10 Apricot Nectar Substitutes [For Cakes, Cookies, & Cocktails]

If it’s not an apricot season, you’ve run out of apricots, or you have an allergy or general aversion to apricots, rest assured!

Luckily, there are several other delicious options out there that can easily replace the distinctive flavor of apricots, without compromising the caliber of your dishes.

While peach, mango, and apple nectars can serve as excellent replacements for your next holiday fruit cake or cookie center; agave nectar, a mixture of sugar and orange juice or marmalade, or a combination of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and soy or tamari sauce are all excellent alternatives for any meat or poultry glaze.

For any slow-cooker savory recipe, duck sauce is a convenient swap. Lastly, for cocktails calling for apricot nectar, most sweet and sour fruits can be used in lieu, such as cranberries, and other options include bitters and grapefruit.

In this article, we will talk about the different substitutions for apricot nectar in recipes and which varieties work best, depending on the type of dish.

We will also explain how nectar is made and answer some commonly asked questions regarding the use and history and benefits of apricots.

Apricot Nectar Substitutes

1. Canned Peaches

Of all the fruits out there, peaches are probably the closest in flavor familiarity to that of their apricot neighbors. Peaches, while sweet, still carry a tart subtlety, which is what we’re looking for.

Canned Peaches

You can make your own puree or nectar even from canned fruit by simmering them down on the stove and adding lemon and sugar.

2. Mangoes

These guys may pack a punch and some powerful flavor, but their base sweet and sour element allows them to seamlessly take center stage, in lieu of apricots.

If your mangos are leaning towards the overripe side, be more frugal with added sugars when creating the perfect nectar.

ripe mango

You can also combine mangos with other fruits in this list because of their agreeable compatibility.

3. Apples

In their regular form, these guys taste quite different than apricots; however, something magical happens when they’re reconstituted.

Whether it is apple juice, applesauce, or apple puree, these transformations take on a powerful flavor that mirrors something similar to that of apricots.

Any of these constitutions can be used in creating an apple nectar substitute.

There are a variety of apple types. Play around and experiment with each one, and adjust sweetness accordingly.


For instance, granny smith apples tend to be tarter than opal apples, in which case you’d want to tone down on the sweetness and add more lemon.

4. Agave Nectar

Agave is a versatile alternative, however, carries a different level of viscosity than its apricot nectar peer.

An option here is to adjust the number of solids in your glaze, create a runnier glaze, or add a gelatinous buffer such as cornstarch or xanthan gum

5. Sugar And Orange Juice/ Marmalade

Oranges carry the same tartness to sweetness (depending on the variety of orange) as apricots and are popularly used in substitutes with chicken dishes.

Orange Juice

Using marmalade is recommended for its consistency; however, orange juice and sugar can be thickened on the stovetop.

6. Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar, Soy/Tamari Sauce (GF Option)

Another tasty, dynamic combination that gives you the sour from the vinegar, the sweetness from the sugar, and the rich, umami flavor from the soy sauce.

vinegar and soy sauce

Swap out the soy for tamari for a gluten-free option.

7. Duck Sauce

This is a great alternative because it was created for dressing or saturating both cooked and fresh ducks. Its tangy undertone cuts through the sweetness just the right amount so that one flavor is not overpowering the other.

8. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit Juice

This juice is naturally sour, so make sure to add agave nectar or a simple syrup

9. Bitters

These come in a variety of flavors and are bittersweet, as the name suggests.

Be sure to add a sweetener along, such as an orange liquor

10. Cranberries

These famous little antioxidant powerhouses may be known mostly in the cocktail world for their use in Cosmopolitans, but don’t stop there! Their naturally tart flavor makes them enjoyable with the clearest liquors.

How Can I Make My Own Fruit Nectar Substitute?

Step 1: Boil fruit down with water on a stovetop.

Step 2: Once soft, allow to cool and remove skins, then mix in a blender with water, and strain out excess liquid. Repeat this process a few times.

Step 3: Place fruit back on the stovetop. While bringing to a boil, incorporate lemon, (coconut) sugar, and agave nectar. Remove from heat and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Any of these fruit nectars can be mixed into your salad dressing for a dynamic acidic component.

Apricots—What’s The Deal?

Packed with Carotene, Vitamins A & C, Potassium, Fiber, and a host of other nutrients, apricots are the summer fruit you’ll want to keep on hand.

Hailing themselves as the national fruit of Armenia, apricots are also widely used in traditional Chinese medicinal practices.

Up to 95% of the U.S.’s apricots are grown in sunny California, where their sensitive tree barks tend to fare better without the bitter spring frost that other states experience.

In addition to their eye health and anti-aging properties, these stone fruits can also aid in improving digestion and are hydrating through their high water content.

When apricots are not in season, they are still widely available in dried fruit form, as well as canned, and even in the fruit juice aisle at your local grocery store.

Because of their subtly sweet yet acidic flavor profile, apricots are quite the versatile player when it comes to usage in different cooking and baking recipes.

Now, as the internet and its plethora of culinary resources go, you may see certain recipes calling for particular consistencies of the fruit, such as “apricot juice” or “apricot nectar.”

So, What Is Apricot Nectar, And How Is It Different Than Apricot Juice?

Nectar is a sweetened, condensed version of the fruit, in which the fruit is simmered down, water extracted and then mixed with lemon and sugar additives for a thicker, and more concentrated flavor.

Juice, on the other hand, is what’s extracted only from the fruit in its original form, and therefore includes water and sometimes pulp, and carries a bit of a milder, runnier taste.

Are Nectar And Juice Interchangeable?

Not really. Often, nectar is used when the recipe calls for a more concentrated version of the flavor, often making it a key or highly influential ingredient to the dish.

Juices may be used to liquefy or dilute a thicker dish, with an added flavor dynamic. Think of when your cake batter was too dry, you probably added some mild liquid such as juice, milk, or water—something where the flavor of the additive were not taking center stage but still contributed to a change in consistency.

Now, think of a time when you used a jam or nectar in something- it typically either heavily influenced or dictated the flavor of that dish, such as the cookie’s taste, or how the saltiness of the chicken interacted with the sweetness of the nectar to create a new flavor that intentionally lingered on the palette in an innovative way.

Replacing Apricot Nectar With…Apricots


Yep, you heard that right. Just because apricot nectar replacements aplenty do not rule out utilizing apricots in their other wonderful forms. Check out all the ways apricots can be handy in the kitchen!

Dried Apricots

  • These delicious orange rounds can be enjoyed as a standalone snack or thrown into a trail mix for your next hike.
  • Alternatively, they can be chopped up as a salad garnish, adding texture and a bit of sweetness.
  • Apricots can go a long way in flavoring up any grain bowl such as a couscous dish or rice pilaf.
  • Incorporate some chopped dried apricots into your next cookie batter experiment for extra chewiness, or use to moisten a plain holiday cake.
  • Throw into a meat stew…you’ll thank us later

Fresh Apricots

  • Whip out the ol’ grill and slap on some fresh apricots to serve atop vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt for a fun summer treat.

Apricot Jam

  • Add to your next batch of hamentaschen, a type of traditional cookie. These fun treats are comprised of a sugar or shortbread cookie exterior infused with orange zest and contain a jam-filled center.

These crumbly cookies are filled with a dollop of apricot jam before being pinched together into a triangle shape.

  • Incorporate a bit of apricot jam into your chutney for a tangy surprise.

Final Considerations

Overall, apricots are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can be used in various forms. If a recipe calls for nectar, it is recommended not to substitute it with a juice because they contain different concentrations of the fruit and serve different purposes in cooking. However, there are numerous other fruits that can serve as apricot nectar replacements in order to create similar flavor profiles.

Happy cooking!

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