Balsamic vinegar originated in Italy, specifically in Modena City. It has been around for a thousand years. It is an aged vinegar that came from white grapes. Making it nowadays is not much different, except that more modern tools are used.
There are many health benefits to using balsamic vinegar which is why it is common as a baking ingredient if you are health conscious. In a snapshot, here are some alternatives you can consider to replace it in your recipe.
- Red wine vinegar and sugar
- White wine vinegar and maple syrup
- Apple cider vinegar and sugar
- Special Soy Sauce Mix
- Soy Sauce, lemon juice, and molasses
- White vinegar
If you are still unable to find anything suitable from the above, check out our full comprehensive list of Balsamic Vinegar Substitute below.
First, let’s find out how this ingredient is being made, the taste and why it is considered very healthy.
15 Best Substitute For Balsamic Vinegar
It starts with unfermented grapes. Their juice is heated slowly until the texture thickens. The resulting syrup is kept in barrels.
This process slows down fermentation so that the acetic bacteria can work and make balsamic vinegar happen.
As expected with vinegar, it comes with acidity. This particular type also comes with sweet notes and the aroma of the wooden barrel stored in. If you get a milder taste variant, you have most likely gotten hold of a cheaper one.
Sometimes, though, you may need to use a substitute for various reasons. The following substitutes should be able to recreate the taste and the benefits as much as possible.
Red Wine Vinegar And Sugar
The usual substitution is the other way around, with balsamic vinegar replacing red wine vinegar. Some even confuse the two types of vinegar. So, it makes sense for red wine vinegar and sugar to serve as a substitute for balsamic vinegar.
However, there are also differences, one of which is that red wine vinegar is less sweet. You need to add a little sugar to it to make the substitution work. Red wine vinegar is also more acidic.
Even though there is a slight difference, adding some brown sugar should make red wine vinegar one of the best substitutions.
You can mix half a tablespoon of brown sugar and one tablespoon of red wine vinegar for every tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Brown sugar is the better option because it adds an oak tone, thus recreating a little bit of the woodsy, kept-in-a-barrel taste balsamic vinegar has.
White Wine Vinegar And Maple Syrup
A variation of the white wine vinegar and sugar mixture would be the white wine vinegar and maple syrup one. The syrup has a texture that will make things a little easier for you.
You don’t need to worry about heating sugar to reach a certain type of consistency. Instead, you just have to think about the proper ratios.
Maple syrup is also a healthy option. Having it in the kitchen means that you can also replace honey with it.
Apple Cider Vinegar And Sugar
If you choose this substitute, go for apple cider vinegar with sediment. Then, you can mix it with sugar.
For every tablespoon of balsamic vinegar you need, you can take half a tablespoon of brown sugar and add it to one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix these two before adding them to the rest of your baking ingredients.
This way, you can ensure that you have achieved the flavor of balsamic vinegar before you mix it with other ingredients.
Special Soy Sauce Mix
The special soy sauce mix is more often used for cooking meat, but you can also experiment with it when baking. The mix makes use of easy-to-find ingredients, especially the soy sauce itself.
You may even mix it with balsamic vinegar when you have a little left and have to stretch the portion.
For every one and a half tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, you can mix one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, one teaspoon of grape jelly, and a half teaspoon of soy sauce.
Like the apple cider vinegar and sugar mix, it is best to mix this special recipe before adding the result to other ingredients. Place everything in a jar and mix them thoroughly for best results.
You may try replacing balsamic vinegar with vinaigrette. It is one of those turn-it-around recipes. After all, you can mix balsamic vinegar with olive oil to get balsamic vinaigrette. You can attempt to do it the other way around.
The 1:1 ratio also makes it easier to incorporate the substitute into your recipe.
Soy Sauce, Lemon juice And Molasses
Soy sauce makes another appearance with this other mixture. As you try to find more substitutes with similar flavor profiles like this one.
The distinctive difference in taste balsamic vinegar has with soy sauce may put you off, but you do have to combine it with lemon juice and molasses. The mix somehow provides you with a similar flavor and texture.
You can mix the three first before adding the other ingredients to appreciate the resulting blend better. Lemon juice adds the acidity you need when replicating balsamic vinegar.
White vinegar is pretty common in your household. It’s unlikely that you will not have it. It can be bought in bigger bottles and does not have to be used in large portions. This ingredient can even be used for cleaning.
You have to mix five parts of your white vinegar with one part of sugar. To get the consistency you need, you need to cook the mixture over low heat. Stir the mix to make sure you dissolve all the sugar crystals.
Some people even use lemon or citrus juices on their own. These juices have the acid that you need from balsamic vinegar. However, it cannot provide you with the sweet, woodsy flavor you are familiar with.
However, these juices can provide the freshness you need for your recipe. You can probably experiment by adding a little bit of brown sugar.
Fruity Vinegar And Sugar
Instead of apple cider, other fruity vinegar like raspberry can also substitute for balsamic vinegar.
About one tablespoon of the fruity vinegar can be added to half a teaspoon of brown sugar. With this sweet and sour combination, you may be able to replicate the taste of balsamic vinegar.
If you want sweet and sour in one, you may consider malt vinegar. Instead of an oak taste, you will get barley or a taste closer to beer with malt vinegar.
This substitute will also give you a more intense taste than other replacement ingredients.
However, you can tone down the taste with some sugar. Ensure that you dissolve the crystals completely and try to achieve the same consistency as balsamic vinegar.
Sherry vinegar is like balsamic vinegar’s Spanish cousin. They have a softer flavor and taste less sweet than balsamic vinegar.
You can use sherry vinegar and substitute balsamic vinegar for sauces, stews, dressings, and marinades.
If you have it at hand, you can swap it for balsamic in a 1:1 ratio. You don’t have to add any other ingredients to increase the flavor of this one!
Chinese Black Vinegar
Chinese black vinegar is a staple ingredient for Chinese cuisine and can be considered a suitable substitute for balsamic vinegar.
Made from glutinous rice and malt, this type of vinegar comes quite close to balsamic in terms of flavor but taste less sweet.
If your recipe requires the sweetness from balsamic vinegar, you may need to replace 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of black vinegar.
Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar
Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar is a balsamic-based vinegar made with elderberry syrup. They are especially effective if you are substituting regular balsamic vinegar for dressing or marinades.
Tart, rich and sweet, a lot of bakers also like to include them for baking to give their recipe zesty hints of juicy purple elderberry.
If you have it at hand, you can swap it for balsamic in a 1:1 ratio.
Golden Balsamic Vinegar
Golden balsamic is one of the closest substitutes for balsamic vinegar. It is made in the style of traditional balsamic vinegar but uses light-colored grapes.
They have the same sweetly complex flavor of regular balsamic vinegar but adds an added crispness for your baking recipe. They are easily interchangeable and can be swapped in any recipe.
Depending on the texture and flavor required from your recipe, champagne vinegar should only be considered as a substitute if you do not need a heavy flavor for your baking goods.
They are perfect to be used as a baking ingredient for a hint of acidity and great flavor.
It’s fermented from Champagne, and it has a light, mild, sweet, and tart flavor. It can do as a balsamic alternative, especially if you add some soy sauce and some molasses to it for a heavier taste. But this combination is not compulsory.
Balsamic Vinegar Substitute Related FAQs
What are the reasons you need balsamic vinegar substitutes?
You ran out of balsamic vinegar
Running out of balsamic vinegar is the most obvious reason you need a substitute in the first place. This type of vinegar usually comes in small bottles. Of course, you also don’t need to use much of it. However, since it has specific uses, it is easy to forget how much you have left.
Don’t fret. With many possible substitutes, you can find other ingredients to enable you to do that baking project you also wanted to do.
You want to explore other flavor profiles
The woodsy, sweet, and acidic taste of balsamic vinegar is what you have been seeking when you add it to your baking recipes. However, you may want something less sweet or something sweeter. Red wine vinegar, for example, can provide you with something less sweet.
When you experiment with various ingredients, you may find the precise flavor you want. You may surprise yourself with blends that will appeal to your taste buds the most.
You have more of the other vinegar varieties
It is also possible that you want to know if you can get away with using more of the vinegar varieties that you already have the most at home. You can then save balsamic vinegar for other options, even for special occasions only.
It would help if you had a less expensive option
Balsamic vinegar can be a little more costly than other types of vinegar. In fact, the most expensive vinegar is a type of aged balsamic vinegar. Of course, you can buy some of the cheaper imitations.
However, there is no need to do that because you have options right in your kitchen. Make use of what you have.
How do you save money on balsamic vinegar?
If your only issue with balsamic vinegar is its price, you still want to keep it as your baking ingredient.
Interestingly, the best kind of balsamic vinegar costs just about the same as a good kind of wine. Aged balsamic vinegar is expensive.
Traditional balsamic vinegar has a minimum age of 12 years and generally sells for approximately $100 for a 100 ml bottle. Any variant that is aged for more than 12 years and sell for less price most probably is not authentic.
To save money, you can choose balsamic vinegar that is aged within the 3 to 7 years range. It will not have the same flavor nuances that the aged one has. However, it is still better than any other substitute.
Should Balsamic Vinegar Be Refrigerated After Opening?
You don’t have to refrigerate balsamic vinegar after opening.
After you open and use the balsamic vinegar for the first time, close it tightly and keep it at room temperature to maintain the flavor profile.
5 Balsamic Vinegar Benefits
Balsamic vinegar comes with various health benefits.
Here are some of them:
- Suitable for diabetic people.
- Improves your overall digestive system.
- It helps to lower cholesterol.
- Regulate blood pressure
- Excellent on the skin
Can You Make Balsamic Vinegar At Home?
Yes, you can. Even though you are spoilt for choice on the number of suitable substitutes to consider, you can also consider making your own balsamic vinegar at home.
- Pick a red wine with less than 12% alcohol
- Dilute the wine with a whole wine bottle of distilled water
- Place the mother of vinegar to a crock with a spigot
- Pour your diluted wine into the crock
- Cover the wine with three layers of cheesecloth
- Secure the cover with a rubber band
- Leave the crock in a dark room at 60 to 80 F for three months or until you can smell it
- Use a sieve to strain the vinegar
- Get rid of the rest, such as the mother of vinegar
- Strain it again just to be sure
- Mix your vinegar with 2 ½ cups of sugar in a saucepan
- Simmer it in medium heat
- You may keep it in a glass jar for two more months with three layers of cheesecloth over it
Do you see the effort that comes into recreating balsamic vinegar? If in a rush, just go with the substitutes given on the list above. It will be quicker. However, you can also prepare your own aged vinegar on the side.