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

If you frequently visit grocery stores, you may find cooking sake in some cooking sections, away from liquor. Now, if you’re not familiar with such, you may wonder what makes cooking sake any different from regular sake. If you’re wondering about this matter, then here’s your answer:

Cooking sake is different from sake or regular sake because it’s mainly used for cooking and is not ideal for drinking. However, it contains salt and other ingredients, making it an excellent condiment. Now, you can use regular sake for cooking as well, but you can’t use cooking sake for drinking.

If you need sake for cooking, you may find the cooking sake ideal. However, if you want to enjoy sake as a drink, you should go for the regular one. If you’re not familiar with both, you need to understand the difference, as it can help you understand when to use each one.

This article will answer some of the basic questions you need to know about cooking sake and regular sake. This way, you’ll know when to use one instead of the other and how to use them to suit your preference.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Cooking Sake vs. SakePin

Is cooking sake different from normal sake?

Cooking sake is not that different from normal sake. It has the same alcohol content and the same manufacturing process. The only difference you’ll have is that cooking sake has added salt and other auxiliary ingredients.

The only distinction between the two is that cooking sake incorporates salt and additional ingredients. As a result, you may undoubtedly substitute normal sake for cooking sake.

Cooking sake, on the other hand, should not be substituted for normal sake. Please do not do it because it’s very salty.

For this reason, you’ll find a cooking sake less sweet than a regular one. Also, you can use both for cooking, although the cooking sake isn’t ideal for drinking.

What is the difference between cooking sake and normal sake?

The only difference between cooking sake and normal sake is its added content. Cooking sake contains salt and other auxiliary ingredients, while regular sake doesn’t have such.

Unlike standard sake, general cooking sake is made with less polishing rice. In addition, the alcohol percentage of cooking sake is lower than that of normal sake.

You’ll notice that cooked sake has a salty and sweet flavor. You won’t get a sense of rice taste like you would with ordinary sake. However, it’s not much of a difference once you add seasonings to your food.

One notable difference is the way these two are sold. Cooking sake is not deemed liquor under Japanese liquor tax legislation since it is salty, undrinkable sake. As a result, anyone can sell sake even in establishments that do not have a liquor sales license.

What kind of sake do you use for cooking?

The ideal kind of sake you can use for cooking is the cooking sake, and some of the best brands to work with are Takara Sake and Gekkeikan Sake. 

These brands of cooking sake are available in most grocery stores. So now, if you have regular sake, you can use it without having much difference. The reason is that the added ingredients in the cooking sake aren’t much.

A standard cooking sake has a very powerful salinity, so be attentive to the quantity of cooking sake you use when cooking. Otherwise, the flavor will be more intense than intended. If you use sweetener in your cooking sake, you need also modify the amount of sugar and mirin.

Can you use sake instead of cooking sake?

Yes, you can use sake instead of cooking sake. The only distinction between the two is that cooking sake incorporates salt and additional ingredients. As a result, you may undoubtedly substitute normal sake for cooking sake.

The added salt and other ingredients make cooking sake ideal for cooking, although it’s not much of a difference. Thus, you can cook with regular sake instead of getting cooking sake.

Now, you’ll note that since the cooking sake contains salt, you may not find the saltiness pleasant for drinking. Thus, you should get regular sake if you only want to drink it and not use it for cooking.

What is a substitute for cooking sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. It boasts a slightly sweet flavor and a higher alcohol content than most wines (ABV 15% to 20%). While delicious to sip with a meal, sake is often used in marinades, sauces, soups, and other recipes to add delicate flavor depth and tenderize meats.

However, if you find yourself wanting to make a recipe that calls for sake but not wanting to run to the store to grab some, here are some alternatives you can use:

Fortified white wine (dry vermouth)

  • Chinese rice wine
  • Dry sherry 
  • Rice wine vinegar with water or fruit juice

In general, it all boils down to your preference in taste. Also, it would be best if you understood what these ingredients can add and what you’re trying to achieve with the dish. 

Sweet sake vs. normal sake: is it the same?

Sweet sake and normal sake are the same. In general, people only mention sweet sake when compared with cooking sake. Thus, when people say cooking sake or sweet sake, they refer to the latter as normal.

Dry sake means it has more acid. If it has less acid, it becomes sweeter. Thus, it may also depend on the sake you’re purchasing. 

Comparing normal sake and sweet sake means the latter is less acidic while the former is more acidic.


In a nutshell, cooking sake and normal sake only differ in saltiness. The former comes with added salt, which is ideal for cooking. On the other hand, the latter has no added salt and is usually less acidic. Thus, it tastes sweeter and much ideal for drinking.

Cooking sake isn’t considered liquor, so you can get it at grocery stores and aren’t subject to liquor laws. The reason is that it’s too salty for drinking, so its primary use is for cooking only. 



Image credits – Canva

You May Also Like