Rice vinegar is a mild vinegar made from fermented rice that is often called for in light vinaigrette and marinade recipes. Rice vinegar is also a traditional ingredient in Asian stir-fries and accompaniment to sushi. 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.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apple cider, is fruity and mild; it is, therefore, a suitable alternative to rice 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 or lemon juice for rice vinegar in marinades, dipping sauces or stir-fry dishes. Citrus juice, like rice vinegar, is acidic, and will therefore help tenderize marinating meats, while the citrus flavor will complement most stir-fry dishes and sauces that call for rice vinegar.
White vinegar, which is made from a grain-alcohol mixture, has a stronger 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 pinch of sugar if the dish is too tart after you add the white vinegar.
Substitute champagne vinegar for 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 until you have tasted the dish.
References and ResourcesAmazing Ribs: The Zen and Myths of Marinades
Gourmet Sleuth: Rice Wine Vinegar
Cook's Thesaurus: Vinegars
"Food Lover's Companion"; Sharon Tyler Herbst; 2001