The 11 Best Black Vinegar Substitutes For Your Recipes
Black vinegar (also known as Chinese black vinegar) is a delicious ingredient with a complex, rich, and acidic taste. As is typical for vinegar, Chinese black vinegar is made by allowing the grain to ferment, collecting the liquid, and then allowing the liquid to age until it's ready for sale.
Unfortunately, it's easy to run out of an ingredient when you need it most — and in the case of black vinegar, unfortunately, it's not easy to find in stores. Luckily, plenty of great black vinegar substitutes can be used while cooking to ensure your recipe turns out just as delicious.
This article covers some of the best black vinegar substitutes and why they work just as well as the real thing.
How is Chinese Black Vinegar Made?
Chinese vinegar is prepared similarly to balsamic vinegar (and even tastes similar) since both types of vinegar are allowed to age. But unlike balsamic vinegar, which is made of grapes, black vinegar is made of grains like millet, rice, wheat, barley, or sorghum.
Depending on which grain is used, there can be a lot of variation in the taste of Chinese black vinegar. Black rice vinegar is considered sweet, while black vinegar made with a grain like wheat generally has an earthier flavor. Most black vinegar found on the market is made using rice.
Substitutions for Black Vinegar
1. White Wine Vinegar
This easy-to-find vinegar is an ideal black vinegar substitute. It isn't sweet like balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar, but it has a similar acidity to black vinegar. You can use one part white wine vinegar for every two parts of black vinegar recommended by your recipe. You can also mix white wine vinegar with sweet vinegar, like balsamic vinegar, to make an extra-similar substitution!
2. Sherry Vinegar
Like balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar is made using grapes. As a result, the sweetness can vary, so you'll need to shop for a suitable variety to have a good substitution. Dry sherry wines are the best for substituting black vinegar and can usually be added in equal measure — but you should pay close attention to the dish's flavor for the best results.
3. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar's similarity to Chinese black vinegar makes it an excellent substitute for most applications. The two kinds of vinegar are prepared remarkably similarly since the vinegar is allowed to age and darken.
While black vinegar is made by fermenting grains, balsamic vinegar is made by fermenting grapes, making it significantly sweeter. You should use ½ the vinegar or cut the flavor with water to mitigate the sweetness and keep the recipe's intended taste intact.
4. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is a surprisingly good substitute for black vinegar in many recipes. It has a rich savory-sweet flavor with just a bit of tang that allows it to add many of the same flavors as black vinegar to dishes.
Worcestershire sauce is a surprisingly good substitute for various ingredients (and can even be used as a replacement for fish sauce!) You can substitute Worcestershire sauce for black vinegar in an equal ratio.
5. Rice Vinegar
If you're looking for an excellent substitute for black vinegar, rice vinegar is easily one of the best. Like black vinegar, this vinegar is made by fermenting rice, offering similar flavors. It isn't aged, however, and tends to be slightly sweeter without some more complex notes that come with aging. You can replace black vinegar with rice vinegar in equivalent amounts.
6. Malt Vinegar
Like black vinegar, malt vinegar is made by fermenting a grain (in this case, barley). As a result, it has a similar flavor that makes it an excellent substitute for Chinese black vinegar. You can substitute malt vinegar for black vinegar at a 1:1 ratio.
7. Soy Sauce
If you're looking for an incredible substitute for black vinegar, soy sauce is easily one of the best choices. It's cheap, readily available, and offers the same astonishing umami as black vinegar. It will make the dish saltier than black vinegar would, however. You can replace black vinegar with soy sauce in equal portions, but you should start by adding small amounts to ensure the dish doesn't become too salty.
8. White Vinegar
It's safe to say that white vinegar is one of the most common ingredients in pantries worldwide. It's cheap, commonly carried by grocery stores, and offers excellent acidity without any pungent notes — making it an extremely versatile ingredient. You can replace black vinegar with white vinegar at a 1:1 ratio or even mix white vinegar with a sweet ingredient like balsamic vinegar for a better flavor match.
9. Red Wine Vinegar
Like black vinegar, red wine vinegar has a sweet and gorgeously dark color. Unfortunately, it's significantly less acidic and sweeter than black vinegar, so you will need to make some adjustments if you use it as a black vinegar substitute. You should use one part of red wine vinegar for every two pieces of black vinegar recommended by your recipe.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
This delicious vinegar isn't just easy to find — it's a fantastic substitute for black vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a sweet and acidic flavor profile similar to black vinegar, which can offer many of the same flavor notes in recipes. In recipes, you can substitute an equivalent amount of apple cider vinegar for black vinegar.
Related: What is Mother Vinegar?
11. Date Vinegar
Date vinegar is a sweet, acidic, and thick syrup that can effectively substitute for Chinese black vinegar. You can substitute date vinegar for black vinegar in equal parts.
Bonus Substitution for Black Vinegar: Lime Juice
Did you know that lime juice is an excellent black vinegar substitute? All you need to do is mix two teaspoons of honey with the juice of one small lime to replace one tablespoon of black vinegar.
Lemon juice works just as well. Combine with one teaspoon of molasses to substitute for one tablespoon of black vinegar.
What is the Best Substitute For Black Vinegar?
While running out of any ingredient just as you need it can be frustrating, it's easy to substitute black vinegar. Whether you have a bottle of white vinegar or a fancy variety of balsamic vinegar, you can finish your recipe with different ingredients while getting the same incredible flavor.