The best grapefruit substitutes are those similar to grapefruits nutritionally — i.e., low-calorie foods rich in Vitamin C. Citrus fruits such as oranges and tangerines are good options. Other alternatives include papaya and kiwis.
Keep reading for fresh ideas (no pun intended) on what to use instead of grapefruit in a recipe or if you’re following, say, the military or 3-day diet.
Oranges are similar to grapefruits, which makes sense since grapefruits are an orange-pomelo hybrid. The texture and taste of oranges are similar to that of a grapefruit, though oranges are sweeter. If you don’t like the sour taste of grapefruit, oranges may suit your taste better.
Since oranges and grapefruit are of the same size, you can substitute them for the same quantity. For example, if you’re looking for something other than grapefruit juice to use in a cocktail, orange juice is the way to go. I love using orange juice in Brown Derby cocktails because the juice tones down the spicy whiskey minus the sour punch of grapefruit juice.
Nutritionally, oranges and grapefruits are similar. They contain almost identical amounts of Vitamin C, calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. One thing that makes oranges healthier than grapefruit is that they have 50% more fiber than the latter.
Note that not all oranges are created equal. Some oranges are sweeter than others, and some may contain more seeds than you’re willing to remove. Be sure to choose your orange substitutes carefully.
If you’re following the military diet, you shouldn’t replace grapefruit with oranges because the latter has higher sugar content, and the rules of this particular diet are strict. As you know, military diets force you to lose at least 10 pounds within a week, meaning you have to watch every calorie you consume.
Like oranges, mangos are a great substitute for grapefruits in salads and cocktails. However, you may want to add a bit of lime juice to balance out the taste of mangos since they’re far sweeter than grapefruits. They’re also similar in size, so you can swap the same amount of mango or mango juice without changing the recipe’s integrity.
Also, mangos have more calories than grapefruits, though the difference isn’t significant. A 100-gram grapefruit has 42 calories, whereas a 100-gram mango has around 60. Still, if you’re following a strict diet, this caloric difference may be important to you.
Nutritionally, mangos and grapefruits have similar amounts of vitamin C, protein, carbs, and fat. However, grapefruits contain more of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
Of course, if you have a sweet tooth, you may not bother with grapefruit at all and will want to go with mangos all the way. Also, mangos are tropical fruits, meaning you won’t find too many of them in the United States, and they can add a touch of the exotic to any food you add them to.
If you want to use something other than a grapefruit in a salad recipe, a peach may be your best bet. Peaches add a fresh taste to salads, which you may find preferable to the sourness of grapefruits. You can make this swap knowing you didn’t add any calories to your food, as the two fruits are calorically identical. They also have similar amounts of fiber.
Another benefit to substituting peaches for grapefruits is that peaches have less sugar, saturated fat, and carbohydrates than grapefruits. Peaches are still pretty sweet though, especially if you use them as filling for pastries and the like.
One drawback for peaches is that they have significantly lower amounts of vitamin C and A. Grapefruits have 661% more Vitamin C and 142% more Vitamin A than peaches — a significant difference when nutritional value is your priority.
Pomelos are similar in taste to grapefruits, although they’re slightly sweeter. If you’re looking for an almost identical swap for grapefruit, a pomelo is the way to go. Pomelos are Southeast Asian citrus fruits that are also identical nutritionally to grapefruits.
However, you should note that, like grapefruits, pomelos can interfere with medications. Both of these fruits block an enzyme that breaks down the medicine, meaning certain medications will stay too long in your body and may cause you more harm than good.
Another drawback to swapping a pomelo for grapefruit is that pomelos can be hard to find in American supermarkets. But if by chance you happen to get some, feel free to swap the same amount of the fruit or juice for any grapefruit recipe.
If you’ve never eaten a pomelo before, here are some ideas for how to use them:
- Add pomelo slices to your salad. The fruit pairs especially well with chicken.
- Add some salt and chili powder to the fruit for a spicy kick.
- Add chunks of pomelo to any fruit salad.
- Use the juice in cocktails, such as a Paloma.
- Use it as a marinade for meat or fish.
Similar to oranges, tangerines are the same as grapefruits in terms of size, texture, and nutritional value. Both fruits are also great sources of vitamin C and vitamin A, though grapefruits have 71% more vitamin A than tangerines. On the other hand, tangerines have a higher fiber content.
Tangerines are also sweeter than grapefruits, so if you have a sweet tooth, the big T may be the one for you.
If you’re making a cocktail and want the bitter, sour taste of grapefruit minus the actual fruit, lemon juice with a little bit of plain syrup can be a great alternative. As long as you sweeten up the lemon mixture a bit, it’ll taste the same as grapefruit more or less.
Nutritionally, lemons have more Vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and potassium, but not nearly as much Vitamin A as grapefruits.
That said, this swap doesn’t make sense for every situation. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to put slices of lemon in your salad or eat a lemon as you would a grapefruit. Lemons are far more acidic than grapefruits, and you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you try to use lemons the way you would grapefruits.
Like lemons, limes are a great alternative to grapefruit in cocktails because they have a similar bitter flavor and nutritional content. Also like lemons, you’ll want to sweeten up your lime a bit for it to be an ample substitute for grapefruit. For the above reasons, you don’t want to substitute limes for grapefruit as is.
Limes and grapefruits have similar levels of vitamin C, calories, protein, carbs, and fat. However, limes have less sugar and more fiber, making them a bit healthier than grapefruit.
Pineapples have a similar flavor profile to grapefruits as they’re both sweet and tart fruits.
The textures of the two fruits are different, however, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to swap out grapefruit for pineapples in every recipe.
Nutritionally, both fruits have similar amounts of vitamin C, fiber, protein, sugar, and calories. If you choose to use pineapple instead of grapefruit in a recipe, rest assured that you’re getting a similar nutritional value.
Contrary to their name, blackberries aren’t berries at all. That’s because berries come from one flower with one ovary, whereas blackberries come from one flower with multiple ovaries. One thing is for sure, though: Blackberries can make handy substitutes for grapefruit.
Although they don’t look similar at all, grapefruits and blackberries have pretty similar amounts of carbs and sugar. If you’re following a diet that calls for you to eat grapefruit on its own, you might choose to eat a bowl of blackberries instead if you want something a little sweeter.
One downside to using blackberries instead of grapefruits is that they can be quite expensive, especially when they’re not in season. Because they’re significantly smaller than grapefruits, you’ll need to use many of them if you’re swapping them for grapefruit.
Similar to blackberries, strawberries aren’t berries at all despite the “berry” in their name. Strawberries also come from a single flower with multiple ovaries, as opposed to true berries that come from a single flower with one ovary.
Strawberries may have more sugar, but they also have a large amount of vitamin C, just like grapefruits do. They’re also much sweeter than grapefruit, meaning you’ll have to add a touch of lime or lemon to dampen the sugary taste.
I don’t mean to bombard you with facts on true berries and those that are only “berries” in name. But yes: Raspberries are another fruit that isn’t actually “berries” in the strictest sense of the word. Like blackberries, they contain about as much carbohydrates and sugar as grapefruit.
Also like blackberries, they’re smaller than grapefruits, so you need to use more of them to compensate for the absence of grapefruit in any recipe you’re concocting.
Papayas taste very different from grapefruits, so they might not be the ideal substitute for all recipes. Still, they are extremely similar nutrition-wise. Both fruits are great sources of Vitamin C and Vitamin A and have almost identical amounts of carbohydrates, fat, fiber, sugar, protein, and calories.
Papayas are also known to aid with digestion, bone health, and hair health.
If you’re unfamiliar with papayas, they can be a bit tricky to eat at first. You should pick a papaya fruit with skin that’s soft to the touch. Then, you’ll need to cut it and scoop out the seeds before you eat it. The seeds aren’t harmful, but they have a bitter taste.
Here are some ideas on how to eat papayas:
- Mix papaya with pineapple and mango to make a yummy fruit salad.
- Freeze some papaya and add it to a smoothie with Greek yogurt and frozen banana.
- Add chunks of papaya to a salad to amp the sweetness.
- Make a fruity salsa with papaya, mango, and peppers of your choice.
- Spear chunks of papaya with popsicle sticks and freeze them to make popsicles.
Like papaya, kiwis don’t taste like grapefruits or have a similar texture. But if it’s the nutritional value you’re after, kiwis are a good alternative. Both fruits are similar in calories, vitamin C, carbs, sugar, and protein. Plus, kiwis have more fiber and potassium.
Kiwis are easy to enjoy. Here are some ideas:
- Eat it with a spoon. Kiwi is delicious on its own, which makes it a great alternative to grapefruit because many people don’t like the sourness of the latter.
- Make a smoothie with kiwis, bananas, and yogurt.
- Cut up kiwi and add it to a bowl of yogurt with granola for a yummy parfait.
- Make a kiwi jam by blending kiwi, apples, sugar, and lemon and pineapple juices.
14. Baking Soda and Water
If you’re following the military diet, also known as the 3-day diet, this is the only acceptable substitute for grapefruit. Simply add a half teaspoon of baking soda to an 8-ounce glass of water and drink it. It doesn’t sound like the tastiest concoction in the world, but that’s how it is.
As I said before, the military diet is a three-day weight loss regimen meant to help you lose ten pounds in one week. Day one of the diet features half of a grapefruit for breakfast.
The goal of the military diet is to make your body more alkaline, which helps burn fat. According to advocates of the military diet, grapefruit does this, and so does baking soda.
However, you should only use this substitute if you’re following this specific diet and you’re trying to lose weight. You can’t use baking soda and water as a substitute in any other recipe that calls for grapefruit. Not only would it taste bad, but you’d get no nutritional benefits.
Also, if you want to eat whole foods after having a military diet, make sure you do it slowly but surely. Otherwise, the shock of having solids reintroduced into your digestive system after a long period of effectively fasting can do nasty things to your body.
For more, don’t miss The 12 Best Substitutes For Milk In Smoothies.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.