Everyone loves the sweet, tropical, unique flavor of pineapple juice. Not only is it delicious to drink on its own or mix into cocktails, but it is often an ingredient that gets incorporated into recipes.
If you happen to need pineapple juice and don't have any on hand, you don't need to make a separate trip to the store. There are many ingredients that can work as a good substitute.
This delicious fruit is actually native to the tropical and subtropical portions of America but has been introduced all over the world. Some would argue that a Hawaiian grown pineapple is the best tasting in the world. Sadly, most pineapple production has moved off the island over the past 40 years due to cost reasons.
Pineapple is eaten both fresh and canned worldwide. In its canned version, you will find pineapple sold as juice but also in the form of pineapple chunks, sliced into rings, or crushed. It is widely used in both savory and sweet recipes.
It is packed with many impressive health benefits. Notably, pineapple juice contains proteolytic enzymes that help the body fight pain and swelling as well as boost your immune system. These anti-inflammatory properties are also found in the pineapple stem. Pineapple is also loaded with nutrients and antioxidant properties known to reduce the risk of cancer. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6.
To find the perfect substitute, you need to be able to find something that offers a similar sweetness and taste. Pineapple is uniquely sweet and tart with the most delicious tangy flavor.
Best Pineapple Juice Substitutes
When determining what you want to use for your pineapple juice substitute, you must first decide if you want something that is sweeter, tarter, or has a perfect balance of both sweetness and tartness. Some of the options below are more commonly available, and some are more exotic.
1. Fresh Pineapple
When using pineapple juice for a recipe, most of us think we need to get it from a can or a carton. Fresh pineapple juice is obviously the best alternative to boxed or canned juice.
Fresh fruit is certainly one of the best options any time it is available. The only downside is that a little work and clean-up are involved.
To transform fresh pineapple into juice, simply cut away the outer skin, top, and bottom. You can remove the core as well, however, there is a fair amount of juice in the core. Cut the fruit into large chunks and blend in a food processor or high-speed blender. The juice can be strained using a fine-mesh sieve and then stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Hard Cider (Tepache)
Pineapple hard cider, also known as Tepache, is a great replacement for pineapple juice in any baked good. The carbonation help make breads and cakes light and fluffy and can help act as a leavening agent.
The pineapple flavor shines through and the alcohol gets burned off during the cooking process. This ingredient swap is especially delicious in a pineapple upside-down cake.
3. Pineapple Extract
Extracts can never be used as a 1:1 replacement for something like juice. In fact, if an extract is used, the amount will typically be a teaspoon or less.
If you are looking purely for a burst of pineapple flavor, using a pineapple extract will do the trick. However, if your recipe calls for a substantial amount of pineapple juice, you will have to replace that amount of liquid with water or some other kind of juice from this list.
A small amount of pineapple extract will provide a lot of tropical flavor to sweet baked goods like carrot cake.
4. Orange Juice
Orange juice is tangy and tart. Although the flavor profile is a bit different, the citric acid levels and sweetness of pineapple juice is comparable to that of OJ.
Another benefit to using orange juice is its availability. You can buy fresh orange juice in a carton from the refrigerated section at the grocery store, dilute concentrated OJ, and it even comes in a shelf-stable version (boxed or canned). Additionally, it is a great source of Vitamin C.
Orange juice is a great ingredient to use as a substitute in recipes like sweet and sour sauce and salad dressings.
5. Apple Juice
Pineapple and ham are a match made in heaven. If you are cooking a holiday ham, you make be heating it up with pineapple juice. This is where apple juice is a great option. Apple compliments pork just as well as pineapple. It doesn't exactly offer a similar taste, but it does lend amazing flavor along with a hint of sweetness.
Apple juice makes a great substitute for pineapple in any recipes that involve cooking a pork roast.
6. Lemon Juice or Lime Juice
Although they pack a much stronger sour flavor than pineapple juice, these tart citrus juices can be a great addition to recipes like salad dressing or fruit salad. To tone down the tart, you can add extra sweetness by combining the juice with sugar.
If you're recipe calls for a small amount of pineapple juice that is purely meant to add flavor and not too much liquid, lemon zest can also be used to boost the fresh tart flavor of whatever you're making.
7. Grapefruit Juice
Another way citrus fruits can work as a substitute is to use grapefruit juice. Either fresh or bottled, it can make an excellent substitute. The sour taste and tart flavor can be toned down with a bit of brown sugar or raw honey.
8. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice may not have popped into your head when thinking about possible substitutions, but it can be a great alternative, depending on the recipe. Like pineapple juice, cranberry juice is both sweet and tart. It is typically sold as a shelf-stable juice in a glass jar.
The flavor and color is different than pineapple juice, though, so be aware of how this may alter your recipe.
9. White Grape Juice
If you're looking for something with a mild sweet taste that might work as an alternative for pineapple juice, white grape juice might work.
Since it is also commonly found as a concentrate, you can control the amount of flavor based on how much water you use to dilute the concentrate.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Due to the acidity, ACV cannot be used as a 1:1 replacement for pineapple juice. If your recipe calls for only a small amount of pineapple juice to add flavor and acidity, that is when ACV can be used as a replacement.
Specifically, apple cider vinegar works great for dressings, marinades, and for slow cooking roasts.
If you've ever been to Hawaii, or have even flown on Hawaiian Airlines, you may have tasted this delicious drink. POG is short for Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava.
The flavor of this drink will work as a good alternative to pineapple juice. It can be used as a substitute in tropical recipes like a Pina Colada when mixed with coconut milk or coconut cream, ice, and your favorite rum. You won't have the pineapple taste, but it will definitely taste tropical.
However, given that there is more sugar added than there is of each of the fruit purees, you might not consider it a great substitute considering pineapple juice does not have any added sugar.
12. Passion Fruit Juice
Passion fruit juice is one of the best substitutes for pineapple juice due to its uniquely sweet, tart, and tropical flavor. It is even similar in color. Passion fruit juice can take the place of pineapple juice in any recipe or application.
The only reason it is not listed higher on the list is due to its availability. There are plenty of passion fruit-flavored drinks out there, but true passion fruit juice is hard to find. Canned pineapple juice can be found in any grocery store, whereas real passion fruit juice is a specialty product.
13. Guava Juice, Papaya Juice, Mango Juice
Mostly sold as guava nectar, this sweet drink has very high sugar content. That makes it more sweet than tart. It can make a suitable replacement for pineapple juice purely because of the tropical fruit flavor.
Guava juice or nectar, along with mango juice and papaya juice, really make tropical drink recipes shine. If making a tropical cocktail or punch, you can always swap pineapple juice with any of these tropical juice flavors. If they are too sweet, you can always add a squeeze of lime to make the mixture slightly more tart. This would more closely mimic the flavor of pineapple.
As you can see, there are tons of choices when looking for a pineapple juice substitute. From fresh fruit and extracts to various juices and kinds of vinegar, the swap you choose will depend on availability as well as the recipe.
Each suggestion above varies in sweetness, tartness, and flavor. Depending on whether you need something that tastes like the tropics or just need an ingredient that offers a similar sweet and tart combination, one of these substitution ideas is bound to be the ideal substitute for your needs.