The 8 Best Substitutes for Mirin in Teriyaki Sauce

If you’re a fan of teriyaki sauce, then you know that mirin is an essential ingredient.

Mirin is a sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking and adds depth and sweetness to the flavor of teriyaki sauce.

But what if you don’t have any mirin on hand?

Don’t worry – there are plenty of substitutes for mirin that can be used in place of it when making your teriyaki sauce.

In this article, I’ll share with you 8 different alternatives for mirin so that you can still enjoy a delicious bowl of teriyaki without having to buy any special ingredients.

Why is Mirin used in Teriyaki Sauce?


Mirin is a sweet, low-alcohol rice wine used in Japanese cuisine.

It adds sweetness and viscosity to teriyaki sauce, balancing out the salty soy sauce that’s also present.

Mirin contains enzymes that help break down proteins, tenderizing meats without altering their flavor profile.

This quality makes it helpful when marinating beef or chicken for teriyaki dishes.

The alcohol content of mirin also helps to prevent bacteria growth while cooking, making it a safe and healthy addition to any dish.

Most importantly, mirin gives teriyaki its unique sweet-tangy taste that has become so popular over time – something you can’t get with just soy sauce alone!

The 8 Best Substitutes for Mirin in Teriyaki Sauce

Mirin is a key ingredient in teriyaki sauce, but it can be hard to find and expensive.

Fortunately, there are several alternatives that can be used as substitutes for mirin in teriyaki sauce.

Here are eight of the best:

1. Dry Sherry

If you’re a fan of teriyaki sauce, but don’t have any mirin on hand, then dry sherry is an excellent alternative.

Dry sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes and has sweet notes that are similar to mirin.

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It can be used as a substitute for mirin in teriyaki sauce recipes without affecting the flavor too much.

The alcohol content of the sherry will burn off during cooking, so there’s no need to worry about it being too strong or overpowering the dish

Just add a small amount at first and adjust according to your taste preferences.

2. Sweet Marsala Wine

Sweet Marsala Wine

How about using sweet Marsala wine as a substitute for mirin in your teriyaki sauce?

Sweet Marsala wine is a fortified Italian white wine that has been aged, making it quite similar to the sweetness and depth of flavor found in mirin.

It can be used interchangeably with mirin in any recipe, including teriyaki sauce.

When substituting sweet Marsala for mirin, use an equal amount as recommended by the recipe and reduce the amount of sugar or honey you add to balance out the sweetness.

You may also need to adjust other ingredients such as soy sauce and garlic, depending on how strong your Marsala is compared to your Mirin.

With just a few minor adjustments, you can still enjoy delicious homemade teriyaki sauce even without having mirin on hand!

3. White Wine Vinegar

If you’re in a pinch, and you don’t have any mirin on hand, then using white wine vinegar is your next best option.

Depending on the recipe, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar with 1 teaspoon of sugar can match the sweetness level that a tablespoon of mirin would provide.

You should note that this substitution won’t give you quite the same depth as mirin does however it will still do the job of substituting for sweetness and providing richness to your teriyaki sauce when needed.

To get a bit more depth to your sauce, you can experiment by adding small amounts of rice vinegar or sake.

4. Rice Wine Vinegar

While different in name, these two common ingredients are actually quite similar in flavor.

Rice wine vinegar has a sweet and tangy flavor that can add an extra layer of sweetness to your teriyaki sauces.

Rice wine vinegar also comes in different varieties depending on how it’s brewed.

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Some brands offer seasoned or unseasoned versions as well as clear versions and ones made with calcium chloride which creates a much sweeter taste than normal vinegar.

If you’re using this replacement for mirin, I would recommend using less than what the recipe calls for since this ingredient carries a very strong flavor when compared to mirin.

This will help balance out the other flavors present in your teriyaki sauce so you won’t lose any of its unique flavor profile due to intense acidity from too much rice wine vinegar.

5. Sake

Sake is also a type of rice wine used commonly in Japanese cooking and has many similarities to the flavor that mirin would provide.

It has an underlying sweetness that will balance out the saltiness from soy sauce making for an excellent combination for creating teriyaki sauce.

When it comes to substituting Mirin with Sake, be sure to keep in mind your desired level of sweetness or tartness for your dish because each ingredient varies with these properties.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

If you’re a fan of teriyaki sauce but don’t have any mirin on hand, you can use Apple Cider Vinegar as a substitute.

Although it won’t produce the same level of sweetness that Mirin does, the acidity will still add depth to the flavor and counteract some of the saltiness in these types of sauces.

A few other pantry staples can be used as substitutes too.

If you’re short on apple cider vinegar, balsamic or white wine vinegars are great stand-ins for Mirin in teriyaki sauce.

To bring out its sweet flavor, try adding a bit of honey or brown sugar with either one!

And if all else fails, regular Rice Wine Vinegar works as well since it contains more sweetness than most store-bought varieties.

7. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar is a type of vinegar originating from Italy, which is made with grape must that has been aged in wood barrels for up to 25 years.

The taste of Balsamic vinegar ranges from sweet to sour and can be used as both a cooking ingredient and condiment.

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It’s commonly added to sauces, dressings, marinades, glazes, stews, sautés and more.

Due to the intensely flavored syrup-like consistency, it gives dishes it pairs incredibly well with fruity flavors like berries or stone fruits such as cherries or peaches and is an especially great replacement for mirin due its sweet notes that still adds depth of flavor without being overpoweringly sweet.

8. White Wine + Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar

If you’re running low on mirin and need an ingredient that can still deliver the same sweetness and depth of flavor, try substituting for some white wine mixed with a little brown sugar.

The combination of the two will create an almost exact copycat to traditional mirin.

White wine is composed primarily of grape juice that has been fermented to create alcohol ranging from 12% – 14% ABV depending on the types used.

White wines come in many varieties such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, each with their own unique flavors and aromas deriving from different additives like wood chips or fermentation processes like malolactic fermentation.

Brown sugar adds slight molasses notes and color to your teriyaki sauce by adding a small amount during cooking (roughly 2 tablespoons).

You might find it yields better when compared to honey due to its lower viscosity which allows it to mix more easily into the sauce.



8 Substitutes for Mirin in Teriyaki Sauce

If you're out of mirin and in need of a teriyaki sauce, look no further! In this article, I'm sharing my top 8 substitutes for mirin when making teriyaki sauce. I'll explain how each one works, what flavors it brings to the dish, and how to use it properly.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sauce, Substitutes
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 people
Calories 57 kcal


  • Dry Sherry
  • Sweet Marsala Wine
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Sake
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • White Wine + Brown Sugar


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.