A fortified wine, vermouth starts with a white-wine base that is then blended with grape spirits to increase the alcohol content. Although there are sweet and dry varieties available, sweet vermouth is not usually used in cooking and should never be used in place of dry vermouth. If you don't have dry vermouth on hand, you can use several other ingredients in its place.
Dry vermouth is often recommended as a cheap substitute for white wine. However, it may be more likely that you have a bottle of white wine in your cabinet to use as a substitute for dry vermouth. For best results, use a dry white wine to imitate the taste of vermouth most closely. Sauvignon blanc is an excellent choice for dry white wine, according to Cooking Light. The longer you simmer or bake a dish with white wine, the lower the alcohol content will be.
Dry vermouth adds a touch of acidity to dishes, which is why lemon juice can also be used as a substitute. Avoid using lime or other citrus juices, which may have too strong of a flavor. Lemon juice can be overpowering and a little goes a long way, so taste the sauce as you go if possible in order to determine how much to use. Start by using half of the amount of dry vermouth called for in the recipe and gradually increase it. For example, if the recipe calls for half-cup of dry vermouth, use quarter-cup of lemon juice.
Use vinegar to mimic the acidic quality of dry vermouth. White-wine vinegar most closely resembles the taste of dry vermouth. However, depending on the dish you plan to make, other vinegars, like balsamic and red-wine vinegar, may also work. Consider the other ingredients in the recipe to help you decide. For example, if you're making a clam linguine with a light sauce and want to really showcase the fresh clams, white-wine vinegar would be a better choice than balsamic, which has a stronger flavor.
Although it may not have the distinct flavor of dry vermouth, you can also use chicken, turkey or vegetable broth as a substitute. In some cases, beef broth might also work. A mixture of broth and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice may also do the trick. White grape juice with no added sweeteners is a bit sweeter than dry vermouth, but adding about half of the requested amount may work in some recipes, such as sauces for poultry. Add more salt or spices if the grape juice is too sweet.