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Balsamic vinegar is a great ingredient for cooking delicious recipes like sauces, meat, salads, desserts, and more. If you find yourself fresh out of balsamic vinegar, there are some useful balsamic vinegar substitutes you can mix up at home.
There are also other reasons to use these balsamic vinegar substitutes. You may have simply run out of the vinegar, or perhaps you’re looking for a little variety in your flavors, or you may simply be on a budget and not want to spend the extra money to buy balsamic vinegar.
The original balsamic vinegar comes at a higher cost and this can be solved by using the available balsamic vinegar substitutes.
What Is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is made of Trebbiano white grapes whereby the grapes are pressed together mixing the seeds, skins, juice, and stems. The best and original balsamic vinegar is made in Italy.
Although you can substitute the balsamic vinegar, the taste from the substitute obviously can’t match the true balsamic vinegar taste. Balsamic vinegar is similar to wine as it gets better with age.
The Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes When You’re In A Pinch
For a close enough taste to balsamic vinegar for occasional or even daily use, you can use the following balsamic vinegar substitutes for your recipes.
1. Red Wine Vinegar + Sugar
This a great substitute as they are similar to each other. Both kinds of vinegar are made fro wine and thus red wine is the perfect balsamic vinegar substitute.
Mix 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and half tablespoon of sugar. You can also use other types of sweeteners like honey, brown sugar, etc.
Once the mixture is thoroughly mixed, you get a similar solution with tasty and flavor close to balsamic vinegar.
Note: Red wine is a good healthy solution that does not contain any cholesterol, fats, and sodium. Instead, it contains large amounts of antioxidants that are beneficial to the body.
2. Apple Cider & Sugar
Good old apple cider and a mix of sugar can be a great alternative for balsamic vinegar. All you need is a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and half a tablespoon of sugar. You can adjust the ratio depending on the tasty level you are looking for.
Mix these ingredients thoroughly to make sure the sugar crystals are all diluted. You can also use any type of sugar from brown, cane sugar, or granulated sugar.
Note: Apple cider contains many health benefits like weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, improves digestion among others. You still get to enjoy it as a balsamic substitute and obtain great health benefits.
3. Balsamic Vinaigrette
You can use balsamic vinaigrette since it contains some balsamic in it. Balsamic vinaigrette works well as a spice and salad dressing. This is often regularly found in the salad dressing aisle at your grocery store, so you can pick some up on short notice.
This substitute tastes different because it has other ingredients in it like herbs, sugars, salt, and oils. The amount of balsamic vinegar in the vinaigrette is good enough to act as a substitute for original balsamic vinegar in most cooking recipes. Just do be aware of the additional fat content from the oil (it’s a dressing, after all), and consider adjusting your recipe accordingly for both nutritional reasons and consistency/texture/
4. Malt vinegar
Malt vinegar has a slight taste of beer to it due to barley and can be a good substitute for balsamic vinegar. Mix the malt vinegar with some sugar to achieve a taste that’s close to balsamic vinegar.
5. Sherry vinegar
This vinegar has almost the same taste as balsamic vinegar. It has a sweet and mild taste to make it a great alternative for balsamic vinegar in your recipes.
It doesn’t require the addition of other ingredients to increase the flavor like other substitutes in this list.
Note: In addition to it being a great balsamic vinegar substitute, sherry vinegar has great benefits in the body as it increases the good type of cholesterol and lower blood sugar. Taken daily it can even aid in weight loss.
6. Lemon juice, molasses, soy sauce
These three ingredients are mixed to form a tasty balsamic substitute. To replace 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, mix 1 tablespoon of molasses, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
In case you don’t have molasses, you can also use brown rice syrup or brown sugar syrup. You can adjust the ingredients to taste as you prefer.
8. Chinese Black Vinegar
The Chinese black vinegar is made of glutinous rice and malt. It has a close taste to balsamic vinegar hence if you use it as a balsamic substitute, the recipes integrate well.
No other ingredients are needed with the Chinese black vinegar. You can buy the Chinese vinegar at a cheaper price and still enjoy meals supposed to be cooked with balsamic vinegar.
9. Beef Stock and White Vinegar
Yeah! The flavored beef stock has a taste close to balsamic but you need to reduce it with white vinegar. The vinegar to add depends on the amount of beef stock you have prepared. White vinegar is incredibly cheap in comparison to balsamic, so this is a really great budget-friendly option!
You adjust the flavors by adding other ingredients like sugar or honey until you get a close taste to balsamic vinegar. Adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar at a time to taste would be helpful.
10. Non-Fruity Vinegar And Sugar
White vinegar has hundreds of uses in the kitchen and day to day hacks. You can make balsamic substitute vinegar using this non-fruity vinegar and sugar.
- One cup of sugar
- 5 cups of any non fruity vinegar
- Brown rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
- A pot for mixing
First, you need to mix the sugar and vinegar in the pot. Place in your stovetop and set it a low heat to cook the mixture until the sugar gets dissolved.
Second, pour the brown rice vinegar or Chinese vinegar to introduce the dark color balsamic vinegar has.
Give it time to cool down and then you can use it on your recipes as a balsamic vinegar substitute.
Different Balsamic Vinegar Ages To Choose From
After the process of reduction of the grape juice, it is stored for years in barrels to obtain concentrated black and sweet vinegar.
There are different of aged balsamic vinegar used for different purposes.
The young group (aged 3 to 6 years)
Middle group – Aged 7 to 12 years.
Aged group – From 13 to 140+ years. This is the best but it is very expensive.
The important ingredient to look for when buying balsamic vinegar is the “must” which makes the vinegar have a quality taste.
Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Most people think of balsamic vinegar in terms of the flavor it adds to dishes. But most people don’t consider the fact that balsamic vinegar offers a surprisingly set of health benefits.
While the balsamic vinegar substitutes above are certainly more budget-friendly, you’ll notice that a fair number of them have a bit of added sugar in them. Balsamic vinegar, on the other hand, only contains 2g of sugar per serving.
Some of the health benefits of balsamic vinegar include:
- helps lower cholesterol
- contains probiotics to aid digestion
- can support weight loss
- can help reduce blood sugar spikes
- may improve circulation and heart health
How To Save Money On Balsamic Vinegar
Any and all of the substitutes for balsamic vinegar listed above will definitely offer decent cost savings over buying balsamic vinegar if you use it regularly. Since high-quality balsamic vinegar can be tremendously expensive, having the alternatives or being able to buy it cheaper is well worth it.
If you just MUST have true balsamic vinegar, however, then you’ve got to get a few ways to save money on it if your budget is a bit tight.
Buy In Bulk
Find a restaurant wholesale shop that is open to the public. Instead of buying balsamic vinegar in small glass bottles, you may be able to buy it in a larger jug sort of volume. This will save you a lot of money versus the smaller sizes from the grocery store, regardless of the quality of the vinegar!
Considering that the shelf life of properly stored balsamic vinegar is about 3-5 years, buying in bulk shouldn’t be a concern other than finding a spot big enough for the jug!
If the balsamic is distinguished as “condimento” that indicates a slightly lower quality so it will be at a lower price point. Unfortunately, this isn’t a truly regulated distinction, so you may get a few knock-offs in this group.
Again, the incredible shelf life of balsamic vinegar is your best friend. If you find a coupon, sale price, or other comparable deal (or steal!) on your favorite brand of balsamic vinegar, then stocking up (i.e. buying one or a few extra bottles) is definitely a great idea if you have the space to store it!
Once you get used to balsamic vinegar it’s hard to cook salads, sauces, meat dishes, etc without it. If you don’t have the balsamic vinegar, then these balsamic vinegar substitutes come in handy.
Getting creative in your recipes by adding substitutes saves the day and you may discover an amazing trick in the process.