Here's What You Can Substitute For Alcohol In French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a classic dish that looks like a hot mess when it's served, thanks to the melted cheese that's often crusted down the sides of the cute little ramekin. Although it's hard to pass up when on a restaurant menu, it's one of those dishes that may be even better to eat in the privacy of your own home since then, at least, you can indulge yourself by picking off and devouring every last scrap of that delicious melty cheese without fear that anyone's going to look at you like you just escaped from the zoo.

Another reason you might want to add this dish to your home repertoire is if you prefer to stay away from anything cooked with alcohol. While yes, actual alcohol content is significantly reduced with heat, it's not entirely gone according to The Spruce Eats, and if your religion or personal preferences dictate that you avoid alcohol altogether, you should be aware that most French onion soup recipes do include wine. Some also add brandy, and Ina Garten even has a recipe calling for wine, brandy, and sherry for a super (souper?) boozy version (via Food Network). So how do you get the right taste without using booze? 

Why grape juice makes a good wine substitute for French onion soup

While some are reluctant to swap out wine for grape juice in cooking, fearing the switch will make the dish too sweet, French onion soup has enough complexity from the other flavors — saltiness from the beef broth, creaminess from the cheese, onioniness from the onions — that a hint of extra sweetness plays nicely with all of the other ingredients.

As to what type of grape juice you should use, My Halal Kitchen says they experimented with a number of different types and discovered that Concord grape juice not made from concentrate had the flavor profile they were looking for. Amanda's Plate, however, has a recipe that calls for using grape juice concentrate, plus a little bit of apple cider vinegar. You could always use red wine vinegar. The alcohol it once contained has been metabolized into acetic acid, which is also the case with ACV (via Martha Stewart), but as long as you're using vinegar in conjunction with grape juice, it shouldn't matter so much what type you use. Your homemade French onion soup should have that restaurant taste while remaining alcohol-free, so bon appétit!