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Papaya Substitute: 6 Fruits You Can Use Instead

Mangoes, cantaloupes and peaches are some of the best alternatives for papaya on the market. 

As someone whose hobby is to experiment with different kinds of ingredients in the kitchen, I’ve found that some are more difficult to find replacements for than others.

Their taste and texture are just so unrivaled that it’s more or less impossible to find a substitute for them that would suffice in many recipes.

Luckily, papaya, despite being an incredibly unique fruit, isn’t one of them.

There are times the fresh fruit goes out of season, making it hard to find but that doesn’t mean you should give up your favorite papaya recipes. Below are some the best papaya substitutes you can use for your dishes and drinks today!

Papaya Substitutes featured image | Girl Meets Food

What is papaya?

Before we get into the good stuff, let’s first explore this fruit and understand what it is.

Papaya is a tropical fruit with a large, pear-shaped structure native to Central America and Mexico. On the outside, it’s green when it’s unripe while ripe papaya usually has mottled spots of greenish-orange, greenish-yellow skin. Its flesh is soft and orange and within a papaya’s core are tens of coated black seeds.

Papaya is a wonderful fruit with a sweet taste when ripe while an unripe papaya has much more of a bland and mellow taste. It’s packed with loads of different kinds of vitamins as well as other nutrients and there are many health benefits linked to consuming papayas.

Why might you need a papaya substitute?

A few papayas lie on leaves on a table | Girl Meets Food

There are a few reasons why you might need a substitute for papaya. 

  • Maybe the fruit is out of season or just unavailable in your area.
  • You’re allergic to papaya or sensitive so it, so you’re trying to steer clear of the fruit.
  • You have a recipe in mind that involves papayas but you want to try something similar but new instead.
  • While papaya is a lovely fruit, you have a personal preference meaning you’re just not the biggest fan of its taste or texture but wouldn’t mind something similar that’s different.

Whatever the reason may be, I’ve got a couple of fruits you can use in place of papaya in your sweet dishes below.

  • Mango

Perfect in fruit salads and cold drinks, mango is one of the best substitutes for papaya. It’s just as sweet, juicy and best of all, is a common fruit you can find nearly all year round in many local markets and grocery stores.

I like it in my smoothies, drinks (particularly a mango squash), cold fruit salads, and all kinds of desserts so, if you’re looking for an easy-to-find papaya substitute in any of those, you should definitely consider using a mango. And, if you love this fruit as much as I do, have a look at these amazing substitutes for mango.

  • Pineapple

Pineapple is a delicious fruit and makes for another great substitute for papaya. Since it’s also a tropical fruit, the two share loads of similarities like being high in vitamin C, dietary fiber and water, making it a super hydrating fruit, just like the papaya is.

It’s most commonly used in smoothies and all sorts of drinks as well as desserts and even as a topping for pizza but you can use it as a substitute for papaya in just about every recipe that calls fro the fruit.

  • Peach

If you’re looking for a substitute for papaya in a dessert or sweet recipe, try using peaches.

Although they’re much smaller than papayas, their flesh is somewhat orange with a soft texture and they’re sweet (with some variants being slightly acidic), just like papayas are.

The taste of a peach lends itself really well in pies, cobbler and even cake and when it comes to their nutritional value, peaches are packed with dietary fiber, vitamin A as well as vitamin C, making them a great alternative to papayas.

  • Kiwi

A kiwi is a much lesser known substitute for papaya, but because of it’s distinct taste, makes a wonderful substitute for the fruit.

It’s got this uniquely sweet but acidic and slightly tart taste and is a great addition to salads and all kinds of smoothies.

Also, the nutritional profile of kiwi shows this fruit is particularly high in dietary fiber and vitamin C, so if nutrition is a big thing for you, just know choosing a kiwi means it’s covered.

  • Persimmon

Looking for a papaya substitute that has got a similar color to papaya? The persimmon is a good choice.

It’s a fruit like no other, with one of its varieties named the Hachiya having a soft and gelatinous-like texture and mildly sweet, honey-like taste.

There are others but I think that variety works best as a substitute for papayas in many kinds of drinks and desserts.

  • Cantaloupe

When ripe, the cantaloupe has a fruity taste with tropical notes, just like the papaya does, making it an excellent substitute for the fruit.

It’s important you pick out a ripe cantaloupe though because an immature cantaloupe has somewhat of a neutral taste and has more of a cucumber-like texture.

I love using cantaloupes as a substitute for papaya because of it’s lovely taste and the fact that the color of the ripe fruit is very similar to that of a ripe papaya.

FAQs for papaya substitutes

Sliced Papaya with berries on top close up | Girl Meets Food
What can I use instead of papaya?

Cantaloupes, mangoes and persimmon are just some of the few fruits you can use instead of papaya in your recipes.

They might not have the exact same texture and flavor profile of papaya, but either would work well in just about any papaya recipe you have in mind.

What fruit is closest to papaya?

Lookswise, the chayote is the closest fruit to the papaya with both tropical fruits having a pear-shaped structure but when it comes to taste, the two aren’t similar at all.

What can I substitute for green papaya?

Cucumbers and immature jicamas are great substitutes for green papaya in many recipes. Both have that unique tropical flavor and when it comes to dishes like green papaya salads, either of the two would suffice. 

Is papaya similar to mango?

Both papaya and mango are very similar when it comes to the nutrients they offer, but the two fruits have very different looks as well as tastes, Nonetheless, a mango would still work well in many recipes (especially fruit salads, drinks and desserts) that require some fresh papaya.

BOTTOM LINE: The papaya is a wonderful, delicious and exceptionally nutritious fruit, but it isn’t the easiest to find sometimes, especially when it’s out of season. Luckily, there are quite the number of substitutes you can use in your recipes to get similar results as it would be if you were using an actual papaya fruit.

From mangoes to pineapples and even peaches to cantaloupes, either would work well in your recipes. Just pick the option that seems the most appealing to you and have a go at it.

I’m a sucker for fruits so I like trying out recipes for loads of them, that’s why I’ve been able to find substitutes for all kinds of sweet and juicy fruits. 

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