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Top 6 Best Substitutes For Cognac: Cooking Tips and Ideas

Have you run out of Cognac in your kitchen? A good substitute for Cognac might be all you need. Read your options here.

Top 6 Best Substitute For Cognac_ Cooking Tips and Ideas


I was planning to make pan-seared steak for dinner, but to my dismay, I had run out of Cognac to make a sauce. Cognac is a significant ingredient because of its fresh, fruity flavor and dry wine-line aroma that can turn any dish luxurious. Furthermore, this premium spirit packs a high antioxidant activity to fight diseases.

However, a bottle of Cognac is expensive because its raw materials come from a specific region of France. Also, the higher product cost can limit the supply in the market. Fortunately, there are a few ingredients that you can substitute for Cognac.

You can substitute Cognac with brandy, white wine, sherry, Scotch whiskey, and bourbon. These liquors have that slight sweetness that blends well with any dish. If you like to leave out the alcohol altogether, try using fruit juice, which contains plenty of nutrients.

Not all brands can replicate the complex flavor of Cognac. You have to be meticulous about the taste and quality. For your guide, this article will discuss these Cognac substitutes further below and provide some exact recommendations for every recipe.

But before that, let’s learn about the production process and varieties of Cognac.

How Is Cognac Made?

The production of Cognac all starts in the vineyard. White grapes are grown in the vineyard, then harvested for distillation. In this case, the distillation process happens twice to produce a more refined taste.

The distillation process aims to separate alcohol from water. It involves heating the wine at a boiling temperature of 78.3 degrees Celsius in copper pot stills. The process only ends once it extracts all the alcohol content.

Now, not all alcohol extractions will be part of the bottle. The first and last liters of alcohol will be discarded or redistilled to make higher-quality wine.

The last stage of Cognac production is fermentation, which usually takes at least two years. The process is done in French oak barrels to enhance the wine quality. During this time, yeast develops to build the character and flavor of the wine.

6 Best Substitutes For Cognac

Truly, Cognac is an excellent company in the kitchen because of its versatility. But what happens if you run out of it? Here are some great drinks you can substitute.

1. Brandy

Both Cognac and Brandy are premium spirits; hence you can use them interchangeably. Only those with a well-trained palate can tell the difference that you’ve used a lesser premium spirit. But for most of us, the taste seems almost the same.

Brandy tastes as sweet as Cognac, as both use fruits for distillation. They’re a better Cognac substitute for cooking, desserts, and sauces. Make sure you use the plain variety, as the flavored ones may make the recipe taste weird.

You can also swap Cognac with Brandy in deglazing and flambe the meat. Choose Brandy with 80-proof alcohol content for that luxurious taste. When deglazing, please don’t use the bottle to pour the wine as it may explode.

2. White Wine

White Wine substitute for cognac in cooking

White wine is another excellent alcohol substitute for Cognac in cooking. White wine and Cognac are made of white grapes, giving them that same crisp flavor. It has the same sweet, citrusy flavors of Cognac that taste good in sauces for young tender vegetables.

Nothing can bring out the natural taste of seafood more than white wine. The wine adds a little sweetness and causes the seafood to caramelize while retaining its flavor. The citrus flavors of white wine also help energize white poultry dishes, just like Cognac.

To help replicate the sweetness of Cognac, leave out chardonnay and bold wine variants. Chardonnays may provide a bitter taste to your recipes. Meanwhile, bold wines can change the taste of your dishes.

3. Sherry

Sherry Wine substitute for Cognac in food recipes

Sherry has a flavor profile that couldn’t be more different than Cognac. This fortified wine has the same delicious, distinct taste that can be a drink on its own with any meal. 

However, the alcohol content of sherry might be half of Cognac. You’ll need to double the amount of sherry when swapping it with Cognac in cocktails. For this, the dry and light taste of Manzanilla sherry suits best.

The sweet Oloroso sherry seems perfect for a recipe that calls for Cognac in desserts. The rich-flavored Amontillado is the excellent sherry variety for substituting Cognac in savory recipes, like beef stroganoff. When slow-cooked, the sherry cooks off into a sweet aroma and develops a slightly nutty flavor.

4. Scotch Whiskey

Scotch Whiskey - best substitutes for cognac

If you like something to drink after a long day, Scotch Whiskey might be an excellent alternative to Cognac. Both spirits have an alcohol content of around 40% to 60%. Their ingredients differ, though, as Scotch originates from malted barley while Cognac originates from grapes.

Not everyone enjoys the rich taste of whiskey, so avoid mixing it in cocktails. You can drink it on its own to enjoy the smoky flavor. Add some ice and pair it with your favorite meal for a memorable dinner.

When used for cooking, reduce the amount that the recipe requires. The taste can be slightly sharper than Cognac, which may affect the taste of savory or sweet recipes when used too much.

5. Bourbon

Bourbon substitute for cognac in cooking recipes

Bourbon and Cognac undergo fermentation in oak barrels, but their ingredients are different. Cognac uses grapes as raw material, while bourbon consists of corn with rye and malted barley. Bourbon tastes a little sweet like Cognac, with hints of smokiness from the oak barrels.

Although bourbon may taste more robust than Cognac, it’s a lovely cooking alternative. You have to use a little to not overpower the taste of the dish. For every portion of Cognac, use ⅓ of bourbon.

You’ll want to choose a plain variety of bourbon because the flavored ones might alter the taste of your savory dish. Opt for vanilla bourbon or add a little sugar if you want a little sweetness to your desserts.

6. Fruit Juice

Fruit Juice Non-alcoholic substitute for Cognac in cooking

Fruit juice is the best reply when someone asks you, “what are non-alcoholic substitutes for Cognac in cooking?”. Not all fruit juices are suitable, as some can be too sweet for your recipes. The best fruit juices that can mimic the fruity punch of Cognac include apricot, apple, pear, and other citrus fruits.

Fruit juices may substitute Cognac in sweet and savory recipes. Lighten the sweetness of fruit juices with a bit of water to make a sauce. You can also add apple cider vinegar to bring acidity into the dish like Cognac.

While the flavor may not be too close to other liquor, the fruit juice stands out with its health benefits. These fresh juices offer plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Substitute For Cognac In Cooking

Having so many options, you may ask yourself, “what can I substitute for Cognac in a recipe?” Lucky for you, we have compiled the ingredients that you may use in case Cognac isn’t available. Here’s the best substitute for Cognac in different recipes.

Substitute for cognac in different recipes

  • Substitute for Cognac in French Onion Soup

Cognac adds that outstanding depth of flavor to French Onion Soup. In place of Cognac, brandy and sherry are the best substitutes. 

Brandy provides that slightly sweet flavor to the soup. Meanwhile, a splash of dry sherry will provide that crisp flavor you get from Cognac. 

To use, add ¼ cup of brandy or dry sherry after the onions have gone translucent. Simmer for 30 minutes, and serve immediately with toasted French bread. The result will be reduced sherry or brandy with caramelized onions and herbs in clear beef broth.

  • Substitute for Cognac in Cocktails

You can substitute Cognac with sherry, brandy, and apple juice in cocktails. Use an equal amount of brandy for Cognac cocktails. Double the amount of sherry to replace Cognac as it contains less alcohol. 

If you like a non-alcoholic cocktail, use apple juice instead. Use the same amount of apple juice as Cognac in the cocktail recipe.

For variety, add dates to add a rich sweetness to the apple juice cocktail. Use a good substitute for dates if not available.

  • Substitute for Cognac in Steak Diane

Steak Diane is a dish consisting of thin slices of beef pan-fried with deglazed Cognac sauce. If you can’t find Cognac, substitute it with brandy, dry white wine, or fruit juice. 

Dry white wine has the same crisp flavors as Cognac. It will still provide the same deliciousness when deglazed while dissolving the steak’s fat. 

Brandy will give that subtle sweet taste left out by Cognac in the steak’s sauce. If you want to serve this dish with your kids, leave out the alcohol and replace it with fruit juice.

To substitute, use the same number of tablespoons as the amount of Cognac in the recipe.

Substitute for cognac in steak diane

  • Substitute for Cognac in Tiramisu

Traditionally, tiramisu uses alcohol in the filling to add an extra punch to the palate. Cognac drizzles over the sponge fingers after being dunked into the coffee mixture. This combination gives that distinct earthy wood flavor that everyone loves.

When you run out of Cognac, look for brandy to add depth to this boozy dessert. Use a few tablespoons, the same as the amount required for Cognac in the recipe.

Suppose you want an alcohol-free tiramisu, substitute Cognac with apple juice. Add the liquid to the cream and whisk it before soaking the ladyfinger cookies.

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What Are The Different Types Of Cognac?

Cognac can be made in various types, depending on how long it ages in the barrels. From VS to XXO, each type differs from the other.

  • VS Cognac: Also known as Very Special Cognac, this variety aged for at least two years. This young Cognac features lovely fruity aromas. Its youthful fire goes well with cocktails, long drinks, and cooking.
  • VSOP Cognac: Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) Cognac tends to have a smoother taste than VS with its four-year stay in the barrel. It offers distinct notes of spices and oak that go well with dishes and cocktails.
  • XO Cognac: More than ten years in the barrel, Extra Old (XO) Cognac offers a rich taste. Hints of dried fruit, warm spices, and chocolate permeate the wine. This Cognac variety suits well as an accompaniment for food.
  • XXO Cognac: Extra extra old (XXO) Cognac holds the longest fermentation time of at least 14 years. This wine packs a punch and flavor, perfect for fine dining.

What are famous non-alcoholic substitutes for Cognac in cooking?

Fruit juices and brandy extract are two of the most popular non-alcoholic alternatives for Cognac in cooking. Like Cognac, fruit juices pack a fruity flavor though they lack fermentation to make them alcoholic. You can try several fruit juices: citrus fruits, pear, apple, apricots, and peaches.

Brandy extract is brandy without the alcohol content. This extract suits best for desserts and baked recipes. Other extracts that can replicate the sweetness of Cognac include vanilla extract and almond extract.

Why do I need a substitute for Cognac?

A bottle of Cognac is quite expensive, so you may need to look for some great substitutes that cost less. Also, the supply may be limited since the production must come from Southwest France. If you’re allergic to alcohol, you must substitute it with something more health-friendly.

What can I substitute for Cognac in gravy?

You can substitute Cognac with brandy, Scotch, or bourbon to make your meat dishes gravy. Warm a few tablespoons of these liquors in a saucepan over low flame. To deglaze the pan, chill these liquor alternatives beforehand.


At this point, you know what to substitute for Cognac in case you run out of it in the kitchen. Of all the alternatives, my favorite is brandy because its flavor profile is almost identical to Cognac. These two liquors have a sweet, fruity flavor that pair well with red meat, chicken, and seafood.

Keep in mind that the quality of the alcohol will alter the flavor of the dish. If you can’t stand to drink it, don’t use it for cooking.