Cream sherry is a wine from Spain. It is usually added to sweet recipes, especially desserts. So, what do you do if you don’t have it? In this guide, we’ll tell you more about this wine and give you the best cream sherry substitute.
The good news is that you can use other kinds of wine to replace it. But you should know which ones to use, so your recipe won’t stray away from its original taste.
Contrary to its name, cream sherry is not sherry wine with cream. Instead, it is a sweetened sherry. And, no, it does not have any cream. It is not a dairy product despite having the word cream in its name.
Cream sherry is usually a combination of fortified wine and a naturally sweet wine. These are mostly Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel, respectively. It tastes sweet with 115 grams of sugar per liter and can reach up to 22% ABV.
Because of this, cream sherry is best served chilled with fruits like apples and oranges.
This sweet fortified wine is not to be confused with cooking sherry. Cooking sherry is a lower-quality sherry that is made specifically for cooking. It usually contains salt and is not to be taken as a drink.
Cream sherry is a full-bodied wine that is made for drinking. This sweet sherry can be taken as both an aperitif and a digestif. It is just that cream sherry is versatile, so you can also use it in cooking.
To properly answer the question: “What can I substitute for cream sherry?” we’d have to know how it is used in the kitchen.
Aside from being served as a before and after-dinner drink, it can also be used in various dishes.
Its sweet flavor makes it perfect for spread and marmalade recipes. You may add it to baked goods like bread, pudding, and pies.
Its sweetness is also a welcome addition to pasta sauces and marinades.
Cream sherry can also be used in savory dishes, like this Chicken Vesuvio recipe. It can also be included in soup recipes for that perfect blend of sweet and salty flavors.
You can also use cream sherry instead of other sherry wines called for in recipes. This will give you a sweeter version.
Cream sherry is thick and dark, almost syrupy in texture. So, when looking for a substitute for cream sherry, it is best to look for similarly sweet and thick wines.
The best substitute for cream sherry in cooking is none other than dry sherry. As a fortified wine, dry sherry combines white wine with brandy. Keep in mind that dry sherry is not as sweet as cream sherry.
Because of this, dry sherry is not a direct substitute. Yet, a pinch of brown sugar will bring its sweetness level closer to cream sherry.
Substitute cream sherry with dry sherry in sauces and marinades. Add 4 teaspoons of brown sugar for every cup of dry sherry—once sweetened, use in a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Both white and red wine can be a cream sherry substitute for cooking if you need a more affordable option. They will still provide the required wine flavor in recipes.
Avoid using a sweet type of wine like sweet Vermouth to avoid having an overly sweet dish. Instead, go for dry white or dry red wine.
Use cautiously, as they can be quite overpowering. White wine is a milder alternative. Go for it if you cook with other mild-tasting ingredients. Red wine has a strong taste, but this potent flavor can be a welcome addition to certain dishes. Do a little experiment on the side to see which one works best for your dish.
For a non-alcoholic alternative to cream sherry, vanilla extract is your best bet. This extract has similar sweet notes, just without the alcohol content. Be mindful that adding too much of it can significantly alter your dish’s flavor.
Because of this, you should use it sparingly. Start with a few drops, then add more if necessary. You can also dilute the extract with water to mellow its flavor.
This alternative works best in sweet dishes, especially baked goods and desserts. Add it to pies, bread, and other sweet treats instead of cream sherry. You’ll barely notice the difference.
Marsala is an Italian wine fortified with brandy. It has different colors and sweetness levels. Since cream sherry is known for its sweet flavor, Dolce Marsala is the best Marsala to use as its substitute.
Compared to Secco and Semi-secco Marsala wines, Dolce has the highest sugar content. It has a sugar content that exceeds 100 grams per liter.
Dolce Marsala is a common cooking wine, so you can easily find it in stores. You can use it as a direct substitute for cream sherry – a 1:1 ratio is best. Use it to replace cream sherry in all recipes; it should work.
Port is another fortified wine you can use to replace cream sherry for cooking. This wine hails from Portugal and has a distinctly sweet, woody, and nutty taste. There are different kinds of Port, but Tawny Port is the best Port alternative for cream sherry.
Tawny Port is aged in wooden barrels for a longer period, which gives it its signature oaky flavor and aroma.
As a dessert wine, Port is best used as a cream sherry substitute in sweet recipes.
Another non-alcoholic option would be fruit juice or apple cider vinegar. The following fruit juices are among the best ones:
These juices can provide the sweet taste that cream sherry offers. Adding a pinch of dark brown sugar usually does the trick if you find them lacking in that department.
Be prepared for the fruity taste that comes with them, though, as this can alter the flavor of your dish.
When used in baking, the change in flavor is not an issue. This is especially true when making fruit-flavored desserts.
If these fruit juices are unavailable, you can choose apple cider vinegar as a last resort. Since this vinegar has fruity flavor notes, you can use it in some dishes. However, some preparation is needed for it to work.
To lessen the acidity of the vinegar, dilute half a cup of it with equal parts water. Then, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. This will give it the required sweetness.
Using apple cider vinegar as a cream sherry substitute is only suited for savory dishes. It works best in recipes that list vinegar as one of their ingredients.
Yes, cream sherry does go bad. It loses its flavor over time, especially when the bottle is already opened.
An opened bottle of cream sherry will last for 6 weeks at the most. On the other hand, a sealed bottle will keep for up to 36 months.
The quality of cream sherry deteriorates faster when it is exposed to light. Because of this, it should be stored in a dark place, away from light sources. You should also keep it away from extreme noises that can cause vibrations which can dull its flavor.Exposure to oxygen also affects its quality. That said, it is best to store the bottle upright, with its original cork. Refrigeration is a must for opened bottles.
Cream sherry is a versatile wine that can be used in both cooking and baking. It can even be taken on its own as either an aperitif or digestif.
If your recipe calls for it and you have none, you have plenty of options to choose from. Fortified wines like dry sherry and Tawny Port are the best substitutes for cream sherry. Other white and red wines will also work as long as they fall under the dry category.
Non-alcoholic alternatives include fruit juices, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Champagne wine vinegar can also work if you’re totally out of options.
Remember that not all swaps will work for all recipes, so it is best to do a taste test first.