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Can you use sherry instead of Marsala?

Marsala wine is a popular ingredient in many recipes, particularly in Italian cooking. It adds a unique taste and aroma to dishes like chicken Marsala, veal Marsala, and beef Marsala. But what if you don’t have Marsala wine at your disposal? Can you use sherry instead?

The short answer is yes, sherry can be used as a substitute for Marsala wine in most recipes. However, it’s important to understand the differences between the two wines before making the substitution.

Marsala Wine

Marsala wine is a fortified wine made in the town of Marsala, near the city of Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily. The wine is made from white grapes, typically Grillo, Inzolia, and Catarratto varieties.

Marsala wine comes in three varieties – sweet, dry, and semi-dry. Sweet Marsala is most commonly used in desserts, while dry and semi-dry Marsala is used in savory dishes.

The wine is aged in wooden barrels, typically for at least one year. The longer the wine is aged, the darker and richer it becomes. The wine’s taste ranges from sweet to dry, with nutty, caramel, and oak flavors.

Sherry Wine

Sherry wine is a fortified wine produced in the Sherry Triangle, a region in southwestern Spain. The wine is made from white grapes, primarily Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel de Alejandría.

Like Marsala wine, sherry wine comes in three main varieties – Fino, Amontillado, and Oloroso. Fino sherry is light and dry, while Amontillado is medium dry, and Oloroso is a dark, richer variety.

Sherry wines are aged in a unique process called the solera system, which involves blending different vintages of wine to create a consistent flavor. This process allows sherry wines to develop complex, nutty, and caramelized flavors.

Substituting Sherry for Marsala

Sherry wine can be used as a substitute for Marsala wine in most recipes. However, it’s essential to choose the right type of sherry, depending on the recipe you’re making.

For savory dishes like chicken Marsala, dry or semi-dry sherry works well as a substitute for dry Marsala. If you’re making a sweet Marsala dish, like a dessert, use sweet sherry.

When substituting sherry for Marsala, keep in mind that sherry is typically less sweet and less flavorful than Marsala. To add more flavor to your dish, consider adding a splash of port or brandy to the recipe.


In conclusion, sherry can be used as a substitute for Marsala wine in most recipes. However, it’s crucial to choose the right type of sherry, depending on the recipe you’re making. Keep in mind that sherry is typically less sweet and less flavorful than Marsala, so it may be necessary to add some other ingredients to enhance the taste and aroma of your dish. With the right adjustments, sherry can create a unique and flavorful twist on classic recipes.


What can I use if I don’t have marsala wine?

Marsala wine is a popular Italian wine commonly used in cooking. It is used to enhance the flavors of many dishes, including chicken marsala, veal marsala, and mushroom marsala. Unfortunately, not all home kitchens have Marsala wine on hand. However, there are some substitutes you can use with similar taste and texture as Marsala wine.

One substitute for Marsala wine is a combination of white wine and brandy. Since Marsala is actually a brandy-fortified wine, this substitution comes close to the original. Mix these two ingredients together and add them to your recipe: ¼ cup of dry white wine and 1 teaspoon of brandy. This substitute provides a similar depth of flavor to Marsala wine and will still give your dish the necessary acidity that it needs.

Another option is to use sherry as a substitute for Marsala wine. This is a great alternative for those who don’t have white wine or brandy in your kitchen. Although sherry is usually sweeter than Marsala wine, you can adjust the quantity used in your recipe to mimic the flavor of Marsala wine.

For people who prefer non-alcoholic substitutes, using chicken broth or stock is a great option. You can add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the broth to achieve the same tangy flavor that Marsala wine provides. This substitute is also perfect for vegetarian dishes which must exclude any alcohol-based ingredients.

There are various suitable substitutes available for Marsala wine. It is always a good practice to experiment with different options and quantities to determine which one works best for your recipe. You can create rich and flavorful dishes without using Marsala wine and still get similar results.

Is Marsala cooking wine the same as dry sherry?

Marsala cooking wine and dry sherry may seem like they are interchangeable in recipes, but they actually differ in significant ways. While both wines fall into the category of fortified wines, they come from different regions and undergo different winemaking processes, which ultimately results in distinct flavor profiles.

Marsala cooking wine is produced in Sicily, Italy, and is made from three main grape varietals: Grillo, Inzolia, and Cataratto. It is fortified with brandy and is then aged in oak casks for up to five years, resulting in a deep amber color and nutty, caramel-like flavor. Marsala is often used in sweet and savory recipes, such as chicken or veal Marsala, and dessert dishes such as tiramisu.

Dry sherry, on the other hand, is produced in the Jerez region of Spain and is made from the Palomino grape. It is traditionally fortified with brandy, but unlike Marsala, it undergoes a unique production process called the solera system, where wines of different ages are blended together to achieve a consistent flavor profile. Dry sherry ranges in color from pale straw to amber and has a dry, nutty flavor that pairs well with soups, stews, and seafood recipes.

While both Marsala cooking wine and dry sherry fall under the category of fortified wines, they have distinct flavor profiles due to differences in grape varietals, production methods, and aging processes. It’s important to use the wine called for in a recipe to ensure the desired flavor profile is achieved.

Can I use Marsala instead of sherry in French onion soup?

Yes, you can definitely use Marsala instead of sherry in French onion soup, and it might even provide a unique and delicious twist on the traditional recipe. While sherry is a common ingredient in French onion soup, it can be difficult to find or expensive to purchase. Marsala wine, on the other hand, is much easier to come by and can be found in most grocery stores.

If you are looking to use Marsala in your French onion soup, there are a few things to consider. First, it’s important to choose the right type of Marsala. You’ll want to use sweet Marsala wine, which has a rich, fruity flavor that will complement the onions and beef broth in the soup. Dry Marsala wine, which is more commonly used in cooking, is not recommended for French onion soup, as it is generally too brittle and not sweet enough.

To use Marsala wine in your French onion soup, simply substitute it for the sherry called for in your recipe. Use the same amount of Marsala as you would sherry, and be sure to let the soup simmer for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld properly. You may find that the Marsala adds a deeper, richer flavor to your soup than sherry would, and you can adjust the amount of wine you use to suit your personal taste.

Using Marsala instead of sherry in French onion soup is a great way to switch things up and add a new flavor profile to a classic dish. Just be sure to choose the right type of Marsala, and remember to let the soup simmer long enough to get all those rich flavors melded together properly.

What is considered a dry sherry?

Dry Sherry is a type of wine that is produced using a specific set of methods and techniques in a small region in southern Spain called Jerez. These wines are characterized by their dryness, which is achieved by allowing the grape juice to ferment completely and leaving only minimal amounts of residual sugar in the final product.

There are four main types of dry Sherry that are classified based on the way they were aged: Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, and Oloroso. Fino and Manzanilla are produced using a process called “biological ageing,” in which the wine is placed in barrels and covered with a layer of yeast called flor. This yeast layer protects the wine from oxidation and adds a unique flavor and aroma to the finished product.

Amontillado and Oloroso, on the other hand, are aged using a process called “oxidative ageing.” Unlike Fino and Manzanilla, these wines are exposed to air during the ageing process, which causes them to darken in color and develop a nuttier, richer flavor.

In addition to their unique ageing processes, Sherry wines are also known for their high alcohol content, which ranges from 15% to 20% ABV. This strong alcohol content is a result of fortification, a process in which a small amount of grape spirit is added to the wine to stop its fermentation and increase its alcohol content.

Dry Sherry wines are highly prized for their complexity, versatility, and unique flavor profiles. They pair well with a wide range of foods, from seafood and salads to spicy dishes and desserts, and are an excellent addition to any wine collection.