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11 BEST Substitutes For Beer In Chili [Tried And Tested]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different beer substitutes in chili to find the best one.

Whatever your reason for avoiding beer is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitutes for beer in chili are non-alcoholic beer, beef broth, mushroom stock, and red wine. Vodka, bourbon, or hard cider are more alcoholic options. Or you can stick with non-alcoholic options like brewed coffee, cola, or water mixed with marmite.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I made my favorite chili and put 11 beer substitutes to the test. 

Beer is a common addition to chili because it adds a depth of flavor and helps tenderize the meat in your chili (if you’re using it). 

But don’t worry if you can’t have beer or just want to try something new – there are other liquids that will help enhance your chili.

Here’s what I tested and the verdicts: 

SubstituteSubstitute directionsVerdict 
Non-alcoholic beerReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
BrothReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Mushroom stockReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
WineReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Brewed coffeeReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Hard apple ciderReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Vodka Replace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
ColaReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Water + Marmite Replace in a 1:1 ratio7/10
Bean liquid1 cup beer = 3/4 cup bean liquid7/10
Skip it7/10

Non-alcoholic beer

Non-alcoholic beer has all of regular beer’s malty notes that’ll deepen your chili’s flavor but without the added alcohol!

Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t – non-alcoholic beer is produced the same way as regular beer, so there won’t be any flavor changes. 

There’s just one extra step to release most of the alcohol, leaving only trace amounts behind. 

Most kinds of beer nowadays usually have a non-alcoholic counterpart, but for chili my go-to is a darker variety like stout to match the meaty flavor.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with non-alcoholic beer.

Broth + vinegar and coco powder

Broth is a non-alcoholic pantry staple you can use instead of beer for your chili. 

It won’t have that beer’s yeasty, fermented notes, but it’s packed with umami goodness to enhance your chili’s savory flavors.  

And you can pick from beef, chicken, or vegetable broth to match your chili’s ingredients.

  • Beef broth will give your dish a more robust flavor, it’s the best choice if you’re making a beef-based chili. 
  • Chicken broth offers a more subtle flavor boost that’s ideal for when you’re looking for a lighter touch. 
  • Vegetable broth is the obvious choice for vegetarian chili, but I recommend adding a dash of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to give it a meatier twist. 

Whichever stock you go for, add a splash of cider vinegar to get a bit of acidity that beer usually brings. 

And you can also try adding a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder for more depth of flavor.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of broth.

Mushroom stock

Mushroom stock shares similar earthy notes with beer, and will perfectly complements the heat of your chili. 

Plus, it’s loaded with umami goodness that’s especially great for vegan chili because it brings a meatier bite. 

Major grocery stores may carry mushroom stock, but it’s super easy to make your own (I do it all the time).

It takes around 35 minutes from start to finish, and I always use dried mushrooms because they have a more concentrated flavor. 

Pro-tip: like with broth, you can add a splash of vinegar to bring acidity. 

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with mushroom stock.


Want to jazz up your chili with something alcoholic and gluten-free? Wine is a good option. 

Its natural acidity and tannins add complexity and help tenderize the meat in your chili the same way beer does.   

Red wine is the popular choice for cozy dishes like chili because if its bolder falvor.

But crisp, bright white wine also works if you want to lighten up your chili (or if you’re making a chicken chili).

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of wine.

Brewed coffee

I had doubts about this substitute but was very glad to be proven wrong when it did wonders for my chili. 

Like beer, the coffee’s earthy notes enhanced the heat from the spices, making each bite super tasty.

You can also adjust how strong the coffee flavors are by using a stronger of weaker brew.

Psst… if you want to take this substitute up a notch, try tossing in a square or two of unsweetened chocolate or cinnamon as you add the coffee.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with brewed coffee.

Hard apple cider

Using hard apple cider instead of beer will bring a cozy, autumnal twist to your regular pot of chili. 

It’s a fermented beverage, so it has yeasty and acidic characteristics that’ll help balance your chili’s rich, meaty flavors. 

And its warm, fruity notes work well with chili’s savory, spicy elements.

Pssst… think the sweetness is overwhelming? Add a bit of apple cider vinegar to tone it down. 

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with hard apple cider.


I’m a big fan of pasta in vodka sauce, so I wondered if it would work with chili.

And it did!

Vodka will help intensify the flavors in your chili (and other tomato-based dishes) without adding a distinct taste.

And it also helps enhance your chili’s aroma!

There’s a whole load of science behind this which I won’t go into, but Serious Eats explains it all if you want to learn more.

Pro-tip: other hard liquors like bourbon, scotch, and tequila will work too. And if you want to be really adventerous, try making a bloody mary chili.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with vodka.

Cola (or other sodas)

Cola is just as acidic as beer, so it’ll help tenderize the meat in your chili. 

And the soda’s sweet, caramel-like flavor is a tasty complement to your chili’s smoky and spicy elements. 

If you’re concerned about the sweetness being too overpowering, add a bit of vinegar to help balance out the flavor. Or go for root beer.

Ginger ale could also be really nice! 

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Coca-Cola.

Water + marmite

Adding plain water to chili tends to dilute the flavors, so I don’t like using it. 

But adding to it Marmite makes a world of difference.

This yeast extract adds a similar malty flavor to beer and savory, umami flavors, which will give your chili a subtle boost.

I usually start with a teaspoon of Marmite in hot water, but you can add more if you like. 

Worcestershire sauce or say sauce can also work.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe with an equal amount of water and a small amount of Marmite, adjusting to taste.

Bean liquid

Looking to save a couple of bucks? Hit two birds with one stone and use the liquid from your can of beans instead of beer.

The starchy liquid will thicken your chili and add a hint of creaminess.

Just a heads up, though – bean liquid is quite salty, so I recommend using less salt while cooking your chili with this substitute.

And jsut like with water, you can mix in some marmite or Worcestshire sauce for extra flavor.

How to substitute: replace the beer in your recipe with an equal amount of bean liquid, and adjust the seasoning. 

Skip it

Don’t want to stress over choosing a replacement for beer? Just leave it out.  

The canned tomatoes will provide enough liquid for your chili, and you can always add soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to make your chili taste meatier. 

Plus, a little trick I’ve learned while researching is finishing your chili with a tablespoon of vinegar. 

It may not seem much, but it will round up the chili’s flavor and brighten it.

I love using apple cider vinegar, but any kind will do – try balsamic or sherry vinegar if you’re feeling fancy! 

How to substitute: omit the beer from your recipe and just add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar for a flavor boost.

Best Substitutes for Beer in Chili

I tested out 11 substitutes for beer in chili to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beer in chili substitutes, susbstitutes for beer in chili
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 9 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 104kcal


  • 1 cup non-alcoholic beer
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup hard apple cider
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup cola
  • 1 cup water + a teaspoon of marmite
  • 3/4 cup bean liquid
  • skip it


  • Cook your chili according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen beer substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.



Serving: 1cup | Calories: 104kcal

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