When you're in the middle of cooking and find that you need a sherry vinegar substitute, we've gathered all of the best sherry vinegar alternatives! We did all the hard work for you and found some similar vinegar flavors (and a few non-vinegar alternatives) that can easily replace sherry vinegar in any recipe you make!
Best Sherry Vinegar Substitutes
Many people don't consider the need for sherry vinegar substitute until they find themselves in a bind mid-recipe.
While balsamic vinegar is widely known around the world, sherry vinegar has not gotten as much attention. That is starting to change though, as more chefs are choosing sherry vinegar over balsamic vinegar.
With so many tasty pairings available, it can be quite frustrating to plan a meal that includes this delightful ingredient – only to find you have none. Luckily, whether it is balsamic vinegar or another bold flavor, there are several substitutes to choose from.
What Is Sherry Vinegar?
Sherry vinegar can be used to enhance the flavors of a variety of dishes. It has a complex flavor with some nuttiness and caramel, that is balanced with bright acidity. In addition, there is a light sweetness.
Often compared to balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar is like the Spanish cousin to Italy’s Balsamic. Sherry has a similarly rich color and complex flavor. However, it is an overall lighter vinegar.
Sherry vinegar is made from fermenting sherry wine. In contrast, balsamic vinegar is made by slowly cooking down wine grapes into a syrup, and then fermenting it in wooden barrels. This results in a heavier and thicker vinegar.
It is a wonderful addition to many dishes. Add a splash to a rich red sauce to enhance the flavor or drizzle over fresh garden veggies in the summer.
The Best Substitutes In Cooking
While it is often compared to balsamic vinegar, balsamic is not the only substitute. Some of the best substitutes are other wine vinegars that offer a similar acidity and light consistency. In addition, the bright acidic flavors of fruit-based vinegars are another fun alternative.
1. Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar is a staple in Asian cooking. Therefore, if Asian cuisine is a favorite in your household you may have this vinegar in your cupboard.
Even though it is made from rice wine (rather than a grape wine), it has one of the closest levels of acidity to sherry wine. Moreover, it also has a similar level of sweetness.
Easily use rice wine vinegar in a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for sherry vinegar.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another easy substitute that you probably already have in your kitchen is apple cider vinegar. While you may think that this apple-based vinegar would be milder than sherry it is more acidic.
The higher level of acidity will add a bit of a zing to your dish if used in the right ratio but be mindful to not use too much. Since apple cider vinegar is not as complex as sherry vinegar it can overpower other flavors with a vinegar taste.
Start with using half the amount the recipe calls for and then slowly add more if needed. You can also add a pinch of either white or brown sugar to balance out the acidity and add some sweetness.
3. Fruit Vinegars
In addition to apple cider vinegar, there are other types of fruit vinegars. These are less common to find in mains stream grocery stores. However, depending on where you live you may find them at a local farmer’s market or specialty store.
The acidity and sweetness of fruit vinegars will vary quite a bit. Moreover, each one will impart its own unique flavor.
Therefore, give it a little taste test before using it as a substitute. Also, be mindful that any vinegar you choose will pair well with the other ingredients in a recipe.
These kinds of vinegar typically work well in salad dressings or on roasted veggies. Therefore, if you have a fruit vinegar that you enjoy try it as a substitute for a recipe where sherry vinegar is used in a dressing or similar manner.
Start with a ¼ to ½ the amount that the recipe calls for and then taste it. Add more as needed or desired.
4. Champagne Vinegar
Of the other wine-based vinegars, champagne vinegar, is the best choice as a substitute. It is milder and less stringent than both white wine vinegar and red wine vinegar.
Additionally, it will not overpower the other flavors in a dish. It is also sweeter than other wine vinegar, although still not quite as sweet as sherry vinegar.
Champagne vinegar’s overall lighter flavor makes it a safe substitute to use. While it is not an exact flavor match for sherry vinegar, it will not significantly change the flavor of the dish. Rather, it will adapt more of the flavors around it.
Start with a 1:1 substitution of champagne vinegar for sherry vinegar. If it doesn’t’ give enough of a bite, feel free to add more. In addition, if it is not sweet enough you can add a pinch of white sugar.
5. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is more acidic and less sweet than sherry vinegar. Its overall flavor profile is also less complex. However, it has the same basic elements as sherry vinegar. Therefore, it is a solid substitute for many recipes.
The lightness of white wine vinegar pairs best with poultry, seafood, and fresh garden salads. I suggest using it as a substitute for sherry vinegar in similar dishes.
Since it won’t have the same level of sweetness, a pinch of sugar is a great addition. Especially for salad dressings and marinades.
Start with half the amount of white wine vinegar that the recipe calls for in sherry vinegar. Check the flavor. You can add up to a 1:1 ratio if desired.
6. Red Wine Vinegar
Of all the wine vinegars, red wine vinegar is the tartest and most stringent. It is also missing the sweetness of sherry vinegar. However, in most households, it is more common to have red wine vinegar than sherry vinegar in your cupboard.
Sometimes a great substitute is all about what you have access to. So, despite the higher acidity and difference in sweetness, red wine vinegar can work as a substitute.
It pairs best in dishes with red meat, vegetables, and heavy sauces and stews.
The key to using red wine vinegar as a substitute is to use it in smaller amounts. Start with a ¼ to ½ the amount the recipe calls for.
Add more if needed to get the right acidic taste. Consider adding a little bit of sugar as well to balance the acid and add sweetness.
7. Balsamic Vinegar
One of the reasons cooks have started to favor sherry vinegar over balsamic vinegar is due to quality and price. A true balsamic vinegar (that meets the guidelines outlined in Italy) can be quite expensive.
Moreover, many kinds of vinegar claiming to be balsamic are lower quality vinegar that have not gone through the true fermentation process.
On the other hand, there are fewer low-quality sherry vinegars. Moreover, sherry vinegar is overall less expensive than true balsamic vinegar. When it comes to finding a great-tasting substitute though, the questions on price and quality may not be a concern.
If you have a bottle of balsamic vinegar, use it. In addition to sherry vinegar, it is one of the few kinds of vinegar that has a complex flavor profile. It is also one of the only ones to have the same balance of sweetness and acidity.
One big difference between balsamic vinegar and sherry vinegar is the consistency. Balsamic vinegar has a thicker and heavier consistency. This makes it a great substitute for heavier dishes.
Use it as a substitute for richly flavored soups such as French onion, hearty stews, or roasted meats. In addition, it can create a richly flavored salad dressing or marinade.
Balsamic vinegar can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio. If you feel it is too heavy though, you can mix it with olive oil to soften the taste and consistency.
Try a 3:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar to olive oil (3 tablespoons of balsamic + 1 tablespoon of olive oil to replace ¼ cup of sherry vinegar).
8. Sherry Wine
Depending on your wine preferences, you may have a bottle of sherry in your house. While sherry does not have the same level of acidity that sherry vinegar does, it is still a good substitute for certain recipes.
Sherry wine can work as a substitute in dishes that you want to enhance the sweetness. Moreover, dishes that you don’t mind have less of a bite to them. If you want to make it more acidic, you can add just a splash of apple cider or white vinegar.
One thing to remember when using sherry wine is the alcohol content. Only use sherry wine in cooked dishes where the alcohol will burn out.
The ratios can vary when using regular wine in place of wine vinegar. Therefore, start with about ½ (or less) of what the recipe calls for and then taste along the way until you find your desired flavor.
9. Citrus of Choice
If your goal is to enhance the acidity (rather than sweetness) then acidic fruits can work in a pinch. Lemon, lime, orange, or even grapefruit juice can add a bite to salad dressings and certain sauces.
However, citrus has quite a different flavor than sherry. Therefore, make sure to only use this substitute in recipes that will do well with a little flavor change.
10. White Vinegar
Can you use plain old white vinegar as a sherry vinegar substitute? You can, but it is not recommended.
White vinegar is made from fermenting grain alcohol. The result is a harsh acidic taste that does not have any complexity
White vinegar is a common staple to have on hand though, as it can be used in both the kitchen and for cleaning. So, if you don’t have any other substitutes available you can use white vinegar.
While white vinegar will replace the acidity of sherry vinegar, its harshness can quickly change the overall flavor profile. Try diluting it before using it, to keep from completely changing the flavor of your dish.
Dilute white vinegar with a little bit of water. Add the diluted vinegar slowly to the recipe, starting with a ¼ to ½ of what the recipe calls for.
No matter which sherry vinegar substitute you decide to try, your recipe will surely turn out delicious! Tell us what worked for you in the comments below!
Best Sherry Vinegar Substitute: Champagne Vinegar (+ More Great Alternatives!)
Option 1 - Champagne Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
Option 2 - Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Option 3 - Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp olive oil (extra virgin)
Option 1 - Champagne Vinegar
- Use champagne vinegar in a 1:1 equal ratio for substituting sherry vinegar in your recipe. This is one of my overall favorites for easily swapping out a vinegar with great flavor.1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
Option 2 - Rice Wine Vinegar
- Use rice wine vinegar in a 1:1 equal ratio for substituting sherry vinegar in your recipe. If you do alot of Asian cooking in your household, you're more likely to have this ingredient on hand.1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Option 3 - Balsamic Vinegar
- While you can use a higher quality balsamic vinegar in equal amounts, you may find that you like the flavor best when it has been offset with a small amount of EVOO. Use 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar combined with 1 teaspoon of olive oil to replace each 1 ⅓ tablespoon of sherry vinegar.3 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!