The 6 Best Substitutes for Chinese Black Vinegar

While it might initially seem like black vinegar is difficult to replace, a closer examination reveals that it doesn’t need to be that way.

Even though black vinegar is hard to find in some parts of the world, there are plenty of suitable substitutes available. Whether you’re following a recipe that requires black vinegar or just want to incorporate it into your meals, you can easily find an alternative.

Substitutes for Chinese Black Vinegar

In this guide, we will explore the best substitutes for black vinegar and how to put them to good use. We’ll be looking at some of the most sought-after products on the market.

Chinese Black Vinegar is a type of vinegar that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It is made from glutinous rice, wheat, barley, and sometimes even sorghum. The vinegar is then fermented in earthenware jars for several months, which results in its dark color and unique flavor.

The color of Chinese Black Vinegar is a deep, rich, and glossy black, which makes it stand out from other types of vinegar. It has a complex flavor profile that is both sweet and sour, with a slight smokiness and umami taste. Its aroma is pungent, tangy, and slightly woody.

The history of Chinese Black Vinegar dates back to the Han dynasty, where it was used primarily as a medicinal tonic. Over time, it became an essential ingredient in Chinese cuisine and was used in various dishes to add a tangy and savory flavor. Today, Chinese Black Vinegar is widely used throughout China and is an essential ingredient in many traditional dishes.

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Chinese Black Vinegar is a key ingredient in several famous Chinese dishes, including hot and sour soup, sweet and sour pork, and dumpling dipping sauce. It is also used in braised dishes, such as Dongpo Pork, a classic Chinese dish that features slow-braised pork belly with a sweet and savory sauce made with black vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.

Additionally, black vinegar is used as a dipping sauce for noodle dishes and in marinades for meats and vegetables. Its unique flavor makes it a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Best Chinese Black Vinegar Substitutes

1. Rice vinegar

Rice vinegar

An excellent substitute for black vinegar is rice vinegar. This Chinese variety of vinegar has a mild sweetness which makes it perfect for recipes that call for black vinegar, but not too sweet to overwhelm the dish.

Rice vinegar is an excellent substitute for black vinegar. Just remember to use 1 tablespoon of it in place of every tablespoon of black vinegar. This makes the two ingredients perfect replacements for each other, which means that you can use rice vinegar any time when a recipe calls for black vinegar.

2. Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar makes an excellent stand-in for black vinegar as it is easier to find. Do bear in mind that it has a sweeter taste, so you should use less of it than black vinegar.

If the strong flavor of balsamic vinegar is too much for you, you can try diluting it with water. On the other hand, if you enjoy its robust taste, then you could take it as is.

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To maintain a balanced sweetness, mix 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons black vinegar.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great option if you don’t have black vinegar. Its sweet & tangy taste is a great addition to dishes, giving them the flavor you desire.

Apple cider vinegar adds a delicious twist to salads and cooked dishes, giving them a mild apple flavor that’s more pleasant than the one you’d get from black vinegar. Give it a try – you’re sure to love it!

For optimal results, it is best to use a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar and black vinegar – one tablespoon of each.

4. Malt vinegar

Malt vinegar is a great substitute for black vinegar that can be used to dress salads, prepare different dishes, or even enhance the flavor of cooked meals.

Malt, a type of fermented barley is a major ingredient in black vinegar. This makes it ideal for the recipes which traditionally use black vinegar as an ingredient, adding a unique flavor to the dish.

The ratio of malt vinegar to black vinegar should be 1:1, which means one tablespoon of each. Doing this will allow you to utilize the flavoring and color of both vinegars in order to get a tasty and aesthetically pleasing dish!

5. Red Wine Vinegar

Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is becoming a popular choice of substitution for Chinese black vinegar due to its similar taste & color. It comes with the added benefit of providing a darker hue to your dish, ensuring the presentation remains unchanged.

While red wine vinegar can serve as a good alternative for black vinegar, it does not replicate all of the traits of its counterpart. Red wine vinegar isn’t as acidic and doesn’t have an earthy taste or the malt-like flavors present in Chinese black vinegar.

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Red wine vinegar is an ideal substitution for recipes that don’t need black vinegar. It’s perfect to use in salads, stir-fries and other dishes where other flavors take precedence.

Keep in mind that the recipe ratio may need alteration for desired results. You should use two tablespoons of black vinegar for each tablespoon of red wine vinegar to create the necessary balance of acidity for perfect flavor.

6. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry Vinegar

Many view sherry vinegar as the more laid-back cousin of balsamic. Originally made in Spain, it is their own version of Italy’s balsamico. (Legally, only balsamic vinegar produced in Reggio Emilia or Modena can be labelled as such.)

Sherry vinegar is more budget-friendly than balsamico, yet still has a flavor profile that’s close to the latter. It’s made from grapes that have been pressed, fermented, colored and then sweetened with caramel or any other element.

Sherry vinegar is aged longer than other varieties, but still has a comparable taste. It’s acidic, while having subtle sweet notes due to the addition of caramel. The result is a balanced flavor with hint of nuttiness at the end.

Using sherry vinegar in place of black vinegar is a suitable substitution, as far as flavor is concerned. However, it won’t provide the latter’s dark hue and this might be a downside to its visual presentation. Despite that, swapping between the two can be beneficial in terms of taste.


While black vinegar is an excellent choice for flavorful dishes, there are a few alternatives that could be used. Balsamic, red wine, white and apple cider vinegars are also great options that can be used as replacements for black vinegar in various recipes.

Don’t worry if you ever run out of black vinegar for your cooking. There are multiple alternatives available that can be used as substitutes – making your dishes delicious nonetheless.

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