It doesn’t get much more Italian than a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar. But if you don’t have any in the house, try these easy super delicious balsamic vinegar substitutes.
You’ll still get the sweet tanginess your recipe needs.
The Best Balsamic Vinegar Substitutes
(in order of preference)
1. Red Wine Vinegar + Maple Syrup or Honey
Balsamic is essentially a richer, sweeter version of red wine vinegar. Depending on the quality and the age they typically range from about 15% sugar to 40% sugar.
For a regular balsamic substitute to use in salad dressings or general cooking use 1 part honey or maple syrup with 4 parts red wine vinegar.
For an intense, aged balsamic substitute for drizzling over dishes, use 1 part honey or maple syrup with 2 parts red wine vinegar.
The better quality your red wine vinegar, the nicer this substitution will be.
2. Caramelized Red Wine Vinegar
Vinegar producers out side of Moderna in Italy aren’t able to call their balsamic-style vinegars ‘balsamic’. So they tend to call them ‘caramelized’ vinegar instead.
These sweet non-Italian vinegars generally works anywhere you’d normally use an standard balsamic. But won’t have the syrupy intensity of an aged balsamico.
3. Lemon / Lime Juice
Citrus juices rely on citric acid whereas all the wine vinegars mentioned above are acetic acid based. This means citrus juice has a completely different flavour profile.
Lemon or lime juice won’t add any of the lovely sweetness associated with balsamic.
But if you don’t have any vinegar in the house, a squeeze of lemon or lime will provide freshness and bring the other flavours of your dish to life in a similar way to vinegar.
You may even enjoy the flavour differences!
More Tips for Cooking with Vinegar
- The Best Vinegar to Use in Cooking
- How to Make Wine Vinegar
- A Beginners Guide to the Art of Seasoning
- Best Substitutes for Sherry Vinegar
- Best Rice Wine Vinegar Substitutes
Favourite Simple Balsamic Vinegar Recipes
- Crisp Beef & Balsamic Salad with Ricotta
- Salt & Vinegar Salad
- Shaved Cabbage Salad with Parmigiano Reggiano & Aged Balsamic
- Warm Lentil Salad with Beets & Ricotta
- Balsamic Onions
- See the Balsamic recipe archives.
Delicious Balsamic Vinegar Flavour Pairings
- Tomato & Balsamic
- Basil & Balsamic
- Beef & Balsamic (especially steak)
- Chicken & Balsamic
- Parmesan & Balsamic
- Garlic & Balsamic
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!