Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes: 16 Easy Replacements

Original glass bottles with different vinegar on a marble table against a background of a white brick wall.

Apple cider vinegar has become a popular ingredient in many recipes, due to its tangy apple flavor and various health benefits.

However, there are times when one might need a substitute for this versatile vinegar, either because of dietary restrictions, personal preferences, or simply not having any on hand.

Exploring suitable alternatives will allow home cooks and professional chefs alike to maintain the desired flavor and acidity in their recipes.

Several suitable substitutes for apple cider vinegar can be used instead in various dishes without compromising taste or texture. The most common alternatives include white wine vinegar, lemon, and lime juice. These options offer a similar acidity level and can be easily incorporated into numerous recipes.

Choosing the best apple cider vinegar substitution will largely depend on the specific dish and personal taste preferences. It is essential to consider the flavor profile and acidity of the substitute to ensure seamless integration into the recipe. By understanding the key characteristics of each alternative, one can confidently make the best choice for their culinary needs.

Common Substitutes for Apple Cider Vinegar

Lemon and Lime Juice

Ingredients for homemade lemonade. Lemon, lime and mint.

Lemon and lime juice are both highly acidic, making them ideal substitutes for apple cider vinegar in dressings, sauces, and marinades. They add a tart, citrusy flavor that can brighten up dishes. To replace apple cider vinegar, use instead equal amounts of lemon or lime juice.

lemon juice in a bottle, isolated, on a white background

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar in fancy glass decanter

White wine vinegar is another excellent substitute for apple cider vinegar due to its similar acidity and the same fruity flavor undertones. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for apple cider vinegar. This vinegar works well in dressings, marinades, and sauces.

Red Wine Vinegar

Decanter with red wine vinegar  isolated on the white background

Red wine vinegar has a bolder flavor than apple cider vinegar but can still be used as a substitute. Use a slightly larger amount (1 teaspoon extra per tablespoon) to compensate for its milder acidity. Red wine vinegar is a versatile option for dressings, marinades, and deglazing pans.

Balsamic Vinegar

pouring balsamic vinegar over steamed vegetables salad

Balsamic vinegar’s wine-like, fruity undertones make it a great substitute for apple cider vinegar. Although its flavor is sharper and sweeter, it works well in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Use equal amounts when replacing apple cider vinegar in recipes.

Rice Wine Vinegar

Woman preparing sauce with rice vinegar in kitchen

Unseasoned rice wine vinegar is a suitable 1:1 substitute for apple cider vinegar, especially in Asian-inspired dishes like stir fries. Rice wine vinegar is less acidic and has a subtle, sweet taste that blends well in dressings, marinades, and pickling. Seasoned rice vinegar might be suitable depending on the dish. (Mirin is a Japanese-style rice wine vinegar that is worth exploring as well.)

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is a lesser-known option, but its mild sweetness and nutty flavor make it a decent stand-in for apple cider vinegar. Use it in a 1:1 sherry vinegar substitute apple cider vinegar for dressings, sauces, and stews.

Distilled White Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar on the wooden table top

Distilled white vinegar has a neutral taste, but it is very acidic. While it can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for apple cider vinegar, consider adding a splash of fresh citrus juice for a fruity flavor. White vinegar is a good option for pickling, preserving, and cleaning.

Malt Vinegar

french fries and malt vinegar on a rustic table

Malt vinegar is less acidic than apple cider vinegar, but its robust flavor can still work as an alternative in some recipes. Use it sparingly, and consider adding a touch of sweetness to balance the flavors. It’s commonly used in British-style fish and chips.

Champagne Vinegar

With its delicate flavor and light color, Champagne vinegar can be a suitable replacement for apple cider vinegar. It imparts a mild acidity and works well in dressings, marinades, and sauces. Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio when apple cider vinegar is not available.

There are many other vinegars that can serve as well. Vinegars main differences are around flavor, which is a subjective judgment.

Adapting Recipes for Different Vinegar Substitutes

When substituting apple cider vinegar in recipes, it’s essential to consider the flavor profile and acidity of the alternatives. Various vinegar substitutes can be used in salad dressings, marinades, and vinaigrettes, each providing a unique taste and texture to the dish. This section will discuss how to adapt recipes to incorporate different vinegar substitutes effectively.

Serving size samples of different types of vinegar including Balsamic, Apple Cider, White and Malt vinegars, with text names added.

In salad dressings, replacing apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar is an excellent choice. Balsamic vinegar offers a fruity undertone and a wine-like flavor, albeit slightly sweeter and sharper. Use a 1:1 substitution ratio for this alternative. For a much milder flavor and less acidic option, white wine vinegar can be an appropriate choice. It provides a fruity and less acidic flavor, making it suitable for lighter dressings.

Marinades often benefit from the addition of vinegar to tenderize the protein and enhance the flavors. A suitable apple cider vinegar substitute in marinades is malt vinegar. Malt vinegar provides a yeasted note in terms of overall flavor and pairs well with fried and crispy dishes. However, keep in mind that it might alter the taste of the dish due to its unique flavor profile.

Fruit Lemon Lime Orange Squeezer Manual Hand Press Citrus  fruit Juicer Tool.

Vinaigrette recipes can also be adapted with different vinegar substitutes. For instance, lemon juice offers a tangy and zesty flavor that closely resembles apple cider vinegar. Replace lemon juice with apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, champagne vinegar can be used in a 2:1 substitution ratio (2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar for 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar). This alternative brings a delicate and subtle taste to the vinaigrette, making it ideal for delicate greens and seafood salads.

Another apple cider vinegar substitute to consider is sherry vinegar, a type of wine vinegar with a distinct taste. It’s an excellent choice for recipes that require the same acidity level as apple cider vinegar. The substitution ratio for using sherry wine vinegar is 1:1, although the resulting flavor may be different.

Adapting recipes to suit different vinegar substitutes is all about understanding the many distinct flavor profiles and making the appropriate adjustments to ratios and amounts. By keeping these suggestions in mind and considering the desired taste and texture of the dish, cooking becomes a delightful adventure in flavor exploration.

Non-Vinegar Alternatives

When looking for an apple cider vinegar substitute, there are several non-vinegar alternatives that can be used in various recipes. These options not only provide similar benefits but also help maintain the desired consistency and flavor.

Apple Juice

Apple juice is a common and natural alternative to apple cider vinegar. Although it lacks the acidity of apple cider vinegar replacement, it can still contribute a fruity flavor when the recipe calls for apples. To use apple juice as a substitute, simply replace the same amount of apple cider vinegar with apple juice.

Orange Juice

Orange juice is another popular non-vinegar substitute for apple cider vinegar. It provides a tangy and slightly acidic flavor, making it suitable for recipes that require a fruitier taste. Similarly to apple juice, use orange juice in a 1:1 ratio in a recipe when replacing ACV. If additional acidity is needed, consider adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to the orange juice.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an alternative for those looking for a non-liquid substitute that can provide acidity to a recipe. In some cases, powdered vitamin C can be used as a direct substitution for apple cider vinegar. To use vitamin C as a substitute, replace 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon of vitamin C powder. Remember that this substitution may alter the final taste and consistency of certain recipes, particularly those that rely on vinegar for flavor.

Acidic Substances

The acetic acid in ACV does the heavy lifting. Several other acidic substances can be used as non-vinegar alternatives to apple cider vinegar to maintain the same acidity profile:

  • Lemon juice provides a punchy citrus flavor and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for apple cider vinegar in most recipes.

  • Lime juice, similar to lemon juice, offers a tangy flavor and a comparable acidity level to apple cider vinegar.

  • Cream of tartar presents an option for those looking for a dry ingredient. To use it as a substitute, replace 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar.

Considering each alternative’s characteristics and how they might affect the dish’s flavor and texture is essential. Experiment with these non-vinegar alternatives to find the best apple cider vinegar substitute for your recipe.

Flavor Profile Considerations

When selecting a substitute for apple cider vinegar, it is essential to consider the flavor profile to make sure the alternative complements the intended recipe. Apple cider vinegar uniquely combines fruity, tart, and slightly sweet flavors. Taking these characteristics into account will help maintain the overall taste and balance of the dish.

lime and lemon splashing water isolated on white background

Apple cider vinegar is known for its fruity and tangy apple flavor, stemming from its origins as a fermented apple juice or cider. This bold flavor sets it apart from other vinegar types, and finding a substitute with similar fruitiness is crucial. Suitable alternatives include:

  • Lemon juice: Offering a bright, citrusy tang similar to apple cider vinegar, it can be used in a 1:1 ratio. Use fresh lemons for extra authenticity.

  • Lime juice: Another citrus option with refreshing acidity, lime juice also works well as a 1:1 substitution. Fresh limes can serve as garnishes as well.

A tart flavor is another defining characteristic of apple cider vinegar. The acidity of any substitute should closely match that of apple cider vinegar to preserve the dish’s intended taste. Some options for retaining a tart flavor include:

  • Distilled white vinegar: While more acidic and sharp with a neutral flavor, it can be used as an equal swap, with a bit of extra fruit juice or sugar added to balance the taste.

  • Balsamic vinegar: Ideal for salad dressings and vinaigrettes, its grape juice base provides a similar fruity undertone, but the flavor is sweeter and sharper.

In addition to fruitiness and tartness, apple cider vinegar has a subtle sweetness that can enhance a recipe. To maintain this quality, remember to adjust other ingredients in the dish accordingly. For example, when using distilled white vinegar, add a pinch of sugar to recreate apple cider vinegar’s natural sweetness.

In summary, considering the flavor profile of apple cider vinegar – fruity, tart, and slightly sweet – is critical when selecting the best substitute. Matching these characteristics with an alternative such as lemon juice, lime juice, distilled white vinegar, or balsamic vinegar can help maintain the integrity and taste of the recipe.

Health Benefits of Various Vinegar Substitutes

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is known for its numerous health benefits, but there are other types of vinegar substitutes that can also offer a wide range of advantageous effects. This section explores the health benefits of these alternatives in relation to acidity and overall well-being.

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar, one of the closest alternatives to ACV, can be used in a one-to-one ratio to replace apple cider vinegar. It provides a similar acidic flavor but with a slightly different taste profile. As for its health benefits, it contains antioxidants, can aid in digestion, and may help reduce blood sugar levels.

Malt Vinegar

Malt vinegar is another good substitute for apple cider vinegar, especially in fried and crisp dishes. It has a distinctly yeasty flavor. Like ACV, malt vinegar possesses potential gut health benefits and can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it may not be suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies, as it often contains barley.

Lemon Juice

While not a vinegar, lemon juice is a popular natural substitute for ACV that offers a variety of health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and helps improve skin health. Lemon juice can also help balance the body’s pH levels, promoting overall alkalinity, which in turn may aid in the prevention of various health issues. Like ACV, it’s also said to help with blood sugar control.

Gut Health and Acidity

Maintaining gut health is essential, as it plays a vital role in digestion, immune function, and overall health. Many vinegar substitutes, including those listed above, can promote better gut health by introducing beneficial acidity into the body, supporting the growth of good bacteria and fighting off harmful bacteria. This promotes a healthy gut microbiome balance, which has a positive impact on overall well-being.

In conclusion, different vinegar substitutes offer various health benefits while still providing the acidity needed in many recipes. Although apple cider vinegar has become widely popular in recent times, exploring the properties of other vinegar substitutes can help provide additional options and advantages for a healthier lifestyle.

Using ACV Substitutes in Vegan Baking

Vegan recipes often requires finding suitable alternatives to traditional ingredients. One such key ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which is often used to create a tart, sour taste or for its leavening properties. Finding the best substitutes is essential for individuals with intolerances to vinegar or those seeking a different flavor profile. In this section, we will discuss various apple cider vinegar substitutes suitable for vegan cakes and other baked goods.

Wine vinegar is a popular alternative to apple cider vinegar in vegan baking. Both red and white wine vinegars provide a similar acidic flavor and can be used in equal amounts as apple cider vinegar. For example:

  • Red wine vinegar: Ideal for berry-based vegan cakes, imparting a robust flavor while maintaining the acidic balance.

  • White wine vinegar: Offers a milder taste compared to red wine vinegar, making it suitable for lighter vegan cakes and pastries.

When choosing an apple cider vinegar substitute, it’s essential to consider the overall flavor and consistency of the condiment. Some possible alternatives include:

  • Lemon juice: This can provide a similar acidic taste and works well in recipes requiring a zesty touch. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting lemon juice for apple cider vinegar.

  • Distilled white vinegar: While not as sweet as apple cider vinegar, this substitute is perfect when acidity is the main requirement. Use it in equal amounts for most recipes.

  • Rice vinegar: Milder than apple cider vinegar, it works well in delicate vegan cakes and pastries. Substitute using a 1:1 ratio.

In some vegan baking applications, it may be preferable to eliminate the vinegar altogether. In such cases, options like baking soda combined with a fruit or vegetable purée can provide leavening and moisture. For instance:

  • Applesauce: Use ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce plus a pinch of baking powder per egg replacement in recipes like banana bread or morning glory muffins.

  • Aquafaba: Derived from the liquid of cooked chickpeas, this versatile ingredient can be used to create meringue-like textures or as a binder in vegan cakes.

As a final note, using apple cider vinegar substitutes doesn’t have to sacrifice flavor or quality. By understanding the desired outcome and being mindful of ingredient interactions, one can easily create delicious vegan baked goods with alternative ingredients.

What can I use instead of Apple Cider Vinegar? What is a substitute for Apple Cider Vinegar? What if I don’t have Apple Cider Vinegar?

If you don’t have ACV, you can use any of fourteen replacements (elaborated upon in the article above). The top options are lemon juice, lime juice, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or champagne vinegar.

Can I use regular vinegar instead of Apple Cider Vinegar? What is the closest vinegar to Apple Cider Vinegar? What tastes like Apple Cider Vinegar?

Yes, you can use regular vinegar instead of ACV. Probably the closest vinegars in flavor are white wine or red wine vinegar due to their fruity, vinegar flavors. For recipes where the acetic acid in ACV does the heavy lifting, lemon juice with its comparable acidity and fruity flavors is a great choice as well.

About the author

Hans Mast is someone who has always loved science and been passionate about truth. Overhyped claims drive him nuts. He loves to strip away the emotionally-charged sales pitches and hone in on the actual facts. HVG is his attempt to provide that as a service to the world of vitamins, supplements, and herbs.

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