Cider vinegar, also called apple cider vinegar, has been used for thousands of years. Some records show that apple cider vinegar has been made since 5000 B.C.
Apple cider vinegar has gained popularity in recent years for its health benefits.
It can help regulate blood sugar, reduce acid reflux, alleviate seasonal allergies and cold symptoms, support weight management, and improve gut health and digestion.
Cider vinegar is also a common ingredient in many recipes. Dressings, marinades, cocktails, and some baked goods may call for it.
If you would like to use an alternative in place of cider vinegar, there are several great options. Before diving into those, let’s take a closer look at what apple cider vinegar is and how it is used.
The terms cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar will be used interchangeably.
How Apple Cider Is Vinegar Made
Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider that has been fermented by yeast and bacteria. This turns the sugars into alcohol.
It then undergoes a second fermentation process. This turns the alcohol into acetic acid. Probiotics and enzymes are also created during fermentation.
Acetic acid is what gives vinegar its sour smell and taste. Cider vinegar is 5-6% acetic acid. It has a low pH of about 2-3, making it mildly acidic.
Raw organic apple cider has a cloudy appearance with strands of the “mother” floating near the bottom. The mother contains vitamins, enzymes, proteins, probiotics, and pectin. Non-organic apple cider vinegar is pasteurized so that the mother is removed.
What Does Cider Vinegar Taste Like?
Since the apple cider has been fermented, the resulting vinegar is not very sweet. Apple cider vinegar has much less sugar and fewer calories than apple cider or apple juice.
The flavor of apple cider vinegar can best be described as tangy and tart with a dry woody aftertaste. The apples give it a fruity undertone, but it is more sour than sweet. The fruity flavor definitely shines through more than other types of vinegar, though.
Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar
This variety of vinegar has a wide variety of uses for cooking and health.
It may be called for in baking recipes. It gives cakes and other baked goods a light airy texture, especially when it reacts with baking soda.
Using apple cider vinegar also helps prevent cookies from spreading too much on the baking sheet since the vinegar helps the egg proteins set faster. This leads to larger, fluffier cookies.
It is often used in vegan baking. The vinegar helps give a lift to the batter that eggs would usually do.
Many recipes for salad dressings, sauces, and marinades list apple cider vinegar as an ingredient. It can also be used to make homemade mayonnaise.
When preserving foods, apple cider vinegar is helpful in canning, preserving, and pickling.
Used as a home remedy for centuries, cider vinegar is known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
In this article, we are going to focus on substitutes for apple cider vinegar as it is used in cooking.
Best Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes
Depending on your usage of cider vinegar, you can use one of the below alternatives in its place.
As you may have guessed, the best substitutes for apple cider vinegar are other kinds of vinegar. All varieties of vinegar contain acetic acid, but in slightly different amounts.
There are also options for those with sensitivities to vinegar or the byproducts of fermentation that are present in vinegar.
White Wine Vinegar
A versatile ingredient to keep in your kitchen, white wine vinegar makes a suitable substitute for cider vinegar. It is created from the fermentation of white wine.
Without the fruitiness or boldness of apple cider vinegar, some find white wine vinegar to be preferable to the strong flavor of cider vinegar.
White wine vinegar is most similar to cider vinegar and has the same acidity profile.
Because it is clear, there is no risk of it changing the color of your final product.
You can use white wine vinegar in potato salads, vinaigrettes, and salad dressings.
Since white wine vinegar does not contain the fruity taste of apple cider vinegar, add some fresh citrus juice, such as lemon, lime, or orange juice to replicate cider vinegar’s sweetness.
Use a 1 to 1 ratio when replacing apple cider vinegar with white wine vinegar.
Made from grape juice, balsamic vinegar has the same fruity undertones as apple cider vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is similar to wine, with its sharp sweet flavor. This makes it great for cooking.
This vinegar is the perfect substitute for apple cider vinegar when making salad dressing or vinaigrette.
Keep in mind that it has a deep color, so make sure you don’t mind the darkness in your final recipe.
Since balsamic vinegar is sweeter, use a 1 to 1 ratio or less when replacing apple cider vinegar.
Red Wine Vinegar
As implied by its name, red wine vinegar is made from fermented red wine. Since the wine has been fermented, it contains only minute traces of alcohol.
Red wine vinegar is known for its rich red color and tangy flavor. It is slightly less powerful than apple cider vinegar.
Drizzle red wine vinegar over any kind of salad: green salad, pasta salad, or potato salad. It adds a brightness to sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. It can also be incorporated into pickles and marinades.
The red color may change the final color of your dish, so keep that in mind.
When using red wine vinegar, add a bit extra. This may require some experimentation and practice. For every tablespoon of cider vinegar, use between 1 to 14 teaspoons of red wine vinegar.
Similar to red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar is also made from wine, specifically fermented Spanish sherry wine. Since sherry wine is often aged, this vinegar has a more complex taste.
Sherry vinegar has a distinct taste, but is a great choice when you are looking for a vinegar that is not overpowering.
You can drizzle a few drops of sherry vinegar onto a finished dish. It can also be used in marinades and sauces.
If using sherry vinegar as a replacement for apple cider vinegar in a recipe, use a 1 to 1 ratio. If you really prefer the flavor of sherry vinegar, you can increase the ratio to 2 parts sherry for every 1 part cider vinegar.
Although it may be harder to find, champagne vinegar makes an excellent replacement for apple cider vinegar. This vinegar is made from sparkling champagne or sparkling wine.
A light vinegar, it has a taste similar to that of a good quality champagne.
With its milder flavor, champagne vinegar can be used in stir-fries, soups, and rice. It also helps bring out the flavor of marinara sauce.
Substitute champagne vinegar for cider vinegar in a 2 to 1 ratio, with 2 parts champagne vinegar for every 1 part cider vinegar.
Rice Wine Vinegar
Also called rice vinegar, rice wine vinegar is created from fermented rice.
Although it is less acidic, rice wine vinegar has a fruity taste similar to that of apple cider vinegar.
You may find varieties of rice vinegar made from different kinds of rice at Asian grocery stores and markets. Vinegar made from brown rice, red yeast rice, and black glutinous rice all have unique flavor profiles.
Rice wine vinegar is a versatile ingredient. It can be used in soups, stir-fries, salad dressings, dipping sauces, and rice.
Replace cider vinegar with rice wine vinegar in a 1 to 1 ratio.
White vinegar is a very acidic vinegar with a neutral taste.
In the past, white vinegar was made from fermented sugar beets, potatoes, molasses, or milk whey. Today it is most often made from fermented grain alcohol, or ethanol.
Since white vinegar is a strong acid, it makes a better choice for pickling over apple cider vinegar, which is a weaker acid.
White wine vinegar is the most affordable vinegar. It is also one of the easiest to find at any grocery store.
When using white vinegar to replace apple cider vinegar, use a 1 to 1 ratio. Also add some fresh citrus juice to incorporate that fruity taste. This helps the replacement more closely match the taste of apple cider vinegar.
Made from malted grains such as barley, malt vinegar has a yeasty flavor similar to beer.
It does not contain the fruity characteristics of apple cider vinegar, so use malt vinegar in recipes only calling for a small amount of cider vinegar so that you don’t alter the flavor of the recipe.
Malt vinegar is great for pickling vegetables or creating salad dressings. It can also be used as a topping in baking and frying, such as sprinkling over fish and chips.
Malt vinegar can be used in place of apple cider vinegar in a 1 to 1 ratio.
For those looking to avoid vinegar due to intolerances, lemon juice is the perfect substitute.
In the same way as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice is acidic and fruity. It adds the same sour taste to recipes.
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, and even a splash of lemon juice adds a small amount of micro and macro nutrients.
Lemon juice works well as a substitute for cider vinegar when baking. Drizzle it over baked or fried fish and vegetables.
Replace apple cider vinegar with lemon juice in a 1 to 1 ratio.
Like lemon juice, lime juice makes a great alternative to cider vinegar.
Lime juice has a slightly stronger taste than lemon juice, with all of the acidity and fruitiness.
Use lime juice in place of cider vinegar in marinades, salad dressings, or baked goods.
Lime juice can be used to replace cider vinegar in a 1 to 1 ratio.
Like juice made from other citrus fruits, orange juice is another great substitute for apple cider vinegar.
Orange juice is sweet and tart. Many recipes listing cider vinegar as an ingredient call for the acidity that orange juice contains.
Orange juice or any of the citrus juices are excellent choices for meat and marinades. They add the sweetness and acidity that will take your favorite ribs and pulled pork recipes over the top.
When substituting orange juice for cider vinegar, use a 1 to 1 ratio.
If looking to keep the apple flavor profile, you can simply substitute apple juice for apple cider vinegar.
Using apple juice keeps the sweet fruity taste, but you will lose the acidic quality since the juice hasn’t been fermented. In order to keep the acidity, add a dash of lemon juice to your apple juice when replacing cider vinegar.
The sweetness of apple juice adds to dressings and marinades, but is not the best choice for soups and stews.
If using apple juice in baked goods, reduce the amount of overall sweetness called for in the recipe.
Use a 1 to 1 ratio when substituting apple juice for apple cider vinegar.
Sold in a powder, citric acid can be used to lower the pH of a recipe and add a slight sour flavor. This makes it a perfect substitute for cider vinegar.
Citric acid can be used almost anywhere that you would use apple cider vinegar. It can be used in baking, as well as in soups, stews, sauces, pickles, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, and marinades.
In general, substitute ⅛ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 tablespoon of water for every tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You may need to experiment a bit since each brand of citric acid varies slightly.
As you can see, there are many great options you can turn to when looking for a substitute for apple cider vinegar.
Mix up the flavor of your dressings and marinades or try using a different type of vinegar or fruit juice to top vegetables and meat.
From salad dressings and mayonnaise to stir fries and baked goods, this list of apple cider vinegar alternatives has you covered.
Do you have any other tried and true substitution recommendations? Please let me know in the comments!