Rice vinegar is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, but it can be difficult to find or expensive to purchase. Fortunately, if you don’t have any rice vinegar on hand, there are some easy-to-find alternatives. Choose the best rice vinegar substitute from our list below and use it instead.
Rice vinegar is a condiment made from fermented rice. It can have different colors depending on the type of rice used.
Like other kinds of vinegar, rice vinegar has a thin consistency and an acidic taste. But it also has a mildly sweet flavor. This flavor profile goes well with savory dishes. That said, rice vinegar is versatile – it’s no surprise it’s a staple in Asian cuisine.
If you have time to spare, you can make rice vinegar from scratch. Homemade rice vinegar can be the perfect substitute for store-bought ones.
The process is simple. First, you ferment cooked rice in water by adding a starter called vinegar mother. It’s the acetic acid bacteria that trigger the fermentation process. Doing so will turn rice water into rice wine.
Then, continue fermenting the rice wine until it turns into acetic acid. This additional step produces rice vinegar.
There are several types of rice vinegar.
Also called regular rice vinegar, white rice vinegar comes from white rice. It has a mildly sweet but acidic taste. The color of this vinegar can range from clear to yellow. White rice vinegar is the most common type found in most grocery stores.
Brown rice vinegar is light to dark brown in hue. As it’s a vinegar made from brown rice, it is reportedly healthier than white rice vinegar. But there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to taste. For this reason, brown rice vinegar is an excellent rice vinegar substitute.
Red rice vinegar is a kind of vinegar made from fermented rice (red yeast rice). Most recipes also include sorghum and barley. The resulting vinegar is salty, sweet, and acidic. It gets its dark red tinge from its main ingredient, red rice.
The main ingredient in black rice vinegar is glutinous black rice. So this vinegar has a very dark brown, almost black color.
Like red vinegar, this vinegar contains grains like millet, wheat, and sorghum. As a result, black rice vinegar has notes of smokiness and a rich umami flavor.
Seasoned rice vinegar also exists. It’s simply white rice vinegar with extra seasonings. Sugar, salt, and MSG are among the common additives.
So, what can you use as a rice wine vinegar substitute? Here are 11 of our top picks:
Apple cider vinegar is among the best substitutes for rice vinegar. It has similar sweet notes, along with the usual acidic taste.
Even with its mild apple flavor, it can easily step in for rice vinegar in most dishes. The best thing about this vinegar is its many health benefits. Plus, it’s available in most stores, and you most likely have one in your pantry.
Since apple cider vinegar tastes like rice vinegar, a 1:1 substitution ratio is suitable.
White wine vinegar comes from fermented white wine. It has a slightly fruity taste, but it’s barely noticeable. What makes it a good alternative to rice vinegar is its similar acidity. When it comes to sweetness, though, it is not as sweet as rice vinegar.
But you can easily fix this by throwing a bit of sugar or honey into the mix. This combination can replace rice vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.
As the name suggests, champagne vinegar is vinegar made from champagne. Its delicate flavor goes well with many other ingredients. You can use it to replace rice vinegar in almost all recipes and even dressings and marinades.
Champagne vinegar has a light and crisp taste, so you don’t have to worry about overpowering your dishes.
Use the same amount of champagne vinegar as the rice vinegar listed in your recipe.
Made from fermented sherry, sherry vinegar has a subtle, sweet taste. So it’s also a viable rice vinegar substitute option. On top of that, it shares the same acidity as rice vinegar.
This vinegar comes with a nutty flavor. It’s a welcome addition to most recipes as it gives your dish a depth of flavor.
Sherry vinegar will also give you richer vinaigrettes and more flavorful sauces.
Substitute sherry vinegar for rice vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.
If you’re only after the acidic kick that rice vinegar offers, then you can go for citrus juice as a replacement. Something as simple as lemon juice or lime juice will do.
Remember that both will add a distinct citrus taste to your dishes. That said, they won’t work for all recipes that call for rice wine vinegar.
If they do work, you’ll have a nutritious alternative here. Both are rich sources of vitamin C and antioxidants that make your dish healthier.
To get close to the acidic taste of rice vinegar, you’d need more lemon or lime juice. That said, double the amount when using citrus juice as an alternative.
Rice wine is an alcoholic drink that comes from fermented glutinous rice. You can use it for both drinking and cooking. In Japan, locals call the drinking wine “sake,” while they use the name “mirin” for the cooking wine.
Keep in mind that mirin is much sweeter than rice vinegar. So be sure to adjust your recipe.
You’ll also need to cook off the alcohol in rice wine to reach a flavor similar to rice vinegar. That said, it’s best for cooked dishes. For vinaigrettes and dipping sauces, you’re better of with other options on this list.
Use the same amount of mirin to replace an equal amount of rice vinegar.
When in a pinch, seasoned rice vinegar can work in place of white rice vinegar. But since this vinegar contains salt and sugar, don’t forget to adjust your recipe. Pay attention to the amount of salt and sugar you add to keep your dish balanced.
A 1:1 substitution ratio will only work once you’ve adjusted your recipe.
Balsamic vinegar is a papular condiment made from unfermented grape juice. Its slightly sweet flavor makes it a good swap for rice vinegar. What’s more, its acidity matches that of rice vinegar.
Also, the flavor and aroma of balsamic vinegar change once you cook it. So this alternative is best for raw recipes like salad dressings and dipping sauces.
This vinegar’s flavor is richer than rice vinegar, which can easily overpower your dish.
Avoid using an equal amount of balsamic vinegar to replace rice vinegar. Instead, start with a small amount first and work your way up.
White balsamic vinegar is the golden-hued counterpart of regular balsamic vinegar. Aside from the color difference, white balsamic also has a milder taste. This mellow flavor blends with other ingredients better.
That said, this condiment is a more flexible rice vinegar replacement. But, like regular balsamic vinegar, it’s more suitable as a garnish or dressing ingredient.
A 1:1 substitution ratio is best when using white balsamic vinegar as a substitute for rice vinegar.
As weird as it may seem, chicken broth is a great substitute for rice vinegar. To compensate for the lack of acidity, you can add a splash of citrus juice. Lemon or lime juice will do the trick.
White vinegar can also work if citrus juice is unavailable. This combination of acidity and umami makes up for rice vinegar’s flavor.
Note that this combination only works for a limited number of dishes like stir-fries.
Use the same amount of this combination as a replacement for an equal amount of rice vinegar.
Distilled white vinegar is the most common type of vinegar. It is a household staple, so it is one of the most accessible rice vinegar substitutes.
But unlike rice vinegar, it does not have a mild taste. It is a strong vinegar that can easily overpower the other flavors in your dish. Plus, it lacks the sweet taste that characterizes rice vinegar. On top of that, it is a lot more acidic.
That said, you should only use it as a last resort. Start with a small amount and do a taste test. Add more in small increments.
Rice vinegar is incredibly useful in the culinary world. Most people are familiar with it because it is a common ingredient in sushi rice. But that’s not all.
You can also use this mild-flavored vinegar as a dipping sauce for tofu and dumplings. On top of that, you can also add it to other sauces and salad dressings for extra acidity.
Rice vinegar is also great for pickling solutions and meat marinades. It is also a popular addition to stir-fries and other savory recipes.
Surprisingly, you can also use rice vinegar to make cocktails! Try this Coolidge Cocktail recipe and see for yourself.
Because of the fermentation process, rice vinegar lasts indefinitely if stored properly. Its quality does deteriorate over time. To make the most of its quality, consume it within two years of opening the container.
To store rice vinegar properly, you must keep it from sunlight and heat. That said, you should place it in a dark and cool place.
Your rice vinegar has gone bad if it emits a rotten smell and develops a dark brown color. Rice vinegar may turn cloudy over time, but that is normal.
Rice vinegar is a popular condiment, especially in Asian cuisine. It is the go-to vinegar in sushi rice-making. If you ever need an alternative, apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar are top choices.
Lemon juice, lime juice, and white balsamic vinegar will also work for most dishes. Distilled white vinegar can also be a quick rice vinegar substitute if you’re in a hurry.