I personally taste-tested a variety of almond paste substitutes to find the best one for every 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.
Marzipan or homemade almond paste are the best substitutes for almond paste. If you use marzipan, you’ll need to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe. Persipan is another option, which is a paste made from apricot kernels.
I made some of these raspberry almond bars to test out different almond paste substitutes.
Almond paste is made of ground almonds and sugar. It’s rich, nutty, and sweet, which makes it a classic ingredient in many European pastries and desserts such as almond croissants, Battenberg cake, almond macarons, and stollen. You can also use it to add depth and texture to savory recipes too.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Homemade Almond Paste||Easy to make||10/10|
|Other Nut Pastes||Different flavors||9/10|
|Persipan||Made from apricot kernels||8/10|
|Vanilla Bean Paste||Thinner texture||7/10|
|Chestnut Paste||Wetter texture||7/10|
|Sweet Bean Paste||Healthier alternative||7/10|
Marzipan / Mock Marzipan
You’d be forgiven for thinking almond paste and marzipan are the same thing because they are very similar! The main difference is in sugar content – marzipan is more sugar than almonds, while almond paste is more almonds than sugar.
This means marzipan is a lot sweeter and also has a smoother texture. The exact amount of sugar will vary from brand to brand, but it should be listed on the packaging. Almond paste is generally around 50% sugar, while marzipan is 75% to 85% sugar. This means to use marzipan as a substitute, you’ll need to reduce the sugar in your recipe by around 20%.
Pro tip: if you have a nut allergy, you can use mock marzipan which is typically made from semolina and nut-free almond essence or vanilla extract.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with marzipan, and reduce sugar in recipe.
Homemade Almond Paste
Reducing the sugar in your recipe not an option? Why not try making homemade almond paste?
You’ll need some blanched almonds, sugar, almond extract, and a decent blender or food processor. You can blanch your own almonds or buy them ready-blanched from the store. Once you have them, you need to grind them up with the other ingredients until you get your desired consistency (a thick, spreadable paste that can hold its shape when molded).
The best part about making your own almond paste is that you can adjust the sugar levels and the almond taste to your liking. For example, if you want a mild-flavored almond paste, skip the almond essence.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with homemade almond paste.
Other Nut Pastes
If you’re not a fan of almonds, you can make another type of nut paste. Hazelnuts, cashews, and even pistachios will work. Pistachios would actually be my go-to choice because the paste would be green and I love funky-colored foods.
Hazelnut paste would have a rich, earthy flavor, while cashew paste would provide a milder, creamier taste. And if you still want a hint of almond flavor, you can add a few drops of almond essence.
Pro tip: when you’re using another nut, be careful not to over-process the mixture and draw too much oil out of the nuts. You don’t want to end up with a nut butter rather than a paste.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with another nut paste.
Persipan is an effective substitute for almond paste made from apricot or peach kernels. It has a similar flavor to almond paste, although it’s milder and has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Some commercial persipan will contain almond extract to give it an even more similar flavor.
Persipan isn’t a super common ingredient, so you might have to visit a specialty baking store or buy it online. But once you do find it, you should be pleasantly surprised by the price. It’s normally cheaper than almond paste because the based ingredients (apricot kernels) are a cheap ingredient.
It’s important to note that apricot kernels can sometimes cause reactions to people with tree-nut allergies.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with persipan.
Vanilla Bean Paste
The above substitutes are all able to mimic the flavor of almond paste in some way. But this substitute, and the following ones, are less direct substitutes and more just decent alternatives.
Everyone loves the flavor of vanilla. It’s warm, floral, and complex – perfect for bringing a touch of something extra to your cakes, cookies, or pastries. The flavor of vanilla is also very versatile and will pair well with other flavors like fruits, spices, or chocolate.
It’s made from the seeds of the vanilla pod and a small amount of sugar syrup, which gives it a sticky, molasses-like consistency. This means it’s not as thick as almond paste and can’t hold a shape, but you can work around that for some recipes – or you can try mixing it with something like flour to thicken it (I didn’t try this though!).
It’s also sweeter than almond paste, so you won’t want to use too much.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste with 1/2 the amount of vanilla bean paste for flavor.
Chestnut paste is another delightful alternative to almond paste, especially in autumn and winter desserts.
It has a sweet, nutty flavor with earthy undertones. It’s not as intense as almond paste, and you don’t need to add as much sugar because chestnuts are naturally sweeter. In terms of texture, chestnut paste tends to be smoother, creamier, and less dense. It’s good for recipes you think could handle a little extra moisture.
Chesnut paste isn’t a common sight in regular grocery stores, but it’s really easy to make at home.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with chestnut paste, taking into account the wetter texture.
Sweet Bean Paste
In East Asian cuisine, sweet bean paste is a staple ingredient used in many traditional desserts, such as mochi. It’s made from adzuki beans and sugar and has a dense texture that mimics the texture of almond paste.
The flavor is less nutty and more earthy than almond paste, but its subtle richness makes it a great backdrop for other flavors in your recipe.
One thing sweet bean paste can beat all the other suggestions on is health! Adzuki beans are a great source of fiber, protein, and various minerals.
Psst… making this yourself at home? Check out my tried and tested adzuki bean substitutes.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with sweet bean paste.
Allergen-free almond paste
I talked about how to make a homemade version of almond paste earlier, but while I was doing my research for this article I came across this cool recipe for allergen-free almond paste.
- 8 oz cream cheese (or pureed tofu)
- 1 egg yolk
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅓ tsp imitation almond flavoring
- Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature and cream in the sugar.
- Gently mix in the egg yolk and the imitation almond flavoring until smooth.
- Store in the fridge.
To use tofu in the place of cream cheese you want to get silken tofu. Drain the tofu as much as possible before blending it into a creamy texture. You can then add a small amount of lemon juice to mimic the tang of cream cheese.
How to substitute: Replace almond paste in a 1:1 ratio with the allergen-free almond paste.
Substitute to avoid – Almond butter
If you have some almond butter in your cupboards, you might be wondering if you can use this instead of almond paste. I’m not going to get your hopes up and say it’s a great swap, because it’s not.
Almond butter is much more oily than almond paste and the texture is just too different for it to work in recipes that call for almond paste. Another big issue is that almond butter will melt when it gets hot, so it’s not great for baking with.
Overall, there are much better swaps.
Best Almond Paste Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 1 portion marzipan
- 1 portion homemade almond paste
- 1 portion other nut pastes
- 1 portion persipan
- 1 portion vanilla bean paste
- 1 portion chestnut paste
- 1 portion sweet bean paste
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen almond paste substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.