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5 BEST Substitutes for Calvados: Upgrade Your Recipes

Calvados is an apple brandy made in the Normandy region of France.

It is available as either a bottled distilled product or as a distillate which is then diluted with water before bottling.

The final brandies are at least 40% alcohol by volume, although many are marketed at 43–46%.

Calvados is also produced in the area around Aube, with several different product varieties.

While Calvados is usually served as an apéritif or after-dinner drink, it is also used in cooking.

It can be included in some cocktails and is also used as a base in some kinds of bitters.

If you cannot find Calvados or do not want to use them because of expense or taste, read on for five substitutes for this classic apple brandy.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Calvados

Due to their unique flavor profile, Calvados is an essential ingredient in many French desserts.

Often, it can be difficult to find or expensive, which can serve as a roadblock for some chefs.

However, several substitutes mimic Calvados’ woody and fruit taste at a fraction of the cost.

The following are 5 of the best substitutions for Calvados.

1 – Applejack


Applejack is a type of liquor that has been around for more than 200 years.

It is made from hard apple cider, fermented twice to get rid of the water.

The product is then stored in wooden casks to settle and mellow over time.

Applejack is rather strong, with an ABV (alcohol by volume) content of about 25 – 40%.

The result is a smooth golden-brown spirit with a fruity yet dry flavor.

It’s often recommended as an alternative to Calvados for those who enjoy apple-flavored spirits.

Applejack is still rare, so your best bet is trying at top cocktail bars in larger urban centers.

2 – Armagnac


Armagnac is a type of brandy that originates from the southwestern tip of France.

It is distilled in the Armagnac region, hence its name.

This particular brandy has been produced since the 15th century.

The alcohol content for this drink must be at least 54%.

The former has a much sweeter taste when comparing apple brandy and Armagnac.

This is because it’s distilled from fermented apples – while Armagnac is made from grapes and pears.

The flavor profile of apple brandy is not that dissimilar to Calvados, except for one distinctive difference: It can be rather acidic.

Armagnac, on the other hand, is a bit more complex.

It has a strong aroma and a pleasantly dry finish.

Each brandy possesses a velvety texture with hints of nuts and fruits.

3 – Apple Juice or Apple Cider

apple juice or apple cider

If you are in desperate need to make a recipe that calls for Calvados, but cannot find it anywhere, then apple juice or apple cider is the next best thing.

Apple juice is available in most grocery stores and supermarkets around the world.

It may be used instead of Calvados in any recipe.

Apple juice can provide a similar fruitiness that can be found in Calvados.

However, apple juice is not as strong, and the flavors will be slightly subdued.

Hence, you may want to consider using apple juice or cider if your recipe requires low-alcohol content.

4 – Apple Butter

apple butter

Like apple juice and apple cider, Apple butter is an alternative if you want a less powerful product.

It’s a culinary spread used on bread, biscuits, and more.

Apple butter has a strong flavor profile due to spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Furthermore, it is made from apples that have been cooked down to create a thick and creamy consistency.

Apple butter can be used as an alternative to Calvados if you add it to sauces and marinades for meats and vegetables.

It can also be used in baking applications, such as apple desserts or pies.

5 – Pear Brandy

pear brandy

Last but not least is pear brandy.

Pear brandy is most common in European countries, France, Italy, and Spain.

It goes by many different names depending on the region where it’s produced, such as Poire Williams in France and Mirabelle in Germany.

The good thing about pear brandy is that it’s much easier to find than apple brandy.

Price-wise, it is generally cheaper, but the flavor profile may not be as intense.

Pear brandy has a fruity flavor with notes of honey and spice.

It is usually distilled multiple times before being bottled.

The result is an amber-colored liquid with a stronger flavor than apple brandy.

best substitutes for calvados

The 5 Best Substitutes for Calvados

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Applejack
  • Armagnac
  • Apple Juice or Apple Cider
  • Apple Butter
  • Pear Brandy


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Follow the substitution ratio to determine how much is required in your recipe.
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