients in Asian cuisine.

Rice cooking wine

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

Rice wine is commonly used in Asian cuisine to add sweetness to marinades, tenderize meat, and add more flavor to dishes.

Rice wine is made from fermented glutinous rice. The sugars turn into alcohol naturally through the fermentation process, similar to the way beer is made.

Mirin is a type of cooking rice wine that’s popular in Japanese cooking.

What are different types of rice cooking wine?

There are many different types of rice cooking wine:

  • Shaoxing cooking wine is a popular type of rice wine used in Asian dishes.
  • Sake is a popular rice wine that’s used as an ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
  • Mirin is a rice wine that has a strong flavor.

Both sake and mirin are used in sauces, marinades, and broths.

What are good substitutes for rice wine?

Pale dry sherry makes a good substitute for rice wine. If you’re looking for a clear substitute for rice wine, gin can work well.

If you need a rice wine substitute for a marinade, dry white wine is a good option.

What is mirin?

Mirin is a type of rice cooking wine that adds a sweet and tangy flavor to Japanese dishes.

Mirin is often used to cover a fishy smell or other peculiar aromas.

How is mirin different from rice cooking wine?

Mirin is a type of rice wine that’s sweeter than other rice wines used for cooking. Rice wines are found in most Asian countries, while mirin is mainly found in Japan or Japanese cuisine.

What is Shaoxing wine?

Shaoxing wine is a popular Chinese rice wine. It’s similar to mirin; both are used to reduce fishy smells.

Shaoxing cooking wine isn’t sweet and has a slightly spicy taste.

It’s mainly used for cooking meat and seafood. It’s great for tenderizing meat, so it’s a good addition to dishes that need to be cooked for a long time.

Shaoxing cooking wine and mirin rice wine shouldn’t be substituted for each other. They have different effects on food and function in different ways.

If you want to learn more about Shaoxing wine, check out YouTuber user Chinese Cooking Demystified’s video:

Can I substitute rice wine for mirin?

Yes, you can substitute rice wine for mirin. While it won’t taste exactly the same, you can get a similar taste by adding sugar to rice wine.

Suitable substitutes for mirin include dry sherry (or other dry white wine), sweet marsala wine, and sake mixed with a little sugar.

Can I substitute mirin for rice wine?

Yes, you can substitute mirin for rice wine. Since mirin is sweeter and has a stronger flavor, you don’t want to add as much mirin as you would other rice wines.

Also read: why is mirin so expensive? Let’s find out

What else can I substitute for rice wine?

If a recipe calls for rice wine and you don’t have any, there are substitutions you can use in its place that’ll provide the same purpose in your dish. You can find these in any grocery stores.

Some common rice wine substitutes include:

  • Apple or grape juice mixed with rice vinegar: Make sure you only add a little bit of rice vinegar so it’s not overpowering. This is best for stir-fries.
  • Sherry: As mentioned before, pale dry sherry is a substitute for Shaoxing rice wine and other amber-colored rice wines. Use an equal amount in your recipe. Avoid cooking sherry and cream sherry. Dry sherry mixed with sugar is a good substitute for Japanese sake or mirin.
  • Gin: Gin works as a substitute for white rice wine. Use slightly less gin than the recipe calls for in rice wine.
  • Dry white wine: This is also a good substitute for white rice wine for marinades and dipping sauces.
  • Dry white vermouth: In a pinch, this works as a substitute as well. But use your judgment because it may add an herbal flavor.

Cooking wines and rice wine vinegar aren’t suitable substitutes for rice wine. They can add an entirely different flavor than you intended.

If you can’t get your hands on rice wine and don’t want to substitute it, you can always make your own rice wine at home.

Otherwise, be careful when you substitute rice wine. An inadequate substitute may change the taste and consistency of your dish.

Also read: Drinkable vs cooking sake vs mirin (how to know which to use)

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.