I want to make risotto without using any alcohol. I am a vegetarian and I want to use vegetarian or mushroom stock only (without any meat).

  1. What is the role of wine in making risotto? Does it help in getting the consistency or does it add flavor?

  2. What can I substitute instead to get a comparable flavor?

  • 1
    see also cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/44638/…. I wouldn't close as a duplicate, because the other question is about a sweet red wine, but the general principle is very much the same.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 13:17
  • 2
    @CRags there's a big difference between drinking alcohol and using it in cooking. Alcohol evaporates quicker and more eagerly than water (at 78 degrees celsius not 100), so a long simmering process (such as risotto) that boils off liquid will also result in alcohol evaporating, it's the other parts of wine that are supposed to remain for the flavor.
    – Peteris
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 19:28
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    @Peteris: (In all seriousness this time) alcohol actually cooks off more slowly than a lot of people estimate. Yes, faster than water, but just as you don't cook the risotto until all the water is gone, you often don't cook it until all the alcohol is gone either. If the OP has a medical or philosophical reason to want to avoid all alcohol, I wouldn't put any in the risotto. Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 1:52
  • 7
    You actually cannot cook out all of the alcohol, no matter how long you cook it. There was some thermodynamic reason for it, I forgot the name. But yes, if somebody wants to stay 100% alcohol free, they cannot use it in sauces.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 17:16
  • 1
    @OneFace what is the purpose for keeping trace amounts of alcohol out of your system? Are you an addict, or is there a specific medical contra-indication for avoiding it? Alcohol is really just a simple sugar that happens to make red blood cells sticky. That's what makes you tipsy, a measured but usually non-harmful reduction in oxygenation of your brain cells so long as you don't over do it. Anyway, no judgement here, just looking to understand why so can better advise.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:53

6 Answers 6


Yes, all it is, is flavour.

Apple juice and grape juice are 2 things I've used in the past for non-alcohol people. You can also get away with not using anything as a replacement as long as you use enough of everything else (butter and Parmesan etc).

Wine just gives a little depth and a sort of 'freshness'.


I just read the vegetarian part of your question. I'm assuming you already know, but Parmesan isn't vegetarian, as it is made from rennet (rennet is extracted from the lining of the inside of the stomach of mammals), and most commonly from the fourth stomach of young calves. The vegetarian substitutes I've tried in the past (Called pasta cheese), are not great. However, unlike Parmesan, Gruyere is allowed to be made with vegetable rennet and tastes great (I personally prefer it over Parmesan).

  • 5
    I wouldn't recommend either apple juice or grape juice as substitutes for wine. They're much, much sweeter than wine: after all, wine is grape juice with a large proportion of the sugar removed. Of the two, apple juice is probably the better, especially if it's reasonably tart and/or you add some lemon juice to it. Different wines taste of all kinds of different things but none of them tastes like grape juice. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 17:52
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    Once reduced down neither wine nor grape juice taste like they did before reduction. The point is a little freshness, not to taste like wine. Plus as a substitution for a teetotal it works great. I know from experience (my grandparents have been teetotal all their life and this is how I've cooked for them in the past, plus Muslim friend's)
    – Doug
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 18:06
  • This is a bit late, but still: Often, juices contain some alcohol from naturally occuring fermentation (less than half a percent). While that is not significant in any practical sense, if the OP wants to absolutely avoid any trace of alcohol at all, that probably rules out using most juices for cooking (or drinking).
    – Toffomat
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 11:34

I've made risotto plenty of times without wine (as it's not something that I typically keep in my house).

The main issue is that wine is both acidic (which can affect how quickly things break down when cooking, like onions), and it's a solvent (so it helps to distribute other flavors). Although it does add some flavor on its own, you typically won't miss it.

Personally, I just use extra onions, and sometimes add a splash of a sweet vinegar (rice or cider) with the first addition of liquid.

I don't use butter or cheese in my risotto, as I find that those can dull some of the other flavors.

  • 1
    I agree completely. Although I've never added vinegar before, I think I'll definitely have to give it a go. I do like to drizzle balsamic reduction over the top for serving though. I think in my post where I said "freshness", really what I was referring to is the acid. It just helps clean your palette. With heavy and rich (fatty) ingredients like butter and cheese you need an acid to clean it up a little (Think washing up liquid for your tongue).
    – Doug
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 15:35
  • @Doug : people often describe acid as giving 'brightness' to a dish, to differentiate with what you'd get from adding fresh herbs. (although, some fresh herbs at the end wouldn't hurt, either).
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 16:07
  • yes again this is what I fall freshness :-) can't beat a good handfukk of chopped parsley to tidy up the flavour.
    – Doug
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 17:04
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    Rather than respond on my own, I would simply say that I would have combined this answer with the one from ethalfrida below. Wine is not required. It is a flavor enhancer and there are lots of creative ways to substitute for that flavor you can use. However, as a standard stcok for the cook, I would use Vegetable Broth. if you hadn't mentioned the vegetarian aspect, I would have said chicken broth. But that is what is so great about risotto. You can influence the flavors quite easily based on what you use for broth and other accouterments.
    – geoffmpm
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:08

You can usually substitute vegetable or meat stocks for the wine/alcohol in savory dishes.


Since I'm a picky Risotto eater, I usually only make the one kind of flavoured Risotto (Cranberry,Mushrooms, Ramson, PineNuts,S&P) & I use my granny's foundation recipe, that does calls for wine, but she and I both substitute the wine with juice made from Elderberries. But if I don't have EBjuice at hand, I add a splash of Lime or Lemon, and up the broth for liquid and acidity.:)


It's not necessarily the wine that is necessary, it's more of the freshness and acidity. You can imitate this by adding a little bit of citrus (lemon) to brighten it up. Fresh herbs may help too!


I have an Italian recipe that my mom had and her mom had and it goes on and on. I have never seen any recipes online that has my moms and I'm surprised. It is a great creamy risotto and I make it. I'm a full-blooded Italian. My dad was and so was my mom. This risotto is the best I have ever had. It doesn't have wine in it. I make a sauce with my spices. It's only 1 can. Most people just use wine. I think sauce is much better. I boil a chicken for the broth. I add the rice to the sauce in a large pan. I continue to add the broth to make it thicker. I stir steady on medium for 45 mins. straight and at the end I use Asiago cheese after I grate it. The meat in my sauce that I use is gizzards. It has the best flavor ever.

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