Rice vinegar is a traditional ingredient in Asian stir-fries and accompaniment to sushi. Vinegar as a whole has many health benefits due to the fermentation process. Many common vinegars are too tart to serve as alternatives to rice vinegar without the addition of sugar or water, but other specialty vinegars or citrus juices may be added to most recipes without endangering the flavor. You can generally use an equal amount to substitute rice vinegar in most recipes and all of these vinegars can be found at most grocery stores. You can also have fun and experiment with your favorite recipes to see which kind of vinegar you like best!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apple cider, is fruity and mild. Use apple cider vinegar in cooked dishes and most marinades. Avoid substituting apple cider vinegar for rice vinegar in dressings and sushi recipes, since it may add an unwanted fruit flavor. Add a pinch of sugar if the dish tastes too tart after you add the apple cider vinegar.
Lime or Lemon Juice
Substitute lime juice or lemon juice for rice vinegar in marinades, dipping sauces or stir-fry dishes. Citrus juice, like rice vinegar, adds acidity, and will therefore help tenderize marinating meats, while the citrus flavor will complement most stir-fry dishes and sauces that call for rice vinegar. The flavor profile is different, but it is a good substitute for dishes with a more delicate flavor or mild flavor to use in place of rice vinegar, like vinaigrettes or dishes with a slightly sweet flavor as it adds a nice zing.
White vinegar, which is made from a grain-alcohol mixture, has a stronger, more acidic flavor and more pungent aroma than rice vinegar, so you'll have to dilute it if it's all you have to substitute. Use three parts white vinegar and one part water as an alternative to rice vinegar in cooked dishes only; white vinegar is much too harsh to use in most dressings and dips. Add a teaspoon of sugar if the dish is too tart after you add the white vinegar. Of all of the types of vinegar, refrain from using this as a rice vinegar substitute if possible. You can use white vinegar for pickling, though.
Use champagne vinegar instead of rice vinegar in salad dressings or dipping sauces. Champagne vinegar is extremely mild and won't overwhelm the flavor of the salad ingredients or make a dipping sauce too tart. To make your own Champagne vinegar, pour leftover champagne into a jar and leave it uncovered for approximately three weeks. Screw the top onto the jar and store the vinegar for up to six months in a cool, dark cabinet.
Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Seasoned rice vinegar contains added sugar and salt. You can use it as an alternative to rice vinegar, but you must adjust the other seasonings in the dish so it is not too salty or sweet. Omit additional salt and sugar when you use rice vinegar like this until you have tasted the dish.
Vinegars to Avoid
Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, fruit vinegar, and sherry vinegar are not the best substitutes for rice vinegar because they have stronger and different flavors. They are also not as used often in Asian cuisine and Asian dishes, which is why they are not a great substitute for those. Use the other kinds of vinegar listed above instead, if possible.
Anika Torrance joined the "Mobile Press-Register" in 1997 as an advertising assistant and quickly moved into the newsroom, where she was a staff writer and copy editor for almost 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's degree with a double major in journalism and history from the University of Southern Mississippi, and completed a Master's degree in English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.