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8 Best Substitutes For Apple Cider

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Hey there, mommas! Looking for the best substitute for apple cider? You’re in luck, here’s a list of substitutes that you can share with everyone!

Three cups of apple cider, cinnamon, star anise and apples on the side.

We all know that apple cider is a wonderful ingredient to add to our dishes and baked goods. Lots of people can’t get enough of its incredible, fruity sweetness. However, for one reason or another, it’s not for everyone. But don’t worry because there are several alternatives you can try.

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Why Substitute Apple Cider?

Simply put, apple cider is a non-alcoholic drink that comes from the juice of freshly pressed apples. It’s kind of like unsweetened apple juice, but it’s usually sold raw and unfiltered. While tasty, apple cider isn’t for everyone. Here are some common reasons why you may want to substitute apple cider.

Overhead view of Apple cider in a glass with a slice of apple, cinnamon, and star anise.

Allergies and Health Concerns

While rare, there are some people who are allergic to apples and apple cider. Of course, when you have allergies, you wouldn’t want to risk a reaction.

Apart from allergies, some people with health concerns like Type 2 Diabetes, may also want to steer clear of apple cider. It’s high in sugar, and it might cause people with this health condition to have their blood glucose levels skyrocket.

Fortunately, people with these health issues don’t have to miss out on tasty dishes that use apple cider. That’s what substitutions and alternatives are for!


Personally, I love the taste of apples. I just can’t get enough of that natural fruity sweetness that comes from it. But people have different tastes, and some don’t like the taste of apples and the flavor of apple cider in dishes. Luckily, there is an alternative for apple cider that will be perfect for your recipe.


We here in the U.S. are lucky to have a surplus of apples that we can use for snacking, cooking, baking, and making apple cider. Unfortunately, apples can’t grow abundantly in all corners of the globe, and apple cider isn’t as available as it is here. But that doesn’t mean people from different places should miss out on decadent recipes that use apple cider!

Best Apple Cider Substitutes

But before we jump into the list, let me clarify that apple cider and apple cider vinegar are not the same things! Apple cider is more like apple juice. Meanwhile, apple cider vinegar is more like hard cider. It undergoes a fermentation process. The yeast eats the sugar from the apple cider to make alcohol. Then, the bacteria eat the alcohol, converting it to acetic acid.

So be careful not to mistake one for the other when using them in your recipes. To help you out, here are the best substitutes for apple cider.

1. Apple Juice

If you don’t have apple cider, your go-to alternative can be apple juice. They have the closest flavor profile since they’re both made from apples. Although, apple juice may be too sweet for some dishes since it’s been processed and pasteurized.

Apple juice in a glass with fresh apples on the side.

Substitute apple juice for apple cider in a 1:1 ratio. Just make sure to get the unsweetened juice so that you don’t have to deal with that unwanted, extra sweetness.

2. Lemon Juice

Lemons and apples seem like they don’t taste anything alike. But, similar to apple cider, lemon juice also has a fruitiness that works well with many dishes, so you can replace apple cider with lemon juice instead. When I add lemon juice to a recipe that calls for apple cider, the difference is minimal. It’s a handy substitute if you run out of apple cider and forget to get some from the store.

Bowl full of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

You  can substitute lemon juice in place of apple cider in a 1:1 ratio, but this would work best if your recipe only needs less than ¼ of a cup. If you need more, you may want to get apple juice instead.

Although, if you absolutely can only find lemons, do know that lemon juice has a more acidic base so it won’t have as much sweetness as apple cider. If your recipe needs to have some sweetness, also add some sugar or other sweetener of your choice.

3. Lime Juice

Limes are the smaller and green counterpart of lemons, and they make a terrific substitute for apple cider. Limes have the same acidity as lemons, plus that fruity flavor. Like lemons, you can add honey or sugar to achieve your preferred sweetness.

Bowl full of freshly squeezed lime juice on a wooden board.

4. Orange Juice

It’s not just the favorite juice of many people (and the kids!), but OJ is a great substitute for apple cider. It is tangy, fruity, and sweet!

Two cups of orange juice, with fresh oranges on the side.

I find that orange juice is the best substitute for apple cider when making BBQ ribs because it provides that sweetness and moisture at the same time. It’s also great to use in marinades, sauces (like the one for this pork tenderloin), and dressings, but use only a little so the citrus flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. Use a 1:1 ratio with apple cider.

5. Pineapple Juice

Yes, these two have very different and distinct taste profiles, but you can actually make the swap in specific recipes. Just like orange juice, pineapple juice makes a great substitute and tastes unbelievable with ribs! You can’t even tell the difference. It gives moisture and sweetness to the recipe in a 1:1 ratio. It’s really a noteworthy substitute to use in place of apple cider if you plan on making ribs at home!

Two cups of pineapple juice on a wooden board, with fresh pineapples on the side.

6. White Wine

Though its fruitiness is not as strong, white wine is another great alternative to apple cider. It’s an excellent substitute for apple cider for making salad dressings or mixing marinades.

Bottle and glass of white wine with white grapes on the side.

You can substitute 2 tablespoons of wine for every tablespoon of apple cider. However, other than having less of a fruity kick, I think white wine can be way more acidic. So, when you use this instead of apple cider, make it a point to start with small amounts and adjust accordingly. If you need that touch of sweetness, you can always add sugar, honey, or other sweeteners of your choice.

Also, we all know wine is an alcoholic beverage, and not everyone likes alcohol in their food. So, if that sounds like you, you can bring the white wine to a boil and let it cool before using it.

7. Honey Cider

Honey cider is not as common as the others on this list, but if you have it where you are, it’s an amazing substitute for apple cider. This cider is actually made with apples but also with honey or honeycomb, making its taste profile very close to apple cider.

Honey cider in a glass with cinnamon and star anise next to apples, honey, cinnamon and star anise.

When using honey cider, follow a 1:1 ratio for any recipe that calls for apple cider as an ingredient.

8. Hard Cider

If you’re open to using an alternative with alcohol, then hard cider can be a candidate for the job. Hard cider is basically cold apple cider with alcohol, so it has that distinct apple flavor.

Bottle and glass of hard apple cider on a wooden board. A basket full of apples on the side.

However, due to the fermentation process it has undergone, it can add acidity to your dishes, so that’s something to consider. Another thing is that different brands offer varying tastes of hard cider; some will be sweeter than others. In any case, you can slightly adjust the taste to meet your preference.

How to Find the Best Alternative to Apple Cider

If you’re looking for alternatives to apple cider, you should consider mainly what’s it for. Apple cider in recipes has many uses. Apple cider is used to add a distinct apple taste to the dish. It can also be added to provide some acidity, fruitiness, or sweetness to the dish.

Caviche in a bowl with lime freshly squeezed.

When you’re choosing your apple cider alternative, always think about this first and pick one that can replace it in that same use. For example, if you need to add some apple flavor, consider using apple juice. If you need fruitiness, go for citrus juices. If you need acidity, go for ACV or white wine.


Is Apple Cider Good for You?

Yes, since it’s unsweetened and pressed from fresh apples, it has many nutrients you can benefit from. Polyphenols are some of the many nutrients you can get from apples. They’re basically a substance you get from plants that can act as antioxidants. So, it can help you detox, protect you from free radicals, and prevent damage to your body.

Is There Alcohol in Apple Cider?

No, as is, apple cider is a non-alcoholic drink, and it’s usually raw and unfiltered. I’ve seen some brands sell them spiked, though! So if you want to make sure you’re getting non-alcoholic vs. alcoholic apple cider, make sure to read the label.

Can You Use Apple Cider as a Substitute for Apple Juice?

Definitely! Apple cider and apple juice share the same flavor profile. The main difference is their sweetness, so if you want something sweeter, simply add sugar, honey, or other sweeteners.

Good Substitutes for a Yummy Ingredient

BBQ spare ribs marinated with orange juice, garnished with onions, rosemary, and sliced orange.

You don’t have to panic immediately if you’re cooking and you run out of a certain ingredient. While they won’t taste exactly the same, there are plenty of substitutes for apple cider that you can use. You just need to know what they are and how to use them. So, the next time you run out of apple cider, keep calm, and try one of these amazing alternatives!

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