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The Best Vinegar for Sandwiches (7 Tasty Options)

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In this article, I’ll explore all the different vinegar types you can use to make your sandwiches stand out. I’ll also reveal what well-known chains like Subway, Jersey Mike’s, and Jimmy John’s use.

The best-tasting types of vinegar to use in sandwiches include red wine, balsamic, white wine, sherry, malt, basil, and apple cider vinegar. You can also pair vinegar with oil as a sandwich dressing. Good oils to use with sandwiches include olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil.

While you can use any vinegar you like, there are some that work better than others when making a sandwich. Let’s look at a few of the most popular kinds of vinegar you can use:

1. Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar is the classic choice of vinegar for sandwiches. It gives your sandwiches a tangy taste and is a popular option for Italian subs and sandwiches. 

This vinegar is also used to make vinaigrettes in several popular sandwich chains, including Subway and Jersey Mike’s.

2. Balsamic Vinegar

Grilled portobello mushroom chicken sandwich with balsamic vinaigrette

Like red and white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar is also made from grapes – however, unlike the other two, it uses all parts of the grape, including the seeds and stems. 

It is dark in color and has a mildly tangy flavor, coming in somewhere between red and white wine vinegar. It’s also a relatively expensive vinegar – while you can get bottles in the grocery store for under $50, some of the best balsamic vinegar brands in the world can set you back as much as $150-$300. The ones from the grocery store are often mixed with wine vinegar to create a blended product.

Higher-end balsamic vinegar is rarely used as a dressing for sandwiches. However, you’re free to use a bottle from your grocery store (or higher-end options, if you can afford them) to make a vinaigrette for your subs. Like red wine vinegar, this vinegar is generally used with Italian sandwiches.

3. White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar completes the trio of Italian sandwiches with vinegar. It’s made similarly to red wine vinegar, but with white wine instead of red. Like red wine and balsamic vinegar, it has a tangy taste – but the tang of white wine vinegar is very mild and lighter in flavor than the other two options.

If you’re looking for a tang without overpowering your sandwich’s taste, this is the option for you. Though it’s popular with Italian subs, the lightness of flavor makes it great with most sandwiches.

4. Sherry Vinegar

As the name implies, sherry vinegar is made with sherry wine. It is crisply acidic, with nutty notes and a caramel flavor. To ensure that you’re using an authentic sherry vinegar, make sure the vinegar bottle states it comes from the Sherry Triangle (Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto) or has the term Vinagre de Jerez on the bottle.

It is most popular with sandwiches made with heavy meats, such as roast beef sandwiches and meatball subs. It is also an excellent option for sandwiches that include salmon.

5. Malt Vinegar

Are you looking for a vinegar that’s milder than white wine vinegar but still full of flavor? 

If so, malt vinegar is just what you’ve been hoping for! This English condiment is made from malt or fermented barley grain. It has a lemony, sweet, nutty, and toasty taste, but – as mentioned above – these flavors are very mild. 

The light flavor of malt vinegar means it can be used on most subs. If you’re looking for a very light tang or want to add a touch of sweetness to your sandwich, this is the vinegar for you.

6. Basil Vinegar

Basil vinegar is technically basil-infused vinegar. It is made by infusing a light vinegar (such as white vinegar or white wine vinegar) with basil and allowing it to sit until the flavor is transferred from the herb to the vinegar. 

This vinegar goes great with sandwiches with which you’d usually eat a basil sauce. It provides the lovely summery flavors of basil year round and is particularly popular on Italian sandwiches, such as Caprese sandwiches.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Made from apples, apple cider vinegar is another mild option for your sandwiches. It has a light, fruity taste and a little sweetness to go along with a touch of sour flavor. 

This vinegar is particularly popular when paired with salmon sandwiches. It also works well in sandwiches that include caramelized onions in their ingredient list – the sweetness of the onions pairs well with the hint of sweetness in the vinegar.

What Types of Vinegar Do Subway and Other Sub Shops Use?

A Jersey Mike's Sub Store Location

Subway uses a relatively inexpensive red wine vinegar, generally paired with a blended vegetable oil to create a vinaigrette. Jersey Mike’s also uses red wine vinegar, but it is paired with olive oil instead.

Let’s take a look at the types of vinegar used by some of the most popular sandwich chains:

BrandVinegarOil
Jersey Mike’s SubsRed wine vinegarOlive oil
SubwayRed wine vinegarBlended vegetable oil made with canola and olive oil.
Arby’sBalsamic vinegar (for their Balsamic vinaigrette), Red wine vinegar (for their Red wine vinaigrette)Soybean oil (for their Balsamic and red wine vinaigrettes)
Jimmy John’sRed wine vinegarOlive oil blend
Jason’s DeliBalsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar 
Firehouse SubsBurgundy wine vinegar diluted to 5% acidityOlive oil
Portillo’sCider vinegar 
McAlister’s DeliRed wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegarVegetable oil (olive oil or canola oil)
Quizno’sBalsamic vinegarOlive oil

Some brands may also offer limited-term options, including different vinegar and vinaigrette types. Additionally, ingredients can vary from location to location, so check with the store closest to you to determine which vinegar and oil combinations are available.

Can You Eat Sandwiches Without Vinegar?

You can eat sandwiches without vinegar. Vinegar, oils, and vinaigrettes are optional condiments, and choosing to include or omit them from your sandwiches and subs is entirely up to you.

Can You Eat Sandwiches With Only Oil?

You can eat sandwiches with only oil. If you need a dressing to help bring out the flavors of your sub but aren’t fond of the tangy acidity of vinegar, you can opt for oil-only dressings. You can also include oils in your sandwich configuration – for example, by replacing butter with olive oil.

Why Use Vinegar on Sandwiches?

Vinegar is one of the most popular dressing options for sandwiches. Dressings help moisten the bread and hold all the ingredients together, ensuring that each bite you take from your sub is packed with flavor. 

While you can use vinegar as a dressing on its own, it is most commonly combined with oil to create a vinaigrette. A basic vinaigrette recipe calls for mixing one part of vinegar with three parts of oil. 

You can use any oil and vinegar to make your vinaigrette, allowing you to create a variety of personalized sandwich (and salad) dressings. You can also season your vinaigrette by adding a pinch of salt, pepper, and any other spices you like.

Final Bite

Vinegar and vinaigrettes help bring out the rich flavors and complexity of sandwiches. You can use any vinegar you choose for your sandwich. Some of the most popular options include red and white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, and basil vinegar.

You can also mix and match ingredients and combine the oil and vinegar of your choice to create your own unique vinaigrette.

For more, don’t miss Does Vinegar Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

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