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What can I use instead of Marsala wine for chicken Marsala?

Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian dish that consists of chicken cutlets cooked with Marsala wine and mushrooms. However, you may find yourself wanting to make this recipe but don’t have a bottle of Marsala wine on hand. Thankfully, there are several suitable Marsala wine substitutes you can use to make tasty chicken Marsala even without the traditional wine.

What is Marsala Wine?

First, let’s briefly go over what exactly Marsala wine is. Marsala is a fortified wine that originated in Sicily, Italy. It has a sweet, rich, nutty taste from aging the wine in wooden casks. The flavor profile of Marsala wine works very well in savory dishes like chicken Marsala.

There are several types of Marsala wine that range from very sweet to very dry. For cooking, you’ll typically want to use a sweet Marsala wine. The most common varieties used in chicken Marsala recipes are Marsala Fine, Marsala Superiore, and Marsala Superiore Riserva.

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Marsala Wine

If you need an alcohol-free Marsala wine substitute, there are a few good options:

Chicken or Vegetable Broth

Substitute an equal amount of chicken or vegetable broth for the Marsala wine. Broth adds a savory flavor and keeps the dish moist. Just be sure to use low-sodium broth so it’s not overly salty.

Grape Juice

An equal amount of grape juice can mimic some of the fruity, slightly sweet notes of Marsala wine. Use 100% grape juice, not grape drink with added sugar. White grape juice works best to avoid discoloring the dish.

Mushroom Liquid

Sauté the mushrooms that are called for in the recipe in a little oil or broth to draw out their liquid. Use this flavorful mushroom liquid instead of Marsala wine.


Strong brewed coffee is an interesting option for a non-alcoholic substitute. Use an equal amount of coffee to replace the Marsala wine. Espresso or very strong coffee works best. The coffee notes complement the mushrooms.

Alcoholic Marsala Wine Substitutes

For those that want to use an alcoholic substitute, the following types of wine make good choices:

Sweet Sherry

Sweet sherry is an excellent substitute for Marsala wine. It has similar flavors – sweet, nutty, and rich. Use an equal amount of sweet sherry in place of the Marsala wine called for in chicken Marsala recipes.


Madeira is a fortified wine like Marsala that also has nutty caramel notes. It makes a nice 1:1 substitute in savory recipes like chicken Marsala.

Sweet White Wine

A sweet white wine like Gewürztraminer, Riesling or Moscato provides fruity sweetness that works well in place of Marsala wine. You may need to reduce the wine slightly to thicken it.


While port wine is red, it makes a surprisingly good substitute for Marsala in small amounts. Use about half the amount of port as you would Marsala wine. This provides rich, sweet flavor without overpowering the dish.

White Balsamic Vinegar

Aged white balsamic vinegar can mimic some of the sweet, tangy flavor of Marsala wine. Use about 2 tablespoons vinegar per 1/4 cup Marsala wine called for.

How to Substitute for Marsala Wine in Chicken Marsala

When using a Marsala wine substitute in chicken Marsala, there are a couple tips to follow:

  • Reduce the liquid: Most substitutes like broth or juice will have a thinner consistency than Marsala wine. Reduce the sauce by about 5 minutes longer to thicken it.
  • Boost flavor: Add a little balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to enhance the brightness and flavor if needed.
  • Season carefully: Taste the sauce and season carefully with salt and pepper since broth and juice substitutes won’t be as salty.

Substitution Amounts

The following table provides a quick guide for how much of common Marsala wine substitutes to use:

Marsala Wine Substitute Amount
1/4 cup Chicken broth 1/4 cup
1/4 cup White grape juice 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Mushroom liquid 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Sweet sherry 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Madeira 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Sweet white wine 1/4 cup
1/4 cup Port wine 2 Tbsp
1/4 cup White balsamic vinegar 2 Tbsp

Best Marsala Wine Substitutes for Chicken Marsala

To summarize, here are my top recommendations for substituting Marsala wine in chicken Marsala recipes:


Chicken or vegetable broth is the easiest and most convenient Marsala wine substitute. It adds moisture and savory flavor to the dish. Reduce the broth slightly to thicken it.

Grape Juice

For an alcohol-free option, unsweetened grape juice adds fruity sweetness similar to Marsala wine. White grape juice works best.

Sweet Sherry

Sweet sherry is very close to Marsala in taste and aroma. Use it as a 1:1 ratio substitute.


Madeira has a similar flavor profile to Marsala wine. It makes an excellent substitute in chicken Marsala recipes.

Can I Make Chicken Marsala Without Wine?

You can certainly make chicken Marsala without any wine or alcohol substitute. However, the wine does play an important role in the flavor of the dish. Besides adding complexity and richness, Marsala wine helps tenderize the chicken and meld the flavors of the sauce.

That said, you can use broth, juice, or even water in place of Marsala wine in a pinch. Just keep the following tips in mind:

  • Reduce the liquid more to concentrate the flavor
  • Season well with extra salt, pepper, herbs and garlic
  • Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for brightness

While it won’t be exactly the same, you can still make tasty chicken Marsala without wine. The mushrooms, garlic, and fresh herbs will still provide lots of flavor.

How to Store and Serve Leftover Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Here are some serving ideas:

  • Serve over pasta or zucchini noodles
  • Stuff into a pita or sandwich
  • Top a fresh salad
  • Enjoy as is

The flavors in chicken Marsala continue developing as it sits. You may want to add a splash of broth, wine, or water to thin out the sauce if needed when reheating.

In Summary

Marsala wine is a key ingredient in chicken Marsala, but you have lots of options if you don’t have a bottle on hand. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic substitutes like broth, grape juice, sherry, and Madeira work well in place of Marsala wine. Madeira, sherry, or sweet white wine are likely the closest in flavor and texture. But even just using broth or water, you can still make a tasty version of chicken Marsala without the traditional wine.