Rice vinegar is a staple in many Asian dishes as it adds a nice tangy and sweet flavor. But if you find yourself without any in the middle of cooking, there are plenty of options you can substitute in. From common household vinegars, to specialty ones, to some fruits that will also do the trick, this list of the Best Vinegar Substitutes will have you prepared if the time comes to swap out rice vinegar in many recipes like Ramen, Japanese Sushi, and slaws.
There are actually 4 different kinds of rice vinegar, all coming from different grains. White Rice Vinegar is the most basic, frequently used in sushi rice. Then comes Brown Rice Vinegar, which is still a subtle swap. Black Rice Vinegar has an umami flavor and is often used as a dip, while Red Rice Vinegar has a sourness. These two options carry stronger flavors and don’t make great substitutes, but can be added into recipes with less amount.
All vinegars have their own unique health benefits, so it’s hard to say if one is better than another. The real differences come down to taste and availability. These substitutes will show you how to swap in different vinegars to change the flavor of your meals, or just make use of products you already have in your kitchen.
What Is Rice Vinegar?
With a mild and sweet flavor, rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. You will find rice vinegar used in many Asian dishes that include sushi rice, salad dressings and pickled vegetables.
Best Substitutes for Rice Wine Vinegar
1. White Wine Vinegar
From grapes to wine to vinegar! This vinegar has a really mild taste which makes it an easy substitute. You can also add it in a 1:1 ratio.
Pro Tip: White wine vinegar is less sweet than rice vinegar, so you may want to top it off with some additional sugar. Add ¼ teaspoon for every 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
2. Lemon Juice
In recipes where you need rice vinegar for a bit of tanginess, lemon juice makes a great substitute. The acidity of the fruit is the perfect match to the acidity of the vinegar, but it will bring with it a citrus taste.
Pro Tip: Add 2 parts lemon juice for every 1 part of vinegar.
3. Lime Juice
Similar to lemon juice, lime juice makes a great substitute because of its natural acidity. Once again, it will add its own distinct taste, which can be a great addition to salad dressings or certain sauces.
Pro Tip: You’ll also want to add 2 parts per every 1 part Rice Vinegar.
4. Red Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar is a really versatile option that pairs well in dressings and reductions but also meats and heartier vegetables. Most of the alcohol content gets lost in the fermenting process.
Pro Tip: Use red wine vinegar vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with Rice Vinegar.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
This fruity vinegar can pretty easily be substituted into any recipes. Just be advised that certain recipes will bring out its apple flavor more.
Pro Tip: Apple cider vinegar can substitute rice vinegar with a 1:1 ratio, though may wish to add an extra ¼ teaspoon of sugar for every 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
6. Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar has a pretty distinct flavor. It has a real richness and nutty flavor, but is actually less overpowering than wine vinegars.
Pro Tip: Swap it in any recipe with a 1:1 ratio.
7. Champagne Vinegar
Just as you can ferment wine to make vinegar, you can do the same with champagne for a beautifully delicate result. It’s mild enough that it won’t alter the flavor of any of your recipes, but its lightness goes particularly well with fish.
Pro Tip: Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio.
Can I Use Rice Vinegar Instead of Sushi Vinegar for Sushi?
Sushi vinegar is just rice vinegar with added sugar and salt. For every ¼ cup of rice vinegar, add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Can I Substitute Balsamic Vinegar for Rice Vinegar?
You can absolutely use Balsamic vinegar in place of Rice Vinegar, but it has a pretty strong flavor profile and will alter the taste of your dish. If you’re opting to swap it in, I recommend starting with a few splashes at a time, instead of matching it 1:1 right away.
Can You Substitute White Vinegar for Rice Vinegar?
The simple answer, yes! You can easily replace white vinegar for rice vinegar at a 1:1 ratio. However, to add tartness you will need to combine some lemon juice or lime juice in with the white vinegar.
Can I Substitute Rice Vinegar for White Vinegar for Cleaning?
Rice vinegar is almost as great of a cleaning solution as white vinegar. White vinegar is still more acidic, making it the best choice for cleaning, but the two are pretty close. Rice vinegar is also a powerful disinfectant to kill salmonella, making it a great option for kitchen surfaces.
How Do You Make Rice Vinegar?
Making any vinegar is done through fermentation. The fermenting process isn’t a particularly difficult one, but more just one that takes time. All you’ll need is rice, water and what’s known as “Mother of Vinegar” – the culture that will start the fermentation. You can find out more about the whole process here.
Can I Substitute Mirin for Rice Vinegar?
While Mirin and rice vinegar are very similar in terms of ingredients, they each have key components that completely change their flavor profiles. Mirin has a much higher sugar content, so it will bring a sweetness along with a hint of umami to your meals. But it does not have the acidity, and consequently the tanginess, that vinegar has. If you’re comparing the two from a health perspective, Rice vinegar, or any vinegar, is definitely the way to go.
Popular Recipes Using Rice Vinegar
How to Substitute Rice Vinegar
- For the lemon juice, lime juice, use 2 parts lemon/lime juice for every 1 part of vinegar.
- For white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, use a 1:1 ratio and add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar for every 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar.
- For red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, and champagne vinegar, use a 1:1 ratio to substitute.