If you're in the middle of preparing a recipe and find yourself without the called-for distilled white vinegar, you can easily substitute it with a similar ingredient. What you are preparing as well as the resulting flavor of the dish should be taken into foremost consideration to assure successful results.
Either freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice is a best substitute bet when distilled white vinegar is absent from your pantry, as the tartness and acidity approximate that of vinegar. Simply replace the vinegar with a direct amount replacement of either lemon or lime juice. Since these acidic juices have dominant citrus flavors, they are best used as substitutes in dishes where the resulting taste won't be greatly affected. Try using lemon or lime juice as a substitute in marinades or salad dressings to add a refreshing bite.
While distilled white vinegar has a very distinct, sharp sour flavor, other types of vinegar share similar tastes and can be used as substitutes in a pinch.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: If a close substitute is needed in terms of flavor and level of acidity, apple cider vinegar is your best bet. Made from fermented apple cider, it is tart and tangy with a slight hint of apple. Replace distilled white vinegar with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar in everything from marinades to pickling recipes, since both vinegars contain around 5 percent acidity which is a necessity for preserving foods.
- Red or White Wine Vinegar: Wine vinegars are made from fermented red and white wines. Each possesses a bold and rich fruity flavor and can be used as an alternative to distilled white vinegar in select applications. Try using them as replacements in salad dressings and cooking sauces for ingredients such as chicken or mussels. Red wine vinegar will discolor light foods, so avoid using it in dishes where presentation is important.
- Rice Vinegar: Compared to distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar is light and sweet and is best paired with delicate dishes. As long as the dish you are preparing will not suffer from the absence of the pungent sourness of distilled white vinegar, use it as a direct replacement, or even increase the amount slightly if the flavor isn't strong enough. Salad dressings, marinades, and cooking sauces are suitable places to use rice vinegar as a substitute, especially when paired with the lighter flavors of seafood, chicken or pork.
- Malt Vinegar: Similar to rice vinegar, malt vinegar is mildly sweet with a pleasing tartness. Since it is less pungent than distilled white vinegar, you might want to use slightly more malt vinegar than what the recipe calls for in distilled white vinegar. Use as a substitute in everything from chutneys to salad dressings to sauces and even as a pickling liquid.