Is vinegar simply just that - vinegar? If one were to keep every type of vinegar called for in recipes from around the world then there would be a lot of different types. Surely the basic chemical make up of all vinegars is the same, however the taste varies with what it is made from ie: cider vinegar opposed to red wine vinegar or balsamic. So, assuming that I am not too worried about the taste outcome from the vinegar, surely I can substitute any old vinegar in a recipe that requires it.

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    I am not the downvoter, but I don't like the question either. If the vinegars in question are of approximately the same acidity, of course you can substitute. Depending upon how important the vinegar is to the recipe, it may affect the flavor a lot, or only a little. And that may or may not be a good thing. This also may be a duplicate; I vaguely remember writing an answer very similar to this comment. I'll look. Beware of substituting vinegars in pickling recipes, unless you are sure that the vinegars are of the same acidity.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 7:54
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    Of interest: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/141/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 7:58
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    The top answer here is a good one too: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/71847/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 8:00
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    The difference between vinegars is the flavor, that's the whole point... and I'm sort of unsure why the taste outcome isn't a consideration in your food, it is usually a primary concern when cooking.
    – Megha
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 0:15
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    Possible duplicate of How to choose a vinegar substitute if I only keep balsamic and rice vinegar? Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


From my understanding of your previous questions you have limited space available and are looking at ways to find efficiencies in the kitchen, so maybe you are thinking "can I just have one vinegar for everything?" The answer is yes, as long as you are willing to compromise on flavor. At the end of the day vinegar is just acetic acid at varying strength, with flavor compounds coming from the base (cider, wine, etc) and developed as part of the conversion from alcohol to vinegar.

If you wanted to have just one vinegar you could stock a bottle of strong distilled white vinegar and use it for everything. I could see this working where the qualities of the vinegar do not matter that much, like giving a bit of acidity in a dish with strong flavors or as a substitute for less flavored vinegars like clear rice vinegar (as long as you take into account vinegar strength when making the substitution). Where this is less likely to work is where the qualities of the vinegar make a major contribution to the end result, like a vinaigrette. This is where the compromise is, I wouldn't be happy to substitute distilled vinegar for balsamic or cider vinegar for a salad, but maybe you are.

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    Space is sometimes an issue, however so is under usage - the question did come a bit from looking in the cupboards and finding a whole selection, and thinking 'Um, is all this really necessary?'. Your answer is basically what I was thinking, and I agree - there are times I wouldn't compromise. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 12:03

Vinegar also varies by strength, or % acid. This distinction could be an important consideration, say when constructing a brine that will create an environment inhospitable to bacteria. So, from a flavor perspective, sure, you can make the substitution, but there might be times you want to consider acidity.

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