Skip to Content

The Best Alternatives for Apple Cider

Nothing quite captures the taste of fall quite like a fresh glass of warm apple cider. This is a versatile sweet beverage that is used in a variety of recipes to help make the flavors of your dishes sing.

It can also be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing drink.

There are many iterations of apple cider of course, ranging from the sweet drink itself to apple cider vinegar.

The Best Alternatives for Apple Cider1

The main difference between these two items of course is that while apple cider is more of a non alcoholic version of apple juice, the apple cider vinegar is what happens when the vinegar has been allowed to ferment into alcohol, which is then converted into the acetic acid needed to give it its natural acidity.

However, no matter how much you love apple cider, you can’t always keep the stash you need for use in your cooking.

Or maybe you don’t have as much as you thought you did, and you’ve already started the cooking process. So what can you use as an alternative to apple cider to save you the trip to the grocery store?

The best alternatives to apple cider are fresh apple juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice, rice vinegar, bottled red wine vinegar, bottled sherry vinegar, bottled white wine vinegar, Pinot Grigio, or any other suitable bottle of white wine.

Today, we’re going to cover these substitutes for apple cider in more detail. We’re also going to take a look at the difference between apple cider vinegar and apple cider, as well as how you can make your very own apple cider from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Alternatives to Apple Cider

Apple cider is a versatile ingredient that is often used in savory dishes as well as the sweeter dishes in baking. However, if you have run out of your favorite beverage, you will need a suitable alternative that will help you achieve the same great taste from your dish.

Here are the best alternatives to fruit cider that you can use in your savory and sweet dishes.

Fresh Apple Juice

Perhaps the closest alternative to apple cider in terms of flavor is of course fresh apple juice.

To get closer to the flavor profile of apple cider, make sure to opt for the unsweetened version of apple juice. This will be particularly crucial if you need to use it for a savory recipe.

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

If you’re looking to match the acidity of apple cider, then you should opt for freshly squeezed lemon juice. This makes the perfect substitute for apple cider because of its naturally high acidity.

If you’re looking for a more subtle, simplistic acidic alternative, then lemon juice should be your top choice.

Rice Vinegar

To bring out the similar flavors of apple cider in your recipes, you should opt for rice vinegar. This doesn’t have the same fruity flavor or sweetness as some apple ciders, but it does bring out the natural acidity that you’re after. 

Rice vinegar will be an excellent choice when used with salad dressings. You can even add a small teaspoon of fresh lemon juice if you do want to get that fruity flavor profile.

Bottled Red Wine Vinegar

If you have a bottle of red wine vinegar stashed away in your pantry, this will make an excellent substitute for apple cider.

However, it’s worth noting that this has a much harsher flavor profile than apple cider, and will be on the strong side. So you won’t need to use as much red wine vinegar in your dish as you would apple cider. 

You can also add additional amounts if you find you need more flavor for your dish. Bear in mind that this vinegar is naturally red in color, too.

Bottled White Wine Vinegar

Prefer white wine vinegar to red wine vinegar? Then you’ll be pleased to know that you can also use this as a substitute for apple cider! This bottled vinegar also doesn’t have a natural red hue, so won’t alter the color of your dish. 

White wine vinegar is also quite strong, so you won’t need to use a lot of it in your recipe. If you find that your dish needs more acidity, you can always add another dash of white wine vinegar.

White wine vinegar tends to have a sharp flavor profile, and isn’t as fruity as apple cider.

Pinot Grigio

If you need an alcoholic beverage to use as an alternative to apple cider, then you should try adding some chilled Pinot Grigio to your dish. You can use 2 tablespoons as a substitute for each 1 tablespoon of apple cider. 

Pinot Grigio is a versatile white wine, however, you can also use other types of white wine depending on what you have to hand. Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay will also make great alternatives.

Bottled Sherry Vinegar

Not got any of the above substitutes to hand? Then your bottle of sherry vinegar will do a great job in a pinch.

Both apple cider and sherry vinegar have very similar levels of acidity, making them great alternatives for one another if you have nothing else to hand.

The Best Apple Cider Alternatives for Ribs

The Best Alternatives for Apple Cider

There’s nothing worse than being part way through cooking your favorite ribs dish to find that you haven’t got any apple cider to hand.

There’s no need to worry, you can simply use fresh apple juice in place of apple cider. This will give your ribs the same flavor profile as apple cider will.

Another great factor that will come from using apple juice in place of apple cider is that it will work to steam your ribs when they’re wrapped in foil.

So you won’t have to worry about them drying out during the cooking process! Other great alternatives are pineapple juice and orange juice, which can also be used to make tasty ribs.

Apple Juice VS Apple Cider

It can be difficult to tell the difference between apple cider and apple cider vinegar. They both have such similar names and are both used in recipes. So what exactly is the difference between apple cider vinegar and apple cider the sweet beverage?

The apple cider drink is made using freshly pressed apples which are then crushed, whole. It is also known as non alcoholic cider or sweet cider. This tasty juice drink is then filtered as well as pasteurized to make it safe for us to drink.

Apple cider vinegar on the other hand is fermented. The fermentation process allows the natural sugar alcohol to develop, at which point bacteria is added to prevent this alcohol from changing into acetic acid.

Don’t have any apple cider at home or can’t find it at your local grocery store? No need to worry, we’re going to show you how you can make your very own apple cider right from the comfort of your own kitchen.

How To Make Apple Cider?

You can’t beat a glass of homemade apple cider. You’ll be surprised with how quick and easy it will be to make your very own apple cider from the comfort of your own kitchen. It will taste even better than the store bought apple cider, too!

This fresh apple cider will keep for around 2 weeks in your refrigerator. Make sure that you allow it to cool completely before you store it in your refrigerator.

You will need:

  • 10 large apples, quartered
  • ½ orange, peeled
  • 4 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 nutmeg, whole

First, you will need to place a large saucepan or pot over a medium heat. Next, add your apples, orange, and spices, then add in the brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow your apple cider to simmer for around 2 hours.

Take the orange out of the saucepan or pot, then get to work on mashing the apples. Once the apples have been thoroughly mashed, allow them to simmer for a further hour, uncovered. 

Finally, you will need to strain your mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Make sure to be careful when handling the ingredients as these will be hot. You will need to use a wooden spoon to press down on the solids to squeeze all of that delicious juice out. 

Get rid of the solids that are left over, then serve your apple cider while it’s still warm. It will then be ready to use in whichever recipe you need it for.

Turning Apple Cider into Vinegar

Want to create your very own apple cider vinegar? All you need to do is leave your freshly brewed apple cider out in the open air for around 2 to 4 weeks. It will need to be exposed to as much air as possible for the sugars to ferment naturally. 

You can place your cheesecloth over the container to prevent any insects from getting to it. This will also allow your apple cider to breathe.

The best way to tell that your apple cider vinegar is ready is by tasting it. At first you will notice a carbonated taste.

Next, the bubbling and sweetness will flatten, and the apple cider will start to develop an alcoholic flavor with a dry texture. When the acids have developed properly, you will notice a marked sourness to your apple cider, which is when you’ll know that it’s turned into apple cider vinegar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice?

You may be thinking that there isn’t much difference between apple cider and apple juice. They’re both non alcoholic drinks made using apples, right?

The main difference is that apple cider is crafted using apples which have been washed, cut, then mashed. Apple juice tends to go through a process of fermentation which works to remove the pulp from the apples. This is then pasteurized to lengthen the life of the drink.

What can be used in place of apple cider vinegar for baking?

There are lots of things you can substitute for apple cider vinegar when baking. You can use a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice, or you can use 2 tablespoons of white wine.

These won’t have the same nutritional benefits as apple cider vinegar, but they will give you the flavor that you’re after. You can also opt for rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or champagne vinegar.

Can I use vinegar instead of apple cider?

Yes, you can use various types of vinegar in place of apple cider. However, you will need to bear in mind that these will be naturally more acidic than the apple cider drink. If you need an alternative to apple cider vinegar, then any of the vinegar products that we’ve mentioned in more detail above will be ideal.

Is apple cider the same as apple cider vinegar?

No, apple cider is not the same as apple cider vinegar. The main difference of course is that apple cider vinegar has been left to ferment into alcohol, which is then converted into acetic acid, which gives it that naturally acidic flavor. However, apple cider is more like apple juice.

The Best Alternatives for Apple Cider

5 from 2 votes

Learn about the best alternatives for apple cider vinegar, including rice vinegar and white wine.


  • Fresh Apple Juice

  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

  • Rice Vinegar

  • Bottled Red Wine Vinegar

  • Bottled White Wine Vinegar

  • Pinot Grigio

  • Bottled Sherry Vinegar


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

Jess Smith