What can I substitute for mirin?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for mirin?” with an in-depth analysis of mirin, the positive and negative sides of mirin, and the possible substitutes for mirin.

What can I substitute for mirin?

We can substitute mirin for soy dipping sauce, lemon chicken teriyaki bowl, bitter green salad with spiced mirin dressing, mirin-braised bok choy with shiitake mushrooms, buttery mirin mushrooms, and Ginger-chile bok choy.

Japan accounts for 5% of the world’s wine imports in value. In terms of rice wine, there are more than 150 competitive producers in the sake market but the five largest manufacturers have approximately 40% of the market (2).

What is a Mirin?

Mirin is a type of food product that resembles rice wine and it is one of the common constituents of Japanese cooking. Mirin consists of a large amount of sugar and has a lower amount of alcohol (3).

It is also termed sweet rice wine, which can provide shade of acidity to a lighter level in a dish. It can also give the umami taste to other dishes like savoury. It is frequently used in many of the recipes in Asian and fusion meal plans. 

Mirin is a fermented sweetened rice beverage. Fermented alcoholic beverages are generally recognized as microbiologically safe due to their high ethanol content (4%) and low pH (<4.5). However, they may also be potentially hazardous because (i) the raw materials containing abundant sugars and starches are nutrients for bacteria; (ii) the manufacturing processes is complex, with many potential routes of contamination; and (iii) the fermentation temperature (generally 18 to 35°C for 2 to 14 days) is favorable for bacterial growth (both for the starter cultures and for spoilage and pathogenic bacteria) (1).

Many simple hacks can alternate the tangy taste and flavour of mirin.

Possible substitutes for mirin

Substitutes are required when the original product is out of the store and not available easily. And it might be possible if mirin is not available in its original state or pure form then it can be replaced with its possible alternates.

Sweet Marsala wine, dry white wine, dry sherry, and rice vinegar can be used in these tricks where we can add half a teaspoon of sugar on each tablespoon of mirins’ substitutes.

Some of the possible substitutes of mirin are stated below,


Aji-Mirin is a substitute for mirin that has a quite similar taste as mirin. Aji-mirin is not mirin, it’s an alternative product. Aji-mirin is one of the constituents which is available mainly outside Japan. Mirin which is found traditionally is rarely available and expensive as compared to other mirin. Aji-mirin is not that actual mirin that can be used in Japanese cuisines. It can be used to add umami taste and flavour in daily recipes of cooking (4).

Kikkoman Aji Mirin

Kikkoman Aji mirin is another substitute for mirin that can be used perfectly in place of mirin. It is also considered as a rice wine which is most commonly used in Japan. It is also perfect for cooking purposes. It has a quite good taste and flavour which boosts the rest of all flavours in the recipes instead to overpower these flavours and tastes.

It is recommended to use in different recipes such as teriyaki, sukiyaki, tempura, and stir-fries. It is also used by experts in some other recipes like some of its content is added into white rice while making them boil, during cooking of steaks, and also into the desserts to give a fine flavour of the recipe (4).


Japanese sake, a traditional alcoholic beverage, is produced from steamed rice by the simultaneous utilization of two microorganisms, A. oryzae and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During the sake manufacturing process, steamed rice is initially fermented with the fungus A. oryzae for 5–7 days. This fermented rice is then mixed with water and the yeast S. cerevisiae and incubated at approximately 4°C for 7 days. Starch is digested into sugar by enzymes that are produced and secreted into the inoculate by A. oryzae during the fermentation process. The sugar is then converted into ethanol by yeast enzymes (5).

Sake is a good alternative product which has quite a resemblance with the original product “sake”. For making taste similar to mirin, sake is mixed with white sugar to maintain the sweetness of the recipe. 

When we use sake as an alternative product of sake, mirin has a minimum content of alcohol, and when we add sugar into the sake for a sweeter taste it further reduces the alcohol content.

If we measure sake concerning mirin, 1 tablespoon of mirin is nearly equal to the 1 teaspoon containing sake and two teaspoons of sugar for making a similar taste product like mirin. 

Sake is recommended to add in some of the products such as marinades to eliminate odours from fish and meat. Before cooking, it is also used in some of the recipes to remove the content of alcohol. It also has a good role in making the meat tender and also plays a vital role in the addition of umami taste in dishes.

Kikkoman Ryorishi cooking Sake seasoning

Kikkoman Ryorishu Cooking sake seasoning is a variety of food products that are used for cooking purposes as one of another version of sake. It consists of 13 percent of alcohol. This substitute is more like a seasoning that gives flavour and taste to a product rather than a wine. 

Its taste is also not more refined which is the major reason to not recommend this substitute as a drink. In terms of cooking, it is a good substitute that is most commonly used in Japanese dishes because it adds an umami flavour and taste which is termed as a characteristic flavour of the recipes.

Among its various attributes, aroma is considered of primary importance in that superior scent increases consumer satisfaction, overall acceptability, and the probability of repeated purchase. The aroma of rice sake is typically described as having “caramel,” “burnt,” “heavy,” and “complicated” characteristics. In the study of sake, esters, acids, sulfur compounds, and carbonyl compounds were reported to contribute to the sake aroma, especially 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(5H)-furanone (sotolon), which was identified as a burnt flavoring compound for sake aroma (6).

Shao Xing cooking wine

It is also recognised as Chinese Rice wine. It acts just like the sake do so that some of the content should be mixed with sugar.

Chinese rice wine, fermented from glutinous rice with wheat Qu and yeast, is one of the three most ancient wines in the world. During traditional Chinese rice wine making, the rice is first immersed with water for 5–10 days, cooked with steam and then mixed with wheat Qu and yeast. The mixture is fermented for 20–25 days by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (7).


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for mirin?” with an in-depth analysis of mirin, the positive and negative sides of mirin, and the possible substitutes for mirin.

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Kunc, Martin. Market analytics of the rice wine market in Japan: an exploratory study. Int J Wine Busin Res, 2019, 31, 473-491.


Inoue, Yutaka, et al. Mechanisms of D-amino acid formation during maturation of sweet rice wine (mirin). Food Sci Technol Res, 2016, 22, 679-686. 


Uno, Tomohide, et al. Ferulic acid production in the brewing of rice wine (Sake). J Instit Brew, 2009, 115, 116-121.