How To Balance Too Much Vinegar In A Recipe (With Examples)

Have you ever been assaulted by vinegar – enough to make your face pucker, body shudder, and eyes burn? There is an immediate feeling of dread as you realize that your meal is completely inedible and beyond saving.

The best way to help a recipe with too much vinegar is by adding counter ingredients like oils, dairy, or other strong flavors. The other route is to try and “soak up” the vinegar by adding more of the base ingredients in the original recipe.

I’ve included some example recipes in this post. A word of warning; go easy when adding more ingredients. You can always add more but can ruin a meal if you add too much salt, spice, or grease.

Vinegar’s acidity and intense aroma add zing and balance to a meal, but what happens when you accidentally add too much? Learn how to salvage meals that often receive an overdose of vinegar by following these guidelines:

Can You Have Too Much Vinegar In Your Recipe?

Too much vinegar in a recipe will result in a sour, tart taste that overpowers the food, making it unpleasant and impossible to consume. There are a few methods and ingredients that will help to balance out too much vinegar which I explore in this article

It’s pretty obvious when you have too much vinegar in a recipe from the taste. But too much vinegar can have effects such as stomach aches, damage to your teeth, and irritation in your throat from the acetic acid.

How To Fix Too Much Vinegar In Salad Dressing

Salad dressing usually takes the form of an acid and an oil. Usually, the ratios are around 1 part vinegar and 4 part oil to make a good balance. If you go too heavy on the vinegar it will be strong and sharp so this needs to be balanced.

Try adding something creamy and high in fat to emulsify the vinegar, such as:

  1. A splash of olive oil
  2. 1-2 spoons of mayonnaise
  3. A few teaspoons of mashed avocado
  4. A dollop or two of peanut or almond butter
  5. A drizzle of tahini

You could also opt for a touch of sweetness to balance the acidic taste:

  1. Honey
  2. Agave/Maple syrup
  3. Fruit puree
  4. Date syrup

How To Fix Too Much Vinegar In Coleslaw

Coleslaw can either be made with a mayonnaise base or a vinegar base. Using straight vinegar will obviously be more tart, so a simple solution can be to add mayonnaise, yogurt, or add more shredded vegetables.

This is what you can do to rescue your coleslaw:

Plan A:

  1. Strain excess vinegar – Place the coleslaw in a fine mesh strainer and gently press out as much liquid as possible.
  2. Add extra mayonnaise – Start with a small amount and taste before adding more.
  3. Add some sweetness – If your coleslaw still tastes acidic, try adding a sweet component, such as a tiny pinch of sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup, or a handful of raisins.

Plan B:

‘Dilute’ vinegary coleslaw by combining it with a fresh batch.

If you have enough time, patience, and ingredients on hand:

  1. Prepare a half-batch of the coleslaw recipe, without any vinegar.
  2. Combine with the original vinegary coleslaw to mellow out the acidity.

See my tips on making coleslaw in advance.

How Do You Fix Too Much Vinegar In Soup?

A soup that is too vinegary can be solved by adding more broth or cream to dilute it, or by balancing it with something sweet.

Choose an option that will complement your soup’s flavor and composition:

Add More Liquid

This is the most simple and speedy option. Adding more liquid will water down the vinegar’s potent punch. Start with ¼ cup of liquid, taste, and add gradually until you achieve your desired taste.

  1. For a broth-based soup: add more water or broth
  2. For a creamy soup: add cream or milk

A Touch Of Sugar And Spice

Depending on the style of soup you are preparing, a dash of sugar or something spicy will help to neutralize the acidity.


Leaftv suggests adding caramelized sugar to balance the acidity:

  1. Heat 2-3 teaspoons of granulated sugar in a saucepan until it starts to darken and caramelize.
  2. Allow the sugar to cool, and gradually add about ½ teaspoon at a time.


Turn up the heat with a dash of cayenne, chili powder, or hot sauce. Mix in small amounts, taste it and adjust as needed.

Add Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables will help to eliminate the sourness by absorbing some of the vinegar. Add a handful of chopped vegetables such as:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Sweet potatoes
  3. Carrots
  4. Corn
  5. Beans

How To Fix Too Much Vinegar In Pickles

Do not dilute the pickles with extra water, as this can increase the risk of mold growth. Rather, improve the flavor by adding some sweetness from sugar syrup. Pickles should harmonize a trio of flavors: sour, sweet, and salty.

Simple syrup

  1. Gently heat equal parts sugar and water over the stovetop until it forms a syrup.
  2. Allow the syrup to cool before pouring it into the jar of pickles.
  3. Mix well to combine and store in the refrigerator.
  4. Taste frequently to ensure the pickles do not become overly sweet.

Alternatively, you can try maple syrup or other syrups. Just keep adding and tasting as you go.

How To Fix Too Much Vinegar In Potato Salad

There are several effective solutions for a vinegary potato salad. The most feasible option will depend on the style of your salad and the ingredients you have on hand.

Add Dairy Ingredients

Dairy foods such as plain yogurt, buttermilk, or cream will dilute the acidity and make it creamier. Gradually add a few teaspoons and mix well.


Offset the vinegar by gradually adding small pinches of sugar. Stir thoroughly to combine and taste before repeating the process.

Add More Potatoes

It’s probably the most basic option if you have more potatoes – just add them to reduce the strength of the sauce. You will have to balance how many potatoes the sauce can realistically take.


Salty ingredients can counterbalance the sourness of the vinegar.

A few finely diced anchovies will tone down the intensity of the vinegar and add tremendous flavor to the potato salad. As anchovies are extremely salty, you will only require a tiny amount.

Additional Portion Without Vinegar

Another feasible option would be to prepare an extra half-portion of potato salad – without any vinegar – and combine it with the existing salad. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Foodies confirm that the best way to counterbalance a highly sour and acidic taste in food is by adding sweet, salty, or savory flavors, or preparing an extra portion of food to mellow out the existing dish.

Next time, go easy on the vinegar so that you can get the most out of its versatile and frugal qualities!

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

2 thoughts on “How To Balance Too Much Vinegar In A Recipe (With Examples)

  1. How about adding alkaline (an alcohol or baking soda?) to counter vinegar’s acidity in soup

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