Substitutes for Kirsch: Ideal Picks

Kirsch is one fruit liqueur with a distinct yet lovely taste combined with the aroma of cherries. Using this in cheese fondue adds that beautiful flavor and improves the consistency of cheese to give a better taste. 

The drink is a clear, dry brandy made from the fermented juice of the black morello cherry. Kirsch is produced in Germany’s Black Forest, Alsace, across the Rhine River, and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. Its manufacturing procedures haven’t changed in a long time.

Whether you’re out of kirsch or seeking a cheaper alternative, this guide will help you find the best kirsch substitutes. Since not all kirsch alternatives apply to all dishes, your solution will depend on what you’re making.

7 Best Substitutes for Kirsch

1. Cherry Juice

For pastries or cakes, cherry juices are great kirsch substitutes. It’s also the best option when you want to get the cherry flavor but leave out the alcohol. Cherry juice is a popular beverage in France, although available in other countries.

There are other varieties of cherry juice, including apple, black currant, pomegranate, and raspberry. Just note that you’ll lose the cherry flavor and the alcohol content if you choose any of these alternatives. With any cherry juice, you’ll need to lower the sugar in the recipe because of its sweetness.

2. Calvados

One of the best kirsch substitutes that you can easily find is Calvados. It’s a fruit brandy prepared from only apples or a combination of pears and apples. Calvados, like Champagne, must grow in a particular place, and that region is Normandy in northern France.

Calvados comes in several varieties, so you should opt for a more bitter one that tastes closest to kirsch. If you’re using the sweeter drink, you should be careful how you add sugar to your dish.

3. Vodka and Cherries

Vodka and cherries are the most cost-effective substitutes for kirsch. You make this by blending the cherries in Vodka till both are smooth. If there’s time, soak the cherries in the Vodka for at least two weeks to get a more unified taste. 

Though slightly different in taste from kirsch, it’s a fantastic alternative when making sauces, boozy trifles, and some puddings. You can also use this as an excellent substitute for kirsch in baking or making cheese fondue. Like kirsch, this mixture gives a distinct flavor and improves the cheese texture in cheese fondue.

4. Dry White Wine

This is another cost-effective kirsch alternative, but it contains no sugar. Drinking dry white wine became a habit in France in the 18th century.

Unlike kirsch, you can’t use this wine in baking or making desserts because of its taste. However, it’s a good alternative when making cheese fondue. The cheese in the mixture will beat the bitter wine taste while alcohol makes the cheese smooth.

5. Liqueur de Mirabelle

Though this isn’t one of the cheaper kirsch substitutes, it has a great taste that can make up for kirsch. Mirabelle plum, the fruit used in its production, is grown in Lorraine and is a popular part of Lorraine’s traditions.

Liqueur de Mirabelle has a sweeter taste than kirsch but works well for Black Forest gateau and cherries jubilee. Cheese fondue is another dish where using this liqueur can come in handy. If you practice mixology, you can use this drink with Rose cocktails. 

6. Rum

Rum is another excellent alternative to kirsch. The drink originated in the West Indies and was first recorded in Barbados around 1650. Initially, many dubbed it “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” before they finally settled for “rum” in 1667.

The drink is a product of fermented and distilled sugarcane, so it doesn’t have the same bitter undertones as kirsch. You don’t have to soak cherries in it before using the drink to mix cocktails, cakes, sauces, and puddings. The sugarcane juice provides rich caramel undertones that give any dessert a soothing flavor.

7. Champagne 

The renowned Champagne is one of the best kirsch substitutes. Champagne’s history dates back to the 5th century when the Romans planted vineyards in northeast France. The drink evolved from a pale, pinkish wine to sparkling wine.

Even if the Champagne is bubbly, it’s an excellent component for baking desserts. When using Champagne, choose concentrated varieties to ensure that the flavor is preserved after the baking process begins. After baking, you won’t notice the concentrated taste anymore.