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Realized you’re all out of vinegar while you’re cooking? Here’s the best apple cider vinegar substitute to use in recipes.

Apple cider vinegar substitute
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Making a recipe that calls for apple cider vinegar and don’t have it? Apple cider vinegar is made from fermenting apple cider, then straining and bottling it. It tastes tangy and sour, with bold flavor. You should be able to find it in your local grocery next to the other vinegars. But don’t have time to shop for it? Here are some substitute ideas.

Best apple cider vinegar substitute

1. Red wine or white wine vinegar

The best substitute for apple cider vinegar? Red wine or white wine vinegar! These vinegars are made from fermented wine, and you might have one or the other in your cupboard already. Red wine vinegar is a little stronger than white wine with a bolder flavor. Use either as a 1:1 substitute.

2. Rice vinegar (not seasoned)

If you have it, rice vinegar also works as a substitute! This type of vinegar is made from fermented rice and used in Asian-style cuisine. It has a similar acidity to apple cider vinegar. But make sure not to use seasoned rice vinegar, though: it’s seasoned with sugar and salt and used for seasoning sushi rice and Asian style salads.

3. Sherry vinegar

Sherry vinegar is another apple cider vinegar substitute; it is medium-bodied and lightly sweet. It’s got a distinct flavor but it does match the zing of apple cider vinegar fairly well. It’s often used in Spanish cuisine.

4. Champagne vinegar

If you have it, champagne vinegar also could work as a substitute! It’s made by fermenting champagne. It is very mild in flavor, so it’s not near the intensity of apple cider vinegar.

6. Lemon juice (in a pinch)

Don’t have any vinegars on hand? You can use lemon juice as a substitute in a pinch. Lemon juice is also acidic and tangy like apple cider vinegar. But naturally, it tastes like lemon and not vinegar! Lemon juice can work for salad dressings, but you may need to add a little more lemon juice to equate the zing of the apple cider vinegar (do so to taste).

What not to use as a substitute? We recommend not using balsamic vinegar or distilled white vinegar: they are much too strong.

Here are some recipes where you could use this apple cider vinegar substitution:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Jason d says:

    My wife is a born and raised Texan that now lives in the PNW with me. In recent years, we have learned that she is allergic to apples and pineapples. She has been craving good texas style BBQ but we have found that many recipes use apple cider vinegar as a spritz for the meat as it smokes. Which of these substitutes would you guys suggest? Thank you in advance.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! You can use just plain water for a bbq spritz as it’s primarily used to avoid drying. However, I’d try a 50/50 mix of orange juice and water just to give it a little tang.