12 Good Substitutes for Rice Vinegar
A staple in Asian dishes, rice wine vinegar has a mild, sweet taste. You may think it’s difficult to replace it if you run out, but there are quite a few rice wine vinegar substitutes you can use in your dishes.
You will have tasted this in many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese salad dressings and marinades. Maybe you have memories of the flavor in sushi rice. If you’re trying to recreate one of your favorite Asian dishes but don’t have rice wine vinegar around, what do you do?
Is there another ingredient that can mimic its taste and color? What can you replace rice wine vinegar with?
What is rice wine vinegar & how is it made?
Rice wine vinegar is made by fermenting rice. The rice becomes wine, a type of alcohol. After that, alcohol spoils and becomes vinegar. All kinds of vinegar are made by the fermentation of fruit or cereal, by the way. In the case of rice wine vinegar, rice provides a mild, delicate flavor.
Types of rice wine vinegar
Rice wine vinegar comes in a variety of colors. Ranging from clear to red and darker tones, they can transform your dish. The following types of rice wine vinegar have almost identical tastes. But there are some differences. After all, they are from different regions in Asia. Some may be stronger, other milder, depending on their use.
- White rice vinegar is the basic type, used in sushi rice. It has a tangy, acidic, and sweet taste.
- Brown rice vinegar has more nutrients and a darker color. It’s similar to white rice vinegar so they can be swapped.
- Black rice vinegar is mostly used as a dipping sauce. Made from black glutinous rice and other grains, the flavor is yummy-umami. You can use a pinch of this to mimic the flavor of the aforementioned types.
- Red rice vinegar is made from already fermented rice and other grains. It’s sweet, sour, and has a funky aroma, due to the fermentation process. It’s a more pungent and intense option, as well. Also, in case of emergency, you can swap these types of vinegar. Just make sure to adjust the amount.
- Rice wine vinegar flavor profile
Although it’s still acidic, rice wine vinegar has a sweet taste, sweeter than any other type of vinegar. Do you know how some kinds of vinegar make your eyes water? Well, rice vinegar doesn’t. That is why many stir-fry recipes, rice recipes, meats, and veggies work well with this type of vinegar. So, if you’re out of it or simply deciding to try something new involving this vinegar, what can you do? What to use instead of rice wine vinegar, so you don’t alter your food’s taste and aroma?
12 rice wine vinegar substitutes you can use for a similar taste and aspect
Rice wine vinegar is not as intense and pungent as other types of vinegar. That’s why matching its flavor profile can be tricky. It’s quite hard to find a match in some recipes. Sushi rice, pickles, salad dressings, and soups highlight the taste of rice vinegar.
But don’t think of changing your menu and cravings just yet! While it’s hard to reproduce its sweetness and mild flavor, there are some options. The secret is not to overpower the other ingredients. Some types of vinegar can be quite acidic. They can ruin the meal when added in the same amount as rice vinegar. Here is how to substitute rice wine vinegar in your dishes.
1. White Wine Vinegar
Can you use regular vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar? Yes, white wine vinegar can replace rice wine vinegar, although the first can be fruitier than the latter. White wine vinegar can be rather mild, but a little more acidic than rice vinegar.
Wine vinegar is stronger in flavor and can be “helped” with a dash of water or chicken broth to cut its stingy punchy taste. Also, because rice vinegar is sweeter, add a pinch of sugar or honey to your white wine vinegar. That’ll do the trick. ¼ teaspoon of sugar per one tablespoon of vinegar should suffice.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
When it comes to rice wine vinegar substitutes, apple cider vinegar can be a good choice. This type of vinegar can change any other type of vinegar, for that matter. Its taste is sweet, and its flavor quite mild.
Apple cider vinegar can benefit from a little sugar as well. It is rather acidic and intense, so a touch of sugar works great. Add the same quantity we recommended above. Extra tip: apple cider vinegar is the best choice to replace rice wine vinegar in sushi rice.
3. Champagne Vinegar
Alright, precious ones! Imagine this: you use Champagne vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar, and someone asks what that taste is. How dandy would it be to say it’s Champagne vinegar, right? The thing is this type of vinegar works just fine as a stunt-double for rice wine vinegar.
It’s also mild, sweet, and has a mellow flavor. It’s light and quite crisp, but delicate all the same. It will not overpower your dish. Use a 1:1 ratio if the recipe mentions rice wine vinegar. Now, add a glass of bubbly and continue reading!
4. Lemon Juice
Citrus juice (lemon or lime) can become good rice wine vinegar alternatives in case of emergency. Lemon juice is more acidic, but still not as pungent and tart as vinegar. So it can work well as an alternative for rice wine vinegar.
The only thing worth mentioning: swapping rice vinegar for lemon juice will provide your food with a citrusy, tangy flavor. It will, however, not overwhelm the other ingredients.
When cooking with lemon juice instead of rice vinegar, add a little at a time. While they have comparable taste, the flavor will differ, and it can alter the entire result.
5. Lime Juice
Lime juice makes an even better option than lemon juice, taste-wise. Lime is sweeter, milder, acidic, but less tangy than lemon. So it can be similar to rice wine vinegar. However, lime will add a floral, fruity aftertaste to the dish. Not bad, but different.
Just like with lemon juice, start small and adjust as you sample the food. It also helps if you cut the citrus juice (lime and lemon) with some water. Extra info: even yuzu might work if you have it lying around.
6. Sherry Vinegar
Made from sherry, this type of vinegar is quite complex. It’s rich in flavor, slightly sweet, and has a nutty aroma. If you have it around, you can use it instead of rice vinegar. They have similar taste and acidity so a 1:1 ratio would do.
7. White Balsamic Vinegar
This Italian vinegar can be a good rice wine vinegar replacement. It has a sweet taste and a mild tartness. It’s also suitable color-wise, unlike balsamic vinegar, which is darker. Make sure you use a thinner balsamic vinegar, and not the syrupy, thick one. A 1:1 will do.
Also, keep in mind this type of vinegar works better in raw recipes, such as sales and salads, sauces, dressing, and dips that haven’t been touched by fire. That’s because balsamic will lose all its dense, rich flavor during cooking. And that’s quite the shame!
8. Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Seasoned rice vinegar contains sugar and salt. Since your dish will probably need seasoning as well, you can replace regular rice vinegar with the seasoned type. If you have it around that is. And if the recipe does require sugar as well.
Make sure not to add sugar and salt to your recipe. For one cup of seasoned vinegar, remove about 70 grams of sugar and three teaspoons of salt from the recipe.
9. Rice Wine
You wouldn’t think so but rice wine can be one of the best alternatives for rice wine vinegar. How come, since wine is a type of alcohol and vinegar results in the fermentation of wine? Well, it works in both taste and appearance. But there’s a side note.
Make sure your rice wine is dry, as low in ABV as you can find, with a transparent, pale, light appearance. It also helps if you splash a touch of vinegar in there. That will add some tang and acidity.
This replacement works in cooked dishes. Even better to use it in liquid-based recipes, such as broths, sauces, soups, or marinades. Wine needs to simmer until the alcohol cooks off so that the flavor profile of the recipe will not be altered.
10. White Wine
Yes, even white wine can do. If you don’t have rice wine vinegar around, a splash of your white wine can do the trick. Especially if your white wine is dry or extra dry. And it doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor. A Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc can be used without changing the taste of the food.
A drizzle of citrus juice can bring the taste even closer to rice wine vinegar. Of course, we recommend you use alcohol in simmered foods so that the alcohol content can evaporate. A 1:1 ratio can be a good choice.
11. Chicken Broth
This one is not a fermented fruit, nor a fermented cereal. It’s chicken broth. And before you dismiss it, hear us out. Chicken broth can be interchanged with white wine as you cook the dish.
To add that acidic tartness specific to vinegar, add a splash of citrus juice or a basic white vinegar you have around. While this is one of the most surprising substitutes for rice wine vinegar, it’s a good one. And you can use it in a 1:1 ratio.
Other types of rice wine vinegar
Any other type of rice wine we mentioned at the beginning of the article can work. They can be interchangeable. Provided you keep in mind their special features. Some are more pungent and funky, others have a different color. However, if you have them around, you can swap them.
12. White Vinegar
White vinegar has a harsh, punchy, acidic profile. Your common white vinegar can replace rice wine vinegar but with some fine-tuning. Rice wine vinegar is mild, sweet, mellow. White vinegar is pungent, sharp, and a tad bitter.
We left in the last position since we don’t quite recommend it unless there’s a desperate situation. White vinegar needs some help to substitute rice wine vinegar. Distilling the vinegar with some water, chicken broth, sherry, or white wine can help. Also adding some sugar is necessary. Just make sure you start small and adjust the taste as you go along.
With a touch of creativity and a drizzle of patience, you can swap rice wine vinegar for the ingredients above. Always keep in mind the fact that rice wine vinegar is used to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients added to the food you’re cooking. And not to overwhelm them. While it’s very tempting to think anything will work, this guide can help you prepare your favorite Asian meal, without altering its taste.