The Ultimate Guide to the Top 11 Cognac Substitutes for Every Recipe

The best cognac substitutes: A Comprehensive Guide

Cognac, a type of brandy produced in the Cognac region of France, is known for its unique flavor and rich history. However, purchasing an entire bottle of cognac for a single recipe or occasional use can be expensive and impractical. Fortunately, there are several excellent substitutes that can replicate the taste and aroma of cognac. In this article, we will explore the 11 best cognac substitutes that you can use in your recipes or as an alternative for enjoying a glass of cognac.

1. Brandy

Brandy is the closest substitute for cognac, as cognac itself is a type of brandy. Brandy shares many characteristics with Cognac, including its delicate and fruity flavor profile. When using brandy as a substitute, it is best to choose an unflavored brandy to maintain the authentic taste. Brandy can be used in both savory and sweet recipes, making it a versatile alternative to Cognac.

2. Dark Rum

Dark rum can be a good substitute for cognac, especially in recipes that call for dark rum. It has a strong and distinct flavor, so it is advisable to use a smaller amount compared to the amount of Cognac called for in the recipe. Dark rum adds a slightly sweeter note to dishes, which works well in sweet recipes. However, when used in savory dishes, it is important to balance the flavors properly.

3. Fruit Juice

Fruit juice can serve as a versatile substitute for cognac in several recipes. The choice of fruit juice depends on the specific dish and the desired flavor profile. Fruit juices can be particularly effective in sweet recipes, but they can also be used to add flavor to sauces and gravies. If additional acidity is needed, a small amount of cooking wine or apple cider vinegar can be added to compensate for the lack of tang in fruit juices.

4. Whiskey

Whiskey can be a good substitute for Cognac in certain recipes and drinks. It has a slightly sharper and more astringent taste than Cognac, so it is recommended to use it in smaller quantities. The amount of whiskey required may vary depending on whether the recipe is savory or sweet. Whiskey adds a distinctive character to dishes and can be a good alternative if you have it on hand.

5. Bourbon

Bourbon, with its robust flavor profile, can be an excellent substitute for Cognac. It is advisable to use about one-third the amount of bourbon as the amount of cognac called for in the recipe. Choose unflavored bourbon to ensure that the flavor of the dish is not drastically altered. Adding a pinch of brown sugar or vanilla extract can help balance the flavors, especially if the bourbon is too strong.

6. Wine

Wine, like cognac, is made from grapes and can be a suitable substitute in certain recipes. The choice of wine depends on whether the recipe calls for white or red wine. White wine can be used in sauces and desserts, offering fruity and crisp notes. Red wine, on the other hand, adds depth and richness to meat-based dishes such as casseroles and stews. Port wine can also be used as a substitute, provided it is full-bodied and not overly sweet.

7. Sherry

Sherry can be used as a substitute for Cognac, especially in dessert recipes. Although sherry tends to be sweeter than cognac, it can add a pleasant touch to sweet dishes without significantly altering the overall flavor. It can also be used in savory dishes that benefit from a touch of sweetness, such as tomato-based recipes. When substituting Sherry for Cognac, it is important to consider the specific flavors and balance them accordingly.

8. Armagnac

Similar to Cognac, Armagnac is a type of brandy; however, it undergoes a different distillation process. Armagnac is produced by column distillation and is generally less expensive than Cognac. Despite the difference in production, Armagnac has a similar flavor profile to Cognac, making it a suitable substitute in many recipes and occasions.

9. Coffee Liqueur

For those who enjoy the depth of flavor found in cognac, coffee liqueur can be an interesting substitute. Although coffee liqueur is very different from cognac, both spirits offer a complex and rich flavor. Coffee liqueur works particularly well in dessert recipes where the coffee notes can enhance the overall flavor profile. Recipes such as tiramisu can benefit from substituting coffee liqueur for cognac.

10. Cooking Wine and Sweeteners

In many styles of cooking, the combination of cooking wine and a sweetener, such as sugar, can be a suitable substitute for cognac. Cooking wine, typically made from fermented grapes, adds depth and complexity to dishes. By adding a sweetener, such as sugar or honey, the combination can mimic the subtle sweetness of Cognac. This substitute is particularly useful in savory recipes that require the distinctive flavor of Cognac.

11. Non-Alcoholic Substitutes

For those who prefer non-alcoholic options or cannot consume alcohol, there are alternatives to consider. Non-alcoholic substitutes for cognac include fruit juice and soy sauce. Fruit juices, such as apple or grape juice, can add a fruity and slightly tart flavor to dishes. Soy sauce, on the other hand, can add depth and umami notes to savory recipes. These substitutes can be used in a variety of dishes, depending on the desired flavor profile.


If you are without cognac or simply prefer not to use it, there are several excellent substitutes. Brandy, dark rum, fruit juice, whiskey, bourbon, wine, sherry, armagnac, coffee liqueur, cooking wine with sweetener, and non-alcoholic alternatives offer a range of flavors and characteristics that can replicate the taste of cognac in various recipes. Experimenting with these substitutes can add a unique twist to your culinary creations and allow you to enjoy the flavors reminiscent of Cognac without the need for an entire bottle.


Can I substitute brandy for cognac in any recipe?

Yes, brandy is the closest substitute for cognac and can be used in a wide range of recipes that call for cognac.

Are there non-alcoholic alternatives to cognac?

Yes, non-alcoholic substitutes such as fruit juice and soy sauce can be used to replicate the flavors of cognac in recipes.

How much of a substitute should I use compared to the amount of Cognac in a recipe?

The amount of substitute to use depends on the specific substitute and the desired flavor intensity. It is recommended to start with a smaller amount and adjust to taste.

Can I substitute wine for cognac in any recipe?

Yes, wine can be used as a substitute for cognac in certain recipes, especially those that call for a splash of alcohol for flavor.

Are there any substitutes that work better in sweet recipes than in savory recipes?

Yes, substitutes such as fruit juice, dark rum and coffee liqueur tend to work particularly well in sweet recipes, adding depth and complexity to desserts.