7 Apple Cider Vinegar Uses to Give Your Recipes That Little Something Extra

You know when you’re making a dish at home and it’s missing just a … pinch, or splash, or dab of something? Chances are it isn’t salt, because we all know when something needs a bit of salt. Nope, it might just be that your dish needs a splash or two of apple cider vinegar. This tangy condiment can jazz up dishes from greens to beans and everything in between. Here are 7 apple cider vinegar uses for your recipes.

  1. Add to reduction sauce to balance out saltiness. A reduction sauce is a pan sauce you make by simmering down juice or broth with spices, herbs, and a bit of fat to make a glaze or gravy for your entrée. (Learn a bit more about making a reduction sauce here.) Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your reduction sauce as it’s simmering down, and it will balance out the saltiness in your sauce while adding a bit of sweetness that lifts the sauce up. This tip also works great with any cheese sauce, especially for a big pot of mac ‘n’ cheese that just needs a little … something.
  2. Add to greens to take out the bitterness. A bit of apple cider vinegar goes a long way to balance out the bitterness of leafy greens like kale, chard, collard greens, or spinach. Sauté or braise your greens in a bit of olive oil and spices of choice, then once wilted, add a few splashes of apple cider vinegar to the pan and let it cook down briefly.
  3. Add to dressing for slight zip. When making a dressing or vinaigrette from scratch, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar are often used as the acidic liquid in the recipe. But a bit of apple cider vinegar does great things for a dressing—it gives it a tart tanginess that matches lemon juice but with an ever-so-sweeter edge. Try using a mix of both one splash lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in your next dressing for a nice combination of tartness and fruitiness.
  4. Add to marinades to balance out savory flavors. Marinades can get quite savory and heavy—and rightfully so, as they’re intended to punch up the flavor of meats and veggies—but you can balance out the “meatiness” of them by adding apple cider vinegar to the mix, which adds a bit of fruity tang and just a hint of sweetness. Use it in place of wine or balsamic vinegar called for in a marinade recipe, or use it in combination with lemon juice.
  5. Add to non-dairy milk to make buttermilk substitution. Need buttermilk for a recipe, but you don’t do regular dairy? Make your own in a flash by adding one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to one cup of non-dairy milk. Give it a few minutes to interact, and the milk will slightly curdle to create a buttermilk effect.
  6. Add to baked or braised beans for lightly sweet tang. Who can resist saucy, sweet and savory baked or braised beans? Whether you go the BBQ sauce route for sweet baked beans, or the more savory route with braised beans and herbs, adding apple cider vinegar to the pot will bring out that natural sweetness we all love in these bean dishes. Since you’ll be cooking the vinegar down with the beans, the sharpness of the vinegar will cook out, while the subtle fruity sweetness will be left behind. (Try cider-braised beans out today in this recipe.)
  7. Add to risotto in place of wine for sweet brightness. Creamy, velvety smooth risotto often calls for wine as part of the cooking liquid, because as it cooks down, it leaves behind a gentle fruity sweetness that’s delightful against the soft savory flavors of the dish. Using a touch of apple cider vinegar can do the same for your risotto, and it actually works great in a pinch if you don’t have wine on hand to use. Since the vinegar is much more concentrated of a flavor than wine, you’ll only need to add a splash or two to your recipe.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

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Image adapted from Flickr, stevendepolo, CC BY 2.0