Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?”, and what are the other substitutes for apple cider vinegar?

Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?

Yes, you can substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar. White vinegar has a very pungent flavor due to its high acidity. To balance out the zing of white vinegar, add a splash of fruit juice or citrus juice when substituting white vinegar for apple cider.

The global vinegar market reached 1.3 billion US dollar (USD) in 2019. In the European Union, the revenue from the vinegar market amounted to 1 billion USD in 2018 and the quantity of vinegar produced was around 1.2 billion liters the same year (1). In the USA, white distilled vinegars have the highest unit shares (68%), while in China, brewed and white fruit vinegars are the most popular (1).

Can you use apple cider vinegar in place of white vinegar?

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar in place of white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a somewhat fruity and sweet taste as compared to white vinegar. To enhance its sourness, add some lemon or lime juice If your dish does not mind it. However, white vinegar should not be replaced with apple cider in case of pickling or canning.

Vinegar is made from numerous carbohydrate sources or food products that contain fermentable (reducible) sugar for yeast to metabolize (1). 

Difference between apple cider vinegar and white vinegar?

White vinegar also referred to as distilled or spirit vinegar is a clear liquid with 4-7% acetic acid. Fermentation of grain alcohol produces white vinegar with a sour taste. Traditional wine vinegar fermentation processes that takes up to 2 months to achieve the required final product quality concentrations, and the industrial wine vinegar fermentation using the Frings acetator (submerged method) that only takes up to 20–24h (1).

Apple cider vinegar is a brown, murky liquid with 5-6% acetic acid and is made by the fermentation of crushed apple extract.

Apples are essential resources of antioxidants that prevent free radical generation. The apples have high nutritive value and their products are a good source of phenolic compounds, vitamins, minerals, calcium, potassium, phosphorus which are useful in various chronic diseases. Apple cider vinegar is made up from renewed pressed apples, similar to apple juice, treated in the same way but it is not filtered. Apple cider vinegar is formed from Cider that has undergone acetous bioconversion and contains low acetic acid (less than 5%), flavonoids, phenolic compounds, organic acids, minerals and vitamins (2).

Best apple cider vinegar substitutes 

White wine vinegar 

The acidity level of white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar is comparable due to which you can estimate a 1:1 ratio for substitution. Adding a splash of fruit juice will add sweet notes to help balance the flavor. However, studies show that the antioxidant properties of wine vinegar are higher than of apple cider vinegar (3).

Champagne vinegar 

For most recipes, you can estimate a 1:1 substitution ratio for champagne vinegar. For others, you will need to add a bit more than an equal swap because champagne vinegar has a milder flavor than apple cider vinegar. Champagne vinegar is typically from France (3). Champagne vinegar is made up of moisture free white wine which is extracted from chardonnay as well as pinot noir variety of grape. Both varieties are used for production of champagne vinegar. In appearance it doesn’t have bubbles forming in the visual inspection spectrum. France and United States are leading producer of champagne vinegar Gluconacetobacter entanii, Acetobacter pomorum are used for vinegar production (4).

Red wine vinegar 

Red wine vinegar is stronger than white wine vinegar but imparts its characteristic red color to whatever dish it is added to. Unless that will interfere with the appearance of the dish, you can substitute red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. 

Assurance of good quality wine evaluated by final quality of vinegar. For preparation of good quality wine vinegar good quality wine (aging takes place in containers of wood for a large year of time period). Red wine is used for production of wine vinegar, Acetobacter pasteurianus, Gluconacetobacter europaeus, Gluconobacter oxydans are the acetic acid bacterial species used for production of wine vinegar (4).

Sherry vinegar 

Sherry vinegar has a more specific and strong flavor than apple cider vinegar. You can substitute it for apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio or add a splash more if you like the taste of sherry vinegar. For production of sherry wine fermentation takes place under a fully heated atmosphere in a wooden barrel in direct contact with sun, sherry wine is used as raw material. Spain is the leading producer of sherry vinegar, it is nutty-sweetish in taste (4).

Rice wine vinegar 

White wine vinegar comes from fermented rice and is an important ingredient in Asian-style cuisine. Rice wine vinegar has a very pleasant, sweet, and mild flavor. Feel free to substitute it for the apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. 

In case you are wondering, rice wine vinegar also adds the snappiness in a dish that any vinegar is expected of. Always opt for the non-seasoned rice wine vinegar so that you have more control over the amount of salt and sugar that goes in the dish. 

Production of rice vinegar begins with immersion of rice in water, heating, cooling, and inoculation with yeast to produce ethanol. Subsequently, an acetic acid fermentation is conducted and the product is matured. Kurosu is a traditional Japanese rice vinegar which is reported to be one of the most important sources of phenolic compounds for reducing cancer risk. Antioxidant activity of an ethyl acetate extract of Kurosu vinegar was greater than the antioxidant activities of wine and apple vinegars ( (3).

Balsamic vinegar 

Balsamic vinegar tastes something like honey or maple syrup stirred in apple cider vinegar. In other words, balsamic vinegar is sweeter than apple cider vinegar. You can swap it for apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with a slightly reduced amount of sugar in the recipe.

It has a brown appearance as well as it is something sweaty and salty as per sensorial attributes. For production of balsamic vinegar white coloured trebbiano grapes are used after that aging takes place in wooden barrels. Among all the gourmet balsamic vinegar is nearly 100 years old, Italy is the most productive region (4). Melanoidins, which are synthesized in the final stage of the Maillard reaction during traditional balsamic vinegar production, exhibit potential health benefits including antihypertensive activity (3)

Malt vinegar 

Malt vinegar can be substituted for apple cider vinegar in a 1: 1 ratio. Malt vinegar adds a yeasty flavor to whatever dish it is added to, so you need to be careful with the amount.

It is made from malt and it is dark-brown in color. It is mostly produced in the region of England, and is reminiscent of deep-brown ale. Generally production of malt vinegar starts basically with the germination or sprouting kernels of barley. Germination develops a suitable environment for the activation of enzymes into degradation of starch. As the degradation starts the sugar is finally convert into brewing (product) to malt occupied alcohol content, Acetobacter pomorum is incorporated at the time of production (4).

Apple juice

Apple juice is not fermented so it fails to mimic the pungent flavor that is the characteristic of apple cider vinegar. This also means that the apple juice will not activate the leaveners when used in place of apple cider vinegar. To balance the flavor, you can add a splash of any vinegar or citrus juice along with the apple juice.

Flavor components in apple juice are numerous, and identification is considered quite complex due to the aromatic nature of apples. Eight odor-active volatiles have been identified as the most important contributors for the aroma–flavor. authenticity of apple juice. Apple juice is the raw material of different fermented drinks, like apple wine and cider (8).

Lemon juice 

Lemon juice is highly acidic. It makes for a good apple cider vinegar substitute due to its biting flavor. You can use a splash of lemon juice to add an acidic flavor to your sauces, dressings, or any other savory dishes.

Due to the presence of citric acid and ascorbic acid, lemon juice is acidic (pH= 2-3) in nature, and thus it works as an acid catalyst in organic reactions. Lemon juice obtained from lemon is sour in taste. The juice is used to control high blood pressure, arthritis and rheumatism, asthma, and prevent kidney stones (5).

Orange juice

Orange juice can be substituted for apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. To balance out the sweetness of the orange juice, add a splash of vinegar along with it.

Orange juice contains substantial amounts of several micronutrients such as vitamin C, folate and polyphenols (e.g., hesperidin which is a flavanone). Data obtained from a representative sample of the French population showed that fruit juices contributed to 31% of the daily vitamin C intake of children and to 16% of the daily vitamin C intake of adults (6).

Lime juice

Lime juice has a very distinct flavor that is sharper than both lemon and orange juice. It can be substituted for apple cider vinegar for a sharp note.  In contrast with other types of citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits, lime has a higher percentage of citric acid than of sugar content. Limes are abundant in vitamin C and are often used for flavor and aroma enhancement in foods and beverages and as medicines (7).

Other FAQs about Vinegar that you may be interested in.

How to neutralize vinegar without baking soda?

Can you be allergic to vinegar? 

Can you be allergic to apple cider vinegar?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?”, and what are the other substitutes for apple cider vinegar?


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