I’ve been canning jelly and cooking home-cooked meals for over 50 years so I know a bit about good substitutions. I’ve tried everything imaginable and I’ve learned that if a recipe calls for a particular ingredient and you don’t have any, there’s no need to panic. Many different things are great substitutions for apple jelly and will still produce a great recipe.
The best substitutes for apple jelly in recipes include apple juice, peaches, grape jelly, and citrus marmalade. Being sweet, fruity, and a bit acidic, they will all provide a similar flavor to apple jelly once cooked into a recipe.
While those are the absolute best substitutes, in my opinion, there are many more that work very well. The rest of this article will cover every single suitable replacement that I can think of. I’ll even give you a simple recipe for a few of them, in case you want to make it for yourself.
1. Orange Marmalade
Most any citrus marmalade works very well as a substitute for apple jelly. To use it, just replace the apple jelly with orange marmalade on a 1:1 basis. It will taste delicious.
The reason it mimics apple jelly so well is because of the thickening quality. Marmalades have pectin, which is the substance that makes jams firm and jelly set. The same pectin is what gives marmalades a jelly-like texture once cooked.
This means that marmalades will also work very well in recipes like pies, where the jam is set but not hardened on the surface of the filling (i.e., a fruit pie). If you’re using the orange marmalade as a substitute for apple jelly, just be sure to soften it down before adding it to thicken other recipes.
As a marinade, orange marmalade is perfect for meats, poultry, and fish. Perhaps the best thing to use it on is salmon. Holy cow, that’s good!
Yummy Tip: Orange Marmalade is also perfect in a recipe for deviled eggs.
Orange marmalade is so delicious and something different from your basic jam or jelly. It is pretty simple to make, and you only need oranges, lemon zest, sugar, and water. I provide an easy recipe later in the article.
If you just want to buy it, the best brand that I’ve tried is Green Jay Gourmet Orange Marmalade. It is sometimes a bit more expensive than most brands, but it had a much better flavor than any other brand I’ve used before.
2. Grape Jelly
This is another one of my favorites. Grape jelly is very sweet, and the flavor compliments desserts great. You can also use this in a savory dish if you add a bit of white wine vinegar to it. It will balance out the sweetness perfectly and make for a terrific sauce with chicken or pork.
You can even use grape jelly as a filling in the middle of a cake, like a jelly roll cake. Or you can just spread it on your toast in the morning for breakfast.
To use it as a substitute in recipes, just replace the apple jelly with grape jelly on a 1:1 basis. It will give you amazing results every single time.
As with the rest of the substitutes here, you’ll want to soften it first before adding it to other recipes.
Recommended: Smucker’s Concord Grape Jelly
3. Apple Juice
This one might seem obvious, but sometimes I have apple juice hiding in the back of my fridge, so I thought I’d mention it. Substitute it for apple jelly in a recipe at a 1:1 ratio.
Once you heat it up, it is indistinguishable from the regular jelly. If you’re making a pie or cake, try using my Homemade Apple Juice instead of just plain juice for extra flavor.
You can also use apple juice concentrate, but you may want to cut back on the sugar if you do.
Recommended: Martinelli’s Organic Apple Juice
If you want something versatile and delicious, look no further than peaches. As a substitute for apple jelly, peaches come in three varieties, natural, canned, or as jam.
Apples and peaches both have a similar flavor. They’re sweet, slightly acidic, and taste fruity. This means they work really well in place of apple jelly.
If using fresh peaches, I recommend cooking them down first. This will make them blend in very similarly to apple jelly. As a bonus, the natural pectin in peach skins will work as a thickener as well.
Many recipes use cloves and vanilla extract to enhance the flavor of the plump peaches. The extra kick of flavor packs a powerful punch and will force you to grab an extra slice of toast so you can enjoy any leftovers!
5. Pineapple Preserves
Pineapple gives a tropical twist as a replacement for apple jelly. It has that unique fruity flavor, and the consistency is great too. It’s excellent in pies, and it’s also a great way to use up any leftovers of your favorite fresh pineapple. I use this all the time.
While preserves are usually easiest to incorporate into a dish, I typically use canned pineapple in my recipes. I prefer the taste of it over fresh fruit, and it is so good for a garnish. The larger chunks are more like apple jelly, but the smaller pieces are more like marmalade.
To substitute it for apple jelly, just use 1 cup of canned pineapple for every 4 cups of apple jelly called for in the recipe or on a 1:1 basis if you use pineapple preserves.
You can make pineapple preserves by boiling pineapple chunks with some sugar and lemon juice. It is so delicious. There’s a recipe further down in this article.
As a marinade, pineapple preserves really stand out. Use it on meats, fish, and poultry. Try it in a barbecue sauce with pork.
Recommended: Valle de Panchoy Pineapple Preserve
6. Rhubarb Jam
This is high on my list of favorite old-fashioned jams and jellies, so I’m really excited that it’s a substitute for apple jelly. Rhubarb jam has a sweetly sour flavor that is great for desserts. It is bright in color and taste, and it has a bit of tang to it.
Rhubarb is a vegetable with a small amount of natural pectin, so you don’t need to add more unless you want it thicker.
Substitute rhubarb jam for apple jelly on a 1:1 basis.
Recommended: Green Jay Gourmet Rhubarb Jam
7. Apricot Jam
Apricot jam is truly a sweet treat. It is the perfect jam for anything you could imagine. You could put it on a scone or a biscuit, or you could even use it for cooking or baking. It is an all-purpose jam that your whole family is sure to enjoy!
As a substitute for apple jelly, just use 2 cups of apricot jam or preserves for every 4 cups of apple jelly called for in the recipe. This is because apricot jam has a little bit more natural pectin than apple jelly does.
For marinades, you may want to hold back a bit on the amount. You could try a 1:1 ratio, but you might find that you prefer it less sweet.
The best recipes for apricot jam are the ones that call for it to be mixed into another product, such as a marinade that calls for apricot jam instead of apple jelly. This takes some of the guesswork out of what you will use it for and makes a beautiful-looking dish when you serve it.
Recommended: Stonewall Kitchen Apricot Jam
8. Hot Pepper Jelly
My homemade hot pepper jelly is one of my best sellers. When I first made it, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. If you like a hint of spice, then it works amazingly well in place of apple jelly.
Use a ratio of 3 tablespoons of hot pepper jelly to 1 cup of apple jelly in your recipe. You can always add more if you want a spicier dish.
Recommended: My homemade pepper jelly!
9. Fig Jam
Fig jam is indeed “different” and a bit intriguing! It is an excellent add-on to your charcuterie board as it pairs excellently with cheese, wine, and crackers.
In recipes, fig jam works best when beaten with an electric stand mixer for at least ten minutes. Add a splash of lemon juice to the mixture before mixing. This helps to make the jam set much easier.
Some people say that figs are challenging to work with, but I have found that they are pretty easy to manage. When you see it thicken, it will be time to remove the mixture from the heat.
Recommended: Mrs. Miller’s Amish Homemade Fig Jam
10. Quince Jam
You may have never heard of quince before, but once you try quince jam, you will never be able to forget about it.
Quinces are similar to apples, so that’s why it makes such an excellent substitute for apple jelly. This jam not only looks and smells amazing with the floral fragrance and the beautiful, bright orange color, but it tastes great too. Plus, it’s a good way to get your family to try out a new fruit. Substitute at a ratio of 1:1.
As a substitute for apple jelly, honey will work well as it has a similar consistency.
However, do note that honey is a little runnier than apple jelly. This means it takes a little while to set, but the finished product will be firm enough to hold its shape when sliced. If you have pectin, you can add a small amount to help with the firming process.
Substitute honey for apple jelly at a ratio of 1:1. You may also want to add more sugar if the honey is particularly light-colored. This is because most honey is “blended” with less sugar or corn syrup to increase shelf life.
Important: Honey in its natural form can contain a small amount of tree pollen, which is unsafe for people with pollen allergies. You may want to double-check with your physician about whether honey is safe for you before consuming it in your homemade apple jelly recipe.
12. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce (or jelly) works really well as a replacement for apple jelly. Just use less of it in the recipe, and it will taste just as good.
You can also use natural cranberries. To prepare it as a substitute, put 1 cup of cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, then add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until cranberries burst. Cool before using in place of other jams or jellies.
Also, while everyone loves cranberry sauce around the holidays, but this cranberry jam can be enjoyed at any time of the year! It is a super versatile jam as it can be used as a spread on bread, or you can use it in baked goods such as cookies, cheesecake, or fudge.
13. Strawberry Jelly
You can also use strawberry jelly as a replacement for apple jelly. Just use a ratio of 3 tablespoons strawberry jelly for every 1 cup of apple jelly called for in a recipe.
If you have fresh strawberries, you can use them as well. Just put them in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the strawberries are juicy. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is thickened. Cool before using in place of apple jelly.
Recommended: Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
14. Pear Jam
Pear preserves or jam is another superb substitute for apple jelly as they are similar in taste and texture. Pear juice is a natural fruit source of pectin, but it also has some acid in it, which means you may have to use a little more sugar to get the desired consistency.
Substitute pear jam for apple jelly on a 1:1 basis. If your pear jam is really thin, add some more pectin powder or puree to thicken it up. Your desired consistency will depend greatly on the recipe.
Pro Tip: To add more flavor and texture to your recipes, try adding sliced almonds or walnuts. These can be crushed a bit with your fingers before adding. You can also use pomegranate juice to give it a beautiful color and flavor.
Recommended: Braswell’s Pure Pear Preserves
15. Blackberry Jam
Similarly to using apple jelly, you can use blackberry jam to make your favorite dishes just a bit sweeter. It is also a great addition to your breads and bagels.
You may need to use a bit less than the amount of jelly called for in the ingredient list, maybe a .75 to 1 ratio. You can also substitute blackberry jam for jelly in muffins of other types, such as cookies, pies, and cakes.
If it is more of a savory recipe, you can still use blackberry jam, but you will want to add some cinnamon and nutmeg.
Recommended: Bonne Maman Blackberry Jam
16. Plum Jelly
Another unique jelly is this decadent plum jelly. It’s so good, you’ll want two jars around at all times!
The ripe plums give this jelly a ton of flavor, giving a sweet yet slightly tart taste to anything you add it to. It works well on buttered toast and in baked goods!
You may need to use a ratio of 1:1. It is best to use ripe plums, but you can also use underripe plums since they have more natural pectin.
If you have some extra time, try cooking down the plums with sugar and lemon juice to make a plum sauce. It is almost like a plum compote.
Recommended: Mrs. Miller’s Amish Homemade Plum Jelly
17. Rhubarb Jam
This is a perfect Substitute for Apple Jelly. Just use less of the rhubarb jam than you would apple jelly. It’s that simple.
Keep in mind that the rhubarb will take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. Therefore, you may want to cook it a little longer than you would apple jelly so that it will more closely resemble the color, consistency, and flavor. Otherwise, you might actually end up with a dish that tastes more rhubarb than anything else.
Also, if you use rhubarb juice, it will most likely be very runny. Thus, you’ll want to thicken it with cornstarch. Some people also use pectin to thicken their jam.
Recommended: Bonne Maman French Rhubarb Jam
18. Pineapple Jam
I decided to include this separately from pineapple preserves because they are really much different in practice. Even so, both work equally well.
If you liked the orange marmalade, then your going to absolutely love this pineapple jam! Most people use common fruits for their jams, jellies, and marmalades, but you should try out some tropical fruits too. Pineapple jam is so yummy and is phenomenal when used with baked goods.
Just keep in mind that it will be very thick, so you’ll want to use less than you usually would. Using 1 cup of pineapple jam for every 4 cups of apple jelly called for in a recipe will be just fine.
Also, you may want to add a bit of lemon juice to your mixture so that it will set.
Recommended: NBF Pineapple Jam
Jellies, jams, marmalades, and preserves are timeless and delicious condiments that everyone loves. People have been making jams for centuries all over the world. But there is something about Apple Jelly that is just to die for! Maybe it’s the sweet and tangy flavor or the way it is swiftly and smoothly applied to a scone or a piece of toast.
I know it can be disappointing not being able to get the item that you wanted, but all of these substitutes will definitely fulfill your craving, and you might even have a new favorite! All of these jams, jellies, and marmalades are super easy to make at home, even if you have never made them before. Plus, most of them can last a long time. Making jams, jellies, and marmalades is a great hobby to get into, and they also make great gifts for your loved ones. So what are you waiting for? Try out one of these yummy recipes today!
Simple Recipes (if You Want to Make Your Own)
Easy Orange Marmalade
Simply slice your oranges into thin slices with a mandolin, then add them into a pot with lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes, then simmer for an additional 40 minutes. Once your fruit is nice and soft, add your sugar, then stir it until it reaches 222 degrees F and gets thick and darkens in color.
Finally, add your marmalade to your mason jars. Put your jars into a large pot with a jar rack and some water, then boil your jars for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for 24 hours, then enjoy!
I have a feeling that after tasting this orange marmalade, your won’t want to put any other condiment on your baked goods ever again!
Overnight Grape Jelly
This grape jelly recipe only takes about 30 minutes, and it will be ready for everyone to enjoy the next day!
Start by washing your grapes and removing any stems. Put your grapes into a kettle and then crush them. Add some water and bring it to a boil. Lower your heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Extract the juice, then let it cool overnight.
Next, strain the juice, put it into a pot, and then add your sugar and boil it. Add your pectin, take off the heat, skim the foam, then pour your grape jelly into jars and add them to a water bath for 5 minutes to process. Allow your jelly to sit and cool overnight, then enjoy the next day.
Amazing Apricot Jam
Put your apricots, lemon juice, and sugar into a pot and boil it. Cook for about 25 minutes until it thickens. Next, add the jam to your mason jars and let them process in a water bath for about 15 minutes. Let it sit overnight, and then tomorrow, you can enjoy your freshly made apricot jam.
Fabulous Fig Jam
Make this for your next party, and it will definitely impress all of your guests!
Place your figs and some sugar into a saucepan and let it sit for about 15 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in your lemon juice and water, then bring the mixture to a boil and stir. Lower your heat and simmer for 20 minutes until your jam has reached its desired thickness, and then add it to your mason jars and let them cool at room temperature until you are ready to dig in!
Perfect Peach Jam
Grab your saucepan and cook down your sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cloves on medium heat. Add your peaches, then increase the heat until your mixture is simmering. Cook for about 20 minutes, then mash your peaches.
Remove from the stove, add some more lemon juice, and then let it cool. After it is completely cool, it can be refrigerated and kept for up to two weeks. But honestly, it’s so good that it probably won’t last that l0ng!
Quality Quince Jam
First, wash, core, and grate your quince, then add it into a pot along with water, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Afterward, turn down the heat and let your quince simmer for about 10 minutes. Add your sugar and boil the mixture again until the sugar dissolves. Lower your heat and simmer again for another 30-50 minutes until it’s thick. Add your jam to your sterilized mason jars, seal them, and let them cool until ready for use.
Crazy Good Cranberry Jam
This is another super easy recipe that can be made in a short period and makes a great addition to your breakfast or dessert.
In a saucepan, add cranberries, sugar, lemon juice, and apple, then cover with a lid and simmer for an hour, stirring constantly. Once it gets thick, put your jam in a blender and blend it until it gets smooth, then let it cook and put it into mason jars. When it’s all the way cooled, place it into the fridge, and enjoy your jam for up to 6 weeks.
Pleasant Pear Jam
This specific recipe has lots of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg to compliment the flavor of the pears. This jam is great for any time, but it is the best for the winter season with all the spices and richness!
Boil pears, pectin, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and lemon juice in a pot. Add your sugar, boil again, and then add your butter in. Add your jam into your sterile mason jars and seal with the lids and rings. Place in a water bath and allow it to process for 10 minutes, then remove and let them cool in a dry, dark area.
Pleasing Plum Jelly
This plum jelly is sure to brighten up your mornings and give you a sweet start to your day!
Bring your plums to a boil in a pot, then let them simmer for 10 minutes. After allowing your plum juice to strain, add it back to your pot, add your pectin, and bring it back to a boil. Add your sugar to the juice, mix it until it’s dissolved, and then skim the foam off the top. Put the mixture into clean mason jars, then process in a water bath for 10 minutes. This delicious jelly can be stored unopened for up to two years.
Mouthwatering Pineapple Marmalade
If you are a pineapple lover, this recipe is a must-try!
Put your shredded pineapple, lemon slices, and water into a pot and let it sit overnight. Next, boil it for about 20 minutes until the lemon becomes very tender and soft. Add in your sugar and continue to boil for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim the foam and then transfer your marmalade to the mason jars and let them cool in a dry, dark area.
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