Widely used in Asian cooking, coconut vinegar is now gaining in popularity in other types of cuisines. But what if you don’t have any on hand? Here are the 9 best coconut vinegar substitutes.
If you make a lot of food from South and Southeast Asia, chances are you’ve used coconut vinegar in some of your cooking.
But it’s not yet stocked widely at grocery stores in the U.S. So what do you do if your recipe calls for it?
Fortunately, you can swap it for a range of other vinegars. Here are the best coconut vinegar substitutes and how to use each one.
What is coconut vinegar?
Coconut vinegar is derived from the sap of palm trees. As the sap gathers, it comes into contact with wild yeasts and ferments, eventually turning into coconut vinegar. Its color is typically a cloudy white.
Unlike many other kinds of vinegar which can have a sharp tanginess, coconut vinegar is mildly tart, with a soft, muted, slightly sweet flavor.
That means it’s a great option if you want to add acidity to dishes without overpowering other flavors.
Coconut vinegar is a popular ingredient in dishes like curries, ceviches, marinades, salad dressings, and Asian dipping sauces — and it can be a great way to pickle vegetables.
Benefits of coconut vinegar
Apart from its versatility in cooking, proponents tout a wide range of potential health benefits of coconut vinegar.
Great source of vitamins and minerals – Coconut vinegar is packed with potassium, magnesium, which can promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure. It’s also rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, which can help boost energy levels and immune system function.
Probiotics – It also is a good source of probiotics, microorganisms that promote digestive health.
Acetic acid – This is the primary compound found in vinegars. It has been shown to help moderate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes — and aid in weight loss. It can also help combat bacteria like E. coli, which causes food poisoning.
9 best substitutes for coconut vinegar
By now you may be thinking what a great idea it would be to start adding coconut vinegar to your cooking! But you may not have it stocked in your pantry.
The good news is that there are several similar ingredients you can use instead.
You can simply substitute each of these in equal 1-to-1 measures for coconut vinegar.
1. Rice vinegar
Like coconut vinegar, rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar) is also popular in Asian cuisine and it can be the best substitute. Made from fermented rice, it has a light flavor and it can work in a wide variety of recipes, from seafood to sauces to salads.
Try it as part of a dressing for crisp Carrot Cucumber Salad or as a marinade for Chilean Sea Bass.
2. Cane vinegar
Another good alternative to coconut vinegar, cane sugar is made from fermented sugar cane. But it isn’t sweet. Like coconut vinegar, it has a mild taste. And it has a fresh, sour flavor. It’s popular in Filipino dishes like Chicken Adobo and Filipino Short Ribs, as well as in salads and sweet and sour sauces.
Cane vinegar also can be a bit easier to find than coconut vinegar. But if your local grocery store doesn’t carry it, chances are any Asian market will.
3. Champagne vinegar
Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, champagne vinegar is another great substitute for coconut vinegar. They both have mild flavor profiles and light tartness. And like coconut vinegar, it can have a slight sweetness. It’s best used in light salad dressings and as a marinade for lighter meats and seafood.
The milder flavor means it can also be used effectively for pickling vegetables. Try it for pickling cucumbers, carrots, and radishes.
4. Apple cider vinegar
With a bright, slightly fruity flavor, apple cider vinegar has a sharp, sour tanginess which is more pronounced than coconut vinegar, but it is a very versatile ingredient.
Not only does it work well in dressings and marinades, it can also add a depth of tangy flavor and zestiness to sauces and slaws. However, the more intense flavor will stand out more than the subtleness of coconut vinegar
5. White wine vinegar
Made from fermented and oxidized white wine that’s been diluted with water, this type of vinegar has a light fruitiness and mild acidity. It works great for adding a bit of tanginess to a variety of different recipes like hollandaise sauce or vinaigrettes — as well as for pickling fruits and vegetables — while not having an overly tart flavor.
Plus, it can be a good substitute for coconut vinegar if you want to add depth to chutneys.
6. White vinegar
Different and much tangier than white wine vinegar, white vinegar, is produced from fermenting grain alcohol, then heavily diluted with water. It’s also among the most widely used and available types of vinegar.
It’s a good choice for pickling, as well as for dressings, sauces, and marinades. But it should not be considered a direct substitute for white wine vinegar. It has a very different acidity level and sharpness and can significantly alter the taste of recipes, depending on which one you use.
7. Balsamic vinegar
Unlike coconut vinegar, balsamic vinegar has a distinct sharpness and acidity, and a rich flavor. It also has a deep, brown color, derived from the skins of the dark grapes used to produce it.
The unique flavor can add an intense tanginess to foods like vinaigrettes and marinades, and it’s a common ingredient as a drizzle for classic tomato bruschetta.
Because of its contrast to coconut vinegar, it may not be an ideal swap. But it can work as a substitute, especially in dressings and dishes with a more Mediterranean nature.
8. Malt vinegar
Distilled malt vinegar can have a rich caramel nuttiness, plus a bit of a lemony flavor. So its taste can vary quite a bit from that of coconut vinegar, but in a pinch it can still be substituted.
It’s a great way to add some tartness to slaws and salads. And it’s a traditional condiment for adding acidity to fish and chips as the tangy taste can help balance the greasiness of the fried foods.
9. Lemon juice
Another lemony substitute for coconut vinegar is straight lemon juice. It doesn’t have the tanginess you’ll find in vinegars, but the sharp acidity can help add depth to a wide variety of dishes, particularly seafood.
Due to high acidity levels, vinegars including coconut vinegar can last nearly indefinitely. Simply store in a cool, dry place like a pantry in a tightly sealed bottle or container. If in doubt, check the best-by date on the packaging.
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