I’ve personally tried and tested a range of ginger beer substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding ginger beer is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for ginger beer are ginger ale or ginger syrup mixed with sparkling water. You can also try a mixture of still water, fresh ginger, sugar, and lime juice or ginger tea if you want non-carbonated options. Making ginger beer is also possible, but requires effort and will take you some time.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I did a simple taste test to try out all the ginger beer substitutes I could find.
Ginger beer, despite the name, is a non-alcoholic carbonated drink with a mildly sweet, citrusy flavor and a spicy kick.
It’s a great alternative to regular soda and is often mixed with other drinks and spirits to make cocktails. I was looking for a substitute that brought the same delicious ginger flavor!
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Ginger ale||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Homemade ginger ale||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Ginger extract||2-3 drops of pure ginger extract per drink||10/10|
|Ginger liqueur||1 tbsp of pure ginger liqueur per drink||9/10|
|Water + fresh ginger + agave + lime juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Ginger tea||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Ginger kombucha||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (start off slowly)||8/10|
|Lemon lime soda + cola||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Shirley Temple soda||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Homemade ginger beer||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
Read next: the best substitutes for beer in cooking
Common uses of ginger beer and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for ginger beer and the best substitutes for those situations:
- As a drink on its own – homemade ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger kombucha
- For Moscow mules, Dark and Stormys, and other cocktails – ginger ale, ginger extract, ginger liqueur, homemade ginger beer
- For marinades and dressings – ginger ale, ginger extract
- For braising liquids and glazes – ginger ale, ginger kombucha, ginger tea
Ginger ale may seem like an obvious alternative to ginger beer, but I still had to include it!
It’s also non-alcoholic, but it’s fizzier than ginger beer. The ginger flavor is much milder and it’s more sweet than spicy, making it ideal for those who prefer a more subtle kick.
Ginger ale is widely available in most grocery stores and there are loads of brands to pick from. You’ll be spoilt for choice (just watch the sugar content).
Psst… if you want more of a spicy ginger flavor, consider adding some fresh ginger. I also recommend mixing in some lemon juice to balance out the sweeter flavor.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with ginger ale.
Homemade ginger ale
This homemade alternative requires two simple ingredients: soda water and ginger syrup.
Although you can easily use store-bought ginger syrup, I made my own with Burrata and Bubbles’ recipe.
Her process involves cooking fresh ginger in water and sugar, then blending everything together. Using fresh ginger gives you a more prominent ginger twist, similar to what you’d get with ginger beer. And you can also use less sugar if you don’t want it too sweet.
Once your ginger syrup is ready, mix it with club soda and you’ll have homemade ginger ale.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade ginger ale.
Ginger liqueur is an exciting substitute for ginger beer when you’re looking for a boozy twist.
Some well-known brands like Domaine de Canton and The King’s Ginger are made with a brandy base, but you can also find rum based options.
The liqueur is sweet, with a prominent ginger tang you won’t miss.
Mix it with soda water for a light alcoholic drink you can enjoy while winding down…
Or use it as a base for your cocktails – gin and ginger martini, anyone?
How to substitute: 1 tbsp of pure ginger liqueur or replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of ginger liqueur and soda water
Water + fresh ginger + agave + lime juice
I found this substitute suggestion on Reddit and it worked wonders as a non-carbonated substitute for ginger beer!
The user suggests blending four parts of water, ginger root, agave syrup, and lime juice together before straining out the pulp.
Like with the homemade ginger ale, you can play around with the measurements to up the ginger flavor, or make it sweeter or more sour depending on your tastes.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your mixture.
Ginger tea is another excellent alternative for ginger beer if you’re avoiding carbonated drinks but still want that spicy kick.
It’s readily available in commercial tea bags, or you can brew your own if you have fresh ginger on hand.
The Spruce Eats’ recipe only calls for four ingredients and it’ll be ready in 25 minutes.
Making your own brew also allows you to customize with additional spices or flavors like turmeric, mint, or cinnamon.
Psst… interested in what you can use to replace turmeric? I’ve got you covered.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with brewed ginger tea.
Ginger kombucha is another fizzy drink you can use instead of ginger beer.
This tea-based beverage boasts a spicy kick that’ll remind you of ginger beer. Alongside a very tart aftertaste (kombucha definitely isn’t for everyone, so try it before adding it to your drinks).
Kombucha is fermented, which means it’s a healthy choice because it contains probiotics (yay!).
There are lots of different flavors available. I personally liked the ginger and lemon combination.
But you can also try making your own kombucha from scratch if you’re up to the challenge – the Kitchn has a good recipe you can follow. It will take around 10 days!
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with ginger kombucha.
Ginger extract is a convenient and versatile way to incorporate ginger flavor into various recipes and drinks (although it’s not always cheap).
A few drops will instantly give your drinks a clean, spicy ginger flavor without adding sugar, so you don’t need to worry about things being too sweet.
Mix it with some sparkling water to create a make-shift ginger beer, or add it straight into your cocktails.
Pro tip: make sure you get good quality stuff.
How to substitute: 2-3 drops of pure ginger extract or replace ginger beer in your recipe with a mixture of ginger extract and lemon-lime soda.
Lemon-lime soda + cola
Lemon-lime soda with a splash of cola is a combo you can use in a pinch to replace ginger beer.
This combination doesn’t offer any ginger flavor, but it does provide a refreshing citrusy taste and mimics the color of ginger beer.
It’s a fun and simple alternative that works well in cocktails where the ginger taste is not crucial (or if you just hate ginger).
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of lemon-lime soda and a splash of cola.
Shirley temple soda
Inspired by the original Shirley Temple mocktail, this vibrant drink features a delicious blend of lemon-lime soda, grenadine, and a touch of ginger.
It’s sweet and fruity, with just the barest spicy hint in every sip, perfect for those who prefer a milder ginger flavor.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Shirley Temple Soda.
Homemade ginger beer
Did you know you can make ginger beer?
It’s not an instant solution, but it’s a fun project to start if you’re up for a challenge and have some free time on your hands.
There are two methods for making ginger beer. The first method only takes about three days and involves using baking yeast for fermentation.
This will give you that sweet, fizzy drink but with less sugar.
The second is a more traditional method, which will take about two weeks. It involves making a “ginger starter,” which you can cultivate and reuse (kind of like a sourdough starter).
Just a heads up: homemade ginger beer will contain alcohol because of fermentation, although only a tiny amount.
How to substitute: replace ginger beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade ginger beer.
Ginger beer substitutes to avoid
These are two options I encountered during my research that didn’t get the job done. Both of these options are alcoholic, so not ideal for adding into cocktails with other alcoholic components.
And they taste nothing like ginger beer!
- Beer – the earthy, malty flavors were too different from ginger beer’s sweet, spiced taste for me. Ginger-flavored beer may work but will be challenging to find. You can check your local microbreweries, though!
- White wine seltzer – this combo is a quick and tasty drink, but it’s very far from ginger beer in terms of flavor.
Read next: the best substitutes for beer in chili
Best Ginger Beer Substitutes [And Two To Avoid]
- 1 cup ginger ale
- 1 cup homemade ginger ale
- 2-3 drops pure ginger extract or 1 cup ginger extract + soda water
- 1 tbsp pure ginger liqueur or 1 cup ginger liqueur + soda water
- 1 cup water + fresh ginger + agave + lime mixture
- 1 cup ginger tea
- 1 cup lemon-lime soda + cola
- 1 cup Shirley temple soda
- 1 cup homemade ginger beer
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen ginger beer substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.