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Best Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute

So, what happens when you don’t have apple cider vinegar lying around the house? Check out with options below and pick the apple cider vinegar substitute that works for you.

How many recipes can you think of that include apple cider vinegar? You may be surprised to find out that apple cider vinegar is more common in recipes than you might think – especially in marinades for meat.

big glass bottle with apple cider vinegar

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples that have been pulverized and then fermented. These smushed apples are combined with yeast to create alcohol. This is how most vinegar is made. From there, bacteria are added to produce acetic acid. Adding bacteria offers the sour taste and smell that is associated with apple cider vinegar.

While some people drink diluted apple cider vinegar as a health tonic, it also has many uses in the kitchen. You can use apple cider vinegar in baking, marinades, and salad dressings.

Best Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute

1. Red Wine/ White Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are also made from fruits (grapes), so you’ll have a similar sweet flavor when using either of these as an apple cider vinegar substitute. As they are also kinds of vinegar, you’ll get the same acidic taste and sourness that apple cider vinegar provides.

This vinegar is more commonly found in the store, though both should be relatively easy to find. Both red and white wine vinegar provide a similar flavor to apple cider vinegar, and you can use it in most dishes as a replacement.

If using red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, the taste will be stronger than apple cider vinegar, which might change your dish’s flavor. Red wine vinegar will also change the color of lighter dishes to a slight pink hue.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar in a 1:1 ratio instead of apple cider vinegar.

2. Apple Juice

Surprisingly, apple juice is a good substitution for apple cider vinegar. Of course, you’ll get the same apple flavor because apples are the main ingredient. It provides a nice sweetness to recipes. Since it is not vinegar, it will not add the same acidic taste to dishes.

It also has a good amount of sugar – if you’re concerned about the sugar content, you can quite easily make your apple juice at home. Making it at home will allow you to avoid excess sugar in the liquid.

Apple juice works well to add a sweet apple flavor to baked dishes and vinaigrettes. It’s easy to come by in the store. You may even find it in your pantry if you pack lunches often for your children.

Many apple juices have a lot of sugar; you can make your own at home using the above recipe. There is no acidic flavor, so it can make certain dishes too sweet.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use apple juice in a 2:1 ratio – even for your homemade version.

3. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a great way to add acidity and brightness to dishes that generally incorporate apple cider vinegar. It has a fruity taste that mimics the flavor of apple cider vinegar. This is a better sub for apple cider vinegar than apple juice if you’re concerned about sugar intake.

The juice also works well in recipes that are cooked/baked and vinaigrettes. It creates a similar acidic flavor that usually arises from apple cider vinegar. You can also use lemon juice in marinades for nearly all types of meat.

This option is sourer than apple cider vinegar. It also has a strong lemon flavor which may not mesh well with all recipes.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use lemon juice in a 1:1 ratio. If the lemon flavor or sour taste is too strong for you, start with ¾ tablespoon of lemon juice and adjust as needed.

4. Orange Juice

Orange juice also works as an apple cider vinegar alternative. Continuing with the theme of fruit juices, it has many similar properties to lemon juice, such as the acidity, fruity flavor, and brightness that it adds to dishes. It does have a sweeter taste than lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

It’s rich in vitamin c, folate, and potassium. It works well for marinades for different meats – a great example is ribs.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use orange juice in a 1:1 ratio instead of apple cider vinegar.

5. White Vinegar

White vinegar can be used as an apple cider vinegar replacement. It adds a similar acidic taste to apple cider vinegar. However, it has a higher acidity and a bland flavor, so it’s best used as a last resort.

Since it has a neutral flavor, white vinegar can be added to any dish that usually uses apple cider vinegar. You can utilize it in both cooked dishes and raw food items (like salad dressings).

The flavor will be lacking as it does not contain the fruitiness or sweetness that apple cider vinegar is known for.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio for apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider adding a squeeze of fresh juice in (lime, lemon, orange) to give it a more similar flavor.

6. Malt Vinegar

You can substitute apple cider vinegar with malt vinegar. It does lack a fruity flavor as fermented barley is used instead of apples or grapes. However, it will provide a sour flavor similar to most vinegar.

Malt vinegar will provide a similar acidic vinegar flavor to dishes. It can be used in savory dishes like marinades and stews.

This vinegar is not the most accessible ingredient to find. You’re more likely to find this vinegar swap online than in your local grocery store. It also adds a yeast flavor to any recipes it’s included in, so it will alter the taste of the dish it’s used in.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use in a 1:1 ratio when swapping it with apple cider vinegar.

7. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is created from sherry wine and brings more complex flavors than apple cider vinegar. You’ll find acidity and a sweet taste in this substitution.

However, you can also expect caramel notes and a nutty taste. This difference in flavor makes it a substitute for specific recipes, not all recipes.

Otherwise, the consistency of this vinegar nearly mimics that of apple cider vinegar. Use this vinegar replacement in marinades, sauces, and even salad dressings.

Sweetness and acidic flavors are added to any dish with sherry vinegar; it’s an easy substitution for those who like the taste. Sherry vinegar also offers a slightly fruity taste since sherry originates from grapes.

Not everyone enjoys the taste of sherry vinegar, making it tricky to use as a substitution. The complex flavors that sherry vinegar brings to the table do not work well in all recipes.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use sherry vinegar in a 1:1 ratio in place of apple cider vinegar.

8. Lime Juice

For those seeking another alternative to lemon juice, lime juice works remarkably well. Both acidity and a fruit flavor are provided when using this swap. Lime juice will be slightly sourer and not as sweet as apple cider vinegar, which may prompt you to add a sprinkle of sugar to the dish.

In the US, when purchasing limes, they are not typically advertised by their type. However, there are multiple types available in the world. The most commonly found variety in America is Persian limes. You’ve likely purchased these if you’ve ever bought limes from your local grocery store.

Lime juice is easy to find, whether you are juicing your limes or purchasing a canister from the store. You can use this citrus juice in both cooked and uncooked recipes. Using this juice allows dishes to have a similar acidic, fruity taste as with apple cider vinegar.

As this juice errs on the sour side, it might not work well in all recipes. If you’re squeezing limes for a recipe, it will add extra time.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use this substitution in a 1:1 ratio as a substitution, similar to lemon juice.

9. Grapefruit Juice

Using grapefruit juice as a substitute is an excellent choice. Both grapefruit juice and apple cider vinegar use fruit as a base to provide a similar sweetness. However, grapefruit juice can be sourer than apple cider vinegar, which is something to consider when utilizing it in recipes.

On a positive note, grapefruit juice has a similar amount of acidity. Grapefruit juice also has a similar consistency as apple cider vinegar – they are both on the thinner side. This allows for easy swaps.

This juice offers slight sweetness and acidity to many dishes. It’s also easy to find at the store in a container. If you have a few grapefruits at home, you can add them to a juicer for fresh grapefruit juice.
Use this option for sauces and glazes, as it will brighten up the dish.

Due to the sourness, grapefruit juice is not a good substitution for all recipes.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use one tablespoon of grapefruit juice for every tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

10. Rice Wine Vinegar

Rice wine vinegar, or rice vinegar, can also work as a replacement for apple cider vinegar. As it is a type of vinegar, you can expect acidity. Although rice wine vinegar does not originate from fruit, it still presents a fruity and sweet/sour taste. This flavor is similar to what apple cider vinegar offers in recipes.

This vinegar is created when rice is fermented into wine and then fermented again to make the vinegar commonly used in Asian-inspired dishes. This vinegar works well as a topping for salads, in soups, and in recipes that include rice.

You will find rice vinegar to be less acidic, so you may want to add a few drops of lemon or lime juice into recipes with it.

Sweetness, tang, and acidity will be added by rice vinegar into recipes similar to apple cider vinegar. Rice vinegar is quite versatile in the dishes you can add it to. Plus, it is easily found in the Asian section in the grocery store.

The flavor of rice vinegar is not a perfect match and can alter the taste of dishes when used.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio in recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar?

Yes, you can replace apple cider vinegar with white vinegar. It depends on which recipe you’re using, as apple cider vinegar has a sweeter flavor. The only exception is that apple cider vinegar cannot be used in pickling or canning recipes as a substitution.

Can I use red wine vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?

Yes, you can use red wine vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. Red wine vinegar has a brighter color and more intense flavor so that you will notice a difference in your recipe.

Is apple cider the same as apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider is not the same as apple cider vinegar. While they are both made from apples, they each undergo different processes to create the final product. Apple cider vinegar is fermented, while apple cider (non-alcoholic) is similar to apple juice except with skin and apple flesh included.

Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar to dye eggs?

Surprisingly, yes, you can use apple cider vinegar in this situation. The main component that causes the eggs to dye properly is the acidity of the vinegar, which both contain. Keep in mind that the finished colors will show up differently since apple cider vinegar has a color.


Next time you want to create a recipe with apple cider vinegar, try one of the above swaps instead. You can use them to alter the flavor to fit your tastebuds more. Opt for red or white wine vinegar If you seek a substitute with a similar flavor profile.

Try apple juice or orange juice as a swap when you’re looking for a way to add some additional sweetness to a dish. And if you’re missing the above swaps, you can use lime juice or rice wine vinegar (avoid seasoned rice vinegar). Play around with these alternatives and see which one fits your favorite dishes best.

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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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