The Best Substitute For Apple Juice In Recipes

Apple juice is an ingredient that home chefs may neglect to keep stocked in the pantry. Yet many flavorful recipes, from barbecue marinades to fresh salad dressings to a loaf of banana bread, make use of the fruity liquid. So what should a home cook turn to if they're out of apple juice and need a proper substitution?

If you don't have the equipment to make your own apple juice, the answer to your problem will be another popular fruit juice: white grape juice. Similar in flavor, consistency, and sweetness, white grape juice is the fuss-free and most accessible dupe to apple juice by a long shot. Why? First, consider that other apple products, like apple cider or apple cider vinegar, will be noticeably less sweet and need quite a bit of additional sugar or dilution to mimic its flavor. Second, certain fruit juices, like apple cider and orange juice, often contain pulp or other unfiltered material. 

Finally, white grape juice is one of the most readily available fruit juices on the market, making it easier to find than say, pear or pineapple juice. With all of these factors in mind, white grape juice beats out all other options for a proper cooking swap. 

Tap into another popular fruit juice

Savory and sweet recipes that call for apple juice are most likely making the most of its mild flavor, slight acidity, and sugar content. Grape juice checks all those boxes for a one-to-one ratio substitution. That means if a recipe calls for half a cup of apple juice, half a cup of grape juice can be used in its place. Keep in mind that we suggest white grape juice rather than red or concord grape juice so that the color of your food won't be affected. White grape juice is also slightly sweeter than other grape juices, so it'll bring more sugar to the table. 

Even though white grape juice is a close dupe to apple juice, there is a caveat to keep in mind. For instance, if the recipe is dependent on the apple flavor rather than a vague mellow fruitiness, grape juice isn't as close in flavor as sweetened apple cider or pear juice. If the actual fruit taste is specific to apples, you might want to select something closer to home in the flavor profile. Otherwise, white grape juice is still the most solid option. 

Some other juicy options

If you can't get your hands on white grape juice, there are several other fruit juices that can work. You just need to be aware of their individual quirks and pitfalls. First, orange juice is a nice tangy option, but be aware that fresh orange juice will often be less sweet, more acidic, and contain pulp — but it's a great addition to banana bread. Apple cider will usually need a teaspoon or so of sugar stirred in to get the amount of sweetness you want. Pear juice is a great substitution as it matches apple flavor pretty closely, but it's not always the easiest to find in stores. Pineapple, cranberry, and grapefruit juice can work as a one-to-one substitution well, but they'll bring their own unique flavor to the recipe. 

If you'd rather rely on lemons and limes, you can, but you'll need to both dilute the mixture with water and sweeten it with sugar. The same rule applies to any vinegar you decide to use as well. Sodas like citrus-flavored Sprite and ginger ale can work, but the carbonation can affect the texture of baked goods. Even wine will work in a pinch, you'll just need to make sure to cook off the alcohol if you can — it won't be successful in recipes that keep the apple juice raw, like in salad dressings.