12 Tasty Recipes That Use Rice Vinegar—Plus How Rice Wine Is Different

Rice vinegar is stepping away from its for-Asian-dishes-only reputation.

Different type of Chinese rice vinegar and information
Photo: Andy Reynolds-Getty Images

You come across a recipe that uses rice vinegar, but you already have a crowded shelf of vinegars in your pantry: red wine, white wine, cider, balsamic... Besides, isn't rice vinegar just for Asian dishes? No. Does it really need to be stocked with your everyday ingredients? Yes! There are several uses for rice vinegar in the kitchen.

Rice vinegar, which is made from fermented rice wine, has a sweet, delicate flavor and is less acidic compared to most types of vinegar. While usually clear, the color of rice vinegar can vary depending on its country of origin—usually Japan, China, Korea, or Vietnam—ranging from pale yellow to brown, red, and even black.

To get the most use out of a bottle of rice vinegar, choose an unseasoned variety. (We like Marukan.) A seasoned one has added sugar and salt, so it's trickier to cook with. Read on for more that you should know about rice vinegar, plus some rice vinegar recipes to try.

Rice Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, and Rice Wine

First of all, let's straighten out any confusion among rice vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and rice wine. (Hint: You don't need to stock all three.)

The first two, both vinegars, are essentially the same and entirely interchangeable. We'll just call it "rice vinegar" for simplicity's sake.

Rice wine, on the other hand, is not interchangeable with rice vinegar. Rice wine is something you can potentially drink because it's sweet, while rice vinegar is too acidic for most of us to enjoy as a beverage. Rice wine lends sweetness and depth of flavor to dishes, whereas rice vinegar adds acidity and a touch of mild sweetness.

Recipes That Use Rice Vinegar

Back to rice vinegar: It's used mostly—but not exclusively—in Asian-inspired dishes such as stir-fries, salads, noodles, and vegetables. Experiment with one of these recipes with rice vinegar, or come up with your own.

01 of 12

Brined Pork Tenderloin

Brined Pork Tenderloin
Daniel Agee

This recipe calls on rice vinegar as a component of a brining-marinade mixture, which makes the pork more tender, moist, and flavorful. To garnish even more flavor, this tenderloin is treated with a peppery, herby dry-rub before hitting the grill. It's sure to delight your BBQ guests time and time again.

02 of 12

Veggie Fried Rice With Frizzled Eggs

Veggie Fried Rice With Frizzled Eggs Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

In this Asian-inspired recipe, rice vinegar teams up with soy sauce to create a stir-fry sauce that brings all its other flavors together. This easy, versatile dish is a good one to keep in your back pocket for a busy weeknight: Use up your leftover rice, swap out the veggies with whatever you have on hand, and change or add a protein.

03 of 12

Salmon Nigiri

Salmon Nigiri
Daniel Agee

Don't let the thought of making sushi at home intimidate you. It's easier than you think! While this recipe calls for thinly sliced, sushi-grade salmon atop vinegar-seasoned rice, feel free to swap the fish for large, cooked, tail-on shrimp or thin slices of ripe avocado.

04 of 12

Citrus Scallops and Cauliflower Rice

Citrus Scallops and Cauliflower Rice
Caitlin Bensel

A more mild component, like rice vinegar, allows the subtle sweetness of this dish's citrus salsa and scallops to take over the starring role. It proves that rice vinegar can successfully step outside the realm of Asian cuisine.

05 of 12

Crispy Chicken and Rice With Charred Scallion Sauce

Crispy Chicken and Rice With Charred Scallion Sauce Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

If you're into recycling, you'll love this one-pot recipe. It calls for saving drippings from the seared chicken thighs to char the scallions, toast the basmati rice, and then sauté the bok choy. The rice vinegar emerges as a component of a luscious finishing sauce made with the charred scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, and jalapeño.

06 of 12

Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu Fried Rice
Max Kelly

If you're not a fan of tofu, this recipe may mean redemption. Sautéing in canola oil gives the tofu pieces a crisp, brown coating. They mingle with long-grain brown rice, broccolini, and other vegetables coated in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil that brings the whole dish together.

07 of 12

Soy-Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress

Jen Causey

The stars of these tasty sandwiches are pan-seared salmon filets. While cooking, they're brushed in a tangy mixture of soy sauce, chili sauce, and rice vinegar that lends them a deep, spicy flavor you'll love.

08 of 12

Watermelon Poke Bowls

Watermelon Poke Bowl
Victor Protasio

If you're not already a fan of the Hawaiian dish poke (pronounced poh-KAY), this recipe may get you on the bandwagon. In it, rice vinegar serves double duty: It's in the marinade for the watermelon (with rice wine, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce, among other ingredients) and it flavors the white sushi rice (with salt and sugar).

09 of 12

One-Pot Salmon With Snap Peas and Rice

One-Pot Salmon With Snap Peas and Rice
John Kernick

Did we get your attention with "one-pot"? If not, how about "healthy" and "ready in 25 minutes"? Rice vinegar contributes to a delightful glaze—along with soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and sugar—that coats flakey salmon, fluffy rice, and fresh snap peas.

10 of 12

Turkey and Scallion Dumplings

Turkey and Scallion Dumplings
Brie Passano

Here's an unexpected way to serve leftover turkey! This East-meets-West recipe uses rice vinegar in two ways: in the chopped turkey-and-scallion filling and in the tamari-honey-ginger dipping sauce.

11 of 12

Miso Eggplant Dip

Miso Eggplant Dip
Caitlin Bensel

If miso soup and baba ganoush had a baby, it would be this irresistible dip. In it, rice vinegar whirls in a blender with roasted eggplant flesh—as well as miso, tahini, rice wine, and sesame oil—for a crave-able yet good-for-you appetizer.

12 of 12

Orange-Glazed Chicken and Coconut Rice

Orange-Glazed Chicken and Coconut Rice Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

This recipe is far removed from the popular fast-food orange chicken in a just-as-delicious-but-much-healthier way. Here, rice vinegar is enlisted in an orange marmalade-based glaze that's drizzled over chicken and bok choy and then broiled a few minutes for a bright, sweet finish.

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