11 Best Black Vinegar Substitutes for Delicious, Tangy Flavor in Your Dishes

Best Black Vinegar Substitutes
23 min reading time

Are you looking for an alternative to black vinegar? Don’t want to spend time tracking down the original Japanese staple in your local supermarkets and health stores? Not to worry – we’ve put together a list of the best black vinegar substitutes so that you can still get that signature umami taste without having to jump through hoops.

We’ll be taking an in-depth look at some exciting and unusual alternatives which come close enough to swap out with black vinegar, so read on if you’re keen to find out more!

What is Black Vinegar?

Black vinegar, also known as Chinkiang Vinegar, is a dark and aromatic type of Chinese condiment made from rice, wheat, sorghum, millet or even barley. It has been used in traditional Chinese cooking for centuries. Black vinegar has a very distinct flavor that combines the sweetness of mild balsamic with the sharpness of malt vinegar or cider vinegar.

Its appearance is dark brown-black in color and it can range from light to strong in body depending on how long it has been aged. The black color of the vinegar comes from its fermenting process which involves steeping various grains before drying them and aging them in clay vats for one to two years or more. The texture is medium-bodied and slightly syrupy with a slightly sweet but pungent flavor profile that often includes notes of molasses, caramelized apples, raisins, dates, tamarinds or citrus fruits.

Black vinegar is known for its savory umami flavor with a hint of sweetness that works well with many sauces and dishes such as stir-fries and braised meats. It’s an essential ingredient when making famous dishes such as Mapo tofu or char siu pork. Other recipes where you can find this powerful ingredient include soup bases where it helps to balance out other flavors while adding complexity to the overall dish. Black vinegar has many health benefits due to its amino acids as well as vitamins B1 & E which make it popular within traditional herbal remedies that are believed to promote good health circulation while aiding digestion problems caused by too much greasy food consumption.

How to Use Black Vinegar?

Black vinegar is a versatile ingredient that adds a unique tangy flavor to various dishes. There are several ways to use black vinegar, including:

  1. Salad dressings: Use black vinegar in dressings for salads, coleslaws, and marinades along with olive oil, honey, mustard, or soy sauce.
  2. Stir-fries: Add a splash of black vinegar to stir-fries, such as tofu, vegetables, or noodles, for a zesty kick.
  3. Dipping sauce: Combine black vinegar with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil to make a delicious dipping sauce for dumplings, sushi, and spring rolls.
  4. Pickling: Use black vinegar as a base for pickling fruits, vegetables, or eggs, along with sugar, spices, and herbs.
  5. Soups and stews: Black vinegar can add depth and acidity to soups and stews, such as hot and sour soup, braised meats or vegetables, or bone broth.

What is the difference between white vinegar and black vinegar?

White vinegar and black vinegar are two types of vinegar that differ in of their production process, taste, and uses.

White vinegar is made by fermenting distilled alcohol, typically from grains such as corn, rice, or wheat. The fermentation process creates acetic acid, which gives vinegar its sour taste and pungent aroma. White vinegar is clear and colorless, with a sharp acidic taste that can range from mild to very strong. It is commonly used in cooking, cleaning, and pickling due to its high acidity and low cost. White vinegar also has some health benefits, such as helping to regulate blood sugar levels and aiding in digestion.

Black vinegar, on the other hand, is made through a longer fermentation process that involves adding malted rice to a vinegar starter (known as “mother of vinegar”) and allowing it to mature for several years. This process creates a dark, almost black-colored vinegar with a complex flavor that is both sweet and sour, with notes of umami. Black vinegar is commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a dipping sauce for dumplings, noodles, and stir-fries. It is also used in marinades, dressings, and sauces to add depth of flavor.

How is Black Vinegar Distinct from Other Types of Vinegars?

Black vinegar is a unique type of vinegar that has been popular for centuries in parts of Asia, particularly China. As the name suggests, this vinegar has a dark color and an intense flavor that sets it apart from other types of vinegars. The difference between black vinegar and more common varieties lies in the diversity of ingredients. Most widely available vinegars are made from a single type of fermenting agent, usually either apples or grapes, while black vinegar can be derived from many different sources such as dates, sorghum, barley malt, brown rice, honey and even coconut palm sap.

Another difference between black vinegar and others is its viscosity – while other vinegars are typically thin liquids, black vinegar has a silky texture similar to molasses or honey due to its high concentration of amino acids. Additionally, this type of vinegar contains numerous beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and flavonoids which help reduce chronic inflammation-related illnesses like diabetes and cancer. Finally, unlike higher sugar content versions such as balsamic or white wine varieties; Black Vinegar retains all these benefits without adding extra calories – making it an ideal choice for healthier diets!

Why You May Need to Look for Black Vinegar Substitutes?

You may need to look for black vinegar substitutes if you cannot find black vinegar in your local grocery store or if you want to try a different flavor profile in your recipe. Here are some reasons why you may need to look for black vinegar substitutes:

  • Availability: Depending on where you live, black vinegar may not be readily available at your local grocery store or specialty food shop.
  • Flavor preference: While black vinegar has a unique sweet and sour flavor, it may not be to everyone’s taste. You may prefer a milder or more acidic flavor in your cooking.
  • Price: Black vinegar can be expensive compared to other types of vinegar, especially if it is imported from another country.
  • Health concerns: If you have health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you may want to limit your intake of black vinegar due to its high sugar content.

Fortunately there are several ingredients that can provide similar flavors when substituted for black vinegar in recipes. Some common substitutes for black vinegar include balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and red wine vinegar. These vinegars may not have the same flavor profile as black vinegar, but they can still add acidity and depth of flavor to your dishes.

Best Black Vinegar Substitutes: 11 Alternatives to Try

“Hey, have you ever run out of black vinegar midway through cooking? It’s such a bummer. But don’t worry, there are some great substitutes you can use to get that tangy, rich flavor. From balsamic vinegar to rice vinegar, each of these alternatives has a unique flavor profile that can add complexity and depth to your dishes. So don’t be afraid to get creative the next time you’re out of black vinegar – you may just discover a new favorite ingredient!

1. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar in a glass jug

Balsamic vinegar is a great black vinegar substitute because of its savory-sweet flavor and complex aroma. Unlike traditional white vinegars, balsamic has a naturally rich, dark color that adds depth to dishes without overpowering them. Its sweetness also counteracts the acidity present in most black vinegars, giving your recipes a balanced flavor profile.

Balsamic vinegar is made from pressed grapes which are then matured in wooden casks for at least 12 years before it’s ready for sale as quality balsamic vinegar. This lengthy process gives the condiment an intense sweetness and full-bodied taste which can stand in for more pungent varieties such as Chinese or Japanese black vinegar.

When substituting balsamic with other types of bottles, make sure to adjust the amount you use because balsamic is much sweeter than many other types of vinegars. It’s often suggested to start out with half the amount you’d normally use when substituting another type of bottled goodness into your recipe – but ultimately it’s up to you based on how sweet you’d like your dish!

2. Rice Vinegar

Bottle with traditional Japanese rice vinegar

Rice vinegar is a popular substitute for traditional black vinegar due to its mild flavor. It’s great in marinades, dressings, sauces, and stir-fries. Rice vinegar has a slight sweetness that makes it an excellent ingredient to use to balance out strong flavors like garlic or ginger. Unlike many other vinegars, rice vinegar doesn’t have any harshness or acetic acidity which can make it difficult for some palates to handle in large doses with certain dishes.

Rice vinegars are produced by fermenting the starch found in different types of rice such as white rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice and even red or brown rice. The fermentation process breaks down the starches into sugar molecules which then turn into alcohol and are later converted into acidity (vinegar). This process results in a much mellower indicating than other vinegars like cider or white distilled ones that can be overly acidic when used as substitutes for black vinegar.

In terms of overall health benefits, there are several advantages associated with consuming rice vinegars over other varieties such as being lower in sodium content than most others due to its low natural acetic acid levels compared to them per volume as it contains only 4% of this chemical constituent on average while providing 15mg/100ml less of sodium than traditional black vinegar does with 19mg/100ml on average instead. Additionally, since they contain no fat nor carbohydrates (only 17 calories per tablespoon) they are perfect diet friendly condiments too!

3. Malt Vinegar

a bottle of malt vinegar
Source: images.ctfassets.net

Malt vinegar is a type of vinegar produced by the process of malting barley, wheat, or other grains. During this process, sugars are broken down into alcohols which then turn into acetic acid when they are exposed to oxygen. This gives malt vinegar its characteristic sour flavor and odor, and makes it an excellent substitute for black vinegar when cooking.

Malt vinegar has a distinctly different taste than other types of vinegars such as apple cider or white wine. It adds a unique sweetness that pairs well with fish but also stands out in dishes like potato salad or chutney recipes. Additionally, malt vinegars tend to be less acidic than other varieties so they often provide additional flavor without adding too much bite to your dish.

Black vinegars are known for their thicker texture that can sometimes mask flavors in food while still providing great tanginess and zest. However, the texture can be overwhelming and make your food heavy or overly sharp in taste if used in excess. Compared to these black vinegars; Malt Vinegar provides the same zesty kick but with a lighter body so it doesn’t overpower the flavors you’re trying to highlight in your dishes!

Malt Vinegar may also offer some health benefits if consumed regularly! Studies suggest that consuming quality malt vinegars may help reduce blood sugar levels after meals since it aids digestion through its high acetic acid content (which speeds up food metabolism).

4. Red Wine Vinegar

red wine vinegar - one of the best black vinegar substitutes
Source: www.thespruceeats.com

Red Wine Vinegar has the same flavor profile yet with an added depth and richness. It is much milder in taste than its counterpart, but still retains the acidic essence that helps to give dishes their desired flavor. Red wine vinegar is made from fermenting red wine, where the sugars are broken down by microbes into ethanol (alcohol) and acetic acid (vinegar). The combination of these two ingredients creates a rich product with an unmistakable sharpness when used in cooking due to its high levels of acidity.

The complex layers of flavor offered by red wine vinegar make it appealing as both a cooking ingredient and condiment. In Chinese cuisine, black rice or chinkiang vinegars generally provide compatibility with dishes like braised beef short ribs, while red wine vinegars pair well with lighter foods like salads or steamed vegetables. red wine vinegar can make subtle additions to savory sauces such as béarnaise sauce or vinaigrette dressings without overpowering other seasonings present in the dish. Its tart and robust character makes it suitable for salad dressings too.

Red Wine Vinegar also contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals which help improve your overall health: calcium aids bone development; phosphorus supports good brain functioning; magnesium strengthens bones & teeth; potassium regulates blood pressure & heart rate while vitamin B6 improves metabolism & boosts immunity systems too!

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar in a fancy glass jar

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is made from fermented apple juice and contains beneficial bacteria called “the Mother”—these live microorganisms are the source of the cloudy appearance of ACV. It’s rich in polyphenols—plant compounds with powerful health benefits—and acetic acid, which may help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. Apple cider vinegar is a popular substitute for black vinegar because of its many health benefits and versatility.

ACV has been studied as a natural remedy for many ailments, including: high cholesterol, digestive issues like indigestion and constipation; skin conditions such as acne; weight loss; hypertension; type 2 diabetes; arthritis pain relief; improved energy levels since it helps boost your metabolism by breaking down food more efficiently. Studies also suggest that consuming ACV can lead to greater feelings of fullness after meals (which can aid in weight loss) as well as decreasing bad breath due to its antibacterial properties.

Apple cider vinegar makes an excellent black-vinegar substitute because it not only has a similar taste profile but also possesses equal levels of acidity so recipes won’t suffer when substituting one for the other in cooking applications.

6. Lemon Juice With Honey

Lemon juice with honey can be a suitable substitute for black vinegar, depending on what you are trying to achieve. Honey adds sweetness to the recipe while lemon juice provides acidity. This combination can work well in some dishes that call for black vinegar because it gives a similar level of tartness and acidity, although it does lack the smokiness associated with traditional black vinegars.

In addition to cooking applications, this combination of lemon juice and honey can also be used in other ways due to its balanced flavor profile. For example, adding a small amount of this mixture into your morning cup of tea or coffee is an excellent way to start your day off right. You could also use this mixture as an all-natural dressing for salads – the sweet yet acidic taste will perfectly complement any fresh greens you have!

It’s important that when substituting lemon juice and honey instead of black vinegar, use these ingredients sparingly since they do contain different levels of sugar than regular vinegars do. Too much honey or lemon could overpower the dish being served and completely change its intended flavor profile – so make sure not to overdo it! Start by using half the amount mentioned in your original recipe and adjust from there if necessary until you get just the right balance for your dish or drink.

7. Lime Juice With Honey

Lime juice and honey are an excellent substitute for black vinegar in many recipes. First of all, lime juice is a great citrusy alternative to black vinegar that will bring a light yet bright flavor profile into any dish. When paired with honey it adds natural sweetness without overpowering the flavors while accentuating the other components on the plate. This combination creates a unique tart-sweet balance that can be used to compliment bold or spicy dishes as well as mild and subtle ones.

In addition, when using lime juice as a substitute it might be wise to increase any seasonings used since lime’s naturally high acidity does not allow spices enough time and heat exposure within the cooking process necessary for optimal flavor development – something commonly seen with red wines, tomatoes, and soy sauces when creating savory dishes instead of overly sour ones.

This natural alternative is healthier than conventional black vinegars because it contains no additives such as preservatives or artificial colors that may have adverse health effects in the long run. Honey is packed with powerful antioxidants that help protect against oxidative stress while limes are full of vitamin C – both also have antibacterial properties that could provide extra protection against infections and illnesses.

8. Apple Juice

Apple juice in a jug and a glass on the table

Apple juice is a great substitute for black vinegar due to its acidity, sweetness and flavor. The pH of apple juice is typically between 3.3 and 4.2, making it less acidic than many other juices, while still having enough acid to make it the perfect replacement for black vinegar in recipes that call for an acidic component such as vinaigrettes or marinades. Furthermore, its naturally sweet taste allows cooks who are trying to cut down on sugar in their recipes the option of using apple juice instead of white or brown sugar without sacrificing flavor or texture.

When using apple juice as a substitute for black vinegar in dishes like teriyaki sauce or stir-fry recipes it is best to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients such as wine, soy sauce and stock by half. This will help maintain the desired texture while still delivering a flavorful dish with less of a sourness than if you were using plain apple juice without any other liquors in the recipe. Additionally, adding freshly grated ginger or crushed garlic to your recipe will enhance the flavors while still giving you that authentic Asian cuisine taste.

9. Date Vinegar

Date vinegar in a plastic bottle
Source: healinghijamaclinic.com

Date vinegar is a popular vinegar substitute, and for good reason! Like all forms of vinegar, date vinegar contains acetic acid which gives it that tangy acidic taste. Unlike other vinegars such as white wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegars, date vinegar is made from dates. This means that it has a unique combination of flavors with the sweet-tartness of dates and the sourness of acetic acid.

It is widely used to pickle fruits such as apples or pears and to marinate meats like beef or chicken. In addition to its culinary uses, Date Vinegar also makes an excellent black vinegar substitute because it shares similar properties with black vinegars such as a strong umami flavor and a dark color.

Date Vinegar packs more Health Benefits than other vinegars due to its high concentration of nutrients like Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Folate (Vitamin B9) Magnesium and Potassium which help reduce inflammation throughout the body.. It also supports mental clarity by increasing energy production within cells while supporting overall cellular health at the same time – no wonder why so many people are making this their go-to alternative for traditional Black Vinegar!

10. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry Vinegar - one of the best black vinegar substitutes
Source: www.seriouseats.com

Sherry vinegar is a unique and flavorful alternative to black vinegar. It has been used for centuries as an ingredient in traditional Spanish dishes, particularly paella and gazpacho. As a result, it has become a popular condiment for adding depth of flavor to many recipes.

Unlike many white vinegars, sherry vinegar is aged — going through an aging process to bring out flavors that aren’t present in white or unaged vinegars. Sherry vinegar typically undergoes this process for at least six months or longer; some variations may go through the process for up to three years or more before they are ready for consumption. Aging produces acetic acid levels between 6% to 7%, making sherry vinegar slightly stronger than traditional white vinegars but not nearly as strong as black Chinese balsamic varieties which have higher acetic acid levels ranging between 8% and 10%.

Sherry vinegar provides a unique flavor profile that isn’t found with other types of vinegars: it’s sweet yet acidic without being overwhelming like some balsamic varieties can be, and also contains earthy notes. Its versatility makes it ideal for use on salads, marinades & sauces, vegetables & fruits, meats & fish, desserts & ice cream — making this flavorful ingredient suitable for both savory and sweet recipes alike!

11. White Wine Vinegar

white wine vinegar being poured in a glass bowl
Source: thekitchencommunity.org

White wine vinegar can work as a black vinegar substitute because both types of vinegar share similar characteristics in terms of acidity, flavor, and aroma. White wine vinegar is made by fermenting white wine, which results in a tangy, slightly sweet vinegar with a mild fruitiness. Black vinegar, on the other hand, is typically made from fermented rice, barley, or wheat, and has a mellow, malty flavor with a slight smokiness.

While the flavors of white wine vinegar and black vinegar are not identical, white wine vinegar can provide a similar tartness and brightness to dishes that call for black vinegar. Both vinegars also have a similar level of acidity, which can help tenderize meats and add depth to sauces and dressings. Additionally, white wine vinegar has a lighter color and a less pronounced scent compared to black vinegar, which can be beneficial in dishes where the vinegar’s appearance and aroma should not be dominant.

When substituting white wine vinegar for black vinegar, it’s important to adjust the amount according to taste and recipe requirements. One tablespoon of white wine vinegar can be used as a substitute for one tablespoon of black vinegar, but it’s recommended to start with half of that amount and increase gradually, tasting as you go.

Is It Possible to Create Black Vinegar in the Comfort of Your Own Home?

Yes, it is possible to create black vinegar in the comfort of your own home. Here is a detailed explanation of how to make black vinegar:


  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 cup of wheat bran
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 6 cups of water


Step 1. Rinse the rice and place it in a large pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 2. Remove the pot from the heat and add the wheat bran. Stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the mixture and stir. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (around 70-75°F).

Step 3. Pour the mixture into a large glass jar or ceramic crock. And Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band.

Step 4. Store the jar in a warm, dark place for 1-3 months, stirring occasionally.

Step 5. After 1-3 months, the mixture will have turned into black vinegar. Strain the vinegar through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove any solids.

Step 6. Store the black vinegar in a glass bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Note: The longer you allow the mixture to ferment, the stronger the flavor of the vinegar will be.

Tips for Substituting Black Vinegar

Substituting black vinegar is an easy way to add a unique and flavorful depth to your dishes. Here are some tips for getting the most out of substituting black vinegar in your recipes:

  • Start small: When substituting black vinegar, it’s important to start small, adding just an ounce or two at a time until you reach the desired level of flavor desired. Black Vinegar has a strong umami taste so too much can easily overpower lighter flavors.
  • Consider the pH balance: Since black vinegar is higher in acidity than other types of vinegars, be sure to consider how its use will affect the overall pH balance and flavor profile of your dish when using it as a substitution. If you’re making something light or delicate that needs more subtle notes try blending it with another mild-flavored condiment before adding it into dishes like dressings and marinades for meats and vegetables.
  • Balance salt content: As mentioned earlier, due to its high acidity level, you may need to adjust any added salt accordingly because black vinegar may bring additional salinity depending on its concentration (and type). This is especially true if used as part of glazes or sauces where there won’t be many other ingredients present that can reduce its intensity levels.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Worcestershire sauce be used in place of black vinegar?

Worcestershire sauce and black vinegar have different flavor profiles so they cannot be used interchangeably. Worcestershire sauce is a savory sauce with a tangy taste that contains ingredients like molasses, anchovies, tamarind, and garlic. Black vinegar, on the other hand, has a milder, slightly sweet flavor with a fermented taste. It is made by fermenting rice, wheat, or barley and has a dark color.

Are black vinegar and malt vinegar the same?

No, black vinegar and malt vinegar are not the same. They have different flavor profiles and are made using different ingredients and methods.

How to store black vinegar?

Black vinegar should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. It is best to store it in a sealed container or bottle to prevent air and moisture from getting in, which can cause the vinegar to spoil. Some types of black vinegar may have a sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which is normal and does not affect the quality of the vinegar. Before using the vinegar, give the bottle a gentle shake to mix the sediment back into the liquid. Stored properly, black vinegar can last for several years.

Can soy sauce be used as a substitute for black vinegar?

Soy sauce could be a suitable substitute for this acidic condiment. While black vinegar possesses a unique taste that cannot be exactly replicated, you can still achieve a similar flavor profile by using soy sauce. Its savory, umami flavor, coupled with its saltiness, could add depth to your dish.

Which black vinegar substitute is the closest match in terms of taste and acidity?

Rice vinegar is the closest match in terms of taste and acidity to black vinegar. It has a similar tangy and slightly sweet flavor profile that works well in a variety of dishes.

Bottom Line:

All in all, black vinegar is a unique and flavorful ingredient that you should definitely try if it works with whatever you are making. You may want to use a substitute if the flavor profile isn’t quite right or you don’t have any on hand. In this article, we’ve shared with you the ten best substitutes for black vinegar along with some tips for possible substitution. If substituting isn’t enough, perhaps creating your own homemade black vinegar will do the trick!

Regardless of whether you choose to buy or make your own black vinegar, one thing’s for sure: the pungent-sweet flavor of these unique vinegars will take whatever dishes they find their way into to a whole new level of deliciousness. So, go ahead and give it a shot!

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