Sometimes called Korean pears or Japanese pears, Asian pears are characteristically round and golden in color, which is why they resemble apples. With a crunchy and grainy texture, they taste like pears and apples with a slight hint of pineapples.
If your recipe calls for Asian pears and you cannot find any at home or the store, there are 14 alternatives that you can use to mimic that taste and crunch.
- Anjou pear
- Bosc pear
- A.1. Classic Marinade
- Forelle pear
- Bartlett pear
- Taylor’s gold pear
- Comice pear
Asian pears are a delightful fruit to eat on their own or incorporate into your meat dishes. Let’s get to know more about these 14 best substitutes for Asian pears to give you an idea of what to stock up on
14 Best Substitute For Asian Pear
Asian pears are known to originate from East Asia. Unlike their European counterparts, they have apple-pear characteristics and maintain that perpetual crunch.
Asian pears are also a not-so-secret ingredient for Korean meats since they’re an excellent meat tenderizer. This superpower (an enzyme called calpain) makes them a common marinade or ingredient in Korean barbecue beef, grilled short ribs, steak, galbi, and salad.
Interestingly, Anjou pear is a European pear with a sharp crunch comparable to Asian pear. Firm and juicy can best describe what Anjou pear offers, and it doesn’t matter if you choose the red or green version. It is short and plump, and shaped like a giant egg.
While the Asian pear still reigns in juiciness, if you’re after a close runner-up, the Anjou pear is a worthy next choice. Anjou pear is best eaten raw, but with its firm texture, it can be used in cakes, bread, and other sweet desserts. It is also cheaper and widely available in supermarkets.
The elongated shape of the Bosc pear has earned it the nickname “aristocrat of pears.” Aside from looking majestic, it also has a sweet taste with floral and spice undertones. If fall were to have a pear counterpart, it would be the Bosc pear.
The pear’s firm texture and cinnamon-nutmeg hints make it an elegant substitute for Asian pear. This combination makes it the perfect pairing for cheese platters and salads.
Served raw and as a siding enables Bosc pear to enhance dishes with its ripe sweetness. Baking and poaching would likewise be ideal cooking methods since, like Asian pear, Bosc pear can keep its form and not turn into a mushy sauce.
What makes Asian pear the go-to component for meat marinades is its function to tenderize meats. Kiwi also contains calpain, which makes it a potent tenderizer. Calpain acts to make tough meats and squid softer and tender by breaking down their proteins.
Kiwi holds more tenderizing power, so it’s recommended to soak the meat in kiwi for half the time as you would with Asian pear. Otherwise, you’ll risk over-tenderizing.
Everyone who’s tasted kiwi will know that it has a stronger and tangier fruit flavor. While your marinade may reflect this difference, the cooked meat or squid will barely register this unusual kiwi taste. Don’t worry, your Korean bulgogi will continue to taste the same!
Like kiwi, soda is another alternative to Asian pears when we’re talking about a marinade fix. If any, it should even be number 1 since who doesn’t have soda lying in their fridge? Another bonus is that any carbonated drink (cola, lemon, or orange flavor) can do the job.
As a marinade, you’ll just need to soak your meat or seafood in the soda. The soda helps to soften the meat and contribute to the sweetness (so it helps to use flavored soda).
It is the busy person’s marinade choice since the soda’s acid components can mimic the meat tenderizing properties of the Asian pear at a faster pace.
A.1. Classic Marinade
This substitute is not intended as a cheat but as a recommendation for those who might have an A.1. Classic Marinade at home. If you’re a hard-core and traditional bulgogi cook who has the time to spare, then pretend you didn’t come across this number.
A.1. Classic Marinade can replace Asian pears as a meat marinade as the name suggests. This is ideal for those in a hurry or who prefer a more convenient method that doesn’t involve the Asian pear method.
Forelle pears are sweet and small but by no means are they tiny in flavor. They are crisp and have that tinge of cinnamon that makes them the perfect mid-sized snack.
Forelle pears are color green and turn into yellow as they ripen. They have the signature red freckles or lenticels that’s why its name is translated to “trout” in German.
Its sweetness and crunchiness qualify it as an Asian pear substitute. Forelle pears would add value to salads and sides that will benefit from their small size and solid texture. If looking for a marinade alternative, Forelle pears might not be the top choice.
Otherwise known as the Williams pear, Bartlett pear is a delightful treat that is tart, sweet, and juicy. If we could call it another name it would be the mainstream pear that’s widespread in America.
Chances are, the canned pears in your supermarket are Bartlett pears. That’s how popular they are!
Bartlett pear still makes a formidable Asian pear substitute because of its sweetness, buttery texture, and slightly coarse character. It is preferred to use this for baked goods, desserts, and cocktails because of its smooth texture and large size.
Since Bartlett pears are juicy minus the crunch, they’d also be a great addition for marinades and sidings.
Taylor’s gold pear
Taylor’s gold pear is a melt-in-your-mouth pea—so why isn’t it super famous? Well, for starters, it isn’t available in all parts of the world. If you plan to visit New Zealand, that would be your chance.
Still, it is notable that Taylor’s gold pear has a strong, sweet honey taste that warms your heart. Add that creamy and juicy texture, and it’s delicious to eat on its own.
With these characteristics, Taylor’s golden pear is a fitting Asian pear replacement for creamy desserts, sauces, and jams.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, Taylor’s gold pear can also be a replacement for dishes like salads, side dishes, or those calling for a pureed topping. Raw or cooked, this would be a fragrant addition to your meals.
If you’ve been wondering what kind of pears adorn those lush Christmas baskets, ask no further. Comice pears, available in the red and green variety, are the renowned “Christmas pears” and also go by the same nickname. They’re the pears eaten straight from the basket since they’re delightfully sweet with a thin skin.
Comice pears aren’t just associated with the holidays. The French also favor this pear for their creamy fromage or to pair with Brie cheese. Comice pears are smooth (not as grainy as other pears), soft, and juicy—and would be a sleek replacement for Asian pear recipes that call for that sweet and creamy texture.
Poaching might not be an ideal method for Comice pears—but consider their rich potential for baking, desserts, and sauces.
We bid farewell to the pear family as we delve into other fruits as a potential replacement for Asian pears. One main reason to consider the Fuji apple is if you are allergic to pears. Pears are related to sweet apples and taste similar.
Fuji apples aren’t Snow White red and appear yellow-green, specked with pink. They stand out for their superior crunch that comes with loads of juice. Fresh Fuji apples are surprisingly sweet and firm, and could replace Asian pears for baked or sautéed dishes and sauces.
Fuji apples cannot function as a complete Asian pear substitute since they have a gentler flavor—but they can level up dishes that call for that flavor complement.
Pineapples have that distinctly sweet and tangy flavor that just takes you to the beach. That’s not all they can do. Pineapples have that tart element that makes them a balanced substitute for Asian pears.
Not only are pineapples gifted with that sweet and fruity flavor. They can marinate your tough Korean bulgogi meat. As a meat tenderizer, you can also add a slew of other ingredients such as pepper, garlic, chili, brown sugar, or citrus zest to upgrade your pineapple marinade blend.
Depending on where you live, pineapples can be available fresh or canned. The fresh kind may be tough to skin—but what’s important is to select pineapples with no added sugar since they’re already naturally sunshiny sweet.
From apples, we move to oranges. Oranges possess a different kind of taste (juicy citrus) and texture (soft and pulpy), but they can also be a substitute for Asian pears. We all know that adding an orange spritz to your dishes can contribute that pleasant zing to chicken, meat, and salads.
Oranges will sweeten marinades and add a glazed flavor to dishes. While oranges cannot be pureed or diced like Asian pears, they are easy to squeeze and have an enormous amount of juice.
Oranges are also available all year round, so their availability will never be a problem.
Pink lady apple
Pink lady apples (cultivar name Cripps Pink) are crisp and juicy—what you’d expect from a blush-colored apple. They can be an all-around substitute for Asian pears because they can do more than just give you rich applesauce.
Pink lady apples do a splendid job of producing sweet jams and fresh chunks for salads. They can be pureed, baked, and most important of all, used as a sweet marinade for meats and barbecues.
An apple can give you a moderate amount of rich juice—so not a bad proposition aside from keeping the doctor away.
Last on the list, but still worth noting, would be flavored juice. We already mentioned soda and other fruits on the list, so it would be fair to also include fruit juice as a substitute for Asian pears.
Use this substitute for recipes and marinades that need a flavor lift. As a liquid substitute, it can enhance sauces or marinate beef. Just remember that the juice you select will deliver a slightly different taste profile and texture. Juice is dense and watery, and will not be able to replicate the thickness of Asian pears.
Since we’re on the topic of liquids, if you want to get creative, you can also use pear syrup