Can you eat mirin without cooking?

In this brief blog we will answer the question, “Can you eat mirin without cooking?” We will talk about what mirin is, describe how it tastes and how it is made. We will look at the nutritional content of mirin and some substitutes for mirin.

Can you eat mirin without cooking?

No, you should not drink mirin because it is exclusively manufactured to be used as a cooking wine. However there is a type of mirin known as Hon mirin which can be drunk. If the ingredients in your mirin are glutinous rice, rice malt, and shochu only feel free to drink it.

However if your mirin has additional ingredients then it is meant to be used to season food.

What is Mirin?

Mirin is a rice wine made by fermenting a mixture of steamed mochi rice, koji (fermented rice) and shochu (sweet potato alcohol) for about forty to sixty days. It is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking mainly used as a condiment to season food.

What does mirin taste like?

Mirin is usually bold and layered and has a mixture of sweetness and tanginess. It does taste just a little like sake but it is sweeter than sake and has a low alcohol content of about 14 percent. It is a bit like a dessert wine but more subtle.

How is mirin made?

Mirin is made by combining rice koji which is rice cooked and fermented with a mold known as Aspergillus oryzae, mochi which is steamed rice and shochu which is a distilled rice liquor. This mixture is left to ferment anywhere from 2 months to some years.

The longer the fermentation period the better the mirin gets deeper flavors and becomes darker. 

Mirin helps infuse a flavor of umami in dishes and it makes glazes, marinade and dipping sauces more flavor infused and delicious.

What is the nutritional content of mirin?

There are a variety of mirin dependent on the brand you purchase from the store. It is important that whenever you are buying you check the list of ingredients to ensure that you purchase a brand with traditional ingredients such as koji and rice.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) a 15 ml serving of traditional mirin rice can typically contains the below nutrients:

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 130mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 0

Some brands may contain added sugars such as high fructose corn and it is therefore important to check the label because such brands can lead to health implications.

What can I substitute for mirin?

Rice Wine Vinegar

This is fermented rice wine and is a good substitute because it makes for a good non alcoholic substitute. It however tends to be more sour than sweet as compared to mirin. It is therefore important to add some sugar when using it.

Add one teaspoon of rice wine plus a half teaspoon of sugar for each teaspoon of mirin to balance out. The advantage of using rice wine is that it contains no calories and sodium, however the additional sugar adds in about 8 cals,  2 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar for every teaspoon added.


Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It has a very similar taste as cooking wine and can be used to infuse an authentic taste if you have no mirin. It is however like rice wine not sweet and is advised that you also add some sugar.

Use a teaspoon of sake with a half teaspoon of sugar for every teaspoon of mirin.

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is made from wine wine as its name suggests. It is white wine that has undergone fermentation and oxidized into an acid and it has a mild fruity flavor.If you are out of rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar is an excellent substitute.

It however does have a sour taste which you will require to offset by adding some small amount of sugar when using it to replace mirin. For each teaspoon of mirin use a teaspoon of white wine vinegar with a half teaspoon of sugar.

In essence, any variety of vinegar that could be in your kitchen can act as a good replacement for mirin including apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. Just be sure to add some small amount of sugar or even fruit juice so as to mask the sourness and balance out the flavors.


In this brief blog we have answered the question, “Can you eat mirin without cooking?” We have described how mirin tastes and how it is made. We looked at the nutritional content of mirin and some substitutes for mirin.


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