Currant is a common ingredient used in many recipes, especially baked goods like scones, cookies, breads, muffins, and cakes. The sweet-tart flavor of currants adds a wonderful depth and complexity. But what if you’re baking up a storm and suddenly realize you’re fresh out of currants? Don’t worry, there are plenty of great substitutes you can use instead. In this article, I’ll outline six of the best substitutes for currant so you can keep on baking.
The Importance of Currants in Recipes
Before diving into the substitutes, it helps to understand what makes currants so popular in the first place. Currants are a type of tiny, dried grape grown in bunches like traditional grapes. They have a deep purple-red color when dried and a unique sweet-tart flavor. This flavor is what makes them irreplaceable in so many recipes from scones to cakes. The texture is also important, as they provide nice chewy bursts in each bite.
When using currants in baking, they add moisture, sweetness, tartness, texture, and visual appeal. Whether they are sprinkled on top of scones, kneaded into bread dough, mixed into muffin batter, or layered in a cake, they always make the finished product better. So when you don’t have any currants, you’ll need an excellent stand-in.
Cherries as a Currant Substitute
My first choice for substituting currants is cherries. Specifically, I recommend using dried cherries, which have a similar concentrated, fruity flavor. Dried cherries come in a few varieties like black cherries, Bing cherries, and Rainier cherries, all of which will work.
Cherries make a great replacement because their flavor profile is quite close to currents with a good balance of sweetness and tartness. They also have a softer, chewy texture when dried that mimics currants. The bright red color is an added bonus, providing visual pop.
Dried cherries can be used in place of currants in a wide variety of recipes:
- Mix into muffin, scone, bread, pancake, and waffle batters
- Fold into cookie doughs before baking
- Top cakes, pies, crumbles, and crisps before baking
- Add to fruit and nut mixes for cereals and snacks
- Use in fillings for pastries like danishes, croissants, and puff pastry
- Mix into oatmeal and yogurt
For example, you can use dried cherries in place of currants when making a traditional black forest cake. The cherries will feel right at home in the chocolate dessert and make for pretty layers.
Raisins as an Ideal Currant Substitute
Raisins make another excellent replacement for currants in recipes. After all, raisins and currants are close cousins in the dried fruit family. Raisins are simply dried grapes, usually the Thompson seedless variety.
The main advantages of using raisins as a sub for currants are:
- They have a very similar chewy, fruity flavor and sweet-tart taste.
- You can find many types of raisins like golden, black, green, and purple raisins, which work visually in place of currants.
- Raisins are easy to find and budget-friendly.
- Their dried texture integrates seamlessly into baked goods.
Some of the many ways to use raisins in place of currants include:
- Oatmeal cookies
- Fruit and nut muffins
- Banana bread or other quick breads
- Cakes, especially carrot cake, spice cake, and fruitcake
- Yogurt parfaits
- Cereal mixes
- Granola bars
The Power of Cranberries
Popular around the holidays, cranberries can also stand in for currants the rest of the year. The petite size, bright red hue, and tart taste make them a fitting substitute. Look for dried, sweetened cranberries to use in baking.
Dried cranberries make an especially good replacement in recipes where you want a pop of tart flavor along with visual appeal. Use them in:
- Muffins, scones, and biscuits
- Quick breads and sweet breads
- Cookies like oatmeal and chocolage chip
- Bread puddings and stuffings
- Fruit pies, turnovers, and tarts
- Cakes, especially spice and carrot cake
You can also sub dried cranberries for currants when making jams, jellies, chutneys, and fruit sauces. The lower sugar content of cranberries allows the fresh fruit flavor to shine.
Dates as a Sweet Substitute
Dates are a sweet, sticky, and nutritious dried fruit that can stand in for currants in some recipes. Look for soft Medjool dates or Deglet Noor dates to use as a substitute. Be sure to chop them into small pieces before adding to a recipe.
Dates work well because they have a caramel-like sweetness along with a subtle earthiness. They become very soft when baked, mimicking the texture of currants. The brown hue also blends into baked goods seamlessly.
Some ways to use chopped dates in place of currants:
- Oatmeal cookies, bars, and bites
- Fruit breads, scones, muffins, and sweet rolls
- Carrot cake, banana bread, and zucchini bread
- Fruit pies like peach, apple, and berry
- Sticky puddings and dessert bars
You can also use dates along with other dried fruits like apricots, apples, and figs to create a custom fruit cake blend when currants aren’t available.
Jujubes for a Currant-Like Crunch
Jujubes are an interesting currant substitute. They are chewy, pebble-shaped candies that originated in China. Jujubes have an apple-like flavor with a firm but gummy texture when chewed. Chinese jujubes made from the Ziziphus zizyphus plant are sometimes called Chinese red dates.
For baking, look for unsweetened jujubes to use in place of currants. They hold their shape and provide a nice crunch in cookies, scones, and other baked goods. Some ways to use jujubes as a sub include:
- Oatmeal cookies and biscotti
- Scones with jujubes mixed into the dough
- Bread with jujubes kneaded in or sprinkled on top
- Fruit tarts and galettes as a topping
- Sticky buns with jujube filling
You can find jujubes at Asian markets or specialty candy stores. When using them in place of currants, start with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount of currants called for, as they are quite dense.
Prunes as a Surprisingly Suitable Substitute
Don’t overlook prunes as a replacement for currants! Though they seem quite different, prunes actually work well in many recipes.
Prunes are dried plums, so they have a similar sweet-tart flavor as currants. They also become very soft when cooked, and the wrinkly skin gives a unique texture. Prunes are nutritious too, providing fiber, potassium, vitamin K and antioxidants.
Chopped prunes can substitute for currants in recipes like:
- Yeast breads and quick breads
- Muffins, scones and biscuits
- Cakes, especially prune cake
- Cookies with oats, chocolate or spice
- Crisps and crumbles
For a double dose of flavor, try using a combination of chopped prunes and dried cherries or raisins in place of currants.
With this arsenal of currant substitutes, you can keep the baking going even when you’re out of those tiny dried grapes. Dried cherries, raisins, cranberries, dates, jujubes and prunes each offer unique benefits and flavors while mimicking the sweet-tart taste and chewy texture of currants.
The next time your recipe calls for currants but the cupboard is bare, try swapping in one of these excellent stand-ins. You can rest assured the final dish will turn out just as tasty. Part of the fun is experimenting with these different ingredients to discover your perfect currant substitute based on the recipe.
So grab your favorite apron and start baking up a storm with these tasty currant alternatives today!
The 6 Best Substitutes for Currant – Tasty Alternatives for Your Baking
- Choose your preferred alternative from the aforementioned options.
- Adhere to the cooking instructions for your chosen substitute, ensuring the correct proportion of ingredients.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.