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4 Delicious Substitutes For Chinese Black Vinegar

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

Chinese black vinegar is a light, but dark vinegar made with malt and glutinous rice. It’s also made with barley, chaff, bran, and peas, which give the dish a smokey undertone. 

4 Delicious Substitutes For Chinese Black Vinegar

Chinese black vinegar works well in Chinese cooking, as its malty flavors elevate the taste of fish, meat, salads, and stir-fries.

However, it can be hard to get your hands on Chinese black vinegar, especially if you don’t live near Asian supermarkets. Fortunately, some ingredients do work well in its place. 

If you’re out of Chinese black vinegar, the best substitutes are date vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and white rice vinegar. We’ll cover more about these ingredients below. 

Chinese Black Vinegar Substitutes: Nutritional Value & Cooking Ratio

Serving  (1 tbsp)CaloriesFatCarbsSugarsProteinRatio
Date Vinegar500 g12 g9 g0 g1:1
Balsamic Vinegar140 g2.7 g2.4 g0.1 gTo taste
Red Wine Vinegar2.8 0 g0 g0 g0 g1:2
White Rice Vinegar101 g1 g1 g1 g1:1

What Does Chinese Black Vinegar Taste Like?

Chinese black vinegar originates from Zhenjiang, a city within the Jiangsu region. The vinegar is a dark, almost black shade with a robust, malty flavor.

Like many vinegar varieties, black vinegar has an underlying acidity and a gentle, sweet undertone. 

Chinese black vinegar’s flavors go well with meat and seafood, though it also tastes good with noodles and cold appetizers.

Some like to use vinegar as a condiment, as it complements certain ingredients used to make dumplings

Chinese Black Vinegar Nutritional Value

Each tablespoon of Chinese black vinegar contains:

  • 9 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 1 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g sugar
  • 1 g protein

Chinese Black Vinegar Substitutes

  • White Rice Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Date Vinegar

Date Vinegar

Date vinegar is made from fermented dates, creating a sweet, lightly acidic product. Chinese black vinegar may have a rice base, but both types of vinegar share similar flavors.

Date vinegar also contains herbs and spices to give it extra flavor. These add a further sweetness that tones down the vinegar’s acidity.

It has a similar dark hue to Chinese black vinegar, so it won’t turn your recipes a different color. 

As date vinegar looks and tastes a little like black vinegar, it works well in a variety of recipes. It’s thick enough for glazes and sauces, with enough acidity for dressings and stir-fries. 

You can substitute date vinegar for Chinese black vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. 

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a great Chinese black vinegar substitute. It has the same thick consistency and color, so it won’t affect the way your dishes look.

It’s a nice multipurpose product too, as it works in salad dressings, glazes, and sauces. 

Balsamic doesn’t taste exactly like black vinegar, as it has more sweet, with a sticky syrupy texture. Despite this, balsamic vinegar tends to be aged for a certain amount of time, it retains a similar rich flavor to black vinegar. 

As it has a thick texture, balsamic vinegar works well in thick glaze recipes. Its sweet taste makes it a good choice for sweet and sour recipes, like Eastern stir-fries.

You won’t need as much balsamic vinegar to substitute for black vinegar, but we’d recommend tasting as you go to avoid using too much. 

Red Wine Vinegar

Just like black vinegar, red wine vinegar has a tangy, slightly sweet flavor. It’s also darker in color, so it won’t affect your meal’s appearance that much.

However, red wine vinegar isn’t the best black vinegar alternative. It doesn’t have comparable acidity levels, malty flavors, or earthy hints seen in the original product. 

This is why red wine vinegar is best for dishes that don’t need a lot of black vinegar. You can use it in recipes where other ingredients shine like stir fries or salads. 

You can substitute red wine vinegar for black vinegar in a 1:2 ratio. This looks like a tablespoon of red wine vinegar for every two tablespoons of Chinese black vinegar. 

White Rice Vinegar

White rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. It’s like cider vinegar, but it has a lighter flavor, without the fruity tones that cider vinegar has. 

White rice vinegar can work well as a black vinegar substitute, as it has similar acidity levels. It’s a good choice for salad dressings and stir-fries. 

However, keep in mind that white rice vinegar isn’t as sweet as black vinegar. It also has a thinner consistency, so it’s not the best choice for thick dipping sauces or viscous, sticky glazes.  

You can use white rice vinegar in place of Chinese black vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. 

Chinese black vinegar is used in several Asian-inspired dishes, thanks to its sweet, tart, and refreshing flavors. 

Here are some popular tasty recipes that are made with Chinese black vinegar. 

Pork Shoulder And Rice Wine

Chinese black vinegar is great for adding a charred, smoky flavor to meat, like this pork recipe

Rice wine adds a sweet, invigorating flavor that soaks into the meat, infusing it with flavor. Pickles chilies give a pleasant sour touch, while black vinegar rounds all the flavors together. 

This is a great option to serve at dinner parties, thanks to its abundance of Asian flavors. 

Eggplant And Black Vinegar Sauce 

Black vinegar is often used to make dipping sauces. This recipe involves cooking eggplant with spices and garlic, then stirring it with black vinegar and soy sauce. 

Sambal oelek makes the vegetables spicy, while cilantro adds a refreshing feel. The result is a savory, sweet, and sour side dish that’s also vegetarian-friendly!  

Avocado And Cucumber Salad With Chinese Black Vinegar

Chinese black vinegar is great for dressing simple recipes, like this cucumber and avocado salad

This is a nice choice for summer days, thanks to its cool and invigorating flavors. The vinegar cuts right through the avocado’s creamy texture and adds a malty flavor that works with the cucumber. 

Topped with fragrant sesame oil and cilantro, this salad looks, smells, and tastes incredible! 


Chinese black vinegar is an incredible ingredient, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can use some alternatives in its place. 

You need to think about taste, texture, and color before choosing an alternative. Date vinegar is the best option here, as it has a similar dark hue and a thicker consistency.

It also has a sweet flavor and a gentle acidity, just like black vinegar. 

If you don’t have date vinegar, balsamic vinegar is another option. This is a common household ingredient that has a similar color and texture as black vinegar.

However, balsamic does taste a lot sweeter, so you won’t need as much in its place. 

If you have the time, try out a few of the Chinese black vinegar substitutes outline above and see which one works best for your dishes. 

We hope you find a black vinegar alternative that suits your recipes! 

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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