Chinese Black Vinegar Substitute – 7 Delicious Swaps For You

The Chinese black vinegar is made from fermented black sticky rice. This vinegar can also be made by using regular glutinous rice or rice in combination with wheat or sorghum.

Traditionally, it’s produced in the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province of China. As its popularity increased, this vinegar came to be known as Zhenjiang or Chinkiang vinegar; a name derived from the place name Zhenjiang.

Looking for an effective Chinese black vinegar substitute? Then look no further! This article will bring home to you the best alternatives.

Best Chinese Black Vinegar Substitutes

If you have run out of Chinkiang vinegar then the best thing is to get it or make it yourself. Importantly, it’s hard to find a vinegar substitute that matches the complex flavor of black vinegar.

The best replacement option is finding a vinegar that somewhat matches the color and flavor profile of black vinegar. Here are a few vinegars that you can use in place of Chinese black vinegar with little tweaks.

1. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

In Mediterranean cooking, black vinegar has been used as a full-flavored but less expensive alternative to traditional balsamic vinegar.

Good quality balsamic vinegar is a suitable substitute for Chinese black vinegar. The color and sweetness of balsamic vinegar are quite akin to Chinkiang vinegar.

2. Balsamic Vinegar + Soy Sauce

Most types of balsamic vinegar are slightly sweeter than Chinkiang. The woody and caramelly flavor of balsamic vinegar is similar to black vinegar.

Some chefs suggest that Chinese black vinegar could be substituted for soy sauce, although I don’t think the flavor is quite the same.

If you are in a pinch, for a tablespoon Chinkiang uses a blend of 1.5 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 1.5 teaspoons of soy sauce.

3. Balsamic Vinegar + Worcestershire sauce

Worcester sauce is a condiment made through a long-established maturing process with malt and spirit vinegar, red onions, molasses, garlic, tamarind anchovies, and secret seasoning.

Worcester sauce has the same umami quality as soy sauce, but much less sodium and no gluten.

Combining balsamic vinegar and Worcester sauce offer both a mellow sweetness and complex savory notes similar to Chinese black vinegar.

Use this mixture in place of dark vinegar for salad dressings and dipping sauces.

4. Rice Wine Vinegar

Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is another good replacement for black vinegar. If you notice, both the vinegars are usually made by fermenting rice or other grains mixed with it.

They both have the same level of acidity and sweetness but they are entirely different in color. In fact, Chinkiang vinegar is also known as black rice wine vinegar.

Rice vinegar is easily available and much cheaper than black vinegar.

Substitute rice vinegar for black vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.

5. Soy Sauce + Rice Vinegar

Soy sauce is the closest match for the slightly salty and caramelly flavor of Chinkiang.

A blend of rice vinegar and soy sauce is an excellent blend to use in place of black vinegar.

For 1 tablespoon Chinkiang uses a blend of 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.

6. Malt Vinegar

Malt Vinegar

I have found many home chefs suggesting malt vinegar as an effective replacement for black vinegar.

Malt vinegar is a dark, flavorful vinegar that’s made by malting barley. Similarly, Chinese black vinegar is also made from malt grains.

Malt vinegar doesn’t match the complex flavor of black vinegar but both share similar notes.

While substituting add a bit of sugar to malt vinegar to match the sweetness level of black vinegar.

7. Lemon Juice + Soy Sauce

Most types of vinegars have a harsh flavor that some don’t like. For persons who can’t tolerate vinegar, lemon or lime juice is the most suitable replacement.

Citrus flavoring can be overwhelming for some recipes. In such a scenario, adding some salty soy sauce will help your recipe to achieve a similar taste to Chinkiang.

For 1 tablespoon of Chinkiang use a blend of 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.


Is Chinese vinegar the same as black vinegar?

There are different types of black vinegar made in China and other East Asian countries. The most popular “black vinegar” is the “Chinkiang vinegar”, also known as “brown rice vinegar” originating from Zhenjiang. Another variety of Chinese “black vinegar” is the “Shanxi mature vinegar” from the central plains of North China.

What is the difference between white vinegar and black vinegar?

The most obvious difference between them is their color. Regular white vinegar is distilled and clarified while black vinegar isn’t distilled and undergoes the process of fermentation. In addition, the black vinegar is aged for a few months to several years and displays a complex, smoky depth flavor.

Can I replace black vinegar with white vinegar?

White vinegar is a universal substitute for any type of vinegar also it’s readily available in most groceries.  However, white vinegar is light and is predominantly acidic and sour. You’ll not find in white vinegar the malty complex taste of black vinegar which is also less acidic and mildly sweet. For a better option, try using a combination of white vinegar and balsamic vinegar as a replacement for black vinegar.

Can I use soy sauce instead of black vinegar?

Soy sauce isn’t acidic and does not have the qualities of vinegar. However, a combination of soy sauce and rice vinegar could be a nice substitute for Chinkiang vinegar. Use 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar for every 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.

The Bottom Line

Balsamic and rice vinegar are the closest match for Chinese black vinegar. For you, the best option is to combine the substitutes with either soy or Worcester sauce to achieve a similar flavor profile to Chinkiang. In addition, malt vinegar plus sherry can also replicate the sweetness and malty flavor of black vinegar.

Choose the substitutes for Chinese black vinegar according to the flavor profile of your recipe.