Malt vinegar is made by brewing malted barley in a process similar to beer brewing. Like wine vinegars, malt vinegar is strong, flavorful and improves with age. Recipes that call for malt vinegar require its rich, nuanced flavor. If your recipe calls for malt vinegar but you don't have any or you have a sensitivity to barley, you can substitute with other vinegars and condiments.
Wine and Cider Vinegars
In cooking, malt vinegar lends an aggressive flavor to dishes. To substitute for malt vinegar in marinades, use a strong grape or red wine vinegar that has been aged. An excellent gluten-free alternative for those who can't consume malt vinegar due to dietary sensitivities is an aged, high-quality apple cider vinegar. The notes of the flavor won't be exactly the same, but the level of impact will be similar.
Malt vinegar is a popular dipping sauce for the British dish of fish and chips as well as French fries in other parts of the world such as Canada. A quality balsamic vinegar makes for an excellent substitute when it will be a dipping sauce. This is especially true if the vinegar is seasoned or blended with olive oil and other spices for a rich vinaigrette.
Because of their shared tartness, lemon juice makes a wholesome substitute for malt vinegar in baked dishes. You also can try a blend of lemon and lime extract.