There are a number of alternatives someone can use to replace rice vinegar. Many of them are common kitchen staples, and many have health benefits.

Rice vinegar is a common ingredient in Asian recipes, including sushi and pickled vegetables.

But if someone does not have rice vinegar to hand, or if they have an allergy to any rice vinegar ingredients, they may use a suitable alternative such as white wine vinegar or lemon juice.

This article explores the best substitutes for rice vinegar and how to use them. It also looks at some health benefits of different types of vinegar and citrus juices.

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Rice vinegar is a type of vinegar that manufacturers make from fermented rice.

Typically, producers ferment rice into alcohol and then acetic acid to produce vinegar.

Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are the same things, but rice wine is a different product that people drink as an alcoholic beverage.

A popular ingredient in Asian dishes, people use rice vinegar to make sushi, pickled vegetables, and salad dressings.

The color and taste of rice vinegar can vary according to its origins and preparation methods.

For instance, according to an older study from 2001, the traditional vinegar komesu is colorless and has a plain taste suitable for cooking sushi.

Kurosu vinegar is black and contains more amino acids than komesu, and many people drink it for health reasons.

If a recipe calls for rice vinegar and a person does not have it in their pantry, they could use an alternative.

This article looks at the best substitutes for rice vinegar and discusses some of their culinary uses and health benefits.

There are a number of rice vinegar substitutes that people may already have in the kitchen or can purchase from a market or health food store.

These include:

1. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is commonly available in grocery stores and can be a suitable substitute for rice vinegar. It has a slightly sweet and fruity flavor that may complement many recipes.

Grocery stores sell different types of apple cider vinegar that vary in price and flavor.

Some brands include the “mother,” which is the starter culture for the fermentation process. Products that contain the mother have a cloudy appearance.

Apple vinegar contains beneficial phenolic compounds and bacteria, which research indicates are antimicrobial, antifungal, and antioxidant.

Beneficial bacteria in fermented products can support the microbiome.

2. Champagne vinegar

Light, crisp champagne vinegar is a fermentation product of sparkling wine. Its delicate flavor means it makes a suitable substitute for rice vinegar.

People can use champagne vinegar to replace rice vinegar in salad dressings. But it is usually more expensive.

As a fruit vinegar made from grapes, champagne vinegar has the potential health benefits of white wine vinegar, discussed in the next section.

3. White wine vinegar

White wine vinegar may make a suitable substitute for rice vinegar, especially in salad dressings.

Rice vinegar has a sweeter taste, so adding a quarter teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of vinegar that someone is swapping out may suit some recipes.

White wine vinegar is particularly suitable for salad and vegetable dressings and also has some potential health benefits.

A 2019 laboratory study found that white wine vinegar had one of the highest organic acid contents of 23 kinds of fruit vinegar that the researchers tested.

The authors noted that fruit vinegar contains more complex compositions of organic acids than cereal vinegar such as rice vinegar.

According to the study, organic acids have health benefits, including:

  • controlling blood glucose
  • antimicrobial activities
  • regulating lipid abnormalities

4. Lemon juice

While someone may not have rice vinegar to hand for a recipe, they may have a lemon or some lemon juice.

Lemon juice may change the flavor of a recipe that calls for rice vinegar, so people should bear this in mind.

But lemon goes well with salad vegetables for quick dressings and also has health benefits.

For example, lemon juice contains 11 milligrams of vitamin C per fluid ounce, which is 12% of the recommended daily intake for males and 14.6% for females.

Lemon juice is also a source of antioxidants that can help prevent free radical damage in the body.

Some people may find lemon juice too acidic or find that it worsens heartburn or reflux.

5. Lime juice

Lime juice has similar benefits to lemons in being a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Thai dishes often feature lime as an ingredient and, it can make a good substitute for rice vinegar in recipes. But people should account for the different flavors that limes will bring to a dish.

6. Distilled white vinegar

Manufacturers distill vinegar to produce a colorless solution of acetic acid and water.

People use distilled white vinegar in food and for household cleaning tasks.

Distilled white vinegar may not have the same flavor as rice vinegar but can be a practical last-minute substitute.

A 2019 review suggested that vinegar or acetic acid may positively affect blood glucose levels and glycemic response.

But researchers do not yet know the long-term effects of consuming vinegar regularly.

7. White balsamic vinegar

White balsamic vinegar has a lighter color and flavor than the usual dark type. The color and flavor are due to the grape sugars not caramelizing in the production process.

The cleaner taste of white balsamic vinegar may make it a suitable substitution for rice vinegar in some recipes, such as salad dressings.

A 2019 review indicated that fruit vinegar, such as balsamic, is a rich source of polyphenols and organic acids and can be a good dietary source of antioxidants.

Several types of vinegar can suitably substitute rice vinegar in a recipe.

But people should consider the flavor, color, and sweetness and adapt their recipes accordingly.

As a fermented product made from fruits or cereals, vinegar has potential health benefits, including antioxidant activity and supporting the microbiome. Substituting citrus has the added benefits of vitamin C.

Some people may find vinegar or citrus acidic, and using them could exacerbate acid indigestion or reflux symptoms.