Juniper berries are small, round, and little but they do so much to every dish they’re added to, flavor-wise. There are more than 60 different types of Juniper berries with lots of different tastes but the most common is the Juniperus communis.
All of the Juniper berry types are edible, although some of them can have a pretty bitter taste. Even though they are called ”berries” because they’re round and have a convincing berry-like appearance, they are actually cones.
Juniper berries should be available all over the world so If you search in your local marketplace, the chances are that you will find them.
But, if by any chance you can’t seem to find these berries, we found some of the most effective juniper berry substitutes.
The Best Juniper Berry Substitutes Are
- Bay Leaf
- Pine Needles
- Caraway Seeds/Persian Cumin
- Black Pepper
- Allspice Berries
- Hickory Spice
If you are still unable to find all the alternatives above, read on to find out more about the full comprehensive list of substitutes and their uses below.
When I first started my journey as an amateur chef, I really had no idea that any type of berries is considered spices in savory dishes.
But, after a little bit of research, I found out that adding a little bit of sweetness and piney flavor to any dish immediately makes it ten times better.
Juniper berries do just that when it comes to cooking. These (not) berries are a staple in German cuisine, especially for making a traditional, sauerkraut dish with sausages, and other types of meats.
Along with a blend of spices and herbs, these berries can do miracles to your smoked meats or spicy cabbage dishes. If you don’t want to add whole berries to your dishes, you can simply use fresh Juniper berry juice which works even better in recipes.
If you think that you haven’t heard of Juniper berries before now or never even tasted them, I bet you’re wrong. Juniper berries are used to flavor one of the most famous alcoholic beverages in the world, gin.
Juniperus communis is the thing that makes gin, well, gin. This is the most important flavoring in this alcoholic beverage that gives it its piney flavor. That’s why gin is one of the first substitutes I mentioned in the paragraph above.
Adding gin to your dishes won’t your meat dishes a boozy taste, that is if you don’t go overboard with it of course.
12 Best Substitute For Juniper Berry
Although the name says they are berries, juniper berries are not berries. They are female seed cones. They do, however, taste a bit like berries, which explains why they are called juniper berries. They are used primarily in making gin.
They give gin its pleasant, berry-like flavor. Aside from making gin, juniper berries are also for cooking, baking, making food, and other drinks.
Juniper berries spice up food and drinks. The berries are responsible for that piney taste with a hint of citrus tang in food and beverages. They are a staple spice in German food. Juniper berries are tough to find in supermarkets and outdoor markets outside Germany.
Some cooks and bakers may find it hard finding juniper berries. If you are among those that have a hard time looking for juniper berries, this article will walk you through some substitutes to use for cooking, baking, making food, and drinks when you can’t find them in your favorite supermarket.
The following are the full comprehensive substitutes for juniper berries. Now, let’s take a closer look into how you can use these substitutes for juniper berries in your cooking, baking, food making, and more.
Bay leaf is a fragrant type of leaf that’s used in many dishes around the world. Bay leaf is used to aromatize savory dishes, soups, stews, meat, etc.
Just one piece of the spice can sharpen the smell and taste of a small portion of food you’re making. Bay leaves emit a solid zest that also smells sweet.
You can easily find this spice in your local grocery store, and at a moderate price as well. Bay leaves can be found in ground form or as dried leaves.
Bay leaves are not edible. They can be used as a garnish instead. Their purpose in dishes is to make them smell good. Their scent is somewhat similar to oregano when cooked.
To substitute juniper berries with bay leaf, use 1 or 2 bay leaves instead of one teaspoon of Juniper berries.
Pine needles are an excellent substitute when you’re making tea. Yes, I am talking about pine tree needles. Amazingly, pine needles are very rich in vitamin C and have many health benefits.
Juniper berries and other substitutes for juniper berries like Lingonberry and Cranberry are also a good source of vitamin C.
These two berries, like juniper berries, are also used in making tea. Pine needle tea helps people recover from cough and colds. To make pine needle tea, you need a halfway-filled pot of water.
Another thing you need is some chopped fresh pine needles. Boil the water and chopped pine needles for five minutes.
Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then flavor it with some honey and lemon, you now have your pine needle tea. Just sift it into your mug, and take a sip to relieve yourself from coughing.
The tea has a pleasant minty and pine flavor.
Gin actually gets its flavor from Juniper berries and other herbs, so this would be a perfect substitute. Gin has a flavor of juniper berries but the taste really depends on what other herbs and flavors are added to it.
The alcohol in gin evaporates when cooked in a dish with a dash of it. For food that requires the scent and flavor of juniper berries, a teaspoon or two of gin added to it will do.
This way, the smell and taste of juniper berries left after the alcohol in gin disappear when cooking. This will ensure that it will not overpower the food when you’re serving yourself and your guests.
To use gin as a Juniper berry substitute, use a 1:1 ratio or teaspoon of gin for a teaspoon of juniper berries.
A fresh sprig of Rosemary is always welcomed in any meat that you’re making. Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that makes any piece of meat have an aromatic, herbal flavor and it’s one of the most common spices in the world.
It’s an excellent alternative for meat dishes, roasted potatoes, marinade, for when you’re smoking meats, and you can even make tea with it.
Cooks use a maximum of two twigs of rosemary to tweak the scent and taste of meat. Rosemary twigs are for marinating meat before they are barbequed or cooked.
Rosemary is also used in producing aromatic essential oils and as an added fragrance to liquid cleansers aside from its use in cooking and marinating meat.
This substitute is so aromatic that you wouldn’t need more than three twigs of it instead of a tablespoon of Juniper berries.
Caraway seeds(also known as Persian cumin and meridian fennel) have a licorice flavor and citrusy notes. Caraway doubles as a medicinal herb as well as a culinary staple with a rich flavor.
People who love to cook also know them as Persian cumin and meridian fennel. Like the other substitutes for juniper berries mentioned here, caraway seeds give dishes a subtle taste and a pleasant smell. Caraway seeds are on this list because of this.
Caraway seeds are mostly used in baking but you can use it in cheese dips, salads, various cabbage dishes, bread recipes, etc.
When you use caraway seeds as a substitute to juniper berries, Use one teaspoon of Caraway seeds instead of a teaspoon of Juniper berries.
If your dish does not smell good with enough caraway seeds in it, you can also add one to two pieces of bay leaves to make it smell even better.
Cardamom is a spice that’s used all around the world, especially in many European desserts and Indian food.
Cardamom is somewhat similar to juniper berries in taste and smell. They are a good substitute for the latter because of this. If you can find them in the supermarket, keep some of them in stock if you need a temporary replacement for juniper berries in the food you cook.
Cardamom has a zesty, citrus flavor, and amazing smell that will aromatize your kitchen in no time. To use it as a substitute for Juniper berries, use a 1:1 ratio.
Black pepper is the cheapest substitute that you can find. Granted, black pepper doesn’t even nearly resemble a berry flavor but it does make every savory recipe more aromatic.
Black pepper can add a zesty flavor to dishes in its finely powdered form. It can do the same in its whole black peppercorn form and even when it is coarsely powdered.
It’s easy to find black pepper in supermarkets in fine or coarse powder form. You can also get whole black peppercorns in your favorite supermarket. If you cannot find juniper berries in your go-to supermarket, then black pepper may be the next best thing to get from there.
You can add some juniper berries to stews. If you don’t have them, you can season stews with some black pepper instead.
It is one of the most used spices with an exceptional taste. To use it as a substitute, use a 1:1 ratio.
Allspice is famously known as a blend of different types of spices but in reality, allspice is a type of berry with a sweet flavor. The berries are dried and then ground until they look well, like spice.
You can also find whole dried berries at a spice market or a more equipped grocery store. Allspice is widely used to flavor poultry, different types of meat, fish, various different baked goods, mulled wine, and apple cider.
Allspice berries have a stronger flavor than Juniper berries so I suggest using half the amount.
[Related Article: The 13 Best Star Anise Substitutes For Mulled Wine]
Hickory spice has a wide flavor profile because it is a spice that includes cumin, garlic, salt, hickory powder, and powdered onion.
Hickory is very fragrant and delightful to both the sense of smell and taste. It is for preparing and cooking meat. Similarly, juniper berries are also for preparing and cooking meat.
If you do not have juniper berries on hand for cooking meat, you can use hickory as a substitute. Remember to follow the 1:1 ratio for juniper berries. You can use the same proportion of hickory to meat.
Hickory is an ideal substitute for Juniper berries with a sweet but earthy flavor. A 1:1 ratio of hickory to meat is enough if you do not want the dish to be too spicy.
Here is a tip
You can use hickory wood chips to make smoked meat smell better, more delicious. You can also use them to add more flavor to smoked meat.
These berries are an excellent substitute for Juniper berry juice. Cranberry juice has a sour taste that can freshen you up in the summer.
While juniper berries are female seed cones, cranberries are berries. Cranberries are small and round. They are sour.
If you cannot find juniper berry juice to add to drinks in the supermarket, cranberry juice is an excellent substitute for that.
Cranberry juice adds a tang to warm Christmas drinks. Juniper berry juice does the same. If you have access to cranberries, you can make cranberry juice yourself. Cranberry is tart and a little sweet.
Like lingonberry and juniper berry, it makes drinks taste good. It can also help people with problems with their urinary tract.
They are also very much used for making a warm cup of cranberry tea. Use a 1:1 ratio when using them as a Juniper berry substitute.
Alder is a type of wood with a smokey, sweet flavor. The Alder wood chips are famously used for culinary purposes(not to add into dishes!), especially for smoking meats like pork chops, beef, and fish.
Alder is a decent substitute for Juniper berries when smoking meat or making other types of meat dishes, but their flavor pallets are quite different from each other.
Unlike Juniper Berries, alder adds a milder, more subtle smell and taste to food.
To give smoked meat more fragrance and flavor from alder, smoke the meat with alder wood chips towards the end of the smoking process. Both alder and juniper berries perform the same function of adding more flavor to smoked meat.
Alder is best used with light meat like chicken, salmon, and pork and they also improves the taste of light, non-red meat
Lingonberry juice is not juniper berry juice. It, however, is a decent substitute for the latter.
Lingonberries add a tart flavor to drinks. You can add juniper berry juice to drinks to add that piney, citrusy taste. If you have no access to that from your go-to supermarket, lingonberry juice will suffice.
Lingonberry juice adds a tart flavor to Christmas drinks. You can make lingonberry juice with cinnamon and apples during the colder Christmas season.
Lingonberry juice spices up some hot Christmas drinks. In Scandinavia, it is common to drink lingonberry juice cold in late spring. You can also drink lingonberry juice hot on most days or nights of the year.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
What Do Juniper Berries Taste Like
Juniper berries have a rich, piney flavor, and citrusy/fruity notes. You can say that they’re even kind of spicy, and peppery flavored as well.
Is it safe to eat all juniper berries?
No. Not all juniper berries are safe for eating and drinking. Juniper Communis is the safest to eat and drink. People advise others to stick to this when buying juniper berries in stores.
Most varieties of juniper berries are bitter. The Juniper Sabrina is a variety of juniper berries that is very toxic. It is best to avoid this variety of juniper berries at all costs.
Is it safe for women to eat and drink food and beverages with juniper berries?
There is not enough research and studies on juniper berries and their effects on pregnant women when eaten or drunk.
If you are pregnant and wish to drink and eat food and beverages with juniper berries, it’s best to use non-alcoholic alternatives to it in this list.
Substitute For Juniper Berries In Sauerkraut
The most effective substitute for Juniper berries in sauerkraut is Carraway seeds or a teaspoon of gin.
You can also use allspice as a decent substitute but the taste isn’t quite the same.
Juniper Berry Replacement In Cooking
The best substitutes for Juniper berries in cooking are gin, cranberries, rosemary, cardamom, allspice berries, bay leaves, and black pepper.
Juniper Berry Substitute Gin
Gin is one of the best juniper berry substitutes since it’s made out of them.
The cone of the juniper plant, as mentioned earlier, is used to make gin. Gin makes use of a lot of juniper for that refined cocktail flavor. If you cannot find juniper berries in your favorite local supermarket, you can grab a bottle of cheap, unflavored gin instead.
You can use gin to flavor dishes that require juniper berries’ piney, citrusy flavor. Do not buy flavored gin. You do not want to have other flavors in the dish you’re cooking other than the piney, citrusy kind from the juniper in regular, unflavored gin.