Substitute for apple cider vinegar

So, right now, you are making a recipe that calls for apple cider vinegar and have discovered that you do not have any in your pantry.

The good news is there are plenty of suitable substitutes for apple cider vinegar, and hopefully, you have one on hand to avoid that dreaded last-minute trip to the store. 

apple cider vinegar on a pantry shelf.

Best Substitute for Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Ideally, you want to substitute apple cider vinegar with WHITE VINEGAR.

Additionally, White and red wine vinegar, rice wine, and sherry vinegar are all solid substitutes in most recipes requiring this ingredient for pickling, sauces, salad dressings, and side dishes. 

  • White Vinegar (1:1 ratio): More neutral taste, similar acidity, and best 1:1 substitute in dressing, coleslaw, pickling, and sauces. Using white vinegar keeps it pretty close to the original recipe in terms of taste.
  • Rice Vinegar (1:1 ratio): Milder and sweet, this vinegar is great for Asian recipes like spiral cucumber salad and yum yum sauce.
  • Red Wine Vinegar (1:1 ratio): This vinegar has a deep flavor and is often used for meats, sauce, thick salad dressings, and flavorful Mediterranean dishes. 
  • Sherry Vinegar (1:1 ratio): This sweet vinegar is an excellent choice for stews, meats, and soups. 
3 bottles of vinegar on a shelf.

Alternatives for Apple Cider Vinegar in Cooking

If you don’t have vinegar in your pantry, there are a few other ingredient choices that may work for your recipe.

Consider the texture and taste of these ingredients, why the vinegar is part of the recipe, and whether one of these would work.

  • Lemon Juice (.5 to 1 ratio): Offers a fresh acidity great for salad dressings and marinades. It’s less acidic than vinegar, so it might not preserve or “cook” foods (like in ceviche), but it can tenderize meats and add a zesty flavor to pasta like pasta al limone. Lemon has a strong flavor; you should consider the amount before adding to a recipe.
  • Balsamic vinegar (1:1 ratio): This is a syrupy, sweet vinegar and adds a sweet flavor to marinades, glazes, and dressings. Its sweetness can caramelize well and is often used as a stand-alone dressing for recipes like caprese pizza and ensalada caprese. Balsamic vinegar can also be turned into a Balsamic reduction by heating.
  • Lime Juice (.5 to 1 ratio): Lime juice adds a sharp flavor with big acidity, a perfect zest to Mexican (like cilantro lime rice) and Asian dishes. Like lemon, you should be careful about how much you add and consider the overall recipe. 
glaze made from balsamic vinegar.

Alternatives for Apple Cider Vinegar in Baking

When substituting vinegar in baked goods, the changes aren’t just in taste; they can also affect the texture and chemical reactions in the baking process.

When it comes to substituting vinegar in baking, consider what the apple cider vinegar was there for.

Was it for leaving agent activation, moisture, or taste? Once you understand the nature of an ingredient, it’s easier to identify which to swap for.

Other than the obvious 1st choice of white vinegar (and we recommend going to it first), there are other alternatives that are not vinegar based.

  • Buttermilk: Adds acidity and tang similar to vinegar, which can activate baking soda, a common leavening agent. This can lead to a tender crumb due to the acid’s interaction with gluten.
  • Lemon Juice: Besides adding citrus, its acidity can activate leavening agents, contributing to the rise and texture. The lemon flavor might be noticeable.
  • Yogurt: This can introduce moisture and acidity into the batter or dough, making baked goods more tender and activating leavening agents. The tang can also mimic the flavor profile of apple cider vinegar.
  • Milk + Lemon Juice: This combination introduces acidity and moisture, similar to buttermilk. The acidity helps activate leavening agents, while the milk contributes to tenderness.
  • Cream of Tartar: Primarily used as a leavening agent when combined with baking soda. It introduces acidity into the batter, which can help activate the baking soda, leading to a rise. It doesn’t add moisture or flavor, so it’s often used with wet ingredients. 

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice. It is used in a variety of recipes to bring acidity, flavor, moisture, and occasionally to activate a leaving agent in baked goods.

Apple cider vinegar can be found in a variety of recipes like: