Substitutes For Tequila


Tequila is made by fermenting the sap of the blue agave plant. Some tequilas are made from 100 percent agave, which is usually indicated on the label. In some cases tequila is made from a mixture of agave and sugar. Tequila has a presence in the culinary world in both drink and food recipes, so depending on the application you might have a few alternatives that are alcoholic or nonalcoholic.

Replace with White Liquor

  • If you don’t like the taste of tequila, you can replace it with another clear liquor. Vodka, gin and white rum are suitable replacements that pack a similar spicy punch, but don’t have that distinct tequila flavor. Use these white liquors in equal proportions to tequila in drink and food recipes.

Try Mezcal

  • Mezcal or mescal is also made from the agave plant; therefore, it has a similar taste to tequila. Unlike tequila, however, mescal is fire-roasted and then the sap is extracted for distillation, so you’ll have a smoky taste to the liquor, and the overall flavor is much more pungent than tequila. If you’re using it in a food recipe, substitute one for the other in equal proportion, but in drinks you might want to use a little bit less mescal than tequila until you reach the desired flavor.

Add in Cactus

  • Cactus juice has a few names, including prickly pear juice and nopal. This juice is made from the oval leaves of the cactus plant and is known for offering high doses of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. You can use cactus juice as a nonalcoholic tequila substitute in equal proportions to the recipe, but you might notice a slightly sweeter taste to your drink or food recipe because of the added sugar in the juice itself.

Use Agave Nectar

  • Agave is where tequila comes from, but the plant itself is widely used in cuisines. Agave nectar, sometimes referred to as agave syrup, comes from Mexico and is made from the blue agaves. The nectar tastes similar to honey, but has its own distinct flavor and no bitter aftertaste. Agave nectar can be used as a sweetener or enhancer in recipes that use tequila for the same job. For example, a sauce that requires a shot of tequila can use agave nectar instead. When using nectar, only use 1 part nectar for every 3 to 4 parts of tequila.

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