Whether you're out of pineapple juice or just don't care for it, if a recipe calls for pineapple juice, you may be in need of a replacement. Here we have some samples of recipes that require pineapple juice (not just pineapple upside-down cake) and the top seven substitutes for pineapple juice.
Why Substitute for Pineapple Juice?
What's so wrong with pineapple juice that you'd need to replace it? Pineapples are bracing, sweet-tasting fruits that have unique health benefits including anti-inflammatory and digestive support, along with cardiovascular contributions. They also make for an excellent smoothie ingredient, as in our own Pineapple Dreams Tropical Smoothie. That all being said, there are some pineapple drawbacks.
First of all, due to the acerbic, acidic strength of pineapple juice, anyone with a cold sore, sensitive gums, or other mouth injuries may find that pineapple juice stings too painfully to allow them to enjoy the dish. While baking, diluting, and caramelizing cuts down on this astringent aspect, you may still want to avoid a fruit that can be so sour at times.
Secondly, some people are allergic to pineapple juice. An allergy can come with symptoms like hives and itching, a swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face, difficulty breathing, digestive issues like vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, or constipation, and in some extreme cases, even anaphylactic shock.
People with a pineapple allergy need to avoid it, meaning no pineapple and no eating canned fruit cocktail, fruit candy, fruitcake, banana bread, pineapple salsa, pineapple rum, tropical fruit punch, or drinks like piña coladas and margaritas just to be safe. One study on allergic pineapple intake found that out of 32 people who tested positive for a pineapple allergy, 20 of them entered into anaphylactic shock after consuming it.
But you can still get vitamin C from other delicious fruits like pears, grapes, apples, mangoes, various citrus fruits, and even bell peppers. When it comes to how to replace pineapple juice in baking and other recipes, read on.
Recipes with Hidden Pineapple Juice
It isn't surprising that a dessert like pineapple upside-down cake has both pineapple slices and pineapple juice, but there are a few other recipes that include hidden, unexpected pineapple juice or pineapple puree, including the following.
- Banana bread: Just like lemon juice can help keep an apple from browning, pineapple juice is sometimes included in banana bread recipes to help preserve the bananas a little bit longer.
- Hawaiian/Jamaican pork: Pineapple juice may seem like an irreplaceable ingredient in these sweetmeat dishes, but we have many alternatives below.
- Holiday ham: A nice glazed ham on Thanksgiving or Christmas might have pineapples and cherries stuck to it in a pretty, patterned design, and though the pineapple isn't exactly hiding there, its juice has soaked into the meat.
- Salsa: By nature, salsas are a mishmash of zesty, refreshing ingredients from tomatoes to onions to lime juice and yes, sometimes pineapple juice too. When buying, check the ingredients list to avoid pineapple, and when at a potluck, ask around before eating.
- Curry: Indian curry dishes mix meat, veggies, and rice in with strong spices and a savory-sweet sauce, some of which use pineapple juice. Once more, buyer beware when eating a curry dish you didn't prepare yourself.
- Cookies: Again, much like lemon juice, pineapple juice is a sweet way to help keep breaded desserts moist, fresh, and visually appealing, so it may be found or used in cookie recipes as well as foods like bundt cakes.
If you have a recipe that calls for canned or fresh pineapple juice, skip to the next section to discover the best alternatives.
The Top 7 Substitutes for Pineapple Juice in Baking Recipes and More
Here are the top seven ingredient substitutions for pineapple juice.
1. Lemon or Lime Juice
Lemon juice and lemon zest can step in quite easily for pineapple juice in a recipe that calls for a yellow, citrusy flavor. Whether it's fresh or from a squeezable lemon-shaped bottle, lemon juice has the same culinary preservative power as pineapple juice, much like salt and brine do in savory dishes.
Lemon juice also has a similar vitamin C content to pineapple juice, vitamin C being a natural antioxidant that can not only help stop rotting and spoilage in foods but also help fight free radical damage in the body once it's consumed. The only problem is that lemon is more sour than pineapple juice, and might not do so well in a cake mix or cookie recipe.
Some suggest mixing lemon juice with brown sugar to help sweeten it for use. Lime juice also can be used, especially in salsa recipes or when you need the function of a lemon but simply can't work with its taste.
2. Orange Juice
For some recipes, orange juice may be the easiest, tastiest, and possibly preferred ingredient, but for others, it may not work at all. Orange juice has all the fruitiness one might expect, so for a cookie or cake recipe it might be perfect, but due to the sweetness of orange juice and its own distinct and sometimes overpowering flavor, it wouldn't do so well as a marinade in a tropical meat dish.
For the easy convenience, orange juice is an option, but there may be a better substitute for pineapple juice on this list that more closely approximates pineapple flavoring.
3. Apple Cider or Grape Juice
Apple cider and grape juice (especially white grape juice) can be used as milder fruit juice replacements for pineapple. While they don't contain the "tropical" taste many associate with pineapple, they can mix gently in with the rest of your ingredients when making a moist pound cake or mixing up a tasty fruit punch.
4. Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit also works as a substitute for pineapple juice, partially because it has that same biting, sanitizing element of a strong citrus fruit like lemon, but also because it can be more easily tempered by sweet ingredients. As a bonus, grapefruit juice (like pomegranate juice, another substitute pineapple juice option in the right circumstances) has its own blushing color, meaning this juice can lend flavor and visual appeal while still working as a vitamin C powerhouse and preservative.
5. Apricot or Peach Juice
Apricots are closer still to pineapple juice's delicate balance between sweet and sour. They bring their own unique taste, of course, but apricots also have a similar profile to candy and tart. A replacement like lemon juice relies on the cooking process to cut down on its highly sour taste, but a fruit like apricot is much more likely to sub in for pineapple without needing any extra modification like sweetening. For a juice that's even sweeter, go with peaches.
6. Papaya Juice
While it isn't exactly easy to find on a grocery store shelf, at least now we're talking tropical taste. For a salsa especially, papaya fruit and juice are appropriate, and the same is true for a meat marinade or glaze. If convenience is more important, apple juice or cider may be easier to find, but if you have the time to forage for a truly decent replacement and not just a temporary solution, papaya may be the trick.
7. Mango Juice
We've saved the best for last. Our favorite substitute for pineapple juice is...mango juice!
Tropical, strong, tart, and sweet, mango juice may be the closest approximation you'll find that can cover almost all the bases. In a salsa or chutney it works, and as a meat glaze or marinade it adds an unusual but still not disagreeable flavor. The same goes for baked goods, and even though it isn't a citrus fruit with the exact same ascorbic abilities, it is still full of vitamin C for all that it's worth.
Other Substitution Ideas
For other workarounds to pineapple juice, there's no rule that says you have to sub in juice for juice. Other ways to add sweetness to baked goods include using a more neutral liquid (like coconut water) and getting sweetness from additions like dates, raisins, or dried cranberries. Drizzle your final product with a liqueur, or just start tossing items out of your cabinets and spice racks to see if you can make a delicious mess without pineapple juice.
Pining for Pineapple
While pineapple is such a unique fruit that there's no 100% perfect way to replace it, there are many substitutions out there, enough that you can mix and match to get what you need from other non-allergen sources. Where there's a will, there's a way, and where there's creativity in the kitchen, there's no challenge that can't be conquered.