Coconut Vinegar Substitute: What Can You Use?

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The latest rage in health foods includes using coconut vinegar, but what do you do when you can’t find any coconut vinegar to use in that delicious Southeast Asian recipe you’d like to prepare to impress that someone special? 

Fortunately, there’s always an alternative and substitute available, and I’ve got the best coconut vinegar substitutes to consider.  

Substitutes for coconut vinegar include white rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, white vinegar, malt vinegar, fruit vinegar, light and fruity wine, and tamarind paste. Choose a coconut vinegar substitute with the same, milder, or bolder flavor profile as needed. 

So, before you rush out and try to find coconut vinegar at your local grocer, have a look in your pantry for these substitutes and whisk up that jaw-dropping authentic Asian dish without any fuss. 

What Is Coconut Vinegar?

Coconut vinegar is a cloudy, white vinegar that’s made by fermenting the flowers of the coconut palm. These flowers are sapped, and the sap is left to naturally ferment into vinegar over 8 to 12 months. 

Of course, not all vinegar is created equal, and authentic coconut vinegar requires large quantities of palm flowers (or their sap) and a substantial amount of time (#LongerThanAPregnancy). 

So, some producers have come up with a much quicker path to what they call coconut vinegar, which is to ferment coconut water with the aid of fermenting agents like sugar for a shorter period of time to produce what I think of as a quickie coconut vinegar. 

While it is technically a coconut vinegar, it doesn’t quite hit the same flavor profile, and you are sure to miss the floral notes that authentic coconut vinegar is renowned for. 

Did You Know? Coconut vinegar is rich in polyphenols, probiotics, and vital nutrients. 

While these are contained in fair amounts in coconut vinegar, experts reckon we are unlikely to consume enough of the vinegar to actually benefit from it, but it’s still good to know that coconut vinegar isn’t just tasty, but it’s filled with goodness too.  

9 Best Coconut Vinegar Substitutes

With so many alternatives to coconut vinegar, it’s worth considering each and deciding which will work best for your particular recipe. 

White Rice Vinegar

White rice vinegar has a similar acidity to coconut vinegar, making it a great substitute for coconut vinegar. 

While there are other types of rice vinegar available, white rice vinegar most closely fits the “tropical” flavor of coconut vinegar. 

Substitute white rice vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 for coconut vinegar. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

You probably already have apple cider vinegar at home, and it’s a great substitute for coconut vinegar. 

Cloudy apple cider vinegar is a good option, and while the acidity is slightly higher, you can use apple cider vinegar in equal proportions to coconut vinegar. 

Champagne Vinegar

Unlike regular white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar is fermented from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, providing a wonderfully fruity flavor. 

The fruity flavor profile closely resembles the floral taste of coconut vinegar, and champagne vinegar is also mild to taste. 

Substitute champagne vinegar with coconut vinegar in equal proportions. 

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar may not have the same color as coconut vinegar, but the fruity similarity is due to the grape must (seeds and skins) that is slowly aged and fermented. 

Using balsamic vinegar as a substitute for coconut vinegar will produce a more colorful dish, so take care of which recipes you use it in. 

A simple substitute in a ratio of 1:1 works well, but if you want a more subtle profile, aim for ¾ parts balsamic vinegar for every one part of coconut vinegar. 

White Vinegar

White vinegar is another easy substitute, though the flavor will be less fruity or floral than other substitutes for coconut vinegar. 

If you opt for this substitute, I’d advise you to lessen the amount of white vinegar in a ratio of ½:1 white vinegar to coconut vinegar, as white vinegar is much more acidic than coconut vinegar. 

Fruit Vinegar

Boutique vinegar that is infused with fruit notes is an ideal substitute for coconut vinegar due to its fruity flavors. Choose from strawberry and pomegranate vinegar to berry vinegar to suit your chosen recipe. 

Substitute fruit vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 for coconut vinegar. 

Lemon Juice

If you don’t have vinegar substitutes, you can substitute lemon juice for coconut vinegar. Lemon juice will offer a similar acidity with a lemon taste to the recipe. Substitute lemon juice in equal parts with coconut vinegar. 

Light and Fruity Wine

Wine makes for a great coconut vinegar substitute. Choose a nice red wine or sherry to give the recipe a fruity taste, though the little acidic kick that coconut vinegar has will be missing. 

Substitute wine in a ratio of 1:1 for coconut vinegar. 

Tamarind Paste

With Asian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with tamarind paste. The citrusy taste of tamarind paste may not be a match to coconut vinegar, but it can replace the coconut taste in recipes for a new and unique (while still authentically Asian) taste. 

Mix the paste with coconut milk to bring a hint of coconut home. 

It’s best to taste while adding tamarind paste in lieu of coconut vinegar until you achieve the flavor strength you want. 

Is Coconut Vinegar the Same as White Vinegar?

Coconut vinegar isn’t the same as white vinegar. White vinegar is stronger, and it has less of a fruity taste than coconut vinegar. 

Is Coconut Vinegar the Same as Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar matches the fruity taste and cloudy appearance of coconut vinegar, though it is slightly more potent than coconut vinegar. 

Can I Replace Apple Cider Vinegar With Coconut Vinegar?

You can choose to replace coconut vinegar in recipes with apple cider vinegar and vice versa. Both have similar tastes in recipes. 

My Last Foodie Thoughts 

Never fear if you run out of coconut vinegar. While it’s delicious and also good for you, there are vinegar substitutes you can use for coconut vinegar, as well as non-vinegar options like lemon juice, wine, and tamarind paste. 

The real question is how bold you are and how can you use alternatives to still achieve that special and authentic Southeast Asian flavor that coconut vinegar is associated with.

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