I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of club soda substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
Soda water and sparkling water are no-brainer substitutes for club soda. Tonic water also works but has an added bitter-sweet flavor. Naturally-carbonated beer is a good option if you don’t mind an alcoholic addition. In a real pinch, you can use ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made batches of tempura to try out different club soda substitutes.
Club soda is water infused with carbon dioxide and minerals like sodium bicarbonate, disodium phosphate, and sodium chloride.
It’s delightfully fizzy, with a mild salty flavor because of the addition of the minerals.
It’s used in cocktails, for drinking, and most importantly to make batters light and fluffy!
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Soda Water/Seltzer||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Sparkling Mineral Water||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Tonic Water||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, adjust for extra sweetness||8/10|
|Beer||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Mildly-Flavored Sodas||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, adjust sweetener as needed||8/10|
|Plain Cold Water||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (only for batters)||7/10|
Psst… club soda is also great for watering your plants with!
Common uses of club soda
Here are some popular ways to use club soda and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For cocktails and mocktails: Try using soda water/seltzer, sparkling mineral water, or tonic water. Beer also works but will impart a yeasty note to your drinks.
- For batters: Try using soda water/seltzer, sparkling mineral water, tonic water, or beer. Mildly-flavored sodas like lemon-lime or ginger ale also work.
- For baking: Try using soda water/seltzer or sparkling mineral water. You can also use beer for baking but for specific recipes.
Soda water is an obvious alternative to club soda, so I had to put this at the top of the list! It’s pretty much the same ingredient as club soda but without the extra minerals, only carbonation.
That means soda water is pretty flavorless, and doesn’t have the same subtle saltiness as club soda (you can always mix in a small pinch of salt to fix this though).
You can find soda water anywhere or make it at home with regular mineral water if you have a soda siphon, like with the video below.
How to substitute: replace club soda in a 1:1 ratio with soda water/seltzer.
Sparkling mineral water
Sparkling mineral water is also very similar to club soda.
It’s made from naturally occurring spring water, so is naturally rich in minerals like potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
Sometimes these minerals give the water a natural carbonation, but not always. If not, extra carbon dioxide is added.
The flavor will vary depending on exactly where the water is from. Sometimes it can be heavier then club soda and sometimes it’s lighter.
Pssst… sparkling mineral water mixes great with wine,
How to substitute: replace club soda in a 1:1 ratio with sparkling water.
Feeling adventurous? Try swapping club soda for tonic water!
This substitute is seltzer infused with quinine and sweetened with sugar, giving it a bitter-sweet flavor.
But don’t let that put you off – I could barely taste the bitterness when I used this for my tempura.
You might think of the classic gin and tonic when you think about this substitute, but it also pairs well with other liqueurs!
How to substitute: replace club soda in a 1:1 ratio with tonic water.
Imagine cracking open a cold one for cooking with instead of drinking! Sounds interesting, right?
Beer is naturally carbonated, thanks to the yeast that produces carbon dioxide and alcohol during fermentation.
But what about the beer’s flavor?
When I used this for my tempura batter, the alcohol and the yeasty flavor cooked off and all that was left behind was a light and airy crust!
Sadly, the flavor will be much more obvious in cocktails and this swap wont work for a lot of them.
Pro tip: I suggest sticking with a light beer.
How to substitute: replace club soda in a 1:1 ratio with beer.
Sugary sweet sodas like Pepsi or rootbeer won’t work as a substitute for club soda, but lime-lemon and ginger ale could!
These flavored sodas have a similar carbonation level to club soda and will add a unique flavor to your recipes.
I used ginger ale in my tempura, and you could taste it. But the flavor was subtle enough that ti wasn’t overwhelming.
For cocktails, the added sweetness means you’ll have to to tweak the simple syrup quantities slightly. But this will be an easy adjustment.
How to substitute: replace club soda in a 1:1 ratio with a mild-flavored soda of your choice.
Plain cold water
Plain cold water might seem like a simple substitute, but it’s surprising how many people overlook this option.
While it doesn’t share the carbonation of club soda, it’s a handy and super easy swap in batter.
Why cold, you ask?
It’s science! Low temperatures inhibit the formation of gluten, which helps keep your batter light and crisp.
Psst… this substitution won’t work for carbonated drinks or cocktails. After all, bubbles are a crucial part of their charm!
How to substitute: replace club soda in your batter recipes in a 1:1 ratio with cold water.
Other substitutes to consider
Here are a few more substitutes you can think about using:
- Sparkling wine: this bubbly delight, whether prosecco or champagne, will bring the same bubbly-ness as club soda while infusing your cocktail with a delightful acidity. It’s not the cheapest option though, so save ti for special occasions!
- Carbonated fruit juice: offers the desired fizz of club soda while adding a splash of fruity goodness. Whether it’s sparkling apple, grape, or any other fruit juice, it can inject your cocktail or batter with a burst of flavor.
Substitutes to avoid
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet!
I saw these things suggested as substitutes but don’t recommend you use them.
- Milk – there’s no carbonation, so it can’t provide the fizziness you’d get from club soda. Also, its creamy consistency (i.e added fat) and flavor could change the outcome of your recipe, especially if you’re baking.
- Coconut water – while coconut water will bring a refreshing twist to you batter or cocktails, it’s missing the carbonation that makes club soda unique.
8 BEST Club Soda Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1 cup soda water/seltzer
- 1 cup sparkling mineral water
- 1 cup tonic water
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup mildly-flavored sodas (lime-lemon soda or ginger ale)
- 1 cup plain cold water
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen club soda substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.