Apple juice is a kitchen staple in most households, including ours! It’s not only a refreshing drink enjoyed during breakfast but a vital ingredient in numerous sweet and savory dishes. (*)
But when you’re already halfway through your recipe and open your fridge… Oh no!
You forgot to replenish your apple juice supply! Well, you can’t abandon your recipe, nor can you just omit apple juice, especially if it’s a crucial ingredient.
What if we told you that it’s possible to substitute sweetened and unsweetened apple juice?
From other fruit juices to alcohol, we’ve got a complete list of substitutes for apple juice, so read on!
What Can I Substitute for Apple Juice in a Recipe?
Apple juice is a normal part of our lives, so it’s easy to take it for granted and forget to buy some in your next grocery run.
Whether you run out of juice or prefer a different flavor (we’re not judging), try any of these substitutes for apple juice:
1. Apple Cider
Let’s first explain apple cider. It’s a great substitute for apple juice, but it has a tart flavor with slightly bitter notes, along with a low pH value and sugar content.
Because of the flavor difference and higher acidity, it may not work for sweet dishes like smoothies and desserts. Furthermore, apple cider has a milder taste.
While it’s best to use equal amounts of apple cider, you can add a bit more and taste test until you reach your preferred flavor.
You can opt for alcoholic or non-alcoholic versions of apple cider. You can also use other kinds of cider as an apple juice substitute, like pear cider.
2. Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar is one of the good substitutes for unsweetened apple juice. It’s similar to apple cider, and you’ll be surprised that it has a fruity flavor!
Since it’s still vinegar, it has that acidic taste like unsweetened apple juice. When using rice wine vinegar, you can add equal amounts to your recipe.
Rice wine vinegar makes a fine replacement for apple juice in our favorite recipes, like salads and meat dishes.
If you don’t sense enough fruity tones in rice wine vinegar, you can always add a teaspoon of lemon juice if you have it.
3. Pear Juice
While pears are usually consumed fresh, you can also opt for pear juice. We typically find pear juice used for jams, jellies, or marmalades.
Since pear juice has a similar production process as apple juice, it makes a fine choice for a substitute. Its natural sweetness and fruity flavor works well in drinks and desserts.
If you have no pear juice, you can also opt for dried or canned pears. Pear nectar may work, but it has a higher sugar content, which you should take into account in your recipe.
4. White Grape Juice
White grape juice is a common substitute for apple juice. Usually, this juice is made by crushing and blending white grapes until it becomes a liquid.
Fun fact: While it’s called white grape juice, this juice is actually made from a green-skinned grape variety.
Usually, white grape juice is fermented made into wine or vinegar. However, you can also use the unfermented version.
We enjoy the crisp and refreshing taste white grape juice offers, making it a good substitute for apple juice.
5. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is known for its mouth-puckering tanginess, but it’s the perfect substitute!
Lemon juice has a low pH value and acidic taste. Furthermore, it has fruity tones similar to apple juice.
We recommend using lemon juice in salad dressings or sour soups. You can also use a bit of lemon juice in smoothies.
But again, lemon juice is more acidic, so use it in smaller amounts or as a substitute for unsweetened apple juice. Use half the amount of lemon juice needed in a recipe.
You can taste test your dish and add more lemon juice, only if needed.
6. Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar has a similar acidity as unsweetened apple juice, but it has a strong smell and taste. If you plan on replacing apple juice with red wine vinegar, use a small amount first.
Start with half the amount of red wine vinegar a recipe calls for with apple juice. For instance, if you need two tablespoons of apple juice, add one tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
As needed, you can change the ratio and add more red wine vinegar.
7. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is another interesting substitute. However, it works best only when replacing unsweetened apple juice.
White wine vinegar doesn’t have the fruity flavor apple juice offers, but it has a similar acidity.
When using white wine vinegar to substitute apple juice, start with half the quantity a recipe needs.
8. White Wine
If you have white wine lying around, why not try it as a substitute?
It has the fruity tones you want from apple juice, though you’ll need to add a bit more.
That said, white wine contains alcohol, and it may not be the best for those watching their alcohol intake or avoiding it.
Since white wine doesn’t have much of a sweet flavor, we recommend using it as a substitute for unsweetened apple juice.
9. Lime Juice
Think of using lime juice like you would with lemon juice. It’s trickier to find this in stores, but if you have limes at home, you can create your own juice.
That said, not everyone loves lime juice, as it has a milky bitter taste. As long as you won’t use too much of it, it won’t matter as much.
We recommend using lime juice in your smoothie or salad dressing for a more refreshing flavor.
10. Orange Juice
Fresh orange juice has the fruity flavor and acidity you want in your recipes!
You can use fresh orange juice in many recipes that call for apple juice, may it be salad dressings, sauces, smoothies, or toppings. Plus, orange juice has the similar nutritional content apple juice has, so you have a healthy beverage for your recipes.
Fun fact: Apple juice is filled with vitamins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals! That’s why they say, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
However, orange juice has a citric flavor that may not pair well with some dishes. While orange juice is a favorite substitute of ours, consider the recipe before using this substitute.
11. Apple Syrup
Yes, you read that right. You can use soda in certain recipes requiring apple juice.
Just make sure you get a soda that has a citric flavor to achieve a closer fruity flavor to apple juice.
While you can use an equal amount of soda, you may have to add more of it, depending on your taste preference. We use soda for toppings and salad dressings, though you can add it to smoothies.
If you don’t like soda, you can try ginger ale, yet another interesting replacement.
However, please note that ginger ale has a ginger flavor, which is far different from apple juice! If you don’t mind the ginger flavor or even appreciate it, then why not give it a try?
13. Make Juice from Fresh Apples
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’d like to learn more about apple juice and the best substitutes we listed above, read on! We prepared a frequently asked questions section for you.
1. What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice?
While apple cider and apple juice have similarities, the former isn’t the best substitute.
Apple cider has a thicker consistency as it contains more pulp, residue, and mash. As for apple juice, it’s filtered and contains additional sugars.
Apple juice and cider are made through coring, slashing, and squashing apples, removing the juices.
The thick substance is sifted then processed through filters when making apple juice. Afterward, it’s blended with sugars and additives.
Apple cider has a slightly different process that results in somewhat bitter notes yet a more intricate flavor. It has no extra sugar, nor is it filtered.
However, both these ingredients go through a purification cycle for safety.
2. What should I use to substitute apple juice in ribs?
Apple juice offers a lot of flavor to ribs recipes. If you run out of it, you can always use apple syrup as a substitute for apple juice.
Just make sure that you dilute the syrup, using it the same way as you would with apple juice. The next best substitute for apple juice in ribs recipes would be lemon juice and orange juice.
You may want to consider using white wine vinegar or any other form of vinegar mentioned on our list. The acidity in the vinegar will help tenderize the ribs excellently.
3. What’s the best apple juice replacement for smoothies?
If you don’t have apple juice for your smoothies, consider using fresh apples rather than juice. Add enough water until you achieve the texture you desire.
If you don’t have any apples, you can opt for orange, lemon, lime, or pear juice (or their real fruits).
Apple syrup also works excellently, but you should only add a teaspoon of it.
Wrapping It Up
Substituting apple juice doesn’t have to be such a challenge. You might even be surprised to find the appropriate ingredients waiting in your kitchen already!
We hope that our list of the best substitutes for apple juice helped you immensely. Don’t wait any longer and achieve the refreshing taste from your favorite juice with any ingredients above.