A Comprehensive Guide to Differentiating Malt Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar

As we all know, vinegars have long been a staple ingredient in Indian households. From helping you garnish your salads just the way you like to enhancing the flavours, the right type of vinegar does it all. Speaking of the "right type," how often have you been in a dilemma while purchasing a vinegar bottle from the store or online?

Besides, while baking a dessert, your regular vinegar might hurt the taste. So, if you are facing the challenges associated with your vinegar selection based on the type of food, this is your safe guide. Here, we will discuss the difference between apple cider vinegar and malt vinegar. 

Let’s find out more about malt vinegar vs apple cider vinegar.

What is malt vinegar?

Malt vinegar is made from malted barley. First, barley grains are first soaked in water. This process is known as malting. Then, the grains are observed until they reach their moisture level of about forty percent. Chemical changes happen during germination. Since grains are seeds, malting uses natural methods to adjust the taste.

Now, germinated and dried barley grains are used to make malt vinegar. This process converts the starch into maltose, a form of sugar. Upon then, the malted barley is brewed into the beer-like solution. It is fermented and converted into vinegar in this phase.

Malt vinegar has a distinctive, strong, and slightly nutty flavour, often described as having a "malty" or "bready" taste. It's more common in British cuisines and other recipes (read this), specifically in pickling, marinades, and garnishing fish and chips.

What is apple cider vinegar?

On the other hand, apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice. This process starts with crushing apples to extract the juice. Then, it is fermented by bacteria and yeast to create alcohol. Now, it is fermented by acetic acid bacteria that convert it into vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar has a fruity and sour flavour. It’s slightly sweet and has several health benefits. From aiding weight loss to lowering blood sugar levels, it can improve your health. Besides, it also stimulates your gut health.

Malt vinegar's health advantages

Besides adding flavour to foods without calories, brown vinegar has the power to improve your health. Let’s find out how:

Helps reduce weight

Brown vinegar (or, in this case, malt vinegar) can aid in weight loss while preventing obesity. It can manipulate the gut microbiomes and improve weight management. Adding malt vinegar to salads or fried foods is excellent for people who are currently following a strict diet chart. It replaces high-calorie spreads like salad dressings and mayonnaise. The acidic properties promote weight loss as it aids fat breakdown in your body. 

Aids in calcium absorption

Using malt vinegar is important for people who are lactose intolerant or vegan. This means even if you don’t consume dairy products, you can drink one tablespoon of malt vinegar every day with water to get the holistic benefits. You can also include malt vinegar in your food too.

Acts as a food cleaner

How about giving your vegetables and fruit a rejuvenating wash? If you consider anything like this, please use malt vinegar, as it can remove harmful pesticide residues. All you need is to prepare half a cup of malt vinegar and stir it in one and a half or two gallons of water. You can keep your fruits for a few minutes inside and dry each of them after washing.

Besides, it also keeps your blood sugar level in control.

Apple cider vinegar's health benefits

Apple cider and malt vinegar contain acetic acid. So, they both can control blood sugar level and help in digestion. Besides, they also have laundry uses too. Here’s more on ACV health benefits:

Aids in Digestion

Apple cider vinegar promotes stomach acid production and alleviates indigestion and bloating. Surprisingly, it comes with enzymes that support your gut health. So, it can assist in breaking down nutrients.

Regulates blood sugar

Did you know apple cider vinegar can also regulate blood sugar levels? What it does is improve the sensitivity of insulin and reduce blood sugar spikes after the meal. Besides regulating blood sugar and improving gut health, apple cider vinegar can help manage weight. 

Comparing apple cider vinegar with malt vinegar for cooking

This following table demonstrates the differences between malt vinegar vs apple cider vinegar:


Apple cider vinegar

Malt vinegar

How It Is Made

Made from Apples/apple cider

Made from Barley or other grains

pH level

2 – 3

2.5 – 2.7

How It Looks

Looks cloudy and amber in colour

Has a dark brown colour


Strong and sweet taste

Milder and sweeter

Applications in Cooking

Salad dressings and baking

Sauces, and topping fish and chips, etc

Nutritional value

Contains some probiotics, vitamins, and minerals

Comes with vitamins & minerals


So, if you're looking for vinegar with a distinctive flavour to enhance fried foods and marinades, malt vinegar is your go-to choice. The nutty taste adds depth to your culinary delights. However, the ones who prefer a subtle and fruity flavour can opt for apple cider vinegar. This vinegar might be a more versatile option for various dishes like marinades and salad dressings.


Q.1 Does malt vinegar taste like apple cider vinegar?

The key ingredient in both apple cider vinegar and malt vinegar is acetic acid. Thus , the vinegar's primary flavour—sour and tangy—will remain the same, but the other flavours—derived from their respective origins—will change. 

Q.2 How do you store apple cider and malt vinegar?

Both apple cider vinegar and malt vinegar should be stored in a cool and dry place away from the direct heat or sunlight. The bottles should be tightly sealed. Otherwise, if air is entered inside the bottle, it results in oxidation that degrades its quality. 

Q.3 How do I use malt vinegar?

Malt vinegar is usually used in cooking to add flavour to fish and chips. Besides, it can be used for pickles or dipping french fries. You may also use it for some salad dressings as well. 

Q.4 Can you use apple cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar?

It is possible to use malt vinegar for apple cider vinegar in your recipe. However, be aware that the flavour will be altered. Strong, malty, and somewhat sweet in flavour, malt vinegar may be rather potent. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is tangier and gentler. Therefore, this substitution gives your food a heartier, more savoury kick, depending on what you're creating. This is great for things like marinades or sauces.

Q.5 Which vinegar has a lower calorie?

Evidently, both malt vinegar and apple cider vinegar are relatively low in calories. So, they make a flavorful addition to dishes without adding extra calories.

Q.6 Does malt vinegar provide health benefits?

Malt vinegar tastes fine when added in moderation to foods as a condiment or seasoning, but it is not regarded as "good for you" because it offers substantial nutritional advantages.

Q.7 Can you use apple cider and malt vinegar interchangeably in your recipe?

While they can sometimes be substituted, their distinct flavours make them better suited for different dishes. Malt vinegar pairs well with fried foods, whereas apple cider vinegar works well in salad dressings.

Q.8 What is a good replacement for apple cider vinegar?

Depending on the recipe and your taste preferences, you can use various vinegars instead of apple cider vinegar, such as white, red, or even malt vinegar. As every vinegar has a distinct flavour to the meal, make sure to adjust the amount appropriately.


Zandu Ayurvedic Team

Zandu Ayurvedic Team has a panel of over 10 BAMS (Ayurvedacharya), boasting a collective experience of over 50 years. With a deep-rooted understanding of Ayurveda, they are committed to sharing their expertise & knowledge through our blogs.
We use all kinds of Ayurvedic references in our content. Please use the contact form for any editorial queries.

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