When we refer to ‘Asian Pears’, we are actually including thousands of different varieties from across the entirety of Asia. Despite these small differences in varieties, they have some unique qualities which set them apart from the pears we might buy at our local grocery store.
For starters, they are very high in water content, which has a couple of benefits. Firstly, it makes them super refreshing and perfect for blending into things like smoothies, topping desserts, or just eating fresh.
High water content means they are commonly used in things like fruit salad, but they also make a great marinade too!
Due to their origin, they can be a little bit more challenging to source than your regular old local pears. For that reason, we’ve gathered up a list of the best Asian Pear substitutes you can use in your recipes!
The best substitutes for Asian pear
Asian Pears are often quite sweet and can be a little firmer than regular pears. They are also a popular choice because they store in the refrigerator for up to a month, which makes them fantastic cooking aides you can grab at a moment’s notice.
Here’s our recommendation to swap Asian pears in recipes, so no matter what you are making you’ll never be left totally stuck if you don’t happen to have any on hand!
1. Bosc Pears
When we think about the unique properties that make Asian Pears so good, it’s their firmer texture and sweet taste which we are really looking for.
This makes the European-grown Bosc Pear one of the best alternatives to the Asian Pear as it shares so many similarities with the Asian Pear.
It has a similar firm texture and sweetness to it making it appropriate for most contexts in which you would use Asian pears.
But in addition to that, it also has a slightly floral note to its smell and taste which can also add a bit of uniqueness to what you are making.
Bosc pears are very commonly eaten with cheese, and they’re also really good for baking, broiling, and poaching.
Plus, being European in origin, they are pretty accessible and also quite cheap!
2. Anjou Pears
Also known as the D’Anjour pear, much like the Bosc Pear these are grown in Europe and are easily distinguished for their ‘short’ neck quality, making them look a little stumpy compared to regular Asian Pears.
Rather uniquely they don’t change color as they ripen, so a cool trick you can use to make sure you’ve got a good one is to press on the top slightly with your thumb, if you feel it give just a little bit it’s ready to cook with!
Because of their lower water content when compared to Asian Pears they’re also really good to bake with too! Perhaps making them even more versatile.
Although these are of European origin, 34% of the world’s supply is grown in America, making them one of the most accessible alternatives on this list.
3. Forelle Pears
Forelle Pears are well worth mentioning as a substitute because they are just as sweet as Asian Pears making them appropriate for many of the same dishes.
They’re pretty small and can be easily distinguished by their bell-like shape, which makes them nice and bite-sized when cutting them up for salads.
The area in which they differ from the Asian pear is in the texture, as these are a little bit tougher with lower liquid content. This makes them less ideal for marinates as they tend to not impart quite as much flavor onto the meat.
But for anything else, they are great!
4. Bartlett Pears
Like many of the suggestions on this list, Bartlett Pears share a number of similarities with Asian Pears while having just a few of their own quirks that make them an interesting choice of substitute.
Bartlett Pears in particular are grown in the USA and Canada making them very accessible options.
They have a strong pear flavor with perhaps a little less emphasis on the sweetness, but what they lack in sweetness they make up for in their smooth and buttery texture.
It’s this texture that makes them popular choices for canning as they are very delicious when just eaten raw.
These are perfect for any kind of dessert topping, baking, or serving fresh in something like a salad.
5. Fuji apple
Originally developed by growers in Japan back in the 1930s, over the decades, and particularly since the 2000’s Fuji apples have become incredibly popular in western countries, America in particular.
Right now Fuji apples sit as the 4th more popular apple in the country.
The nice thing about Fuji Apples is that they share many similarities to the Asian Pears making them ideal substitutes in many cooking scenarios. They are sweet with a slightly crispy texture.
They have a very high sugar content (between 9-11%) which makes them perfect to add a little sweetness to a salad, or perhaps in topping a dessert cake.
They also have a very long shelf life making them an ideal one to stock up on and keep to hand for anytime you might need them.
6. Taylor’s Gold Pears
While not quite as popular (or accessible) as the Fuji Apple, if you can find them, Taylor’s Gold Pears offer a very unique and almost honey-like taste to them with a really creamy and delicious texture.
Try checking your local grocery store and if you see any there, grab them!
7. Pink Lady Apples
Also sometimes referred to as ‘Cripps Pink’, they are named this way because of their strong red/pink outer skin. These were originally discovered in Western Australia after crossing the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples.
They have since moved over to the US and are produced there natively now.
In terms of texture, they have an excellent firmness to them which is very much in line with the Asian Pear.
But where they differ is in the taste, they are quite a bit less sweet and have a distinct (yet pleasant) tartness to them.
This perhaps makes them less appropriate for things like cake toppings, but they can be a wonderful accompaniment in a fruit bowl.
While probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you’re looking for a Pear alternative, kiwis have a certain edge that many of the pear and apple suggestions here don’t, and that lies within the citrusy acidity.
Sure, there are lots of good alternatives to salad toppings and fruit bowls. But what about the marinates we so commonly use Asian pears for?
This is where the Kiwi comes in, it will help impart that rich fruity flavor into your dish and also help tenderize any kind of meat much in the same way Asian Pears do.
Much like the Kiwi, this is probably not your first port of call when it comes to getting something sweet and buttery (although they still go great on top of cakes or in fruit bowls).
They also blend up to make fantastic smoothies and fruit drinks!
Oranges have their own distinct flavor, and while they individually don’t offer the same texture o qualities that the Asian Pear does, they are still, nevertheless, fantastic substitutes.
They can be used in all the same kinds of dishes, whether it’s marinated, sauces, drinks, or in salads and fruit bowls.
Plus, they are one of the most accessible fruits around and can be obtained at a nice and cheap price. They’re also very healthy too and are packed with vitamin C and other nutrients to keep you healthy and strong!
Plus, orange zest can be used as an excellent garnish for any kind of cake/dessert.
11. Flavored Juice
While not exactly ideal for many cooking scenarios, if you happen to be making something that simply requires a fruity flavor and you have nothing else to hand, consider flavored juice as a last resort.
A slight niche choice, but is one that does work well when it comes to tenderizing meat.
Some soda combined with a more flavorful acidic fruit (such as the kiwi) can combine to help break down meats and impart a nice flavor to them.
How to choose the best Asian Pear substitute
As delicious and unique as Asian Pears are, it’s not too difficult to find various fruits out there which make fantastic substitutes for any kind of dish you could want.
The trick is in using the one that matches the qualities of the exact dish you’re making. So if you’re making a salad you may want something sweeter and firmer, but for a marinate you may want something a little stronger with more acidity.
Here are our top suggestions to based on various criteria so you can make an informed choice about which specific substitute is going to be best for your meal of choice.
For flavor, we highly recommend Bosc Pears. These are every bit as sweet as Asian Pears and even have a quite similar texture.
They are fairly affordable and can be found in most grocery stores. You can use this in almost any context that you’d normally use Asian Pears for.
When we use Asian Pears we are oftentimes looking for that distinctly firm texture that regular pears don’t have.
Because of that, we recommend Forelle Pears as they are small, compact full of flavor, and most importantly have that slightly firmer quality to them.
Not as ideal for marinates, but for everything else they are great!
If price is a concern for you, we believe your best option is the simple orange.
This is because they are so widely used and common to any kind of grocery store around, and as such, they are often priced pretty cheaply due to being produced in such high quantities.
Here we’re going to recommend the very popular Fuji Apple.
Taste-similarities aside what makes these so great is that they are currently the number 4 most popular kind of fruit around. So you’ll have no trouble sourcing a few of these no matter where you are.
Our top pick
Once again, Bosc Pears are our top choice here.
While many of the other substitutes may be appropriate for a singular application or for a specific kind of meal, Bosc Pears are the best ‘all round’ substitute that you can keep on hand and use as a fantastic substitute in literally any scenario you’d normally use Asian Pears for.