I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of guava paste 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 I’ve got you covered.
Quince paste is the perfect substitute for guava paste. But if you can’t find it, guava jam or jelly is an easy alternative. Not a fan of guava flavor? Go with apple paste or another citrus condiment like orange marmalade. If you have access to fresh guavas, you can also make a DIY guava paste.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I busted out my fancy crackers and some Gouda cheese to test out different guava paste substitutes.
Guava paste is a staple ingredient in Latin American cuisine. It’s made by cooking down pureed guava until it’s super thick. Once it cools, the mixture solidifies into a block you can slice.
It boasts a sweet-tangy flavor with tropical, floral notes, making it a favorite for sweet and savory applications.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Guava jam/jelly||1 slice of guava paste = 1 tbsp guava jam/jelly||10/10|
|Quince paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Homemade guava paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Apple paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Apple butter||1 slice of guava paste = 1 tbsp apple butter||9/10|
|Fruit preserves||1 slice of guava paste = 1 tbsp fruit preserves||8/10|
|Fig butter||1 slice of guava paste = 1 tbsp fig butter||8/10|
|Cranberry sauce||1 slice of guava paste = 1 tbsp cranberry sauce||7/10|
Common uses of guava paste
Here are some popular ways to use guava paste and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For cheese plates or charcuterie boards: Try using guava jam, quince paste, or apple paste. If you don’t mind a flavor change, cranberry sauce is an unexpected but tasty alternative.
- For dessert fillings: Try using guava jelly, quince paste, or homemade guava paste. You can also use apple butter or fruit preserves.
- For sauces or glazes: Try using guava jelly or quince paste.
Guava jam or jelly
Guava jam might seem too obvious, but I had to put it on the list!
It offers a similar tropical sweet-tangy flavor with one difference. It doesn’t have guava paste’s thick, sliceable texture.
Instead, guava jam has a viscous consistency and it’s dotted with juicy guava bits.
The texture difference didn’t matter for my cheese and crackers though – I dolloped a tablespoon over a slice of my gouda and it tasted divine!
Famous brands such as Goya and Mrs. Miller’s offer guava jam, so you’ll definitely find a jar in well-stocked stores.
How to substitute: replace 1 slice of guava paste with 1 tbsp of guava jam/jelly.
Quince paste (also called membrillo) is a fantastic substitute for guava paste.
It tastes similar to guava paste, although its floral notes are more prominent.
And it looks exactly like guava paste – from the deep red color to the jelly-like consistency!
Quince paste may sound exotic, but I snagged a block at my local Trader Joe’s.
Or try your favorite cheese shop! Quince paste is a beloved addition to cheese plates, so it’s not uncommon for them to carry it.
How to substitute: replace guava paste in a 1:1 ratio with quince paste.
Homemade guava paste
If you have time, and access to fresh guavas (the pink-flesh variety is best), you can make your own guava paste.
The process is relatively straightforward. Start with fresh guavas, puree them, and then simmer the puree until it transforms into a thick, sticky paste.
You need to constantly stir the mixture to prevent burning and to develop the perfect consistency.
Once cooled, the mixture will harden into the guava paste we all know and love.
How to substitute: replace guava paste in a 1:1 ratio with homemade guava paste.
Need something easier than quinces and guavas.
You probably already have everything you need to make apple paste in your cupboards!
Apples, lemon juice, sugar, and water.
The result is a sweet, but fresh jelly that you can use in the place of guava paste for any application. It’s especially great in BBQ sauce.
You can also customize the exact flavor of this apple paste by varying the apples you start with. For a sweeter paste, go with fuji apples.
How to substitute: replace guava paste in a 1:1 ratio with apple paste.
We’re veering away from guava paste territory here, but apple butter also works as a substitute if you are okay with losing out on some of the tropical flair.
Apple butter is apple sauce that’s been cooked down so it has a more concentrated flavor.
It will be a lot sweeter than guava paste, but you can mix in some lemon juice to balance out this sweetness.
How to substitute: replace 1 slice of guava paste with 1 tbsp of apple butter.
Reaching for the jar of fruit preserves in your fridge can save the day when you can’t find guava paste.
Options like apricot, peach, or plum will bring the desired sweetness with a hint of tartness – just what you need to cut through a salty cheese and cracker plate.
Pssst… you can also try mango jam. It’s sweeter, but it’ll have a tropical twist like guava paste.
And just like with apple butter, you can always mix the preserves with a splash of lemon juice or even freshly grated citrus zest for more intense sour flavor.
How to substitute: replace 1 slice of guava paste with 1 tbsp of your chosen fruit preserves.
Like guava paste, fig butter starts as puree and is then cooked into a thick, rich spread.
It doesn’t form a solid block like guava paste, but you can still smear it over your cheese and crackers to enjoy its decadent sweetness and subtle tart notes.
But my favorite part about using fig butter is the added crunch from the seeds spread throughout the mixture.
It’s perfect for filling buttery pie crusts and even fluffy cakes for a texture contrast!
How to substitute: replace 1 slice of guava paste with 1 tbsp of fig butter.
Cranberry sauce is a star player during holiday feasts, but did you know it also makes a decent stand-in for guava paste? It might seem unconventional, but it works.
Cranberry sauce has the opposite problem to preserves and apple butters, in that it’s far more sour than guava paste.
I adding in a dash of sugar syrup to sweeten it up, but you can skip this is you prefer a tarter bite.
How to substitute: replace 1 slice of guava paste with 1 tbsp of cranberry sauce.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above are my top picks for guava paste substitutes, but here are other alternatives you can try:
- Lime marmalade – this is another substitue you can use if you prefer a more sour condiment.
- Dried fruits – dried figs and apricots are great options to replace guava paste on your cheese plate. Or you can chop them and blend them with a bit of water to make a paste.
Avoid using berry jam
I know I mentioned you can experiment with any fruit preserves or jam, but I would avoid berry jams like strawberry or raspberry because they’re too sickly sweet to replace guava paste in most applications.
What to use instead of guava paste in bolo de rolo?
Bolo de Rolo is a Brazilian cake featuring thin sheets of cake roll traditionally filled with guava paste.
It’s typically served in slices to show the gorgeous guava paste and cake layers.
To replace guava paste in bolo de rolo you can use quince paste or apple paste. Or you can try something completely different and go for Dulce de Leche or nutella.
Credit to Food52 for the nutella idea.
10 Best Guava Paste Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 5 lbs fresh guavas
- 2 cups water
- 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
- 5 cups sugar
- Rinse the guavas well and trim off the ends. Cut them into large chunks and add them into a pot filled with water. Bring everything to a boil, turn down the heat, and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Once the guavas are tender, take the pot off the heat and let the guavas cool. Transfer the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. With a sieve, strain the seeds from the puree.
- Transfer the puree back into a clean pot. Add lemon juice and zest. Bring the puree to a boil, then add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Keep cooking the mixture while constantly stirring. This should take about 35-40 minutes or until the puree holds a line drawn in the bottom of the pot.
- Transfer the guava mixture into a parchment-lined pan. Let cool overnight. Turn it out, cut into portions and use immediately. Wrap the excess in parchment paper and store them in an air-tight container.