Yuzu’s remarkably bright flavor has made a splash in both the culinary and cocktail worlds. While yuzu is widely available in many parts of Asia, it isn’t easy to procure the yuzu fruit in the United States.
Fortunately, many citruses work as great yuzu substitutes, such as Meyer lemons, bergamot, mandarin oranges, kaffir limes, Buddha’s hand, and dekopan.
What is Yuzu Fruit?
Yuzu is a citrus fruit of East Asian origin, though more recently, it has also been cultivated in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, and California.
The fruit resembles a smaller grapefruit with a rigid, bumpy skin that can either be bright yellow or green, depending on how ripe the fruit is. The Yuzu fruit is also one of the most aromatic varieties of citruses out there.
Japan has a few unique Yuzu varietals, such as Hana Yuzu, or “Flower Yuzu,” which is cultivated more for the flowers than the fruit. Other varietals like Yuko Yuzu and Shishi Yuzu have been popularized in desserts.
My favorite use for Yuzu is in Kombucha.
What Does a Yuzu Fruit Taste Like?
The yuzu fruit is very bright and acidic and looks like a lime that fell off a tree. It doesn’t taste all that different, either. The taste of the Yuzu fruit falls somewhere between a hybrid of lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
What Can Yuzu be Used For?
The Yuzu fruit has been used in a great many ways by a great many cultures. It’s been used to brighten up soups across Asia, squeezed atop sushi rice or raw sashimi, and is often used in Ponzu sauces, salad dressings, and even mayonnaise.
Many desserts also feature yuzu, such as cakes, biscuits, and fruit preserves.
Yuzu has also been popularized in the cocktail world, specifically in Japanese-style cocktail bars, for the unique level of acidity it offers cocktails. Yuzu tea, frozen slushies, and even some celebratory drinks also feature this incredible citrus.
What Can You Replace Yuzu Juice With?
Since Yuzu isn’t always easy to source, many people wonder what citrus they can use as a replacement if they can’t find it locally. While nothing strikes exactly the same notes, here are some great yuzu substitutes.
1. Mandarin Orange
The mandarin orange is a special kind of orange that’s often enjoyed as it is or chopped up and tossed into salads. Mandarin oranges are also thought of as the stepfather to the beloved tangerine, which also makes for a great Yuzu substitute. Yum.
Bergamot is an orange with heavy fragrances similar to the yuzu fruit. It’s roughly the size of a regular orange, but the color can be yellow or even greenish like a lime depending on how ripe the fruit is.
People have compared Bergamots to hybrids between lemons and more bitter varietals of oranges, striking a similar resemblance to the yuzu fruit.
Procimequats are a cross between limes and kumquats and shares a similar brightness to the Yuzu fruit. Much like kumquats, procimequats are small, round, and not much larger than blueberries.
4. Kaffir Lime
Kaffir limes are a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine, and the leaves are often used for their fragrance in soups. The yuzu leaves provide a similar fragrance and are also used the same way in Japan.
Kaffir limes also make great desserts!
5. Buddha’s Hand
Buddha’s Hand, named because they resemble lumpy fingers, is another citrus fruit that can work as a strong substitute for Yuzu. This citrus works great shaved onto salads, vegetables, or used in marinades.
Dekopan is a sweet and seedless varietal of the Japanese Satsuma orange. It’s not a very acidic fruit, actually ranking as one of the least acidic citruses out there. In fact, people have often described the fruit as being so sweet that it tastes similar to candy.
Dangyuja won’t be easy to find in the States, as it’s a native citrus fruit specifically grown on Jeju Island in Korea. It has a pretty similar shape and tastes quite similar to yuzu, but it is actually a variety of pomelo.
If you ever get the chance to try this, don’t skip out! It’s actually considered an endangered fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people have heard of the Yuzu fruit but have lots of questions about it. We’re going to answer some of those questions here.
Can You Buy Yuzu in the US?
The short answer is yes, but it’s easier said than done. Certain diseases prevalent in Asian groves would wreak havoc on American growers, so fresh yuzu can’t be imported into the US.
However, Yuzu is grown and sold domestically and has been growing in California since the late 1800s.
Is Yuzu Good for a Sore Throat?
The Japanese and Koreans sure think so! Yuzu tea is regarded as a cold and flu remedy in both countries, as the Yuzu is remarkably high in vitamin C.
Can You Eat Yuzu Raw?
Absolutely! The Yuzu fruit is very acidic, but there’s nothing stopping you from eating it raw. Yuzu has so many uses. It can be dried, cooked, candied, or made into preserves. But like many other citruses, steer away from eating the seeds.
There you have it, eight great substitutes if you can’t get your hands on a fresh yuzu fruit. If you ever find yourself traveling Asia, keep your eyes open for this citrus, as it’s featured across so many cuisines.