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Cane Vinegar Substitute Options (Top 13 Picks)


Cane vinegar is so useful that you’ll be surprised how quickly your bottle goes empty! Does that mean you won’t be able to make your intended recipe anymore? Not quite. You can use a cane vinegar substitute instead.

This food guide discusses each viable alternative so you can choose the best one. Try them all if you’re in for a little culinary adventure. 

tabletop with glass dish filled with cane vinegar

What is Cane Vinegar?

Cane vinegar is a condiment made from fresh sugarcane. It is popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in the Philippines. This is because sugar cane is particularly abundant in that area. 

To make this vinegar, sugarcanes are crushed first. They then boil the sugar cane juice and add yeast to trigger fermentation. The mother of vinegar is added a few days after. After decontamination, the liquid is boiled again, and pasteurization follows quickly. The result is either a golden brown or dark yellow liquid. 

Because of its origin plant, cane vinegar has hints of sweetness. But of course, it is still vinegar, so it also has a mild acidic and sour taste. 

Best Substitutes for Cane Vinegar

Here is a list of the 13 best substitutes you can use instead of cane vinegar.

1. Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, is an excellent substitute for cane vinegar. It is considered a mild condiment. And since it comes from rice, it also has notes of sweetness.

This flavor profile makes it a perfect alternative to cane vinegar. Use a 1:1 ratio when opting for this substitute.

If regular rice wine vinegar is unavailable, Japanese rice wine vinegar is also an option.

2. Red Rice Vinegar

Red rice vinegar is like white rice vinegar, only made from red rice instead of white. It has a dark brownish-red hue and is popular in Chinese cuisine.

It is tart, sweet, and salty but has a more intense flavor than its white counterpart.

For this reason, you should only use it in small amounts as a cane vinegar substitute. Using too much can overpower your other ingredients and ruin your dish’s balance. 

3. Balsamic Vinegar

You can also use balsamic vinegar to replace cane vinegar in your recipes. Hailing from Italy, balsamic vinegar uses grape juice as its main ingredient.

It has a distinct sweetness along with its acidic undertones.

It should be noted that balsamic vinegar has a stronger taste than cane vinegar. That said, a 1:1 substitution would not work. Use only half the amount of cane vinegar required for the best result. 

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

A nutritious replacement for cane vinegar is good ol’ apple cider vinegar. Made from fermented apple juice, this has a fruity, pleasant, and sweet flavor. But then again, you cannot discount its acidity – it is slightly more acidic than cane vinegar. 

Despite this, you can use the same amount of apple cider vinegar as you would cane vinegar.

5. Malt Vinegar

Made from malted barley, malt vinegar is a milder alternative to sugar cane vinegar. It has a nutty undertone, but its sweet and acidic flavor is also there.

The nutty hints won’t be noticeable if you only use a small amount in your recipe.

Because of this, it can work in most recipes. However, a 1:1 substitution ratio might be lacking due to its mild taste. Add more if you need to. 

6. Herbs Vinegar

Herb vinegar is your regular vinegar infused with different herbs. Some of the herbs used for this are the following: dill, tarragon, thyme, lemongrass, basil, and parsley.

Needless to say, this substitute still tastes like vinegar but with added flavor depending on the herbs used. It can replace cane vinegar in most dishes. This is especially true for those recipes that call for herbs as an ingredient.

Use the same amount of herb vinegar to replace cane vinegar in your recipes.  

7. Fruit Vinegar

If herb vinegar will work, there’s no way that fruit vinegar won’t. Fruit vinegar is made from different berries and fruits. The most popular ones include the following: mango, peach, berries, orange, and apricot.

These kinds of vinegar would, of course, taste fruity. But they’ll also be sweet and acidic, so they are among the best cane vinegar substitutes.

A 1:1 substitution is best when replacing cane vinegar with any fruit vinegar.

8. White Wine Vinegar

As its name suggests, white wine vinegar comes from white wine. Its main ingredient is grape juice, which is responsible for fruity undertones.

Understandably, it has that acidic nature, along with a pleasant sweet taste. It ticks the boxes for a good cane vinegar substitute. 

Use one tablespoon of white wine vinegar per tablespoon of cane vinegar your dish needs.

9. Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar uses red wine as its base. That said, it is sweeter than most types of vinegar. It is a perfect cane vinegar replacement if you want a more pronounced sweet taste. 

Red wine vinegar is also among the less acidic kinds, so it has a pleasant flavor that can elevate your dishes. The best thing about this is that you can easily make it at home

Use the same amount of red vinegar to replace cane vinegar. 

10. Champagne Vinegar

Yes, you can also use champagne vinegar instead of cane vinegar. Made from Chardonnay grapes, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, this vinegar has a mild flavor.

This makes it an ideal swap, especially when cooking with delicate ingredients.

Start with a 1:1 substitution ratio. If you find it lacking, add more until you get your desired flavor. 

11. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is fermented sherry wine. The resulting vinegar has an acidic, slightly nutty, and sweet flavor. This taste is what makes it an excellent cane vinegar alternative.

The nuttiness wouldn’t be much of an issue, as it will meld well in not dishes, both savory and sweet. In fact, it can even make your dressings and dips tastier. 

Use the same amount of sherry vinegar as the cane vinegar listed in your recipe.

12. Palm Vinegar

Another vinegar widely used in Filipino cooking is palm vinegar. Derived from palm sap, this vinegar has a bit of saltiness. Of course, this is in addition to the usual acidic and sour taste. 

Among the most popular kinds are nipa palm vinegar and kaong palm vinegar. You can use both in a 1:1 ratio.

13. Distilled White Vinegar

If all else fails, the trusty distilled white vinegar can also work. Just remember that this has a strong vinegar taste.

If you put too much, it can easily take over the flavor of your other ingredients. However, when used for pickling, it is a decent alternative to cane vinegar. 

Start by adding a small amount of this sour vinegar to your dish first. Work your way up until you get the desired flavor.

How to Choose best Cane Vinegar Substitute

When choosing a cane vinegar substitute, you need to consider some factors. 

1. Availability

You’ll need to choose something that you’ll easily have access to. After all, one of the reasons why you’d need a swap is you’ll need it soon.

For instance, a swap like a palm vinegar might be difficult to find, depending on where you live. Meanwhile, distilled white vinegar is everywhere. 

2. Color

Another consideration you need to look at is the color. Cane vinegar has a light color. For the closest result, use something with a similar light hue. Using dark vinegar like balsamic in a light-colored dish will change its appearance.

3. Flavor

All types of vinegar indeed have an acidic taste to them. However, the ingredients used to make them strongly affect their flavor. Choose a cane vinegar replacement that will go well with your other ingredients. 

Culinary Uses of Cane Vinegar

Cane vinegar is a common kitchen condiment. Pork, chicken, and fish marinades usually have cane vinegar. You can also use this vinegar in making salad dressings. Its sour taste also makes it suitable for pickling and making sweet and sour sauces.

Cane vinegar is also used as a flavoring for dishes that require a sour ingredient. It is one of the main ingredients in the popular Filipino dish adobo. 

Some even like fruit salads and baked goods with a dash of cane vinegar for added flavor. 

Where Can You Find Cane Vinegar?

Cane vinegar is available in large grocery stores with an extensive condiment aisle. You can also look for it in Asian specialty stores and online retailers.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Cane Vinegar?

Cane vinegar is a natural vinegar and comes with benefits. It has phosphorus and calcium. On top of that, you’ll also get some magnesium and potassium. 

What Are The Benefits Of Using Cane Vinegar In Your Recipe?

Adding cane vinegar to your recipe can help tenderize meat. As a result, you’ll get a more satisfying bite on your dishes. Plus, using it instead of white vinegar will give you a more mellow taste instead of a sharp, acidic one. This will enhance rather than overpower other ingredients. 

Summary

Cane vinegar is vinegar derived from crushed sugar cane. It originated in the Philippines but is now produced in the US. You can opt for a cane vinegar substitute if you can’t find some. Among the best ones are apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar. 

If you can find it, palm vinegar is also a great option. But if you’re in a hurry and would like a quick swap, distilled white vinegar will do.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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