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There seems to be a large variety of different vinegars called for in the various recipes I've been trying out lately. I've ended up with a cabinet full of half used bottles. That being said, which vinegars can I substitute for another in recipes? I'm hoping that there are two or three "good enough" vinegars I can keep on hand and buy in larger quantities.

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

The ones I always have:

  • White vinegar (as a condiment, and also for cleaning);
  • Balsamic vinegar (mainly for salads - let it age!)
  • Rice vinegar (essential to almost all Asian cooking);
  • Red wine vinegar (essential in French and a lot of Italian cooking);
  • Cider vinegar (the best deglazer, and great in chilis)
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  • White Vinegar
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
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I believe these are definitely the most useful to have on hand. – Jacob R Jul 9 '10 at 20:09

Up here in Canada (and elsewhere around the world) we use white or malt vinegar on french fries (chips)

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These will cover 90+% of the recipes you're likely to find:

  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar

And if you do a lot of Asian cooking, it's worth it to invest in a bottle of Rice Wine Vinegar

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I find myself using Cider Vinegar and White Wine Vinegar the most often

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Fancier cookbooks frequently call for champagne vinegar as the acid in a vinaigrette. You might add that in to your list, although I would agree that it's fourth or fifth after most of Aaronut's list.

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For those who are done with the sweetness of regular balsamic vinegars but still want something with a lot of character, here are my most-used:

  1. Sherry Vinegar
  2. Cider Vinegar
  3. Rice Wine Vinegar
  4. Red Wine Vinegar
  5. White Vinegar

The first four store in the fridge, the last under the sink with the other cleaning products. If something calls for balsamic, just use sherry vinegar and a touch of honey.

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I find Balsamic vinegar very useful, especially when making salad dressings.

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt (and/or) Pepper
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