What Is Yuzu Juice Substitute? (Easy and Quick Alternatives)

img of substitute for yuzu juice
AdjustmentsTaste Test & Balancing
Meyer Lemon Juice
Add grapefruit or lime juice (3:1 ratio)Adjust grapefruit/lime juice for tartness
Add lemon or lime juice (3:1 ratio)Adjust lemon/lime juice for tartness
Procimequat Juice
Add mandarin orange or tangerine juice (4:1 ratio)Adjust mandarin orange/tangerine juice for citrus notes
Bergamot Juice
Add a small amount of grapefruit juice (5:1 ratio)Adjust grapefruit juice for tartness, balancing floral notes of bergamot
Buddha’s Hand Zest
/1 tsp zest per 1 tbsp yuzu juice
Combine with lemon juice (1:1 ratio)Adjust lemon juice for tartness, use zest sparingly to avoid bitterness
Add a small amount of grapefruit or orange juice (3:1 ratio)Adjust grapefruit/orange juice for tartness and sweetness

If you haven’t seen yuzu juice on cocktail menus everywhere, you’re about to soon. Yuzu juice is considered one of the top food trends of 2022 and for plenty of good reasons! (*)

In addition to its numerous health benefits, its distinct taste and aroma make it a great ingredient for a wide range of dishes, including stews, stir-fries, salads, sauces, and even cocktails! (*)

If you’ve already known Yuzu juice way before it becomes mainstream, you’re one of the lucky ones. But, unfortunately, this also means that you’re aware of how expensive and difficult it is to get one.

We’re here to help you find the best yuzu juice substitute. Continue reading to discover what are the worthy alternatives!


What is Yuzu?

Yuzu is a citrus fruit mainly cultivated in Asia, specifically in China, Japan, and Korea.

Did you Know?

Yuzu is not a lemon or a citron. It’s an entirely different citrus species. While citron is considered one of the wild citrus species and lemon, a hybrid of citron, yuzu is deemed a combination of papeda and mandarin oranges.

Also known as Yuya, this citrus fruit is relatively small—a diameter of 2 to 3 inches.

It’s about the size of a tangerine and looks like a deformed lemon or a discolored orange.

What makes this fruit unique is it’s highly fragrant. Another unique characteristic of yuzu is its juice content is significantly lower than other citrus fruits.

What Does Yuzu Juice Taste Like?

Yuzu juice is highly sour and incredibly tart. Its flavor profile is similar to that of lemon, with a hint of mandarin orange and grapefruit.

But here’s the twist: It also has a savory note which many people liken to the taste of rice vinegar.

What are the Common Uses of Yuzu?

Because of its highly sour flavor, yuzu fruit is not consumed as is. Instead, its zest and juice are used for cooking purposes.

For one, yuzu juice is one of the main ingredients in ponzu sauce, a famous Japanese dipping sauce often served alongside fried foods, sushi, and dumplings. In addition, it’s also used for mixing with cocktails and whisking into salad dressing.

On the other hand, zest is used in producing the spicy condiment known as yuzu-kosho.

Why is It so Expensive?

One of the main reasons for the juice’s high price is scarcity. As we’ve mentioned, the yuzu fruit contains only a small amount of juice, so it’s quite rare and highly valued.

Additionally, supply and demand also come into play. The fruit is mainly grown and harvested in three Asian countries—Japan, Korea, and China.

Unfortunately, the fruit and its juice are widely used in these countries. For example, it’s primarily used in Japan to produce ponzu sauce. In contrast, it’s used to make Yuja tea preserves in Korea.

Here’s the issue: The commercial production of yuzu outside of Asia is quite small. As a result, the supply is limited in Western countries, especially the USA.

What are the possible yuzu substitutes that you can try? Here are some fantastic ideas:

What Is Yuzu Juice Substitute?

img of What is a substitute for yuzu juice

1. Meyer Lemon

img of Meyer Lemon

This is one of the most popular small lemon varieties today. As compared to other lemons, it’s sweeter. Additionally, its acidity level is quite light, so it won’t deliver the sharp tang most citrus fruits have.

For a more apt description, the taste of Meyer Lemon is like the flavors of sour lemon and orange combined.  

Editor’s Opinion:

I find Meyer Lemon to be an excellent yuzu juice substitute due to its delightful sweetness and subtle acidity. The aroma it imparts combines herbal and floral notes, reminiscent of the fragrance of thyme and honeysuckle.

How to use:

Meyer Lemon is an excellent yuzu juice substitute for salad dressings, limoncello, and dipping sauces.

2. Dekopon

img of Dekopon

These are those big citrus fruits that many people refer to as hybrid tangerines. Its flavor profile is a mix of sweetness and tanginess with a hint of refreshing taste. For a better description, imagine the taste of preserved lime mixed with oranges.

Editor’s Anecdote: 

When I first tried Dekopon, its unique blend of sweetness and tanginess surprised me. It added a delightful twist to my desserts and perfectly balanced the flavors of savory dishes.

How To Use:

With its natural sweetness, Dekopon would work best on desserts like trifle, custard tart, and sorbet. It’s also sometimes used to add a sweet and tangy flavor to balance savory, meaty dishes.

3. Procimequat

This citrus fruit has a unique flavor profile—combining lemons and oranges with a savory celery hint. (*)

Editor’s Recommendation: 

Procimequat’s intriguing flavor and subtle celery undertone are ideal for those seeking a unique twist in their dishes. I particularly enjoy using it in salsas and as a martini garnish. At the same time, beer enthusiasts will love adding it to their wheat beer.

How to use it:

Because of its unique celery twist, this citrus fruit is often used in making salsas. You can also use it as martini garnishes, while beer enthusiasts would love adding it to their wheat beer.

4. Bergamot

img of Bergamot

If you love Earl Grey tea, you already know what bergamot is. After all, it’s a key component of your favorite tea.

Editor’s Note: 

As a fan of Earl Grey tea, I was delighted to discover that bergamot can also be an excellent substitute for yuzu juice. Its bitter yet sour taste and its subtle floral notes reminiscent of jasmine flowers and citronella add a delightful complexity to various dishes.

How to use it:

You can use bergamot juice as a yuzu juice substitute for salads, stews, and stir-fries. Bergamot can be a great substitute for yuzu juice and peel. You can use its peel as a garnish for cocktail drinks.

5. Buddha’s Hand

img of Buddha’s Hand

The citrus fruit gained its unique name because of its distinct shape. It’s a yellow fruit that looks more like an octopus with tentacles than hands, if we’re honest.

Okay, enough about its appearance, and let’s talk about the most important thing—its flavor. This fruit tastes almost the same as bergamot but is less intense and more lemony.

Editor’s Experience: 

When I first encountered Buddha’s Hand, its striking appearance caught my attention. I was pleasantly surprised by its citrusy, lemon-like flavor that added a tangy twist to my mackerel dishes.

How to use it:

The most common use of Buddha’s hand is to bring a tangy twist to mackerel. It’s sliced thinly, pickled, and then placed over mackerel.

6. Lemon

img of Lemon

Both lemon and yuzu juices are known for their unique flavors and health benefits. While they share similarities, such as acidity levels and nutritional content, they differ in taste, aroma, and culinary uses.

Editor’s Opinion: While lemon may not offer the exact fragrance and flavor of yuzu, it can be a suitable substitute when yuzu juice is unavailable. For tangy citrus dishes, lemon juice can serve as a decent alternative.

How to use it:

And to make the lemon a worthy substitute, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Go for green lemons as they are sourer and have herbal notes.
  • Mix lemon juice with lime and grapefruit juice following a 4:2:1 ratio to reduce its distinct lemony flavor.

Make Your Own Yuzu Juice Substitute

Step 1: Selecting and Preparing Yuzu Fruit

To make yuzu juice, start by selecting fresh, ripe yuzu fruits. Look for fruits that are firm to the touch, with a vibrant yellow or orange color and smooth skin. Avoid fruits with brown spots or a dull appearance, as they may be overripe or damaged.

Once you have selected your yuzu fruits, rinse them thoroughly under cold running water to remove dirt or debris. Pat them dry with a clean towel, and then set them aside.

Step 2: Extracting the Yuzu Juice

There are several methods for extracting yuzu juice, each with advantages and drawbacks. Here are three popular techniques:

1: Manual Juicing
  1. Cut the yuzu fruit in half horizontally, exposing the pulp and seeds.
  2. Hold half the fruit over a fine mesh strainer placed atop a bowl or container.
  3. Squeeze the fruit firmly, allowing the juice to flow through the filter and into the container below.
  4. Use a spoon or spatula to press any remaining juice from the pulp caught in the filter.
  5. Repeat with the other half of the fruit and any additional yuzu fruits you wish to juice.
2: Citrus Press or Juicer
  1. Cut the yuzu fruit in half horizontally, exposing the pulp and seeds.
  2. Place half the fruit in a citrus press or juicer, cut side down.
  3. Press down on the fruit to extract the juice, collecting it in a container below.
  4. Repeat with the other half of the fruit and any additional yuzu fruits you wish to juice.
3: Reaming
  1. Cut the yuzu fruit in half horizontally, exposing the pulp and seeds.
  2. Hold one-half of the fruit over a bowl or container.
  3. Insert a citrus reamer or fork into the center of the fruit, then twist and press down to release the juice.
  4. Repeat with the other half of the fruit and any additional yuzu fruits you wish to juice.

Step 3: Storing Yuzu Juice

Once you have extracted the yuzu juice, transfer it to an airtight container or glass jar. Store the liquid in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze it in ice cube trays for longer storage. Frozen yuzu juice cubes can be added directly to recipes or cocktails.

Step 4: Incorporating Yuzu Juice into Recipes

Now that you have your fresh yuzu juice, you can use it to enhance various dishes and drinks. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Mix yuzu juice with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to create a zesty ponzu sauce for dipping or drizzling over grilled fish or vegetables.
  • Combine juice with simple syrup and sparkling water to create a refreshing yuzu soda.
  • Add a splash of yuzu juice to your favorite cocktails for a unique citrus twist.
  • Blend yuzu juice into salad dressings, marinades, or glazes for a bright, tangy flavor.
  • Use yuzu juice instead of lemon or lime juice in recipes for a distinctive taste.


The Bottom Line

To be honest, yuzu juice is one-of-a-kind. No other fruits can come close to their aromatic fragrance and sour and slightly bitter taste.

But if we are to pick the best yuzu juice substitute, it would be either lemon or bergamot. These alternatives are widely available but also a lot less expensive.

The next time you need yuzu juice, please keep this list in mind so you can find a suitable substitute for your needs.

Up Next: Substitute For Mirin

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top