Top 9 Cognac Substitutes for Your Perfect Meal (Including 2 Non-Alcoholic)

Cognac is a brandy that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes as it has complex flavors. It may enrich sauces, or add flavor to recipes with rich ingredients such as cheeses, nuts, figs, apples, pears, brown sugar, and olives among others.

The Cognac region of France is home to many vineyards that produce a fine selection, from light golds and clarets right up to intense dark blends. One such brandy was named in honor of the town where it was produced: Cognac.

Cognac traces its origins back over 400 years ago when wines were distilled so they could withstand long journeys by wagon across Europe.

The area around this small French village became synonymous with quality wine production due largely in part because their grapes are not directly exposed to sunlight which can lead them to produce too much sugar or tannins depending on how close an individual field may be located near forests full of oak trees – these factors make each grape’s journey unique.

However, what do you do when you cannot use cognac for your cooking?

This is not just another list of cognac substitutes, this is a complete guide that will show you how to choose the right one for any occasion.

Here are 9 of the best alcoholic and non-alcoholic substitutes for cognac. They include brandy, Armagnac, calvados, rum, sherry, whiskey, bourbon, white grape juice, and apple juice.

1) Brandy

The origins of brandy are tied to the development of distillation. The world’s largest brandy markets include India, the Philippines, Russia, Germany, and Brazil.

Undoubtedly the number one substitute for Cognac is brandy. They have a similar flavor profile, a similar method of distillation and you can use the same measurements which makes it easier when substituting.

A key benefit of substituting brandy in place of cognac is that normal brandy is a much more affordable option.

Some good recipes to use your favorite bottle of Brandy in are boeuf bourguignon with roasted potatoes or pork tenderloin with brandy pear relish.

Or try a new recipe out for yourself- roast pork topped off by roasted apples cooked in brandy, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar.

Substituting brandy in any recipes like this that call for brandy will definitely not disappoint!

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2) Armagnac

Armagnac is in the brandy family tree, as is cognac, so it makes a logical substitute when cognac is hard to come by. It tastes like fresh apples, grapes, and plums with hints of vanilla.

Armagnac is economical for those who want to buy a great quality wine that doesn’t break the bank.

Recipes such as chicken with shallots, prunes, and Armagnac are delicious! For dessert options, dishes try Armagnac ice cream or flambeed oranges in cognaçe an Armagnac sauce.

3) Calvados

Calvados is a spirit that starts with the distilled essence of apple cider and evolves into an all-encompassing drink.

It’s much more than just one type of alcohol – it embodies autumn days in France where fires are lit to keep away the crisp air as you sip on this smooth beverage made from apples mashed up by hand before they’re fermented for at least two years or aged for three to four decades; then blended with water until its pure perfection has been achieved.

Calvados is an excellent substitute for cognac in a variety of recipes. It can be used, among other things, as the base ingredient for braised chicken with apples and Calvados or even beef tenderloin with cream calvados sauce.

Or be especially daring and try ostrich steaks with a rich Calvados sauce for a low-fat, high-protein alternative to beef!

This versatile liquor that tastes just enough like cognac to be a fantastic substitute should take up a permanent residence in your pantry from now on!

4) Rum

Rum is a spirit full of flavor and possibility.

In many cases, rum can be used to replace Cognac, but not all rums are created equal. Dark Rum specifically works well as cognac replacement because it’s strong like whiskey- so use just enough for the desired taste!

Rum is a more affordable alternative to cognac, but it’s also sweeter. Be careful not to overdo the rum in your dish so that you don’t end up with an overly sweet flavor profile.

Start with about a third of what the recipe calls for and constantly taste test.

The first rule of rum in the kitchen is picking the right bottle. You have to pick a dark, aged one when cooking something with strong flavors like baba au rhum, mojito-marinated pork tenderloin, or honey-rum baked black beans.

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You can even use the sweetness of dark rum to your advantage in delicious desserts such as a mixed berry galette!

5) Sherry

Sherry is a Spanish fortified wine that is the best drunk around the fire on winter nights to take off the edge of the cold.

It’s a wonderful substitute for cognac because it has an earthy taste and texture, with flavors like nuts, coffee beans, or citrus peel.

As sherry has a higher alcohol content, a little goes a long way. So use sparingly at first until you build up your confidence.

Sherry is a versatile addition to your cooking repertoire. In the kitchen, sherry makes delicious vegan gravy for your veggie-loving friends, shepherd’s pie, and caramelized onions with butter and wine vinegar as an appetizer or side dish.

Sherry can be used in green beans and mushrooms sauteed with thyme, served over rice pilaf made from brown jasmine or black basmati grains and pairs well with grilled salmon steaks or, adding depth to risotto Milanese -even when making chicken udon soup!

6) Whiskey

You can easily substitute whiskey for cognac in many recipes. However, it is important to be aware of the differences between these two liquors – namely that they have different flavors and are made from distilled grapes or grain respectively.

In order to get a taste similar to your original recipe, use less than you would with cognac at first until you find what works best for your dish!

Now there are two main types of whiskey/whisky; bourbon whiskey, and Scotch whisky.

The difference between bourbon and Scotch whisky is that bourbon is American-made, and spelled whiskey. Scotch whisky comes from Scotland where it’s distilled.

Bourbons are usually slightly sweeter than their Scottish counterparts with notes of toffee or caramel while Scotches have more herbal flavors.

Bourbon whiskey should be used in recipes such as bourbon chicken, cajun sausage puffs with bourbon mustard, pecan pies, BBQ ribs, and bourbon-maple pumpkin pie.

Scotch whisky is perfect for cooking hearty beef, mushroom stews, and rice dishes – you can try it out with some balsamic braised short ribs!

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Cognac:

1) White Grape Juice

Cognac is made from grapes and is considered the finest brandy in the brandy family so, for a non-alcoholic substitute you can use an unsweetened white grape juice.

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It is wise to stick to the sweeter recipes if you want to use white grape juice without adding a flavoring essence such as brandy essence.

White grape juice does wonderfully well on its own in recipes such as fruit terrine, almond stuffed pears, fruit-sweetened tomato chutney, german bean salad, and apricot stuffed roast turkey.

If you would like to cook the meatier and more savory recipes without using any alcohol, it is wise to add a 1/2 teaspoon of brandy essence to your white grape juice, and then you can keep the quantities called for the same.

2) Apricot Juice

When substituting apricot juice with cognac, consider using 1/2 cup of fruity nectar for every 2 tablespoons of alcohol.

Apricot juice is a great substitute for cognac in recipes, such as Cognac apricot, roast pork, and Cognac apples.

Apricots are high in Vitamin C and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure levels as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.

Apricot’s tartness also helps balance out other flavors like vanilla or cinnamon that you might want to include in your dessert dishes.


Cognac is a French liquor that packs an intensely strong flavor. But just because you can’t get your hands on it or don’t want to include alcohol in your recipe, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dish because of one ingredient!

Experiment with the above substitutes for Cognac, and find the perfect match for your cooking needs.

Whether it be a basic brandy, an astonishing Armagnac, a captivating Calvados, a dark and moody Aged Rum, A scintillating sherry, either American or Scottish whiskey, or even the non-alcoholic counterparts such as white grape juice or appealing apricot nectar, there is a substitute for completing your dish and saving your recipe from falling short.

From savory meaty dishes through to Asian udon broths, from steamy side dishes to divine desserts, there is a substitute for cognac that will work wonderfully to give you the perfect dish and delight the tastebuds of both you and any guests.

Did you try any of these 9 substitutes for cognac? Tell us in the comments below!