Whether trying to add more flavor to your next meal or spruce up your cocktails, juniper berries can help you accomplish that goal in a simple and elegant way.
However, if you cannot find fresh juniper berries at your local grocery store, don’t fret. There are plenty of other substitutes for juniper berries out there!
So, take the time to learn more about creative substitutes for juniper berries. With it, you can save yourself the trouble of making multiple stops at the market on your next grocery run.
1. Goji Berries
For a slightly sweet, berry-like flavor and texture, goji berries are great substitutes for juniper berries. Goji berries have antioxidant properties and have been used as medicine throughout history.
These tiny fruits can be eaten raw or cooked. (One of our favorite recipes using goji berries is Chocolate Goji Cookies).
They can also be soaked in vodka to make a liqueur similar to gin or added to baked goods to boost their antioxidant content. You can buy dried goji berries at the grocery store or online.
2. Cumin Seeds
Like black pepper, cumin is one of those spices with solid and distinctive flavors that can be used to dress up a dish quickly.
Cumin also goes well with just about any food (primarily Mexican and Indian cuisine). It is generally easier to find than other substitutes for juniper berries spices.
If you’re ever at a loss while cooking and don’t have fresh ingredients on hand, using dry cumin can help things come together. Just don’t use too much. No one likes a meal that tastes like a potpourri fire-cooked.
3. Sour Cherries
If you can’t find juniper berries, consider natural substitutes for juniper berries, such as sour cherries. Sour cherries are typically not used in culinary recipes. They’re also known to be popular among winemakers and wine drinkers.
It’s believed that sour cherries were first cultivated by monks who used them to make what we now know as kirschwasser or cherry brandy. What does that have to do with recipes?
You may want to try using fresh or dried sour cherries as a substitute for fresh or dried juniper berries when cooking with game meat and poultry, such as venison, duck, and turkey.
4. Lingonberry Juice
Lingonberries are very similar to cranberries and can be used as substitutes for juniper berries when making cranberry sauce or jelly. But keep in mind that lingonberries have a more intense flavor than cranberries.
Use them only if you have no other option, as they are not always easy to find outside of Scandinavia and parts of Northern Europe. You can find lingonberry juice at most Scandinavian specialty stores or order it online.
Substitute barberries, also known as sour or golden berries, are small fruits that grow on evergreen bushes. You’ll find them year-round at Middle Eastern markets and specialty stores.
The tart flavor makes them an excellent addition to sweet dishes like fruit salad or rice pudding. If you can’t find them, try substituting dried cranberries.
Because they’re much smaller than cranberries, you’ll need 2 1/2 times more of them to equal one juniper berry—about 20-30 of them will be right on par with a single spice.
Then proceed with making your recipe as you usually would; remember that they’ll add some extra tartness to it overall.
6. Seville Oranges
If you can’t find whole juniper berries, feel free to replace them with a few chunks of Seville orange. Don’t let its small size fool you—this citrus packs an incredibly bright flavor that will give whatever dish you put it in a spicy kick.
You can use it to make an extra flavorful chicken stock or add a hint of sweetness and spice to any winter squash-based dish.
Be careful not to cook with Seville oranges for too long, as they tend to break down easily and lose their bold taste when cooked at high temperatures.
7. Bergamot Oranges
You may not be familiar with bergamot oranges. These are often used to flavor Earl Grey tea and can be used as substitutes for juniper berries. Be sure to cook them quickly, though, or they’ll start to lose their shape.
Using orange juice that half has been reduced is another option. It acts like a balsamic glaze and goes great with chicken breasts or roasted vegetables.
What are tangerines? Tangerines are similar to oranges and have a sweet, tangy flavor. Tangerines can be an alternative to other citrus fruits like lemons or limes.
They’re usually smaller and more precious than their orange counterparts, so they’re good alternatives if you need a lot of juice or zest without a lot of bulk.
They also look great when presented alongside fresh seafood on plates at fine dining restaurants. You can also bake with them—tangerine slices go well with grilled fish.
When we think of fresh herbs commonly used as seasoning agents, rosemary often comes to mind. This herb has been widely utilized since ancient times, not only due to its pleasant taste but also because it is believed to aid memory and concentration.
Rosemary is an excellent choice if you’re looking for substitutes for juniper berries that don’t overpower your dish with too much aroma or flavor.
Make sure not to use too much of it at once; there’s a fine line between perfectly seasoned and overly spiced!
Like many other herbs, rosemary can be grown at home and doesn’t take up much space. It is an excellent idea if you want to try growing some but aren’t sure where to start.
10. Hickory Spice
As with all dried spices, to achieve maximum flavor and aroma, it’s best to purchase whole pieces and grind them yourself (with a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder). One ounce of ground hickory nuts will replace two teaspoons of freshly ground juniper berries.
If you prefer to purchase pre-ground hickory nuts, you can use one teaspoon as a substitute for each teaspoon of juniper berries called for in a recipe.
Since hickory nuts are much larger than their more famous coniferous cousins, be sure to check that there’s not too much excess powder in your mixture if you go that route.
Juniper is an essential ingredient in gin and other booze, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with tradition. Although gin tastes excellent, there are many different options out there that can be just as versatile.
Check out these creative substitutes for juniper berries and discover new ways to make your favorite drinks taste just as good. Soon enough, you might not even miss gin at all!