No apple juice? No problem!
This comprehensive list includes a variety of Apple Juice Substitute ideas and how to use them in your culinary creations.
While apple juice is a nutritious and delicious drink to sip, it’s also an essential ingredient in many savory recipes, delectable baked goods, and thirst-quenching beverages.
That said, there’s no need to panic if you don’t have apple juice on hand for a recipe because we are about to delve into the apple juice alternatives that swap seamlessly and will save you a trip to the store.
From apple cider to fresh fruit juice, vinegar, white wine, and more.
I guarantee there’s a substitute for store-bought apple juice on this list that you already have in your kitchen.
But first, let’s break down the basics of the beloved apple juice beverage.
What is Apple Juice?
Apple juice is made by pressing the apples and then straining the released liquids to remove any pulp or solids.
Apple juice you buy at a grocery store is usually filtered and pasteurized. It often has vitamin C and sugar added to it.
The results are a refreshing, delicate fresh fruit juice that captures the sweet-tart taste and delightful aroma of fresh apples.
Ways to Use Apple Juice
Whether enjoyed over ice, mixed into drinks, or used in cooking and baking, apple juice offers a burst of crisp, fruity flavor.
So before we discuss the substitution possibilities, here are some common uses and recipes that call for apple juice:
- Marinades and sauces – Apple juice provides a touch of sweetness and the necessary acidic element for meat, poultry, and seafood marinades. Likewise, it adds a complementary fruity, tangy dimension to various dipping sauces.
- Glazes and syrups – You can quickly reduce apple juice on the stovetop into a thick, sticky consistency perfect for drizzling over pork chops, holiday ham, and roasted root vegetables.
- Salad dressings – Apple juice combined with vinegar, olive oil, and various herbs and spices makes a balanced, fragrant vinaigrette to serve with your favorite salads.
When baking, apple juice is a versatile and vital ingredient for adding moisture, creating a tender texture, and bringing fresh apple flavor to cakes, muffins, bread, and cookies.
- Smoothies – Apple juice is an excellent base for fruit smoothies, as it pairs exceptionally well with berries, bananas, and other fruits.
- Drinks and mocktails – It adds the essence of fresh apples and a sweet-tart twist to your favorite fruity drinks and non-alcoholic mocktails.
- Apple cider and cocktails – Apple juice is the main ingredient in apple cider and also a delicious base for a crowd-pleasing party punch combined with other fruit juices, sparkling water, and warming whole spices.
Best Apple Juice Substitutes
Here are the apple juice substitutes that are made from apples. They usually make the best apple juice alternatives:
Homemade Apple Juice
If you have fresh apples on hand, making homemade cold-pressed apple juice is always an option, and it’s easier than you think.
You can usually get a roughly 8-ounce glass of apple juice from 2 large apples (depending on the size, variety, and freshness of the apples).
Homemade apple juice is typically cloudy as it’s not as thoroughly filtered as store-bought juice.
If you don’t have a juicer, you can still make apple juice with a blender.
You can usually find two types of apple cider in grocery stores:
- Non-alcoholic apple cider, which is strained but unfiltered apple juice. It’s similar to homemade apple juice because the liquid is “cloudy.” This type of apple cider can be either pasteurized or unpasteurized. You can find unpasteurized apple cider in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.
- Alcoholic or hard cider, which is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting apple juice.
Apple cider can be used in place of apple juice in most recipes.
Mulled Apple Cider
Mulled apple cider takes regular apple cider one step further, simmering it with mulling spices, such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg.
As a result, mulled apple cider has a warming, cozy flavor that pairs well with savory and sweet dishes.
Check out this hot mulled apple cider recipe to learn more!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is apple cider that has gone through fermentation.
Because of this, apple cider vinegar is significantly more acidic and tangy tasting and makes for a good apple juice substitute in salad dressings and marinades.
With its natural sweetness and smooth consistency, applesauce is an excellent substitute for apple juice in baking recipes like cakes, muffins, and quick breads, as it makes them incredibly moist and flavorful.
You can use unsweetened or sweetened apple sauce. Depending on the recipe, you might need to dilute the applesauce with water before using it.
Other Fruit Juices
Why not try another fruit juice flavor when you need an apple juice substitute with a gentle sweetness that won’t overpower the recipe?
Here are a few fruit juices to consider:
White Grape Juice
White grape juice is smooth, sweet, and slightly sour. Like apple juice, it’s an excellent choice for marinades, simple glazes, and sauces.
For a slight flavor spin, try pear juice or pear cider to replace apple juice in savory and sweet recipes or as a base for cocktails and mocktails.
If pear juice is too sweet for your recipe, add a splash of lemon or lime juice or vinegar for a touch of tart flavor.
Pineapple juice is perfect if you’re hoping for a tropical, slightly tart twist. Its vibrant flavor pairs well with other fruits used in food and drinks.
Try brightening your drinks and savory and sweet recipes with the citrusy, zesty flavor of fresh-squeezed orange juice. But keep in mind that orange juices often contain pulp.
Cranberry Juice or Pomegranate Juice
Cranberry or pomegranate juice offers a more zingy, vibrant taste to marinades, sauces, mocktails, mixed drinks, and so on. But keep in mind the color, as it might be important in some recipes.
More Apple Juice Alternatives
Here are a few more potential apple juice swaps, as well as caveats to keep in mind when selecting these substitutes:
Lemon or Lime Juice
You can sometimes swap lemon or lime juice with apple juice but know that you will lose the distinct fresh apple flavor.
These citrus juices will also impact the acidity level and the final taste of whatever recipe you’re making.
However, you can calm the sharp tanginess by diluting the citrus juice with water or mixing it with a dash of sugar, honey, or other natural sweeteners to help balance the flavor.
When substituting wine, it’s important to understand that most wines aren’t as sweet as apple juice. But they add complexity, depth, and richness to savory dishes, sauces, and some desserts.
For the best results, use off-dry or semi-sweet fruity wines, such as Gewürztraminer or Riesling, and be sure to taste-test and adjust the spices and seasonings along the way.
If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, try a non-alcoholic white wine, white grape juice, or sparkling non-alcoholic cider.
Other Types of Vinegar
While vinegar and apple juice have a similar acidic tanginess, be cautious when using vinegar as a substitution, as it will significantly change the final flavor of your dish.
Regarding which type of vinegar to use, apple cider vinegar is the best.
Still, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, and rice vinegar also work nicely in recipes when acidity is critical, such as salad dressings and savory sauces.
How to Choose a Substitute for Apple Juice
As you can see, there are several options when choosing an apple juice substitute, whether cooking, baking, or beverage-making.
Here is what to consider when replacing apple juice with something else in a recipe:
Level of Sweetness
Apple juice is typically quite sweet.
Store-bought apple juice has often sugar added to it. Even unsweetened apple juice is usually sweet.
When choosing an apple juice alternative, consider if it’s sweet enough for your recipe.
If using vinegar or white wine, you can add a little bit of sugar or other mild natural sweetener, such as maple syrup or coconut sugar, to compensate for the lack of sweetness.
Apple juice has some acidity that other fruit juices might not have.
The level of acidity in a recipe is important to create the final flavor of the dish.
In baking, a leavening agent might require an acid to create a reaction that causes the dough or batter to rise. If the acid in the recipe is coming from apple juice, using a substitute that is not acidic might result in baked goods that won’t rise during baking.
So, if using sweet juice such as pair or white grape juice, consider adding something acidic such as vinegar or lemon, or lime juice to compensate for the low level of acidity.
Some recipes rely on the sugar content of apple juice.
For example, when making a glaze for ribs, the sticky consistency is created by caramelizing the sugars. For such recipes, choose an apple juice alternative with similar sugar content.
When using white wine or hard apple cider instead of apple juice in a recipe, consider the alcohol content.
Usually, alcohol will evaporate during cooking, but it is still a good idea to be mindful of it if you are going to serve the dish to children.
Obviously, if you are using it to make a beverage, you will end up with an alcoholic drink. So, don’t replace apple juice with white wine in your morning shake.
If your recipe calls for only a small amount of apple juice, it will be much easier to find a good substitute. Probably most of the above-mentioned alternatives would work.
However, if apple juice makes up the bulk of the volume of the dish you are trying to make, it might be more difficult to find a good alternative for it in that particular recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other related questions on using apple juice substitutes:
What is the best apple juice substitute for ribs?
Spritzing ribs with apple juice periodically as they cook helps keep them moist and juicy while creating a gorgeous caramelized crust on the exterior.
So when looking for an apple juice alternative for ribs, go with an ingredient that has a similar level of sweetness and acidity, like pineapple, orange, or pomegranate juice.
What is the best apple juice substitute for pulled pork?
If you have everything except apple juice for a pulled pork recipe, the best substitutions are those with similar sweetness, acidity, and consistency, like pineapple juice or orange juice.
If you prefer pulled pork with a less fruity flavor, try using chicken or vegetable broth instead of apple juice and adjust the seasonings to taste.
Beer and carbonated colas are also an option, as they can help tenderize while adding a unique flavor.
However, the added carbonation, flavoring agents, and chemicals in beer and soda will impart a different flavor than fruit juice in the pulled pork.
What is the best alternative to apple juice in smoothies?
If you’re out of apple juice to make your favorite smoothie, switch things up and use orange, pineapple, blueberry juice, or white grape juice as the base.
For a non-fruity and dairy-free smoothie base, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and coconut water are great for extra creamy smoothies with delightful nuttiness.
More Helpful How-to Guides
Here are more cooking guides that will help you expand your culinary expertise:
- How to Sweeten Oatmeal Without Sugar
- How to Thicken Soup Without Flour or Cornstarch
- How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker
- How to Make Mango Puree
- How to Make Blueberry Juice
Apple Juice Substitutes Made from Apples:
- Homemade apple juice
- Apple cider
- Mulled apple cider
- Apple cider vinegar
- Apple Sauce
- White grape juice
- Pear juice
- Pineapple juice
- Orange juice
- Cranberry or pomegranate juice
Other Apple Juice Alternatives:
- Lemon or lime juice
- White wine
- White wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or rice vinegar
- To choose a suitable substitute, consider the level of sweetness and acidity, sugar content, alcohol content, and volume required, as well as the reason apple juice is added to the recipe.
- Replace the apple juice either 1:1 or dilute the substitute with water.
- When using a sweet fruit juice, you can add a little bit of vinegar or lemon or lime juice to achieve a similar flavor.
- When using vinegar, you can add a sweetener to balance the acidity.