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12 Best Rice Vinegar Substitute Ideas to Bring Out the Same Sweet and Acidic Taste

These rice vinegar substitute ideas are perfect if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional vinegar or if you’re running low. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

Rice Vinegar Substitute Ideas

Rice vinegar is one of the most popular ingredients in Asian cuisine cooking. It’s made from fermented rice and has a sweet but tangy taste.

It’s mainly used for sushi, marinades, salad dressings, fish dishes, and stir-fries. If you’re thinking about using rice vinegar in your recipes, you won’t have it in hand all the time.

When in a pinch and looking to spice up your cooking, you can use the readily available rice vinegar substitutes.

How Rice Wine Vinegar Is Made

Let’s get this out of the way – rice wine and rice wine vinegar are not the same. While the base for both is fermented rice, they have their differences.

Rice vinegar is made when rice ferments for a while, turning it into wine. After that, the alcohol spoils, resulting in the final product, which is rice vinegar.

Rice vinegar has a mild and delicate flavor, ideal for fish dishes, salad dressings, and other cuisines.

Types of Rice Wine Vinegar

types of rice vinegar

Rine wine vinegar comes in several colors, ranging from clear to dark red. All types have a similar flavor, but some are stronger and others milder:

  • White rice vinegar is the basic form, commonly used in sushi rice. It has a tangy and acidic taste with sweet notes.
  • Brown rice vinegar is darker and packs more nutrients. It has a taste similar to white rice vinegar, and you can use the two interchangeably in certain dishes like sushi rice.
  • Black rice vinegar is mostly used as a dipping sauce. It’s made from black glutinous rice and has a delicious umami flavor. You can use it to replace white or brown rice vinegar.
  • Red rice vinegar has a sour, sweet, and funky aroma due to the fermentation process. Made from already fermented rice and various other grains, it’s more intense than other types but you can use it in moderation as a replacement.

How Rice Vinegar Is Used

Seafood risotto with rice vinegar

Although rice vinegar is acidic, its taste is sweeter than other vinegar types. Most Asian cuisines use it to flavor sauces, salads, and soups.

For instance, rice vinegar is essential for sweet and sour Chinese sauces and for flavoring sushi in Japanese cooking.

While rice vinegar is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisines, it has become quite popular worldwide, thanks to its versatility. Many people use it to enhance the flavor of fish, vegetables, and meat.

Top Rice Vinegar Substitute Ideas

Rice vinegar is not as spicy and intense as other kinds of vinegar. Because of that, matching its flavor profile is tricky most of the time.

However, you can still produce the same mild flavor and sweetness with other options before you change your menu.

The secret is not overpowering the rest of the ingredients.

Some substitutes are highly acidic and can ruin your entire dish if used in the same amount as rice vinegar, so it’s essential to pay attention to the ratios.

1. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar substitute

Regular white wine vinegar is a fruitier rice vinegar substitute. However, it’s milder but can be a little more acidic.

But don’t let that stop you from using it when you don’t have rice vinegar. You can improve the intense flavor by adding a dash of chicken broth or water.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar substitute

Apple cider vinegar is another great substitute for rice vinegar with awesome health benefits, perfect for making sushi rice.

It has the same mild flavor and sweet taste. However, you can still add a little sugar since it’s acidic.

3. Champagne Vinegar

Champagne vinegar substitute

Champagne vinegar is sweet and mild with a mellow flavor. It’s also light, crisp, and tends to overpower most dishes.

Use the 1:2 ratio to substitute rice vinegar with champagne vinegar. It works well in seafood dishes, salad dressings, marinades, and dipping sauces.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is acidic but not as intense as vinegar, making it a fantastic substitute for rice vinegar in a pinch.

It adds a citrusy, tangy flavor to any dish, but it doesn’t overwhelm other ingredients. 

Use the 2:1 ratio to substitute rice vinegar with lemon juice, and make sure to add a bit of it at a time.

5. Lime Juice

Lime juice

Lime juice is a better alternative than lemon juice, with a milder, acidic, sweet, and less tangy taste.

Its taste is closer to rice vinegar than lemon juice. The only difference is that it adds a fruity and floral aftertaste to a dish, which isn’t bad but obvious.

Like lemon juice, add a bit of lime juice at a time to get the right balance. Use the 2:1 ratio to substitute rice vinegar with lime juice.

6. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar is complex vinegar made from sherry with a rich flavor and nutty aroma.

It’s also slightly sweet and makes a dish taste better when used instead of rice vinegar. To do that, use the 1:1 ratio.

7. White Balsamic Vinegar

White balsamic vinegar

White balsamic vinegar is an Italian vinegar with a mild tartness and sweet taste. It has many health benefits and a lighter color that works well for most dishes.

This type of vinegar is ideal for raw recipes like sauces, salads, dips, and dressings. When cooked, it loses its rich flavor.

Go for the thinner version instead of the syrup vinegar, and use it in the 1:1 ratio.

8. Seasoned Rice Vinegar

Seasoned rice vinegar

Seasoned rice vinegar is rice vinegar with salt and sugar. It’s one of the best rice vinegar substitutes for meals that need seasoning and sugar.

However, ensure to not add any additional sugar or salt to your dish.

9. Rice Wine

Rice wine

Rice wine has more alcohol than vinegar. But it’s a beautiful rice vinegar replacement in various recipes, particularly since it changes the appearance and flavor of your dish.

Be sure to use dry rice wine low in ABV. To further enhance the flavor of your dish, add a splash of vinegar to increase the acidity and tanginess.

Rice wine works better in cooked dishes, such as sauces, broths, marinades, and soups. Let it simmer until all the wine cooks off to bring out the dish’s flavor profile.

10. White Wine

White wine

A splash of dry or extra-dry white wine will save your dish when you don’t have rice vinegar on hand.

It doesn’t overwhelm the flavor as other ingredients. The best choice of white wine includes Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Add a bit of citrus juice to bring the flavor even closer to that of rice vinegar. And stick to the 1:1 ratio when using white wine as a rice vinegar substitute.

11. Chicken Broth

Chicken broth

Chicken broth works as a white wine substitute in specific recipes. So it makes sense to also use it as a substitute for rice vinegar.

Add a splash of lime or lemon juice or just white vinegar to recreate the acidic tartness of rice vinegar.

Chicken broth works when used in a 1:1 ratio to replace rice vinegar.

12. White Vinegar

white vinegar

Regular white vinegar can replace rice vinegar in a pinch. However, you need to adjust other ingredients.

Where rice vinegar has a sweet, mild, and mellow taste, white vinegar is spicy and sharp.

So only use white vinegar as the last resort. Before use, distill it in water, sherry, white wine, or chicken broth.

You can also add sugar to bring the taste as close to that of rice vinegar as possible.

FAQ

Discover more helpful information about rice vinegar alternatives:

What recipes require rice vinegar?

Sushi rice, Ahi sushi cups, basting sauce, Teriyaki marinade, and Asian dipping sauce are some examples. But you can also use rice vinegar in salad dressings, stir-fries, and fish dishes.

Do rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar have similar benefits?

Yes, both types have many health benefits and are fantastic for weight loss. For instance, apple cider vinegar has 3 cal. per tbsp., while rice vinegar has 0 cal.

Do I need to refrigerate rice vinegar?

No, it’s not necessary to refrigerate rice vinegar, so you can keep it stored at room temperature.

Conclusion

You can easily substitute rice vinegar with various types of vinegar. However, before you do that, consider the flavor and color of the replacement to adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Rice vinegar is primarily used to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients in the dish rather than overwhelm them.

Some rice vinegar substitutes are too intense and may overwhelm the other ingredients.

However, with a little creativity, you can bring out the best flavor of your dish if you use the right amount of rice vinegar or a substitute and adjust the other ingredients.

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