Substitutes For Rice Wine Vinegar In Sushi, Marinades, Cooking & More


If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you are in for a treat. We are going to talk about the substitutes for rice wine vinegar. For whatever reason you may not have it at home, you can easily substitute your rice wine vinegar with some other types of vinegar.

Rice Wine vinegar substitutes are:

  • Champagne vinegar
  • White and red wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Seasoned rice vinegar

Rice wine vinegar (or just rice vinegar) is a type of vinegar from East and Southeast Asia that is made from fermented rice. It is often used as an ingredient in cooking and also as a dressing for different meals. These vinegars are typically distinguished by their country of origin. 

What is the difference between rice wine and regular vinegar?

Although rice wine vinegar and regular white vinegar can be used interchangeably in cooking, there are some key differences between them.

Regular white vinegar is usually made from alcohol that has been inoculated with specific bacteria that eat that same alcohol away and then produce acetic acid. There are several types of “regular” vinegar out there that differ based on the alcohol used to produce them. Some of these are what we will be comparing to rice vinegar. 

Rice wine vinegar is made from fermented rice, which explains its name. It is traditionally made in East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea), but also in Southeast Asia (Vietnam). This variety of vinegar is divided based on its country of origin and then further subdivided based on the method of production. The four main types of rice wine vinegar are Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese rice wine vinegar.

As we said, they are often interchangeable in recipes. Lets take a look at how some types of vinegar relate to rice wine vinegar as a substitute.

Rice Wine Vinegar Substitutes:

In this section, we are going to present you with some recipes you can use to make substitutes for rice wine vinegar in case you don’t have a bottle nearby. So, here we go!

1) Champagne Vinegar

Champagne vinegar is a very delicate and special type of vinegar. It is made from fermented champagne and has a very light and mild taste, which is why it is a good substitute for rice wine vinegar. It is a solid substitute for all types of dishes and is an excellent addition to various foods and dressings.

Champagne vinegar’s less acidic flavor enables it to be used with a 1:1 ratio with what you would normally use of rice wine vinegar.

2) Red Wine Vinegar & White Wine Vinegar

Wine vinegar is made by fermenting wine – white or red – into vinegar. Wine vinegar, especially white, is very mild in taste and is a good dressing for a variety of dishes. It is also very interchangeable with other types of vinegar, including our rice wine vinegar. The only difference between the two is that wine vinegar is slightly more acidic and less sweet than rice wine vinegar, which is why you may need to add some sugar to imitate the flavor.

Because of its mild taste, wine vinegars can be easily substituted for rice wine vinegar. You can substitute it using a 1:1 ratio and because it isn’t as sweet as rice wine vinegar, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of the white wine vinegar.

3) Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a useful and healthy variant of vinegar that can easily serve as a substitute for some other types of vinegar, including our rice wine vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is among the healthiest vinegars out there and because of its mild taste and the apple-like flavor, it goes well with a variety of dishes. Some argue this is the best substitute for rice wine vinegar.

You can substitute it using a 1:1 ratio. Because apple cider vinegar has a slight apple flavor, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to get that extra sweetness of rice vinegar.

4) Sherry Vinegar

As the name suggests, sherry vinegar is a subtype of wine vinegar produced from the sherry. It has a very rich and slightly sweet flavor. Due to its sweetness and similar acidity as rice vinegar, sherry vinegar is also a good substitute for rice wine vinegar.

You don’t have to think much if you chose to substitute Sherry vinegar for rice wine vinegar. Just use a 1:1 ratio and you are good to go.

5) White Vinegar

Although it can technically be a substitute for rice wine vinegar, it is absolutely not advised to do so. White vinegar and rice wine vinegar are so different in taste, that their identical colors are really not that relevant in this situation. White vinegar is very strong and is highly acidic, while rice wine vinegar is mild and has a sweet taste. You can substitute these two, but you will have to fight the strong flavor of the white vinegar.

If you don’t have any other choices handy, try this recipe to make this substitute work. Add 1/4 tablespoon of water in 3/4 tablespoon of white vinegar to substitute a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar.

6) Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) is one of the most famous, yet most complex types of vinegar. Produced through a year-long process, balsamic vinegar is known for its dark coloring and its strong and rich flavor; it is produced from grapes. Balsamic vinegar is often used in cooking and is a favorite dressing in many households. Balsamic vinegar can be a good replacement for rice wine vinegar, but if you have to choose – pick white balsamic vinegar, which is golden in color, because the traditional coloring might not work well with your dishes.

Due to balsamic’s specific color, you might reconsider your decision, but if you actually don’t mind your food changing color, you can substitute one tablespoon of rice vinegar for half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

7) Seasoned Rice Vinegar

Seasoned rice vinegar is a subtype of rice wine vinegar. It is made by adding sugar and salt to regular rice wine vinegar, which is why it is a very specific blend. Since seasoned rice vinegar is still essentially rice wine vinegar, it is easy to deduce that the two are interchangeable. Seasoned rice vinegar works especially well with seasoned dishes, so be sure to use it as a substitute in such cases.

For each 3/4 glass of seasoned vinegar you use, you should remove 2 teaspoons of salt and 4 tablespoons of sugar from your recipe to maintain the similar flavor effects as using rice wine vinegar.

Rice Wine Vinegar Substitution Table With Ratios:

Replacement Ingredient Ratio (Compared To Rice Vinegar) Additional Ingredients
Champagne vinegar 1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar none
White and red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar ¼ tablespoon of sugar per tablespoon of vinegar
Apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar ¼ tablespoon of sugar per tablespoon of vinegar
Sherry vinegar 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar none
Balsamic vinegar ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar none
White vinegar ¾ tablespoon of white vinegar ¼ tablespoon of water
Seasoned rice vinegar ¾ glass of seasoned vinegar remove 2 teaspoons of salt and 4 teaspoons of sugar

Non-Vinegar Substitutes For Rice Vinegar

Rice wine vinegar can also be – like some other types of vinegar – substituted with some non-vinegar ingredients, which makes it a more practical ingredient to be out of. Here, we are going to see some of these alternatives and show you how can be prepared. 

1) Lemon And Lime

Due to their high acidity and relative sweetness, lemons and limes are good replacements for rice wine vinegar. They aren’t that intense when it comes to taste and their acidic properties allow them to imitate the flavor of rice wine vinegar very closely. We all know lemons and we often use them, which is why it is very good to know that they can also be used as a replacement for rice wine vinegar. The same applies to limes.

Limes and lemons are very closely related and are thus very similar. Thus, you will not have to alter the ratios by very much. Many people can’t even spot the precise difference between lemon and lime juice when mixed in dishes.

To get the right taste for your cooking, you should substitute lemon and lime for rice wine vinegar in a ratio of 2:1 to make it work.

Rice Wine Vinegar Substitutions For Specific Foods

We have seen how substituting rice wine vinegar works on a general level. We have analyzed most other types of vinegar, compared them and shown you how to substitute them for rice wine vinegar in different situations.

As you know, some foods have certain flavors or characteristics that require a specific dressing to go along with them. Here, we will show you the substitutes for rice wine vinegar in specific dishes so that you know exactly what to do.

1) Sushi Rice Wine Vinegar Substitute

Sushi is a globally famous, traditional Japanese dish made from seasoned, vinegared rice and a variety of other ingredients, but most commonly raw seafood. This is why, colloquially at least, sushi is often associated with raw fish. It can be both an appetizer or a main dish. Sushi is always made with vinegar, most commonly rice wine vinegar. If you don’t have any rice wine vinegar at home, there are some substitutes you can use – apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, white wine vinegar and champagne vinegar.

2) Rice Vinegar Substitute For Teriyaki Sauce

The word teriyaki doesn’t refer to an actual dish, but rather to a Japanese cooking technique where specific foods are broiled or grilled with the help of a glaze consisting of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.

Still, teriyaki sauce is an actual dressing and it is on our list because it is usually made with rice wine vinegar. If you don’t have any on you, you can use the following substitutes – apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar.

3) Rice Wine Vinegar Substitute for Mirin

Mirin is a Japanese condiment, actually a type of rice wine similar to sake, but with less alcohol and more sugar. Mirin is often used in Japanese cuisine and adds slight acidity to a dish, but it’s not often found in homes in the West. So, if you want to try a dish with mirin but don’t have any at home, you can easily use rice wine vinegar as a replacement. Other types of vinegar are really not that compatible.

To substitute Mirin for a rice wine vinegar you’ll need to find something to counter its sourness, and you can do that with about a half teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon you use.

Substitutions For Different Cooking Methods

Rice wine vinegar can be used in a variety of culinary methods, such as marinating, stir-frying, or salad dressing.

Although it isn’t the first choice in the West, you might come across a recipe that requires it as an ingredient.

In such cases, you only need to follow the general rules as outlined above and you’re good to go as far as substitutions go.

Related Questions:

What Is A Good Chinese Black Vinegar Substitute?

It is not so easy to find a good Chinese black vinegar substitute, but if you haven’t before tried it, or your guests haven’t you can try with these substitutes to make it work:

  • You can substitute it for a date vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. It is similar in color but a bit sweeter
  • Balsamic vinegar is another good choice, again, substitute it in a 1:1 ratio, but note it is a bit sweeter. A splash of Worcestershire sauce can help with removing excessive sweetness
  • Using red rice vinegar, you can substitute it in a 1:1 ratio, but with a small amount of sugar added
  • Malt vinegar can also work as a substitute for Chinese black vinegar in a 1:1 ratio

In Conclusion:

As you can see, rice wine vinegar is common in Asia, but if you’re living somewhere else in the world, you might not be fully acquainted with it and accustomed to the taste and the structure.

If you want (or need) to substitute it with some other ingredient – you’re in luck, because there are several readily available substitutions you can use.

All of these substitutions are very easy to prepare and require commonly readily-available ingredients that you probably have somewhere around you kitchen. Even if you don’t – they’re usually obtainable at your local grocery store.

Found a substitute we didn’t mention? Let us know!

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