Rice Vinegar Substitute: What Can I Substitute for Rice Vinegar?

Rice Vinegar Substitute

We usually see rice vinegar in Asian recipes. It is less acidic (2-4% acetic acid) than other kinds of vinegar (approximately more than 5% acetic acid), and has a milder, sweeter taste to it. This flavor profile makes rice vinegar flexible for a variety of dishes ranging from salad dressings, vinaigrettes, dipping sauces, sushi, seafood, meat, to even stir-fry. Because of its versatility, it’s no surprise that you will notice rice vinegar being needed in most recipes and not just in Asian cuisine.

Another good thing about rice vinegar is that it also has several health benefits:

  • Rich in amino acids that can strengthen your immune system and reduce your body’s free radical activity
  • Slows down the deposition of cholesterol in your blood vessels and arteries
  • Promotes peristalsis of your digestive system
  • Soothes gut inflammation
  • Increases the detoxifying effects of your liver
  • Metabolism boost

But sometimes, we have to improvise and use what we have available. Is there anything that we can use as a rice vinegar alternative? The good news is yes.

Before we go on to what rice vinegar substitute you can use, let us enlighten you first on the different varieties of rice vinegar.

The Five Rice Vinegar Varieties

  1. White Rice Vinegar

This is the most common variety of rice vinegar. Typically, if a recipe asked for rice vinegar in its ingredients, white rice vinegar is what it is referring too. The Chinese variety of white rice vinegar is stronger than the Japanese variety (Called “komezu” and is made from rice or sake lees.) They also have a clear to yellowish color.

  1. Brown Rice Vinegar

This variety is made from unpolished rice, also known as brown rice. They have called it “unpolished” because the rice seeds retain their bran layer. Because they retain the bran layer, it is healthier and has more fiber than polished rice. This same reason makes the brown rice vinegar richer in nutrients as well. It has a light to dark brown color.

  1. Black Rice Vinegar

As you might have guessed, this vinegar is made from black rice. More specifically, black glutinous rice. Not only the black rice vinegar has a deep color, but it also has a deep flavor to it. They have a smoky and earthy taste, and some people even compared this vinegar to balsamic vinegar. Note that this vinegar can also be made of other grains as well. The Chinkiang black rice vinegar from China is considered the best of this variety.

  1. Red Rice Vinegar

Black rice vinegar is from black rice, so red rice vinegar is from? If you answered red rice, you’re almost correct! This variety of vinegar is made from red yeast rice. This rice is fermented using a specific type of mold (Monascus purpureus). Red rice vinegar is described as tart, sweet, and salty, commonly used in Chinese seafood dishes. In Chinese cooking, you can replace 4 teaspoons of red rice vinegar with 3 teaspoons of white vinegar.

  1. Seasoned Rice Vinegar

The final variety is the seasoned rice vinegar, also known as “awasezu” in Japanese. Seasoned rice vinegar is typically used for sushi and as salad dressings. This is a white rice vinegar that is “seasoned” with sugar, salt, and sometimes MSG and sake.

Now that we have discussed the different rice vinegar varieties let us now talk about the ingredients that you can use as a replacement for rice vinegar.

When you search for rice vinegar substitute, your browser will also suggest rice wine vinegar substitute. This is the part where you’re starting to scratch your head as this leads you to have a new question in mind:

Is Rice Vinegar the Same as Rice Wine Vinegar?

Let’s go immediately to that one clear fact: Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are both fermented. So are they the same thing? The answer is yes.

Rice Vinegar vs Rice Wine Vinegar

The Fermentation Process

Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are both made from fermented rice. Rice vinegar is made from fermenting the sugars (converted from rice starch) of the rice into alcohol (usually a wine) using yeast, then fermenting that alcohol into acetic acid (using acetic acid bacteria, seed vinegar, and water) turning it into vinegar.

Now, this is why it gets tricky if you searched the difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar online. Most articles said that they are not the same thing, but here is our argument:

Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage of different types that are fermented by manufacturers from rice without being converted into acid, so rice wine and rice wine vinegar are not the same.

Rice wine is a wine, and both rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar is vinegar. This explanation means that rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same product and can be used by cooks interchangeably. If it still confuses you, let us recap the process of how manufacturers make rice vinegar. Rice vinegar is made via fermentation of the sugars of the rice into alcohol; this alcohol is a wine. The makers now turn this rice wine produced from fermentation into acetic acid which makes it a vinegar, so what do you call this vinegar? Either rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar!

So What Rice Wine Vinegar Substitute Can I Use?

Do not be confused by people saying that rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are not the same, and therefore they should have different kinds of substitute. Most chefs substitute rice wine with dry white wine or pale dry sherry; an alcohol replaced with another type of alcohol.

Read on further to know what you can use as rice vinegar substitute or rice wine vinegar substitute. For the sake of consistency within this article, we will use the term “rice vinegar.”

Ingredients That You Can Use as Rice Vinegar Alternative

Rice vinegar is used for a variety of dishes and not just for Asian cuisine. But if it is unavailable, you can choose from these ingredients that you can use as a replacement for rice vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider VinegarApple cider vinegar is a vinegar that is pale brown and is made by manufacturers from apple juice. They then ferment this product for 3 to 6 weeks. The flavor is not smooth and refined enough to fit for most salad dressings. Avoid using apple cider vinegar as a substitute for rice vinegar in sushi recipes and salad dressings because its slight fruity flavor would not match well for these recipes.

Acetic acid percentage: 5 to 6%

How much to use: You can substitute rice vinegar with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. If you want to have that extra sweetness of the rice vinegar, add ¼ teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon of cider vinegar.

Difference with rice vinegar: Has a faint apple flavor

Similarity with rice vinegar: Good for pickling fruits or marinating meats

Best use for: Fruit pickles, and marinades

Health benefits: Lowers blood sugar levels, helps in weight loss, and lowers cholesterol (HealthLine)

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic VinegarThis vinegar is a wine vinegar made from freshly crushed grape juice aged in wooden casks for a minimum of 10 years. It is dark in color, and the flavor is smooth and mellow, with a sweet and spicy tang. You can choose this as your rice vinegar alternative for meat dishes.

Acetic acid percentage: 6%

How much to use: Use the same amount of balsamic vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: More expensive than rice vinegar

Similarity with rice vinegar: Has a mellow sweet taste

Best use for: Salads, baked chicken, fish, and steaks

Health benefits: Has antioxidants, promotes healthy digestion, prevents acid reflux, and reduces hypertension (MedicalNewsToday)

Champagne Vinegar

Champagne VinegarThe manufacturers make this dark mahogany-colored vinegar from fermenting champagne. It has a delicate and light flavor to it that is perfect for salads because it’s not overpowering. This flavor profile is suited to sub for rice vinegar as vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and dipping sauces.

Acetic acid percentage: 7%

How much to use: Use the same amount of champagne vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Can be a bit more expensive

Similarity with rice vinegar: Both have mild flavor suited for salads and vinaigrettes

Best use for: Dipping sauces, seafood dishes, dressings, vinaigrettes, glaze for meat, and marinades

Health benefits: Antioxidant benefits

Lemon/Lime Juice

Lime JuiceThe only non-vinegar suggestion that we have as rice vinegar alternative is lemon or lime juice. The extracted juice is a good sub for rice vinegar especially if you’re using rice vinegar for adding an extra zest on salad dressings, slaws, or sauces. Lemon or lime juice would be a nice option if you wouldn’t mind a citrusy flavor on your recipe. This flavor would work well for dishes like stir-fry chicken as an alternative for rice vinegar as well.

How much to use: You can use a similar amount with the amount of rice vinegar that you needed replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Has a citrus flavor

Similarity with rice vinegar: Both have an acidic tang

Best use for: Marinades, dipping sauce, and stir-fry

Health benefits: Source of vitamin C, supports heart health, control weight, and can prevent anemia (HealthLine)

Malt Vinegar

Malt vinegar is a colorless vinegar that is made by manufacturers from malted barley. Its nutty and toasty flavor is too strong to be used as a salad dressing and would be more appropriate to sub for rice vinegar in savory dishes, sauces, and marinades.

Acetic acid percentage: 6%

How much to use: Use the same amount of malt vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Has a malt flavor

Similarity with rice vinegar: Flavor suited for sweet and sour marinades

Best use for: Condiment for fish and chips, pickling watery vegetables, meat dishes, sweet and sour marinades, and chutneys

Health benefits: Blood sugar control, lowers cholesterol, and weight management (LiveStrong)

Red Wine Vinegar

Red Wine VinegarManufacturers make this vinegar from fermenting red wine that they mature for up to 2 years. Red wine vinegar would make a good rice vinegar alternative in marinating meats. Note that red wine vinegar can also impart a reddish hue to light-colored dishes.

Acetic acid percentage: 4 to 5%

How much to use: Use the same amount of red wine vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Tangier in flavor, can change the color of dishes

Similarity with rice vinegar: Both will work well for braised dishes

Best use for: Stews, sauces, or as a vinaigrette, and meats

Health benefits: Antimicrobial properties, and reduces signs of aging (Reader’sDigest)

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry VinegarManufacturers make this deep caramel-colored vinegar from Sherry wine. They mature this in wooden casks for a minimum of 6 months. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor to it. Its flavor is suited for stews and sauces.

How much to use: Use the same amount of champagne vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Has a nutty flavor

Similarity with rice vinegar: Both are slightly sweet

Best use for: Sauces, vinaigrettes, marinades, stews, and chicken

Health benefits: Raises good cholesterol, and lowers blood sugar levels (TarlaDalal)

White Wine Vinegar

White Wine VinegarBrands make white wine vinegar from fermenting white wine for a minimum of 2 months. It has a mildly acidic taste compared to red wine vinegar. Just like apple cider vinegar, it lacks the sweetness of the rice wine. Try adding ¼ teaspoon of sugar or honey for every tablespoon of white wine vinegar.

Acetic acid percentage: 4 to 5%

How much to use: Use the same amount of white wine vinegar with the amount of rice vinegar that you are replacing.

Difference with rice vinegar: Rice vinegar is sweeter

Similarity with rice vinegar: Mildly acidic flavor

Best use for: Salad dressings, sauces, meat glazes

Health benefits: Lowers blood sugar levels, appetite control, anti-tumor properties, and heart health (LiveStrong)

To Wrap it Up

Rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, is indeed a versatile condiment. It is useful for almost every recipe that you can think of because of its subtle and delicate sweetness. It is also full of health benefits that make every tasty bite guilt-free. But if it’s unavailable, you don’t have to worry because there are other ingredients that you can use as rice vinegar alternatives.

We hope that after you finished reading this article, you have now cleared your confusion about rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar. And because we love doing a recap, let us remind you again that they are the same thing. It just so happen that rice wine vinegar would be a more specific name for rice vinegar.

We have written information about each rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar alternative to help you easily choose which would be suited for your recipe. What are you waiting for? Bookmark this article and don’t let the lack of rice vinegar prevents you from cooking that dish!

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