Top 5 Juniper Berries Substitutes

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Juniper Berries Substitutes



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In Alpine European countries, Juniper berries are similar to blueberries, but they are entirely different. Though uncommon in American recipes, most European and Scandinavian cuisines use it as an ingredient for meat dishes like sauerkraut dishes and game meat dishes.

Juniper berries add the forest theme flavor in dishes, cabbage, or sauerkraut dishes. You might want to get that peculiar flavor in your dishes, but due to the scarcity of these berries, most especially in the US, it could seem a bit difficult.

No worries, there’s a list of juniper berries substitutes that would do just about the same justice to your taste buds.

What Are Juniper Berries?

A juniper berry is the female seed cone fruited by the various species of junipers.  Its rarely succulent, fleshy, and merged scales give it the berry feel.

The spice is derived from the conifers and is also the extra spice that gives gin its distinctive flavor. Juniper berries may be the only spice derived from conifers.

Juniper berries are primarily originated in Europe, labeled as the most valued spice. At maturity period, it develops a unique herb-ish and citrusy flavor. The berries are crushed and dried to derive the best of their seasonings.

Is There A Substitute For Juniper Berries In Cooking?

Yes, there are substitutes for juniper berries in cooking.

Juniper berries are not always easy to come by, but the flavor given in dishes is highly sought; hence we have made a list of the substitutes that could stand instead of the juniper berries.

These berries are usually sold in their dried form. When in this form, its color is dark purple, blue, or black; its outward appearance is tough and wilted.

 Its flavor is similar to that of gin but slightly riper when used in cooking.

What Is Similar To Juniper Berries (Juniper Berries Substitutes)

 Some substitutes can easily stand in place of Juniper berries in your recipe and give off that desired flavor.

Here’s a comprehensive list of these substitutes that you can never go wrong with.

1. Gin


Gin is the best option when juniper berries are out of reach in the kitchen. The berries are the main ingredient that gives the spirit its distinctive sharp flavor. Hence, the gin is the worthiest substitute because it has constituents in a considerable amount.

However, due to some brands’ different production techniques, you might want to go for the lesser names in the industry because these are not so adulterated with other substances.

Gin gives the same piney flavor but in a much milder way. When cooking with gin, add a tablespoon or more to your dishes (depending on the quantity of dish), but then there’s no news to worry about its effect as the alcohol evaporates and leaves only the taste as a residue.

2. Rosemary


This is an herb with a strong aroma and taste like that of the Juniper berries. It is pine-like and also gives off a minty flavor. It can be bought dried, or grown in your home garden for sustainability as well.

When preparing meats like venison and steaks, a fair sprig of these leaves can go a long way in getting you confused as to whether you added the juniper berries or not.

Apart from its culinary uses, it also comes in handy as a medicinal herb. Its high saponin content helps in poisonous detoxifying substances in food, as well as counteracting circulation problems.

3. Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds

One of the significant substitutes over juniper berries is its most likely licorice taste and heavy fragrant elements.

There’s no second-guessing this ingredient as it brings out the best in your dish and keeps its taste intact. One beneficial factor of it is that it blends well with other ingredients and produces an excellent taste.

4. Cardamon


Best used when in its ground form, cardamom can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio, as with the juniper berries. Its taste is unique and savory and is the most expensive on this list but does the justice of juniper in dishes.

Its taste comprises the diverse taste of sweetness, bitterness, and citrus.

5. Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves

Originating from laurel trees, another traditional juniper berry alternative is the bay leaves.

With an astringent flavor and taste, the bay leaves are mainly used for their strong aromatic taste in dishes and are usually discarded after preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Allspice Same As Juniper Berry?

No, allspice is not the same as a juniper berry. While these two share some similarities in flavors, they do not quite suit their respective dishes.

Allspice is used as seasonings for wild hogs, while the juniper berry is used as a strong seasoning for game meats like venison.

What Is The Flavor Of Juniper Berries?

The flavor of a juniper berry is strong in a pleasant way. Here’s a hint of what juniper berry tastes like; it’s woodsy, piny, and very fresh green. There’s a feeling of citrus flavor and spice.

Can You Eat A Juniper Berry?

It would be advisable to run some prior research harvesting as some of them are toxic and inedible. Some of them are capable of making you sick, so you might want to play carefully.

Are Capers Juniper Berries?

No, capers are not juniper berries. They are both easily misplaced as they both have similarities in color, size, function, and structure but come from different plant breeds.

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All the Juniper berries substitutes listed above come to the rescue in recipes and can be used in the same proportions as the juniper berries, only relative to food preparation.

Each of them can also be used in the preparation of European and Indian dishes. So, worry not! In the absence of Juniper berries, this list got you covered.


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