Mirin vs. Sake: What Is the Difference? (Explained)

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Mirin and sake are essentially interchangeable versions of the same beverage. As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of individuals use these two terms interchangeably and are often confused about which one is which.

Those who are not acquainted with Japanese food are the only ones that run into this difficulty at this point. Nonetheless, if you are interested in acquiring such knowledge, it is essential that you comprehend the distinction between the two. Now, to compare and contrast, what exactly sets sake different from Mirin?

In a broad sense, sake and Mirin are both considered to be rice wines. The sole distinction between the two is that sake is often consumed while drinking, whilst mirin is more commonly utilized in the kitchen. As a consequence of this, mirin has a more pronounced sweetness and has less alcohol than sake, whereas sake has a more subdued flavor and contains more alcohol.

Although though cooking is the primary use for mirin, sake may also be used in its place. So, the issue may be boiled down to deciding which one to utilize and the difference between them. Those who are interested in learning more about Japanese cuisine should be familiar with both of these concepts, as it is crucial information that they should be aware of.

The distinction between sake and Mirin will be broken out in further detail in the following paragraphs. This way, you will be able to comprehend each one and put them to use in the manner in which you need them.

Let’s get down to business without further ado, shall we?

Is sake and mirin the same thing?

Sake and Mirin are essentially interchangeable as they are both rice wines. Sake and Mirin both have their roots in Japan. Sake, on the other hand, is intended mainly for consumption, whilst Mirin is used mostly in culinary preparation.

Sake and Mirin are not interchangeable since sake has a flavor that is less distinctive and a higher percentage of alcohol than mirin does. On the other side, mirin is a kind of rice wine that is sweeter but has a lower percentage of alcohol.

Mirin is a sweet rice wine that is often used in the preparation of glazes and sauces. This rice wine provides every meal a shine or luster, and as a result, it is often used as a substitute for sugar or other sweets.

On the other hand, sake is a rice wine that has a drier flavor. The alcohol percentage in this rice wine is much higher than average. Moreover, it has less sweetness, making it a more versatile ingredient that may be used in a variety of dishes.

Because of this, drinking sake is the primary way that it is enjoyed, despite the fact that some people still find it beneficial in certain dishes.

Hence, whether you use sake or Mirin will be determined by the recipe that you use. A dish that asks for a lighter taste often calls for sake, whereas a recipe that calls for a glaze and sweetness might employ the consistency of mirin. Sake is commonly used.

What’s the difference between Mirin and sake?

The amount of alcohol and the degree of sweetness in mirin are two characteristics that set it apart from sake. So, the decision between the two should be based on whatever method of cooking you enjoy more.

In general, the flavor of Mirin is sweeter, and it contains less alcohol than other types of rice wine. So, the principal function of Mirin is to be used in the kitchen during the preparation of food.

In addition to providing a very sweet flavor, mirin may also be used in the preparation of a stunning glaze or sauce. Since it imparts sheen to liquids, chefs often utilize it to bring out the best in their dishes.

On the other hand, the primary purpose of sake is for consumption. Due to the lack of discernible taste in contrast to the high alcohol concentration, this rice wine is best enjoyed on its own as a kind of liquor. On the other hand, sake is often suggested as an option in recipes that call for a rice wine. It is entirely dependent on the flavor profile that you have in mind for the dish.

Sake vs Hon mirin

Hon mirin, often referred to as real mirin, is used in a manner that is distinct from that of sake. Hon mirin is most often employed in culinary applications, while sake is more commonly consumed in its alcoholic form (although it may also be utilized in cooking).

The alcohol content of hon mirin is around 14%. In addition, the mashing process might take anywhere from 40 to 60 days. On the other hand, sake has a flavor similar to water, but it has a higher alcohol content.

The flavor of hon mirin has a little more sweetness than that of sake. Because of this, deciding which one is the best depends on the recipe you’re using. In most circumstances, hon mirin is going to be the superior option since it will provide your food with a superior glaze and a higher level of sweetness.

Sake against Aji Mirin

There is really little difference between aji mirin and sake. On the other hand, the former is much more sugary, whilst the latter has a greater proportion of alcohol. As this is the case, Aji mirin is best utilized in a condiment or seasoning capacity. On the other hand, sake is more comparable to liquor and is something that is most appreciated when consumed in this manner.

So, despite the fact that sake and aji mirin are essentially identical, the latter has a higher alcohol level than the former does and is not recommended for use in cooking due to its sweetness. On the other hand, some recipes ask for a taste that is not very noticeable, which may not have a major impact on the finished meal.

Can you use Mirin instead of sake?

Due to the fact that both Sake and Mirin are rice wines, Sake is a suitable substitute for Mirin. The only thing that remains is sake, which brings it one step closer to the finish line.

The majority of sakes, particularly sakes that have not been filtered, have a sweetness level that is comparable to that of mirin and do not need any further sweetening.

Dry sake may be remedied by adding a touch of sweetness in the form of mirin, a splash of fruit juice, or a sprinkle of sugar to the beverage.

Can you use sake instead of Mirin?

There is no problem using sake in place of mirin. Sake is an excellent substitute for mirin due to the fact that it is already a rice wine, which places it at about the same level as mirin.

A great number of sakes, particularly sakes that have not been filtered, have a natural sweetness that makes them suitable substitutes for mirin and do not need any further sweetening. Dry sake may be remedied with the addition of a drop or two of fruit juice or a few grains of sugar.

When should you use Mirin instead of sake?

When it comes to using rice wine in the kitchen, Mirin is the better option, but sake is the better option when it comes to drinking rice wine.

In spite of the fact that sake and mirin are both alcoholic beverages, the latter is often used in the kitchen, while sake may be both sipped and cooked with depending on the recipe. Despite this, you’ll often see the combination of the two in Japanese culinary creations.

In general, mirin has a sweeter flavor and a lower alcohol content than other types of alcohol. As a consequence of this, the principal use for mirin is in the kitchen as a culinary ingredient.

In addition to the sweet kick it delivers, mirin may be included into a variety of delicious sauces and glazes. In addition to this, it imparts a sheen on liquids, which is another reason why cooks commonly use it to make a dish shimmer.

Sake, the equivalent of Mirin, is most often consumed in this manner. This rice wine is best used as a liquor when consumed on its own due to the high alcohol content and tastelessness of the beverage. Nonetheless, certain recipes that call for rice wine will commonly refer to sake as an alternative. It all depends on the flavor profile that you have in mind for your dish.

Using sake in the kitchen vs. using mirin

In comparison to conventional sake, cooking sake has a more salty flavor because it includes a trace amount of the mineral. Despite this, the alcohol concentration has not changed at all. It all comes down to personal choice, so if you’re wondering whether you should use cooking sake or mirin, the answer is: it depends.

You can give your dish a sweeter flavor by using mirin, and you can give it a saltier flavor by using cooking sake. Both of these options are available to you. On the other hand, if you need to use one in lieu of another, it’s not the best idea since the results will be different. Since cooking sake has a salty flavor and mirin has a sweet flavor, the two cannot be substituted for one another.


The degree of sweetness and the quantity of alcohol in sake are the primary distinguishing characteristics between mirin and sake. Although both of them are rice wines, sake is traditionally consumed while mirin is used in the kitchen. As a result, mirin has a higher sugar content and a lower percentage of alcohol. On the other side, sake has a lower sugar content, a drier mouthfeel, and a higher percentage of alcohol.

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