Best substitute for Asian pear | What to use if you can’t find Nashi

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  June 4, 2022

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If you like crunchy and juicy fruit, then Asian pears are a great choice.

Whether you eat them raw as a healthy snack, use pears in salads and slaws, or cook with them, these fruits add a unique flavor and texture to any dish.

You can find Asian pears at Korean grocery stores, or some Chinese and Japanese shops because the Asian pear is commonly used for making bulgogi sauce and marinade for other BBQ dishes.

But Asian pears can be difficult to find in the average grocery store, however, so what are the best substitutes for Asian pears?

Best substitute for Asian pear | What to use if you can't find Nashi

One of the best substitutes for Asian pears is the Anjou pear because it has a similar crispy texture, juiciness, and mildly sweet aroma.

Another good option is the Bosc pear, which is also crunchy and has a similar flavor to Asian pears.

First, I’ll talk about what Asian pear is and then list the best substitutes.

What is Asian pear?

What is an Asian pear and how to substitute it

The Asian pear, also known as Nashi pear, Japanese pear, or Chinese pear, is a type of pear that is native to East Asia.

What’s interesting about Asian pears is that they have many names. Some people call them Nashi, while in Korea they call them Korean pear or bae (배).

This pear variety is believed to have originated in China and has been cultivated in Japan and Korea for centuries.

Asian pears are round or oblong in shape, with a thin, brownish-yellow skin that is often covered with a waxy coating. This fruit is often mistaken for an apple but it’s not.

The flesh of the Asian pear is crisp and juicy, with a sweet flavor that is often compared to a cross between an apple and a pear. Also, the flesh has that grainy texture that pears typically do.

Asian pear juice tastes quite sweet but it’s a cross between an apple, pear, and pineapple.

Asian pears are a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and copper.

This fruit is usually used in salads, as a healthy snack, in marinades, or in Asian-inspired dishes like stir-fries.

Common dishes with the Nashi pear are hot & sour chicken or chicken walnut with Asian pear.

In her Japanese cuisine cookbook Kyotofu: Uniquely Delicious Japanese Desserts, Nicole Bermensolo gives us a recipe for a delicate Nashi pear crumble.

Koreans like to add Nashi pear to the marinade for beef bulgogi (a Korean BBQ dish) because the pear tenderizes the meat.

But what if you are looking at an Asian dish that has Nashi pears as one of its ingredients and you don’t know where to get the pears?

Now that you know what an Asian pear is, I’m going to share the best Asian pear substitutes.

What are the best substitutes for Asian pear?

While there are many fruits that can be used as a substitute for Asian pear, the best substitutes are pears, apples, and quinces.

Anjou pears – best to eat raw

The best substitute for Asian pear is Anjou pear if you’re looking for a taste similar to that of the original Nashi pear.

Anjou pear is a variety of pear that is native to France. It is also known as the green or winter pear.

Anjou pears are round or oval in shape and have greenish-yellow skin.

The flesh of the Anjou pear is white, crisp, and juicy although not quite as juicy as the Asian pear. It has a sweet flavor with hints of lemon.

This pear has a firm texture and a lot of juice inside. Regardless of whether you choose the red or green variety, both will have a similar flavor.

Anjou pear can be eaten raw or cooked but it’s the best for eating raw when you crave sweet crunchy fruit.

Bosc pear – best for salads & cheese platters

Bosc pear is another variety of pear that is a great substitute for Asian pears. It has golden brown color and matte texture.

It is a bit drier than the Anjou pear but it still has a lot of juice inside although the flesh is still grainy.

Sweet, juicy, and with a floral undertone, the Bosc pear is popular in salads because it’s a bit drier.

It’s a great substitute for Asian pears on a fruit platter because it has a mild nutmeg and cinnamon flavor. It’s commonly paired with Blue, Gouda, and Cheddar cheeses.

If you want to use Asian pears in a salad or coleslaw, thinly sliced Asian pears work well.

For desserts and baked goods that call for Asian pears, substituting bosc pears will work just as well.

Grated or pureed Kiwifruit – best for tenderizing & best for Bulgogi marinade

If you’re familiar with beef bulgogi, you know that this dish requires marinating meat in a sweet pear sauce.

While you can use any type of pear for the marinade, I find that kiwifruit works best because it has a higher acidity level.

This helps to tenderize the meat more. In fact, kiwi contains enzymes that act as a natural meat tenderizer.

Kiwifruit is oval in shape and has a brown, hairy exterior and for beef bulgogi marinade, it’s either grated or pureed into a thicker sauce consistency.

Kiwi is nothing like Asian pear when it comes to texture, appearance, and flavor but it works very well for this Korean BBQ dish.

Even though it doesn’t have an Asian pear taste, it tenderizes the beef fibers so you can use it as an Asian pear substitute.

Overall, kiwi is the best fruit to use for the famous Korean bulgogi dish.

Forelle pears – best for stir-fries

The Forelle pear is a smaller, yellow and red pear that has a sweet and tangy flavor.

It is great for snacking on or using in salads because of its small size.

The Forelle pear is a German pear that is named after the trout fish because of its similar shape. This pear is crunchier than the Asian pear so it makes for a good snack.

The Forelle pear is a great Asian pear substitute especially in stir-fries because it stays relatively crunchy when cooked.

Compared to Korean pear, the Forelle pear is less sweet but it has a similar floral flavor.

Apples – best for baking

While apples are not as closely related to Asian pears as Anjou or Bosc pears, they are still a good substitute.

Apples have a sweet and tangy flavor with a hint of acidity. The flesh is crisp and juicy with a grainy texture.

Apples come in many different varieties, each with its own flavor profile.

The most popular types of apples are Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious.

While any type of apple can be used to replace Asian pears in recipes, Granny Smith apples are the best for baking because of their tart flavor.

Honeycrisp apples are great for snacking on and Golden Delicious apples are good for both snacking and baking.

Quinces – best for cooking

The quince is a fruit that is closely related to apples and pears. It has a similar flavor to both fruits with a hint of floral sweetness.

The quince is an oblong-shaped fruit that is yellow in color. The flesh is white and crisp with a grainy texture.

While the quince can be eaten raw, it is most often used in cooked dishes because of its astringent flavor.

Quinces are commonly used in jams, jellies, and pies. They can also be used as a meat tenderizer. Thus you can use quince as a meat tenderizer in marinades for dishes like beef bulgogi to replace Asian pears.

Fuji apple – best for kimchi

The Fuji apple is a variety of apple that is grown in Japan. It is one of the most popular types of apples in the world.

It’s also one of the best Asian pear substitutes because it has a similar flavor and texture. It works very well in Kimchi as an alternative to Nashi.

The Fuji apple is red and yellow in color with white flesh. The flavor is sweet and slightly acidic. The texture is crisp and crunchy.

One thing to note is that this is a sweet apple so it might not be suitable for savory dishes but even then, it’s not overly sweet.

Or, you can also add some lemon juice or rice vinegar to balance out the sweet apple flavor.

While the Fuji apple is a good all-purpose apple, it is especially good for snacking and baking.

So if you’re looking for a Fuji apple substitute for Asian pear, then you can use it in any recipe.

Bartlett pear

The Bartlett pear is the most popular variety of pear in the US. It is also known as the Williams’ pear and is best known for its classic pear flavor.

This pear is yellow or green in color and has sweet and juicy flesh. The Bartlett pear is a great all-purpose pear usually used for canning.

While it is not as closely related to Asian pears as other varieties, the Bartlett pear can be used as a substitute in many dishes.

The color is a lighter yellow with a bit of red. Its texture is more granular, and the flavor is more mellow but still sweet like Asian pear.

Taylor’s gold pear

The Taylor’s gold pear is a variety of pear that is grown in New Zealand. It is a cross between the European pear and the Asian white pear.

This pear has a yellow and green skin with white flesh. The flavor is sweet with a hint of acidity. The texture is dense and granular.

The Taylor’s gold pear is a good substitute for Asian pear in recipes because it has a similar flavor and texture.

It works for the bulgogi marinade as well as stir-fries or you can just eat it as a snack and it has a similar crunchiness as Korean pear.

Pineapples or pineapple juice

Replace Asian pears with pineapple to give your dishes a tropical flair.

It adds an instant sweet taste to all Korean recipes like bulgogi. For that specific dish, people like to use pineapple juice.

Pineapples can be used in a wide variety of dishes because they go well with almost any type of meat or fish.

They’re a great addition to desserts and ice creams, and you can use them in a variety of ways even as delicious toppings.

On the other hand, pineapples are extremely juicy. As a result, you may want to omit or reduce the amount of additional liquids in order to avoid a dish that is too watery.

Pineapple isn’t the ideal Asian pear substitute but it’s excellent for bulgogi sauce and marinade.

FAQs

What can I use instead of Asian pear for Kimchi?

You can use any type of pear, apple, or daikon radish.

But, the best substitute for grated pear in kimchi is the Fuji apple. It has such a pleasant sweet taste and similar grainy texture.

Is Asian pear the same as apple pear?

Yes, apple pear is another name for Asian pear.

The name references the rounded shape of the Asian pear and the yellow-green skin which is similar to some apple varieties.

In grocery stores, you mostly see these pears labeled as “Asian pear or Nashi pear”.

What’s the difference between an Asian pear and a regular pear?

The main difference between an Asian pear and a regular pear is the shape. An Asian pear is more round like an apple while a regular pear is more oval-shaped.

In terms of taste, Asian pears are less sweet and have a crispier texture. They’re also juicier than regular pears.

The classic European pears are pretty hard to bite into whereas the crunchy texture of the Asian pear is better.

What can I use instead of Asian pear for juicing?

For juicing, you can use any type of pear or apple. The most popular varieties for juicing are Granny Smith apples, Bartlett pears, Forelle pears, and Bosc pears.

If you want to add some sweetness to your juice, then you can use Honeycrisp apples or Anjou pears.

Add a hint of pineapple or kiwi juice for a unique flavor.

Takeaway

There are many substitutes for Asian pears depending on what you’re looking for.

If you want a fruit that is similar in flavor and texture, then try Anjou pears, Fuji apples, Bartlett pears, or Taylor’s gold pears.

If you want a fruit that is similar in color, then try quinces.

And if you want a fruit that will add sweetness to your dish, then try pineapples or kiwi for a tasty bulgogi recipe.

Overall, another pear substitute works best for most recipes but as you’ve seen apples can work too!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.