3 Best Substitutes for Rice Vinegar

Pouring rice vinegar into a bowl of white rice

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Vinegar is a commonly misunderstood ingredient. It can have a sour taste and pungent aroma, so it is not an ingredient you would consume on its own. However, some people enjoy drinking vinegar. In cooking, a small amount of vinegar can be added—the acidity and tartness balance out other flavors.

There are different types of vinegar, and each shines in a different way. Rice vinegar, made from fermented rice, is unique in that it has a mild and slightly sweet flavor, which is in stark contrast to the bitterness you would expect.

It is often added to sushi rice for a balance of sour, sweet, and salty flavors. Rice vinegar can also be used in sauces, marinades, and salad dressings, so its applications are similar to other types of vinegar. If you do not have rice vinegar on hand or prefer a different type of vinegar, try these substitutes. Because most are liquids like rice vinegar, they can be used at a one-to-one ratio.

Why Use an Alternative

Rice vinegar is not as common as regular distilled vinegar, so you may have a hard time finding it. It is carried in most grocery stores in the international foods section or near the salad dressings and other condiments. You can also find it in specialty Asian food markets.

If you do not cook with rice vinegar often, you may not want to add yet another food item to your pantry. In that case, substituting rice vinegar with an ingredient you use frequently can be a space-saving choice.

For those who enjoy the sour taste of vinegar, you may find rice vinegar too mild or too sweet. Another type of vinegar can add more of a tart punch to recipes if that is what you prefer.

Finally, we have all started a recipe only to realize we do not have all the ingredients. If you are in the middle of making sushi, salad dressing, or another recipe that calls for rice vinegar—an ingredient you may not keep on hand—you may find luck substituting it for an alternative.

Rice Vinegar Nutrition

This nutrition information for a 15 milliliter serving of rice vinegar is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

The nutritional value of rice vinegar may vary depending on the manufacturer since they may be made with different ingredients. However, most rice vinegar is made with similar ingredients. Because rice vinegar is consumed in small amounts, the nutrition facts of various brands are unlikely to differ significantly.

Rice Vinegar Substitutes

Other types of vinegar make for suitable rice vinegar substitutes since they have a similar color, consistency, and flavor profile. Most can be substituted in equal amounts since they are liquids. Other substitutes for rice vinegar include juices from lemons or limes. Here are some alternatives you can turn to when you need a substitute.

  • White wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice

White Wine Vinegar

All vinegar is fermented, so they are similar in that way. Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and white wine vinegar is made with fermented white wine.

White wine vinegar has a slightly fruity taste, which is similar to the slightly sweet taste of rice vinegar. They are also similar in color. When it comes to taste, white wine vinegar may be the best substitute for rice vinegar.

Because white wine vinegar and rice vinegar are both liquids with similar profiles, they can be used interchangeably at a one-to-one ratio in cooking. Like rice vinegar, white wine vinegar can be a calorie-, fat-, and carb-free choice. Both are consumed in small quantities and are therefore not a significant source of nutrients.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Of the various types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a popular one. It is often touted as having health benefits related to digestion and metabolism. While rice vinegar is the fermented product of rice, apple cider vinegar gets its fruity flavor from fermented apples.

Therefore, the two share a sweet flavor profile. While many kinds of vinegar are clear in color, rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar are different colors. Rice vinegar has a yellow tinge and apple cider vinegar is more cloudy and on the orange side.

Like rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar is low in or free of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. However, apple cider vinegar is a source of the micronutrient potassium. Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for rice vinegar in equal amounts.

Lemon Juice

Because rice vinegar can have a sour taste, it is no surprise that lemon juice can be used as a substitute. Lemon juice has slightly more calories and carbohydrates, but it also offers more vitamins.

When it comes to flavor, lemon juice replaces the acidity and sourness of rice vinegar. However, it lacks the sweetness and fermented aspect.

Lemon juice makes a suitable substitute for rice vinegar in recipes like salad dressings and marinades but may not work as well in recipes for sushi. Use lemon or lime juice at a one-to-one ratio, but use your best judgment since the flavor varies slightly.

A Word From Verywell

Rice vinegar is a go-to ingredient for making sushi, marinades, salad dressings, and sauces. Unlike other vinegar, rice vinegar is described as having a slightly sweet flavor. It still has the tart element of other vinegar, so it helps to balance out the other flavors in cooking.

There may be times in the kitchen when a rice vinegar substitute is needed. Being unfamiliar with rice vinegar or finding it too sweet are examples of why you may choose to use an alternative to rice vinegar. Whatever the reason, you can try a rice vinegar alternative that has a similar consistency, sourness, and acidity.

4 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. Rice vinegar.

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. WHITE WINE VINEGAR. Published May 15, 2019.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Organic apple cider vinegar.

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Lemon juice, raw. Published April 1, 2019.

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