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Articles Fitness Nutrition

Substitutes for Beer

Jul 1, 2010

Cooking with beer can enhance the flavors of a variety of dishes. It can be used to help fuse all of the different ingredients in the dish together. Beer can serve as a tenderizer for meat, making tough cuts tender and moist. In a glaze, it adds magnificent flavor to chicken, ham and turkey. It is used often in batters to enhance flavor and create a fluffy, golden coat.

However, when it comes to cooking, you sometimes might not want to use beer in your recipes. Some reasons for this might be that you do not have beer easily available to you, or you just don’t want the extra calories. Whatever the reason might be, there is a way to incorporate the essence of beer in your dishes without actually having it.

Using Light Beer Substitutes

Chicken broth, ginger ale and white grape juice are all great substitutes for recipes that use lighter beers. These recipes might include fish, white meat, or anything that shouldn’t be weighed down with a heavy flavor.

Chicken broth is a liquid reduction from parts of a chicken that have been cooked down in water. You can make your own chicken broth by boiling leftover parts of chicken, including the bones, or you can buy the broth already made or even use bouillon cubes. Chicken broth consists mainly of water and is low in fat. Ginger ale is a ginger-flavored carbonated drink which adds both sweet and spicy notes to many dishes. Also, white grape juice adds a mild but fruity flavor to a recipe. This would be a good option for dishes that do not need to be overpowered with flavor. Here is an example of a recipe that uses a light beer substitute:

Cran-Ginger Ale-Glazed Ham

One fully cooked ham

12 ounces of Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp mustard

1 cup brown sugar

  • Place ham in a roasting pan and poke holes in the top of the meat
  • Measure out 2 tbsp of ginger ale and place aside
  • Pour remaining ginger ale over ham, cook uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees
  • To make glaze, combine together mustard, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and ginger ale
  • Spread on ham and put back into oven for 40-45 minutes, basting often

Using Heavy Beer Substitutes 

As far as the heavy beer substitutes, beef broth, mushroom stock, and apple cider can be used for heartier dishes including stews and steaks. Beef stock adds strong and bold beef flavor with hints of vegetables to dishes. Mushroom stock can be used if you are looking for a rich and tasty flavor. Apple cider is a great substitution which adds naturally fruity notes to a dish as well a touch of spice. Try these substitutions in beer recipes using ribs, brisket, and pork. Here is an example of a recipe that uses a heavy beer substitute:

Cider Batter Fish

6 fish fillets of your choice

2 eggs

2 cups sparkling apple cider (or apple cider)

2 tsp baking powder

2 cups flour (set aside some extra for first coating of fish)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

  • Coat fish with flour, set aside
  • Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cider in bowl
  • Coat fish in batter
  • Fry in hot oil until golden brown

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