7 Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute (#3 Might Already Be in Your Kitchen Cabinets)

7 Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute (#3 Might Already Be in Your Kitchen Cabinets) 1 #cookymom

Countless recipes have called for it. 

And even though a recipe does not necessarily require it, chances are you still add a drop or two in some just to add that distinct taste and aroma.

What’s that you may ask?

The dark liquid called balsamic vinegar.

Its unique taste and aroma are what sets it apart from the readily available kinds of cooking vinegar out there. But, such unique taste is also the reason why most cooks, like me, panic when they’ve used it ‘till the last drop. 

And recently, I have struggled to find a solution for such scenarios. 

The good news is:

The good news is

There is a variety of ingredients which can help when you suddenly run out of balsamic vinegar. 

But, first…

Understanding Balsamic Vinegar: What Is It And How It Is Made?

7 Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute (#3 Might Already Be in Your Kitchen Cabinets) 2 #cookymom

First off, I’d like to clear something:

When I say balsamic vinegar, I’m talking about the authentic and traditional one— this is the prized Italian possession with royalty background since its taste is incomparable with other commercial brands which are readily available in most local stores and supermarkets.

Cheaper commercial versions are typically diluted with wine vinegar and many of them contain artificial flavors and colors. Plus, they have the viscosity, thanks to cornflour or guar gum.

The traditional balsamic vinegar, on the other hand, comes in dark brown color and has been used and prepared in Modena and Reggio Emilia of Italy during the Middle Ages. It is made from the juice of fresh white grapes that are boiled or cooked in order to create a concentrated syrup.

The syrup is then stored in wooden barrels made from various types of woods, such as acacia, ash, juniper, cherry, chestnuts, mulberry, and oak. There, the syrup is fermented through the slow aging process.

The slow aging process can take anywhere from 12 – 25 years, with some reaching up to 100 years. With such a long period of fermenting, moisture evaporates out and concentrating the flavor and thickening the vinegar. Plus, the woods progressively add character to the vinegar.

This painstakingly complex and laborious procedure is what makes authentic balsamic vinegar from Modena so precious and valuable, and of a royal price tag as well.

Balsamic Vinegar Uses

This specialty vinegar is usually used in sauces, marinades and salad dressing. It is also used to create dips, steaks, reductions and grilled fish as well. Other than that, balsamic vinegar is also used in many meat and vegetable dishes, poached fruits, risottos, pasta, grilled meat and deglazing pans.

7 Best Substitute For Balsamic Vinegar

7 Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute (#3 Might Already Be in Your Kitchen Cabinets) 3 #cookymom

So, what happens when this precious dark liquid suddenly ran out? You can’t afford running at your local store in the middle of your cooking just to get a bottle, right? Plus, your local stores might not have that authentic balsamic vinegar. So, what do you do?

Try these balsamic vinegar substitutes for the moment!

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1. Sherry Vinegar

Let’s start the list with the thing that probably has the closest flavor to balsamic vinegar. Akin to balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar also has a mild and sweet flavor. They are both made in the same way and taste pretty much the same.

Thus, if you plan to use this vinegar, then there’s no need for you to go through different mixing just to achieve a similar taste. Also, it can be used for dishes which need the balsamic vinegar as an ingredient. However, if you wish to add some zing to your Sherry vinegar, then you can just try reducing it with some pomegranate molasses.

2. Red Wine Vinegar

If you do not mind adding a bit of bitter taste to the recipe that calls for balsamic vinegar, then red wine vinegar should work for you.

To create this balsamic vinegar substitute, you’ll need to:

  • Mix half a teaspoon of sugar with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. 
  • You can use other types of sweeteners such as cane sugar, brown sugar, white granulated sugar and honey.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly until you have achieved a taste that is similar to balsamic vinegar.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar + Sugar

You see that good old bottle of Apple Cider vinegar in your cabinet? How about those sweet granules of sugar? Did you know that mixing those two offers the similar fruitiness of balsamic vinegar?


Well, now you know!

Now, in order to achieve the distinct taste of balsamic vinegar, you will need a 1:2 ratio.

Just mix a single teaspoon of Apple Cider with a half teaspoon of granulated sugar. You can even use other types of sugars like cane sugar, brown sugar and white granulated sugar. 

4. Chinese Black Vinegar

The composition of Chinese Vinegar consists of glutinous rice and malts, making it a great alternative for balsamic vinegar. The ingredients offer its dark complex vinegar which is quite similar to balsamic vinegar.

Like Sherry vinegar, the Chinese Black vinegar comes with a very similar flavor to balsamic vinegar, so you no longer have to use various ingredients in order to change its flavor.

Another good thing about this substitute is that you can buy it for a lesser price than balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar can cost you about $20 at local markets, while Chinese black vinegar only cost half its price.

5. Beef Stock + White Vinegar

Yep, you’re reading it right.

Beef stock, it is!

Since balsamic vinegar has a strong taste, beef stocks can be used to replace that popular taste. And by adding white vinegar, you’re good to go!

Reduce your beef stock before you add regular vinegar. Then, reduce the stock again.

You can use any vinegar at your disposal, however, plain white vinegar are still the best since other types can produce a distinct flavor which might increase the taste of the beef stock.

After the reduction and mixture, you can just play with its flavor by just adding a bit of sugar.

6. Balsamic Vinaigrette

This beautiful Italian ingredient already comes with a huge amount of balsamic vinegar. However, this might not be an ideal substitute for some since it contains other ingredients such as salt, herbs, sugars, and oils.

But, if you are just merely using it as a spice or adding it to your salad dressing, then this should work for you. And if you think that balsamic vinaigrette is lacking in tanginess or fruitiness than just add a good amount of squeezed lemon juice.

7. Lemon Juice + Molasses + Soy Sauce

Did you know you can create your own balsamic vinegar from scratch?

With these 3 ingredients, you will have your balsamic vinegar with the salty and sweet acidic flavor you look for!

Here’s how you should do it:

Mix a single tablespoon of molasses with lemon juice and a bit of soy sauce. I suggest you add soy sauce, one tablespoon at a time in order to prevent the mixture from tasting too bitter. You can also use the same amount of dark corn syrup or honey.

Royal Thoughts

7 Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitute (#3 Might Already Be in Your Kitchen Cabinets) 4 #cookymom

Who would have thought that you could utilize a lot of other food items as a substitute to the royal, black liquid called Balsamic vinegar? And with adequate balsamic vinegar alternatives out there, it is up to you to be creative and imaginative in the kitchen in order to reach the best taste that you’re looking for.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any other alternative for balsamic vinegar that we did not know about or if you have any tips and questions, feel free to share it at the comment section below.

Until then, happy cooking!

Nancy Lee

Nancy Lee

Hey there, I'm Nancy, founder and editor in chief here at Cooky Mom, and I’m absolutely in love with food and health blogs. I'm on a mission to share my insider cooking, food and health tips with all of you...

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