One of the most popular drinks is known for the effects they bring us when we wake up in the morning after a night out of drinking. (*)
At least, that’s what vodka makes the US feel! Being alcohol with no color, odor, or flavor, it’s perfect for cocktails with high alcohol content. (*)
But did you know that you can also use it for cooking, baking?
It’s incredible in many dishes as it elevates flavors in savory recipes and sweet desserts. So, what are you going to do if you have no vodka at home to use (or drink)?
You can always use a vodka substitute and still achieve the flavors you want, whether in your drinks or food.
Read on for the ultimate vodka substitute list with ingredients you can find at home or in your local stores.
- What is The Best Vodka Substitute?
- Non-Alcoholic Vodka Substitutes
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
What is The Best Vodka Substitute?
Vodka is a unique spirit made of ingredients like wheat, corn, rye, potatoes, and sorghum. As a result of the ingredients and processing, you get a clear and neutral-tasting drink ideal for beverages and cooking.
While vodka is readily available in liqueur stores or supermarkets, some people may not have the time to go to the store, or they can’t find any vodka! Regardless of the reason, you can always consider using these alternatives:
Gin is an excellent vodka substitute for alcoholic cocktails, as it will give a slightly herbaceous and juniper-y berry flavor.
There are only very minimal differences. Gin is clear alcohol, so it won’t muddy up or alter your drink’s appearance when pouring it into a glass.
We recommend using gin in cocktails like the classic Bloody Mary and Harvey Wallbanger.
You can use the same amount of gin as you would with vodka.
2. White Rum
White rum won’t go through the similar filtration process vodka would, so it has more flavor than vodka. White rum would have different flavors depending on the ingredients. It can taste sweet and fruity, herbal, and even savory!
Pro-tip: Get the cheapest bottle in the liqueur store to achieve a similar flavorless flavor as vodka. These bottles won't have that herbaceous depth of flavor that expensive brands offer.
You can use white rum in cocktails that need vodka, like the Mojito, Pina Colada, and Daiquiri.
Vodka continues to be the main culprit for many hangovers; we can attest to that. We mean, just a few shots of vodka, and you’re teeter-tottering!
If the higher alcohol content stops you from using it in cocktails, you can always use sake. The alcohol volume varies on the brand and bottle, but usually, they have a much lower ABV than vodka.
Sake is made of fermented rice, an aromatic alcoholic beverage tasting sweet and fruity.
It’s perfect for alcoholic cocktails like martinis, mojitos, and sangrias.
What if you’re looking for a vodka substitute because you prefer something with a higher alcoholic content?
Then that’s where tequila comes along!
It’s got a higher alcoholic content and will pack a punch, suitable for parties.
We recommend using this on cocktails like margaritas, Moscow mules, and the kamikaze.
Schnapps is not a popular vodka substitute, but it’s a tasty and readily available one that works.
You can use this in various recipes, coming in different fruity flavors to find the best one matching the taste of your drinks or dishes.
Many bakers like using vodka instead of water to moisten their pie crusts.
You’ll be surprised with how well it works, with the alcohol helping you work the dough without contributing to the gluten formation. Meaning, the crust won’t turn leathery after baking it.
Whiskey is a great vodka substitute if you want to make pies but have no vodka.
You’ll get that deliciously flaky crust with only a subtle hint of whiskey. However, if you don’t like the whiskey flavor at all, then bakers recommend going back to water instead of vodka.
Make sure you use less water than you would with vodka, as the former won’t burn off quickly like alcohol.
If your flambe recipe requires vodka, you can easily substitute it for brandy. While you can use any high-alcohol spirit, brandy takes the cake here, a popular drink most chefs use. Besides that, brandy is valuable when deglazing your pan.
Pro-tip: Another excellent vodka substitute for flambe or deglazing pans is sherry. Fino or Manzanilla sherry is great for cooking or cocktails, offering umami and a lingering, smoky finish.
Dessert makers are aware that alcohol contains a low freezing point, making it suitable for ice cream during the churning process. Thanks to the alcohol, you’ll get creamier and smoother ice cream!
Most ice cream recipes ask for vodka, though any clear spirits work excellently.
You’ll like using mezcal, a delicious and slightly smoky flavor that brings a unique flavor to your favorite dessert.
9. Premade Vodka Sauce
Vodka is a popular ingredient in pasta sauces, such as the penne ala vodka.
It also stops the cream from separating.
Another practical use is that vodka adds sharpness, balancing out the tomatoes’ sweetness. For those with no vodka, then premade vodka sauce is one of the quickest and easiest solutions.
These are readily available in supermarkets or online stores, so you won’t need to purchase vodka or make your own sauce.
Pro-Tip: If you want to make a homemade pasta sauce that requires vodka, you can also try Grappa. This is an aromatic and grape-based pomace brandy. Make sure you choose one with higher strength.
Non-Alcoholic Vodka Substitutes
Are you here because you don’t want any alcohol in your mocktails or food?
We thought about you! Here are the best non-alcoholic vodka substitutes you can choose from:
Lemonade works excellently if you want to create a mean mocktail without the alcohol.
It’s excellent for non-drinkers and kids!
However, do note that lemonade is a lot sweeter than vodka. If your cocktail requires other sweeteners like simple syrup or honey, omit them or add a smaller amount unless you want a sickly sweet drink. If you have no lemonade, you can always add a squeeze or splash or lime or lemon juice for the extra zing.
Pro-Tip: Lemonade won’t be as effective in all drinks that call for vodka. For instance, you definitely won’t want to use it in an espresso martini!
11. Tonic Water
You won’t go wrong with tonic water for a simple and tasty non-alcoholic vodka substitute. This excellent vodka substitute enhances the flavor of other ingredients in cocktails without alcohol. Personally, we love it in mojitos!
While tonic water tends to have a mild flavor, it won’t alter your drink’s flavor significantly.
There are different kinds of tonic water available with different concentrations. While you can use plain water, it will merely dilute your drink or recipe without adding anything.
12. Orange Juice and Apple Juice
Orange juice is a fantastic vodka substitute for many cocktails.
You can use this as a vodka substitute combining well with non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages.
Other than orange juice, you can also use apple juice, a versatile beverage you can use in various cocktails or recipes. Like lemonade, both apple and orange juice have extra sugar, so you may want to omit additional sweeteners to your cocktails when using fruit juices.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much alcohol does vodka have?
Vodka contains about 40% ABV, so expect it to pack quite a punch in your drinks! Fortunately, the alcohol usually dissolves while cooking, so you won’t get drunk over your baked goods or savory recipes unless you add a lot of it or use it on raw dishes. (*)
2. What other non-alcoholic substitutes are there?
Besides tonic water and fruit juices, you can also try ginger ale or your favorite soda. There are other sweeteners you can use as well, like lychee nectar or chocolate syrup! However, these substitutes are not like vodka, as they contain no alcohol and have much more flavor, so they can alter how your drink or recipe tastes.
3. What recipes can you use vodka in?
There are so many different recipes that vodka will be of great use in, such as:
- Lemon vodka cake
- Vodka chocolate bites
- Spiked cherry tomatoes
- Penne and vodka sauce
- Vodka lemon chicken
- Distilled bruschetta
- Cocktails like the screwdriver, vodka cranberry, Caribbean sunrise, vodka lemonade, etc.
- And a lot more!
Wrapping It Up
While we love our vodka, we also love these alternatives that can emulate the similar, if not more enjoyable, and unique flavors to our recipes. Use any of these vodka substitutes, whether you run out of it or want a non-alcoholic vodka substitute.
You’ll be surprised with what flavors these drinks have to offer and how they can change the game of your cocktails or recipes.