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Sherry Vinegar Substitute


Sherry vinegar is a tasty ingredient found in gazpacho. It can be tempting to test your culinary skills by making this soup. What happens if you don’t have sherry vinegar available? Below you’ll find the best sherry vinegar substitute list for any sherry vinegar recipe needs you have.

dark bottle with label Sherry Vinegar and small glass dish filled with brown liquid

What is sherry vinegar?

Sherry vinegar is made in Spain and aged in a barrel. It is created from sherry wine and provides a nutty and caramel-like taste to the dishes. Of course, it also adds acidity like any other vinegar on the market. The nut and caramel flavors distinguish it from different kinds of vinegar. It is commonly used in soups, marinades, vinaigrettes, and a finishing drizzle for meats and vegetables.

What are the types of sherry vinegar?

There are three types of sherry vinegar – they are each differentiated by the amount of time they have been aged in the barrel. The standard vinegar that is aged for six months or more is referred to simply as sherry vinegar. When it is aged for two years, it then becomes reserva. Sherry vinegar that is aged more than 10 years is known as gran reserve. As the sherry vinegar ages, the color becomes darker, the taste becomes more robust, and the price of the vinegar increases.

Top Sherry Vinegar Alternatives

1. Rice Wine Vinegar

Rice wine vinegar is a great substitute for sherry vinegar. It is the top alternative based on taste. It provides a sweet flavor similar to that of sherry vinegar.
Rice vinegar is made from fermenting rice by adding Mother of Vinegar. This bacteria is combined with a small amount of rice wine to create rice wine vinegar.

Pros. Rice vinegar is usually more budget-friendly than sherry vinegar. It also has a subtle flavor so that it can be used in most dishes. It works well in vinaigrettes, sauces, and marinades.

Cons. Since rice wine vinegar is made from rice, it has a slightly different taste than rice wine vinegar. You’ll also find the color different, though rice wine vinegar is not often used for its color in dishes.

Cooking Tip:
Use it in a 1:1 ratio when cooking with it.

2. Champagne Vinegar

Champagne vinegar is another one of the best substitutions for sherry vinegar. It also provides a similar subtle flavor with a slight sweetness that mimics sherry vinegar. It does have more sweetness than sherry vinegar, so you will find a slight taste difference in your dishes when using this alternative.

Pros
The subtle flavor and sweetness are similar to the flavor of sherry vinegar so that it can be used quite easily as an alternative. It also has a medium amount of acidity like sherry vinegar. It can be used in marinades for meats, salad dressings, and some sauces.

Cons
With a sweeter flavor, it can alter the taste of your dishes. Champagne vinegar will not work with all dishes as a substitute.

Cooking Tip:
Use champagne vinegar as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio as well.
When using champagne vinegar, you may need to alter the recipe slightly to account for the sweet level.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another fantastic sherry vinegar replacement. It provides the sweetness you want in dishes that normally incorporate sherry vinegar. The acidity is higher in apple cider vinegar, and it will have a different flavor as it is created out of apples.
There are two types of apple cider vinegar – filtered and unfiltered. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is considered to have more health benefits as it includes the “mother” – a substance that consists of probiotics. Filtered apple cider vinegar has had the “mother” removed from it.

Pros
Both acidity and sweetness are present in apple cider vinegar. You can use this to create vinaigrettes, marinades, and even BBQ sauces. Apple cider vinegar is readily available in grocery stores, so it is an easy-to-find sub for sherry vinegar.

Cons
With the higher acidity, you will want to add something sweet to your dish to offset the sourness. This could be in the form of sugar, honey, or even syrup. If you’re trying to avoid excess sugar, this may not be the best option for you.

Cooking Tip:
With the difference in acidity, you’ll want to start with ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every tablespoon of sherry vinegar. If you need more flavor, you can add more apple cider vinegar slowly.

4. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is another one of the top sherry vinegar alternatives. White wine vinegar has a similarly low level of acidity and also a subtle flavor. While it doesn’t taste the same as white wine vinegar, it’s a great substitute in a pinch.

Pros
White wine vinegar will provide a similar acidity level in dishes. It also has a mild flavor, so it will not empower other ingredients used for cooking. Use white wine vinegar in European-style stews as a replacement for sherry vinegar.

Cons
White wine vinegar has a very subtle taste – even more than sherry vinegar. In some dishes, it might not be as noticeable.
Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio as a swap for sherry vinegar.
If you want a more similar sherry vinegar flavor, add in ½ tablespoon of sherry wine for every tablespoon of white wine vinegar.

5. Sherry Wine

If all else fails, you can use sherry wine as one of your sherry vinegar substitutes. It will lack the acidity provided by the vinegar in your dishes. However, the sweetness and flavor will come through and create a similar taste in your dishes.

Pros
Sherry wine works well with cooked dishes. When using in a sauce or stew, the alcohol content will cook out of the sherry wine. This will create a more similar flavor to sherry vinegar.

Cons
Dishes using sherry wine will lack the acidic flavor provided by sherry wine vinegar. Sherry wine is also much sweeter than sherry vinegar, so it will not work well with every recipe.

Cooking Tip:
Start with ½ tablespoon of sherry wine for every tablespoon of sherry vinegar. Increase the amount slowly – this will help to avoid overly sweet dishes.
If you want a more similar flavor to sherry vinegar, add a splash of lemon juice to the dish with the sherry wine.

6. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice works wonders as a replacement for any vinegar. The acidity from this citrus juice mimics the acidity that other kinds of vinegar offers. As with sherry vinegar, lemon juice has a slight sweetness to it that translates in recipes.
You likely have lemon juice or lemons already in your house. If not, they can be found at any grocery store in your vicinity. The flavor will vary as it is not vinegar. However, the primary taste components can be found. This juice works well in salad dressings as well as cooked dishes.
Since lemon juice provides a clean, uncomplex flavor, it meshes well with most recipes.

Pros
Lemon juice offers an acidic and sweet flavor reminiscent of sherry vinegar. They’re easy to find in grocery stores or your fruit bowl at home.

Cons
If lemons are not in season, purchasing them from the store will be pricey. There will be a flavor difference as you are not using vinegar.

Cooking Tips:
Start with a 1:1 ratio, then adjust as needed.
You can add a sprinkle of sugar or a similar sweetener if the lemon juice is too sour for your taste.

7. Balsamic Vinegar

You can easily use balsamic vinegar as a substitute due to its sweetness and acidic taste. The color of balsamic vinegar is different – a dark brown color, meaning the dish will look different if it has a lighter-colored sauce.
Balsamic vinegar can be used in salad dressings and cooked recipes. There is a flavor difference as balsamic typically tastes like chocolate, fruit, and molasses. This swap is easy to find at the grocery store, making it an excellent substitution.

Pros
As noted, this swap is easy to find in stores. It also offers a sweet, fruity, and sour vinegar taste similar to that of sherry vinegar.

Cons
The flavor notes provided in balsamic vinegar are not perfect for every recipe, limiting it as a replacement. When cooking with balsamic, the color of the dish will be different than expected.

Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for sherry vinegar.
If you enjoy the flavor of balsamic, you can add more than the recipe requires to fit your tastes.

8. Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is another replacement that can be used instead of sherry vinegar. It has a strong, sweet, acidic flavor that is similar to sherry vinegar yet more intense. Using red wine vinegar as a swap will be noticeable in most dishes.
You can find red wine vinegar fairly easily at grocery stores. However, if you have to choose between red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar, opt for white wine vinegar as it has a more subtle flavor closer to sherry vinegar. If all you have is red wine vinegar in your house, it will work as a replacement, though expect a stronger vinegar taste.

Pros
Sweetness and acidity will be present when using red wine vinegar. It’s also easy to find at local stores. This vinegar can be used in any Mediterranean-inspired dish or salad dressings.

Cons
Red wine vinegar is not a perfect flavor match, and it has a much stronger flavor making it stand out in recipes. It will not work well with all dishes that call for sherry vinegar.

Cooking Tip:
Use ¾ tablespoon of red wine vinegar for every tablespoon of sherry vinegar.

9. Black Vinegar

Black vinegar is a rarer vinegar that you can use as a replacement. Of course, with rare food ingredients comes higher price points. If you enjoy collecting and trying more unusual food items, go ahead and give this one a whirl.
This vinegar is richer than most as it is produced by fermenting rice wine for longer than usual (think balsamic vinegar). This process creates a stronger taste than you’d experience with rice wine vinegar. Using black vinegar will provide the sought-after vinegar acidity as well as sweetness.

Pros
If you can get your hands on black vinegar, it is a taste you won’t forget. It adds a similar sweetness and acidity as sherry vinegar. With a more complex flavor, you can add it into dishes as a way to spice them up.

Cons
Black vinegar provides a much darker color which will alter the tint of your food. It also is pricey and not as readily available. The additional flavor notes can make black vinegar tricky to work with as it will not pair with all dishes.

Cooking Tip:
Use ¾ tablespoon of black vinegar for one tablespoon of sherry vinegar.

Is sherry vinegar the same as apple cider vinegar?

No, they are created from different ingredients. Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine, while apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples.

Is sherry vinegar the same as cooking sherry?

No, they are similar in that they are both created from sherry wine. However, sherry vinegar is a fermented version of the wine while cooking sherry has preservatives and salt added to it, making it last longer on the shelf.

Can I make my own sherry vinegar?

Yes, but it will take about three months for the vinegar to be ready for use. If you’re in a hurry, you can use one of the above substitutes or grab a bottle of sherry vinegar from the store. Williams Sonoma has a comprehensive guide for those who don’t mind waiting a few months for a finished product and are willing to purchase the needed equipment

Should you refrigerate sherry vinegar after opening?

Vinegar does not need to be refrigerated – even sherry vinegar. It can sit on the shelf or counter at room temperature after being opened.

Summary

While sherry vinegar provides an exquisite taste to many Spanish and French dishes, there are some excellent alternatives out there that can be easily added to recipes. Next time you run out of sherry vinegar or don’t find it fits in your budget, head to the store and grab rice vinegar as the closest flavor option.
Can’t find any of the listed substitutions? Red wine vinegar will work as well though it will have a stronger flavor than sherry vinegar. It won’t be easy to taste the difference in your cooked dishes.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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