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 also 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 type of 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 hybrid of papeda and mandarin oranges.
Also known as juya, this citrus fruit is relatively small—a diameter of 2 to 3 inches.
It’s about the size of a tangerine and looks pretty much like either 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 Yuzu Juice Taste Like?
Yuzu juice is highly sour and incredibly tart. Its flavor profile is similar to that of lemon’s, 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, which is 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, the 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, in Japan, it’s primarily used to produce ponzu sauce, while it’s used in making preserves for Yuja tea 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.
Yuzu Juice Substitute: 6 Worthy Alternatives You Can Try!
So what are the possible yuzu substitutes that you can try? Here are some fantastic ideas:
1. 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 a sharp tang that most citrus fruits have.
For a more apt description, the taste of Meyer Lemon is like the flavors of sour lemon and orange combined.
Same with yuzu, Meyer Lemon is also highly fragrant and gives a fantastic aroma that combines herbal and floral notes and is reminiscent of the fragrance of thyme and honeysuckle.
How to use it: Meyer Lemon is an excellent yuzu juice substitute for salad dressings, limoncello, and dipping sauces.
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.
How to use it: Dekopon would work best on desserts like trifle, custard tart, and sorbet with its natural sweetness. It’s also sometimes used to add a sweet and tangy flavor to balance savory, meaty dishes.
This citrus fruit has a unique flavor profile—a combination of lemons and oranges with a savory celery hint. (*)
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.
If you love Earl Grey tea, you probably already know what bergamot is. After all, it’s a key component of your favorite tea.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit that is both bitter and sour, making it an excellent yuzu juice substitute for those who don’t. The fruit is highly aromatic as well and is known for its subtle floral notes—similar to that of jasmine flowers and citronella.
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 not just for yuzu juice but also the peel. With that said, you can use its peel as a garnish for cocktail drinks.
5. 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 of all—its flavor. This fruit tastes almost the same as bergamot but is less intense and more lemony.
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.
Since it lacks a distinctive fragrance and may not be as flavorful as yuzu, lemon may not be the best yuzu juice substitute. But if it’s your only option, it will do.
If your problem is you don’t have enough yuzu juice for your dish, you can simply add lemon juice to it.
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 juice and grapefruit juice following a 4:2:1 ratio to reduce its distinct lemony flavor.
The Bottom Line
To be honest, yuzu juice is one-of-a-kind. No other fruits can come close to their aromatic fragrance, sour, and slightly bitter taste.
But if we are to pick which is the best yuzu juice substitute, it would be either lemon or bergamot. These alternatives are widely available, but they are 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.