5 Best Substitutes for Apple Cider Vinegar

Glass of apple juice, spoonful of apple cider vinegar, and several apples

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Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice. Apples are crushed, and the leftover juices are fermented and bottled. This ingredient adds a tart flavor to savory recipes like salads and stir-fries.

Though it is most commonly used to make liquid condiments like salad dressings, marinades, vinaigrettes, and chutneys, it also can be used in sweet recipes like cocktails, mocktails, fire cider, and even vegan cakes.

While it is likely you have seen apple cider vinegar touted for having various health benefits, most of these are not supported with research. Also, because it is often consumed in small amounts, it does not have a significant influence on your daily nutrition. But, its flavor contributions to dishes are substantial.

Because it is made from apple juice, many find the taste to be pleasant and like what it adds to dishes and drinks. However, some people may require a substitute for apple cider vinegar whether it is because they have run out or just do not care for it. You may have success replacing apple cider vinegar in recipes with one of the following alternatives.

Why Use an Alternative?

Allergies to apple cider vinegar are rare, but some people may have sensitivities. Because vinegar is a product of fermentation, some of the byproducts of that fermentation (like salicylates or sulfites) are present in apple cider vinegar, and anyone with sensitivities to these elements may choose to use an alternative.

Vinegar has a taste often described as sour or tart and the flavor of apple cider vinegar is especially distinctive. While it is one of the more pleasant kinds of vinegar, it may not be everyone’s favorite. Swapping out apple cider vinegar for one you enjoy more is an important reason to seek an alternative.

If you use apple cider vinegar frequently, you may go through a bottle quickly. Running out of apple cider vinegar or not having any on hand, to begin with, is another reason to use a substitute. While apple cider vinegar is generally affordable and accessible, other kinds of vinegar might be even more affordable and easier to find.

Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition

The nutritional information for 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of apple cider vinegar is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fats: 0g
  • Sodium: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Sugars: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Because it is consumed in small amounts, apple cider vinegar is not a significant source of micronutrients or macronutrients. It also is a suitable condiment for a variety of meal plans. For those without intolerances to apple cider vinegar, it is a great vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and low-sugar option.

Popular Substitutes

As long as there's no sensitivity to its components, the best substitutes for apple cider vinegar are—you guessed it—other types of vinegar. These apple cider vinegar substitutes can be used at a one-to-one ratio to replace the sour flavors in savory recipes.

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is likely the easiest to find and most affordable among different types of vinegar. If you are not a fan of apple cider vinegar or cannot seem to find it, grab a bottle of white wine vinegar instead. It is a versatile and reliable ingredient.

In recipes, white wine vinegar has a flavor that is slightly less bold than apple cider vinegar. Although it is missing the fruity flavor, this fact may actually be an advantage for people who find apple cider vinegar too strong. Nutritionally, apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar are nearly the same. Both are used in such small quantities that they contribute virtually no macronutrients or micronutrients.

Balsamic Vinegar

If you are making salad dressing or vinaigrette, balsamic vinegar is an excellent substitute for apple cider vinegar. Because it is made from grape juice, it has a similar fruity undertone to apple cider vinegar, though the flavor is sharper and sweeter. It is also often described as wine-like, which is great for cooking.

While balsamic vinegar does contain slightly more calories (energy) than other vinegars it still adds an insignificant amount of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Red Wine Vinegar

There are many types of vinegar, so it can be difficult to distinguish between them. However, red wine vinegar stands out for its deep red color and tangy flavor. As the name suggests, it is made from fermented red wine. However, it does not contain more than minute traces of alcohol. Like other vinegars, red wine vinegar is not a significant source of macro or micronutrients.

Sherry Vinegar

Like red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar is also made from wine. Specifically, it is made from fermented Spanish sherry wine. It has a more complex taste because sherry wine is often aged. If you are looking for less overpowering vinegar, sherry vinegar is a great option.

Sherry vinegar is not a significant source of any micro or macronutrients. Both apple cider vinegar and sherry vinegar are free of fat and carbohydrates. However, sherry vinegar contains slightly more calories and protein, and apple cider vinegar contains more sugar.

Lemon Juice

While many substitutes for apple cider vinegar are other types of vinegar, this may not work for people who do not consume vinegar due to intolerances. If that is the case, you may have success with lemon juice. Like apple cider vinegar, it is both fruity and acidic. Of the five basic tastes, the one apple cider vinegar adds to recipes is sour. A squeeze of lemon juice does the same thing. 

Lemons also add a small amount of micro and macro nutrition to dishes. While the amount used is still small, even a squeeze of lemon contributes a small amount of vitamin C.

A Word From Verywell

When following a recipe, it can be difficult to find the perfect ingredient replacement without worrying that it will negatively affect the final result. When substituting apple cider vinegar, the best substitutes are other kinds of vinegar that replace the sour, tart taste. Because they have the same consistency, they can be used in equal amounts as apple cider vinegar.

People with intolerances to vinegar and fermentation byproducts may want to avoid the ingredient altogether. In that case, lemon juice is likely the best substitution since it has the same fruity flavor and level of acidity. Other reasons to substitute apple cider vinegar are related to its flavor and accessibility.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. USDA, FoodData Central. Organic apple cider vinegar with the 'mother.'

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. White wine vinegar.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Vinegar, balsamic.

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Vinegar, red wine.

  5. USDA, FoodData Central. Sherry vinegar.

  6. USDA, FoodData Central. Lemon juice, raw.

By Lacey Muinos
Lacey Muinos is a professional writer who specializes in fitness, nutrition, and health.