What can I use instead of balsamic vinegar? The best alternative for balsamic vinegar is red wine vinegar reduction. You can also use a blend of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar with maple syrup and brown sugar. Other substitutes include a balsamic vinaigrette or a mixture of soy sauce, molasses, and lemon juice.
Balsamic vinegar is a notorious ingredient in the modern culinary world. It is dark, rich, and acidic with a complex sweetness that lends notes of molasses, figs, cherries, or prunes. Balsamic vinegar works well in marinades, sauces, salad dressings, or reduced into a sticky glaze.
Consider the following alternatives if you’ve emptied your bottle of balsamic vinegar and still crave the flavor.
The Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes
Red Wine Vinegar Reduction
A sweet and tangy red wine vinegar reduction is another suitable alternative to balsamic vinegar. Reduced red wine vinegar is rich, syrupy, and delicious.
You can use your red wine vinegar reduction as a meat marinade, sauce, or glaze for your vegetables and fruit. Substitute the red wine reduction with balsamic vinegar in equal amounts.
Combine 1 cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, the juice of one medium lemon, two cinnamon sticks, and four whole cloves in a saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil and constantly stir until the sugar dissolves. Then, reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer until it reaches a thick consistency.
Red Wine Vinegar & Maple Syrup
Red wine vinegar is sharp and punchy in all the right ways, lending a vibrant, tangy fruit flavor.
Balsamic and red wine vinegar has a noticeably sweet taste, but balsamic vinegar is richer, more complex, and less acidic. So, combine red wine vinegar with a sweetener like a maple syrup to soften the acidity.
A blend of red wine vinegar and maple syrup is delicious as a marinade, salad dressing, glaze, sauce, and for general cooking.
Substitute 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and ½ teaspoon maple syrup. You can also use sugar or honey to sweeten red wine vinegar when you’re in a pinch.
Apple Cider Vinegar & Brown Sugar
Create a mixture of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar to match the taste of balsamic vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid that lends a signature tangy, tart, and slightly bitter flavor. Adding brown sugar helps mask the bitter taste while providing delicious molasses notes.
A mixture of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar is great for marinades, salad dressings, and general cooking.
Substitute 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and ½ teaspoon brown sugar.
You can also use granulated sugar, but it will lack the distinct molasses flavor.
Soy Sauce, Molasses, & Lemon Juice
Soy sauce has a similarly rich color and acidic flavor to balsamic vinegar, making it a suitable replacement. However, mixing it with a blend of molasses and lemon juice mimics a closer taste.
The mixture of soy sauce, molasses, and lemon juice is ideal for marinading, glazing, and sauces and adds a bright touch to general cooking.
Mix equal parts of soy sauce, molasses, and lemon juice. You can substitute balsamic vinegar with this zippy mixture in equal amounts.
Balsamic vinaigrette is a fabulous alternative to balsamic vinegar. However, it typically consists of additional ingredients like olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and other seasonings.
Fortunately, the additional components won’t have a significant impact on the flavor profile of your dish.
Use balsamic vinaigrette as a drizzle, marinade, finishing sauce, or dressing for vegetables and fruit.
Substitute balsamic with a balsamic vinaigrette using equal amounts.