Malt vinegar is ideally used for dips and marinades and is a popular condiment choice for fish and chips. It enhances the flavors of other food paired with it, however, it can be versatile and used in many recipes.
Malt vinegar is produced by malted grains of barley, the same grains used for making beer. It has a tart flavor and has many similar flavor profiles to beer – nutty, lemony, and subtle caramel.
In case you can’t find a Malt Vinegar when your recipe asks for it, here are malt vinegar substitutes that work just as well.
Best Malt Vinegar Substitutes You Should Try
1. Rice Vinegar
Like malt vinegar, rice vinegar comes from a grain – rice. Both barley and rice come from the same grain family known as Poaceae. If you don’t have malt vinegar or are looking for a really good replacement, rice vinegar is one of the closest malt vinegar substitutes.
Additionally, rice vinegar doesn’t have a very high acidity level and is very close to that of malt vinegar so you can use a 1:1 ratio for substituting. Rice vinegar is also fairly easier to find than malt vinegar.
2. Spirit Vinegar
Spirit vinegar is made by a process that begins with sugar cane or chemically produced acetic acid. It is distinguished from other kinds of vinegar by its strength, pungency, and sharpness. It is commonly used for pickling.
Its sharp and savory taste is relatively close to that of malt vinegar. You can use it in place of malt vinegar to marinate meats, glaze poultry, and add zest to potatoes. Plus it makes a good product for household cleaning. Use it with baking soda to get rid of build-up gunk in your kitchen sink.
3. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar’s similarity in taste with malt vinegar makes it a top-of-the-mind replacement. Many people love this vinegar for its sweet, sour, and rather smooth taste. It complements the taste of fresh fruits like strawberries and levels up the overall taste of fresh vegetable salads.
Originating from Modena in Northern Italy, the name ‘balsamic’ comes from the Italian word ‘balm’ which refers to a substance that soothes or relieves. In this case, it refers to the vinegar’s smooth and mellow characteristics. It makes a great addition to salad recipes as well as pasta and seafood and can make a very pleasant malt vinegar replacement for fish and chips condiment.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Although apple cider vinegar is made from apple fruit, it shares a few common characteristics in terms of acidity level with malt vinegar. Apple cider vinegar makes a very good substitute for malt vinegar in many things such as salads, dips, pickles, marinades, and more.
You can also mix it with balsamic vinegar to make an even better condiment for fish and chips. It is good to note though that not all apple cider vinegar is the same since it can be processed differently.
Commercially-made apple cider vinegar has a pale brown color and is mostly filtered, while homemade ones tend to be a bit cloudy although it doesn’t greatly affect the taste. This is also not a sign of inferior quality since homemade apple cider vinegar isn’t batch filtered like the commercial ones.
5. White Wine Vinegar
As the name implies, white wine vinegar is made from fermented and oxidized white wine. It has a mild, less acidic, and light fruit flavor. White wine vinegar is typically used in making hollandaise sauce. It can be a good (if not better) malt vinegar substitute in many recipes and in dips, sauces, and marinades.
White wine vinegar’s flavor profile makes it a great choice for making vinaigrette and is also used in braising chicken breasts. The distinguishing characteristic of white wine vinegar is its rich and fruity taste while malt vinegar is mild and sweet. Although for untrained taste buds and palate, the two can be used interchangeably without much difference.
6. Red Wine Vinegar
Like white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar is made from oxidized wine, only that it’s the red varietal. Like malt vinegar, red wine vinegar adds a bright, tangy zip to your favorite recipes. However, red wine has a rich, lively flavor that brings a burst of fruitiness to any recipe.
Red wine vinegar is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. It is also a good choice in vinaigrettes and can add pizzazz to marinades and pickling solutions. Red wine vinegar has a pinkish to magenta hue so it can discolor light-colored ingredients when added to them.
7. Cane Vinegar
Cane vinegar is produced from distilled fermented sugar cane syrup. Cane vinegar is often compared to malt vinegar. It has a smooth, mellow acidity and flavor that is similar to malt vinegar.
Although this type of vinegar is commonly found in Asian countries, it has made its way to western countries as well. Cane vinegar is ideally used in many recipes, marinades, dips, dressings, and is even cooked down into a glaze.
8. Herb Vinegar
If you want to get more creative in your recipes, try herb vinegar in place of malt vinegar. It’s easy to make homemade herb vinegar which can give any dish a douse of impressionable flavor and aroma.
To make herb vinegar, simply use either red or white wine vinegar and infuse it with fresh or dried herbs. You can use any herbs of your preference but the common ones are thyme, tarragon, basil and rosemary. If you’ve got the time, herbs, and some more containers, try making different concoctions of herb vinegar.
This type of vinegar can be used interchangeably with malt vinegar. Do make sure that you’re using vinegar for a recipe that calls for it. Feel free to use it in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
9. Black Vinegar
Black vinegar is an aged product made from black sticky rice or regular glutinous rice. It is a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine thanks to its wondrous nutrition and flavor.
This fermented black vinegar has an intense flavor that pairs well with soy sauce and chili peppers. It also has hints of licorice and malt which gives more tang to a dish. This aromatic vinegar can give rich umami and a complex taste that can give a full-bodied flavor to your recipe.
As mentioned, black vinegar is famous in Chinese cooking. It’s often used as a dipping condiment for dumplings and poultry. It also tastes delicious in braised meats, fish, noodles, or as a salad dressing.
10. Lemon Juice
Although lemon juice came last in the bottom of this list (primarily because it’s not vinegar) it is certainly one of the best substitutes for malt vinegar. It works fairly well in many recipes and, like malt vinegar, it gives a tart taste. Since it doesn’t give that vinegar flavor and tang, you will notice a slight difference in taste and texture but it doesn’t affect the overall taste of the dish.
Additionally, you can use lemon juice in place of malt vinegar in salad dressings and dips. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised how well your dishes turn out to be, dare I say that it will turn out even better.
11. Worcestershire Sauce
Another alternative to vinegar that is not vinegar is worcestershire sauce. This fermented liquid condiment is used in a variety of recipes and works like vinegar in improving the umami of a dish.
Worcestershire sauce is a mouthful to say and when you taste it, an explosion of rich flavor fills your mouth. This sauce is made with a variety of ingredients including vinegar, garlic, molasses, anchovies, tamarind extract, chili pepper extract, lemon, salt, and sugar along with some more.
Like vinegar, this sauce is a flavor booster in various dishes like meat stews, casseroles, soups, pies, and salads. You can also use it as a condiment, marinade, or sauce to steaks, pork chops, sausages, and others. It’s a versatile ingredient that can work wonders in place of malt vinegar.
How is malt vinegar made?
Malt vinegar is made from malted grains of barley that go through a double fermentation process. It starts with the process of germinating by submerging barley grains in water to grow sprouts. Then it goes to the drying process where the grains are dried to create malt.
The malt is then brewed into ale and then the ale goes through fermentation that creates the vinegar. Lastly, the vinegar is briefly aged.
What are the differences between white vinegar and malt vinegar?
White vinegar is a more purified vinegar, clear and colorless with acetic acid and water as its main components.
On the other hand, malt vinegar is made from malted grains of barley and is either light brown or dark brown although some distilled varieties have a clear color. As for the taste, malt vinegar is milder, sweeter, and less acidic than white vinegar.
What is distilled malt vinegar?
Distilled malt vinegar is a malt vinegar that is further refined. As a result, it becomes clearer in color and more acidic in taste.
Vinegar can have a lot of influence in creating tasty dishes, so experiment with different types or brands until you find the perfect malt vinegar substitute. Try concentrating the vinegar in a small area of the dish to see which vinegar you like best, and then use them more generously.
Also, keep in mind that each type of vinegar’s acidity level varies so experiment on the quantity you’re going to use until you find that perfect amount to your taste. Look for a balance of acidity and sweetness, as well as a good depth of flavor that’s not overpowering but still strong and distinctive.