White vinegar is the most common and affordable type of vinegar on the market. With its clean flavor profile and clear color, white vinegar can stand in for almost any other kind of vinegar in a pinch, but how easy is it to replace? Let’s take a look at the best white vinegar substitutes available.
Your best bet: Champagne vinegar
Champagne vinegar is simply a version of white wine vinegar since champagne is a type of white wine. Fermented from champagne, champagne vinegar brings a light but assertive acidity to a dish. Its flavor is much subtler than other wine vinegars and is thus closer to that of white vinegar, which has no taste except for its acidity. Don’t expect it to be quite as assertive in terms of its acidity as white vinegar, but it will provide sufficient flavor for most applications.
Use champagne vinegar for pickling, making mayonnaise, and wherever you want a light and mellow vinegar option. Some recipes also require it to be used for deglazing pans similar to balsamic vinegar.
A decent second choice: White wine vinegar
White wine vinegar is made from fermented white wine, and while it is not as sharp as red wine vinegar, it is still flavorful enough to stand in for white vinegar. White wine vinegar has a mild fruitiness from the grapes used to make it, but that should not be a problem in most recipes.
Use white wine vinegar in marinades, sauces, and salad dressings. Its pale color means that it won’t discolor light-colored dishes, including pickles. While not as ubiquitous as white vinegar, white wine vinegar has the benefit of being moderately easy to find and relatively affordable.
In a pinch: Malt vinegar
Made from ale, malt vinegar is a grain-based vinegar like many types of white vinegar. The light version has a flavor profile subtle enough that it won’t interfere with the flavors of most dishes that require white vinegar. The color of the malt vinegar is also important. The most common kinds used for cooking are light malt vinegar and dark malt vinegar, which has caramel added for color.
Light malt vinegar is a better substitute for white vinegar. Light malt vinegar is a pale amber color that might be noticeable if you use it to make a pickle brine but won’t be an issue for most other applications. Malt is malted barley, which is barley that has sprouted. The process of malting releases enzymes that dissolve the starches and convert to maltose, which is used to brew ale. The ale is converted to vinegar via a similar process to those used for wine and cider vinegars.
Malt vinegar was originally called alegar because it is made from ale. It is the traditional seasoning for English fish and chips though some consider it too strong for making vinaigrettes.
Malt vinegar might not be quite as acidic as most white vinegars, but it will still provide much of the same tartness.
Rice vinegar is traditionally used for light marinades and as a condiment for sushi rice. It is less acidic than most vinegars including white vinegar; however, it is still acidic enough to be used as a white vinegar substitute. The reduced acidity may be considered an asset for anyone who finds white vinegar too harsh.
There are two types of rice vinegar: seasoned and unseasoned. When seeking a substitute for white vinegar, opt for the unseasoned variety.