I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of apple juice substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
Apple cider is a no-brainer substitute for apple juice. You can even use hard cider if you don’t mind adding alcohol. Or if you prefer a sweeter option, try pear juice. Orange and pineapple juice also work but are tangier than apple juice. If you have fresh apples, try making homemade apple juice.
Ready? Let’s jump right in
I braised pork chops in different apple juice substitutes.
Apple juice comes from pressed apples and has been filtered and treated to become shelf-stable. It has a sweet flavor with a mild tangy twist. Plus, it has acids that can act as a natural meat tenderizer.
I was looking for a substitute that could deliver a similar flavor and has similar tenderizing properties.
Here’s the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to substitute||Verdict|
|Apple cider||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Pear juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Orange juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Diluted applesauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Pineapple juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Homemade apple juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Brown sugar + water||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
Common uses for apple juice
Here are some popular ways to use apple juice and the best substitutes for those situations:
- As a stand-alone beverage: Try using apple cider, pear juice, orange juice or pineapple juice.
- For desserts and baking: Try apple cider, pear juice, or orange juice. Applesauce also works, but you’ll need to dilute and blend it for a smoother texture. You can also use pineapple juice with a pinch of brown sugar if you find it too tangy.
- For marinades and sauces: Try orange juice or pineapple juice. Both of these have meat tenderizing properties.
- For cocktails or smoothies: Try pear juice, orange juice, diluted apple sauce, or pineapple juice. Homemade apple juice also works if you have fresh apples.
This fall-favorite drink is made from apples so it’s no surprise it’s one of my top substitutes!
But unlike apple juice which has been filtered, apple cider is unfiltered and often unpasteurized.
This small change gives apple cider a richer, fuller taste with a tangier kick than apple juice.
The extra tang was perfect for cutting through the fattiness of my pork chops and it made them extra tender!
The downside? Fresh cider has a shorter shelf-life because of the minimal processing.
Psst… if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try hard cider as an alternative. But this would introduce alcohol into your dish.
How to substitute: replace apple juice in a 1:1 ratio with apple cider.
If you’re searching for a sweeter alternative to apple juice, try out pear juice.
It offers a floral, honey-like flavor with natural sweetness. But there is still a subtle tartness that makes pear juice an exciting swap for apple juice.
And if you want to tone down the sweetness, add a splash of apple cider vinegar to balance out the flavor profile.
Pro-tip: pear juice delicious in marinades and vinaigrettes.
How to substitute: replace apple juice in a 1:1 ratio with pear juice.
Can’t have apples? Everyone favourite morning pick juice can save your dish in a pinch.
It has the sweetness of apple juice with a citrusy twist guaranteed to brighten your dish.
And don’t worry if you find it a bit too tangy. A pinch of brown sugar is all you need to round out the flavors.
And let’s not forget orange juice has an added advantage – its natural acids are excellent for tenderizing meat.
Made my pork chops oh-so-tender and juicy.
How to substitute: replace apple juice in a 1:1 ratio with orange juice.
That jar of applesauce in your fridge might just save you an emergency grocery trip!
It’s not a perfect substitute for apple juice, but it’s good enough.
Applesauce on its own is thick and more concentrated than apple juice, so a splash of water helps even things out.
Psst… if your sauce has a chunky texture it should be relatively easy to mash it smooth with just a fork.
How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with diluted applesauce.
Pineapple juice is another alternative worth a try if you’re avoiding apples.
It’s tangier but still has the same fruity sweetness that pairs well with many proteins.
And pineapple juice is packed with bromelain, an enzyme that’s excellent for tenderizing meat. YAY.
I liked the tropical twist it gave my pork! But watch out for the sugar content with this sub, it can be surprisingly high in the store bought cartons.
How to substitute: replace apple juice in a 1:1 ratio with pineapple juice.
Homemade apple juice
If you have lots of fresh apples and a high-powered blender, why not make your own apple juice?
It’s fresher, it’s tastier, and you can control the sweetness!
Simply chop the apples up, blend them, strain out the pulp, and voila, you have your homemade apple juice.
I recommend a mix of sweet and tart varieties for a balanced flavor. Fuji is nice and sweet, while pink ladies are more tart.
Don’t throw away that leftover pulp! You can use it in muffins or pancakes for a nutritious, fiber-packed breakfast treat.
How to substitute: replace in a 1:1 ratio with homemade apple juice.
Brown sugar, lemon juice, and water
When all else fails, you can always rely on a simple mixture of brown sugar, water, and a splash of lemon juice.
Now, this isn’t exactly a sippable, but it’s a solid alternative when it comes to cooking.
Brown sugar lends your dishes a warm, caramel-like sweetness and lemon juice brings some acidity plus a fruity undertone.
Psst… don’t use white sugar instead, it’s got a much more one-dimensional sweetness.
How to substitute: replace apple juice in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of brown sugar and water.
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions above are my top picks for apple juice substitutes, but these are other alternatives you can try if you have them on hand:
- White grape juice: If you’re looking for a juice substitute that will provide a similar sweet and light flavor profile to apple juice, white grape juice is an excellent choice. The tartness in white grape juice mimics the tang in apple juice, making it a decent substitute for cooking or baking.
- Other fruit juices – these fruit juices are more sour than apple juice, so you may need to tweak them with a bit of sugar to tone this down. Try grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and pomegranate juice.
- Wine: While it might not be an everyday substitute, it can be a superb stand-in for apple juice in specific recipes, especially marinades or sauces. The acidity in wine is a decent match for the tartness in apple juice. And go for mildly sweet white wine, like a Riesling or a Moscato, to keep the flavor profile in check.
Avoid using vinegar
I encountered several kinds of vinegar – from balsamic to sherry and even rice wine – as suggestions for apple juice, so I had to try them.
But after the experiment, I don’t recommend them as a substitute.
These varieties of vinegar have subtle sweet notes, but their tart flavor is WAY more prominent. They’re an okay alternative if you need a tenderizer because it’s acidic, but it won’t give your dishes any of the fruity sweetness apple juice has.
You can mix vinegar with a sweeter juice, like pear or white grape, for a more balanced substitute.
10 Best Apple Juice Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 4 apples
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp sugar, optional
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, optional
- Rinse the apples and peel the skins. Chop into cubes, removing the seeds and core.
- Transfer the apples in your blender and pour in 2 cups of water. Add sugar, if using.
- Blend until smooth. With a cheese cloth or strainer over a bowl, separate the juices from the apple pulp. Mix in lemon juice (if using) to prevent color change.