Grapefruits are large citrus fruits that impart sweet, tart, and tropical flavors in recipes. Grapefruit juice is used in cocktails and as the citrus component in many salad dressings, and a wide variety of sauces.
Because grapefruit juice is very tart, and because it’s not a fruit that is available year-round, you may wonder if there are substitutions for grapefruit juice. There are several substitutes — some better than others. Options include pomelo juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, mango juice, peach nectar, lemon juice, lime juice, tropical fruit juice, canned grapefruit juice, and canned grapefruit.
1. Pomelo Juice
Pomelo juice is the best substitute for grapefruit juice, as the pomelo has the same tart bitterness and will give your recipe the most similar flavor profile. They also look most similar to grapefruits. However, they are not widely available so consider one of the following options if you can’t find pomelo.
2. Pineapple Juice
Pineapples are very similar to grapefruits, as they are also sweet, tart, and tropical. They can be sweeter, depending on their ripeness, so adding a splash of lime or lemon juice will help introduce more bitter tartness if your recipe needs it.
3. Orange Juice
Orange juice is sweeter, and generally less tart than grapefruit juice. However, it is an excellent substitute for grapefruit juice in any cocktail recipe and most salad dressings.
4. Mango Juice
While mangos and their juice are sweeter than grapefruit and grapefruit juice, they are a tropical fruit and will strike that flavor note like grapefruit juice. If using mango juice in cocktails and other recipes, you can temper the sweetness with a squeeze of lime juice, a bit of water, or a splash of seltzer water.
5. Peach Nectar
Peaches, like oranges and mangoes, are sweeter than grapefruits. Their nectar is also thicker than grapefruit juice so it’s best to use about half the amount of peach nectar in cocktails, dressings, and sauces. As in the case with mangoes, you can lessen the sweetness of peach nectar with a spritz of lime or a splash of water or seltzer.
6. Lemon Juice
For that bitterness that is inherent to grapefruit juice, lemon juice is spot-on as a substitute. Lemon juice can be swapped in for grapefruit juice in a cocktail in the same quantity. And if you need a little more sweetness, add a splash of simple syrup to help bitter the tartness. The same goes for if you opt to use lemon juice in a salad dressing or sauce, as lemon juice does not offer the sweet flavor inherent to grapefruit juice.
7. Lime Juice
Like lemons, limes are more bitter than grapefruit. But since limes are a bit sweeter than lemons they will also work as a nice substitute for grapefruit juice. As with lemons, you can temper lime juice’s tartness with a bit of simple syrup.
8. Tropical Fruit Juice
Tropical fruit juice is a blend of juices from tropical fruits, and often contains grapefruit juice. Many blends include papaya, mango, pineapple, and lemon or grapefruit juices. Even those blends that do not include grapefruit juice as an ingredient do contain enough sweet, tart, and tropical flavors to replicate the same flavor profile of grapefruit juice in recipes.
9. Canned Grapefruit Juice and Canned Grapefruit
If you can not find fresh grapefruit and prefer to use grapefruit juice over any of the suggested substitutes, look for canned grapefruit juice in your local grocery store. It won’t taste exactly like freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, but it will be very close.
Finally, canned grapefruit is another option. Be sure to look for the grapefruit canned in fruit juice over the one canned in syrup, as the fruit juice will taste very similar to pure or freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice.
Grapefruit juice is hard to replicate exactly, but there are many options for adding the tart, sweet, tropical flavor of this citrus fruit. Like with most recipes, tasting your cocktail, sauce, or dressing is the best measure of flavor. If you need a little more sweet, add simple syrup or a sweeter juice like orange or pineapple. If you need a little more tart, add some lime or lemon juice.