I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of kumquat 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 want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitutes for kumquats are calamondins and limequats. Both have edible sweet skins and a sour inside just like kumquats. If you want something that’s easier to find, try a mix of regular oranges, lemons, and limes.
Kumquats are citrus fruits that look like elongated mini oranges. They’re tart on the inside, but their thin, edible skins have a sweet taste to balance this out. You can eat kumquats as a snack, use them in stews, and use them to make marmalades, pickles, or candies.
I did some research to find all the possible substitute options, then did a simple taste test before noting down my thoughts. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Limequats||Another great option||9/10|
|Seville Oranges||Great for marmalade||7/10|
|Orange + Lemon/Lime||An accessible substitute||6/10|
Calamondins (also known as calamansi) are a great substitute option for kumquats. They’re actually a hybrid of kumquats and mandarins, so have a very similar flavor profile with a sour inside and a sweet, fragrant skin.
I found their sour flavor to be more pronounced than kumquats, so you might want to up the sugar slightly in your recipe to account for this. And remember to pick out the seeds (if there are any)! I had to learn this the hard way when I accidentally bit into one and a sharp bitter flavor flooded my mouth.
Pro tip: you can often find calamondin juice in Asian grocery stores, which can work as a substitute in a pinch if your dish can take extra liquid.
How to Substitute: Replace kumquats with calamondin in a 1:1 ratio.
As the name suggests, limequats are a hybrid of limes and kumquats. They have the same edible sweet skins, and underneath lies a bittersweet pulp that’ll have you screwing up your face.
You can use limequats any way you would use kumquats (they make a delicious marmalade), and you can even eat them whole if you can handle the tartness.
And here’s a little shopping tip: To get your hands on these citrusy delights, visit your local farmer’s market instead of your go-to grocery store’s fruit section.
How to Substitute: Replace 2 kumquats with 1 limequat.
Seville oranges are also known as sour or bitter oranges, and they’re perfect for making marmalade (here’s a great recipe). They’re a hybrid of mandarin oranges and grapefruit, and have very sour flesh.
Unlike kumquats, you can’t eat the skin so there’s no sweet twist to these fruits and it wasn’t a particularly nice experience eating them raw! But they’d be great in cooked applications, where you can add some extra sugar or honey to mellow out the tart flavors.
How to Substitute: Replace kumquats with an equal amount of chopped seville oranges, and add sugar to taste.
Orange + Lemon/Lime
The above substitutes are great for replicating the flavors of kumquats, but they’re not the easiest things to find. If you’re looking for a more convenient substitute a mixture of oranges plus lemons or limes can stand in for kumquats.
The flesh of the oranges will bring sweetness, and adding a little lemon or lime will replicate the sour flavors. You can also add some zest of each of the fruits to add an aromatic element.
This option isn’t going to work for every dish – but it’s a good one to have in your back pocket. And if you don’t have oranges, you can use another sweet fruit in its place like mango or strawberries.
How to Substitute: Replace kumquats with 1/2 the amount of chopped orange and 1/2 the amount of chopped lemon or lime.
Substitutes To Avoid
While I was researching, I came across a few websites suggested that you could use things like clementines or tangerines as a substitute for kumquats. But these fruits were way too sweet to be a good replacement in my opinion. If you were going to them, you’d need to add something sour as well.
BEST Kumquat Substitutes
- 1 calamondin fruit
- 1 limequat
- ¼ clementine
- ¼ tangerine
- ⅛ lemon + a pinch of sugar
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen kumquat substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.