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Substitute for Marsala?

I would like to make this orzo tonight, but don't have Marsala and would prefer to not buy a bottle when this recipe only calls for a cup. Is there a suitable substitute? Thanks!


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  1. A cup is a lot--it's a major ingredient. I would consider using brandy or sherry. maybe port. I don't really like Marsala dishes, because I find it too sweet. therefore I might be tempted to just substitute white wine, which would go well with the other dishes, but a different result than marsala.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cocktailhour

      However the 1lb of orzo is cooked in 4 cups of stock, and the Marsala is reduced by half. Plus there's 1/2c of cream. In addition, the whole dish is baked for another 25 minutes.

      Another fortified wine of similar dryness would be the best substitute. Amontillado, a medium dry sherry, sounds like a good substitute. A white wine would also do, even if the flavor isn't quite as intense, or in a pinch, a half cup more of stock.

    2. You can substitute fruit juices for wine in many recipes.
      Assuming you're intending to use a sweet Marsala, you could use Orange juice, pear juice or peach juice as a substitute. I prefer the peach juice and sometimes add a few drops of prune juice to the mix.
      Or, you might want to see how Vermouth works for you.

      1. I also find Marsala too sweet, and usually substitute Madeira or Amontillado. Vermouth will also do in a pinch.

        1. I agree that a cup of Marsala is a huge amount and I would guess that it would overwhelm almost any dish that you might make. I would substitute white wine in this recipe, and if you wanted a bit more flavor, maybe do 1/4 cup of white vermouth and 3/4 of white wine.

          1. GSDlove, I may try this recipe. What did you decide to do and how did it turn out?

            1. Marsala (and other fortified wines which you could also use for this recipe) keep for a very long time, so if you buy a bottle for this recipe it's not like you'll have to throw the rest out next week.

              1. Marsala often comes in half bottles. The remainder will keep forever, especially if you plan to use it only for cooking, in the fridge or freezer.

                And though the recipe doesn't say, I'd be surprised if they meant sweet Marsala. Like sherry, Marsala comes in a range of styles and sweetness levels. I'd use a "secco", a dry version, in which case a cup wouldn't be excessive, especially as cooking tends to evaporate some of its nutty flavour. I like the Amontillado suggestion as a substitute. Any leftover dry Marsala would make a fine before-dinner sipper, by the way.

                1 Reply
                1. re: carswell

                  It will keep forever or nearly,it's cooked alcohol. SUBSTITUTES

                  ?DOMESTIC "SHERRY" sweet VERMOUTH USA or ITALY
                  375 ml bottles of MARSALA are easy to find sweet or dry,you did not mention which.
                  If the worry is too sweet,sacrificing complexity,correct to taste with a good
                  Balsamic vinegar.If you use some/much/all wine,avoid wines with an oak or tannic profile.In cooking/reductions the wood throws off a bitter/tannic note
                  that in turn needs correction.
                  What is the menu?Some minor substitutes could very easily be better pairing/melding for the over all meal.

                  Where I live MARASALA is the cheapest of the lot.Do any of us in fact,ever run out of balsamic?

                2. Madeira. Probably Bual would be closest.