Almond paste is a confection that is made from dried ground almonds, sugar, glucose syrup, and water. Its play-dough like consistency and sweet, nutty flavor makes it an excellent filling in pastries. The paste is also added as an ingredient to cookies, candies, and cake and it is an essential component of American bear claw pastry. Pastry chefs often use almond paste to make a delicious almond filling called frangipane.
If you can’t find any almond paste at your local supermarket, you don’t enjoy its taste, or you have a nut allergy then you’re going to need a substitute. We’ve pulled together a list of the best almond paste replacements so that you can finish any recipe without it. Let’s get started.
4 almond paste substitutes
Marzipan is the closest alternative to almond paste and will work well in many sweet recipes. It is commonly used to decorate cakes, but they both have an almond flavor and a similar texture, which is pliable and soft, like clay.
Marzipan is our favored option because it is easy to find in the baking section in most supermarkets. However, it won’t perfectly mimic the original ingredient. Almond paste has a coarser texture and noticeably less sweetness. The best way to compare them is this: almond paste is predominantly almonds with added sweeteners; marzipan is predominantly sugar, with a smaller proportion of almonds added. If you use marzipan then reduce the quantity by 20-30% or cut back the sugar to allow for this much sweeter ingredient.
Marzipan won’t be ideal for every recipe that calls for almond paste. If it needs to be mixed into a batter or spread out onto a tray then consider other options on this page like persipan or try making your own. Keep reading to learn more about these options.
Note: Marzipan and almond paste are considered the same ingredient in the United Kingdom, but they are different products in the United States and most other countries.
Persipan is a paste that is made from debittered apricot kernels and sugar. It has a similar texture to almond paste but the flavor of persipan is quite bland. This can easily be fixed by adding a few drops of almond essence. Persipan is ideal for adding to batter mixtures or practically any other recipe where you’d need a paste texture.
The biggest challenge with using persipan is finding the stuff in stores. You can visit your local supermarket and if you have no success, try specialty cake-making supply shops. The product is also available online.
3. Chestnut paste
Chestnut paste, or chestnut puree, is a popular option for replacing almond paste. Its primary ingredients are chestnuts and sugar, and the resulting texture makes it a useful for use with pastries. If you’re trying to mimic the flavor of almond paste then add a splash of almond extract.
Chestnut paste in another option that can be a little hard to find at the local supermarket. We recommend checking online if you have time to spare. Check the ingredients label as some brands add vanilla, which may not be appropriate in some recipes.
Interesting reading: What are the best vanilla substitutes?
4. Make your own
Making almond paste at home only requires four ingredients and is simple to make. You’ll need a blender or food processor to get a nice smooth consistency.
Prep time: 15 mins. Cook time: 0 mins. Yield: 32 serves
- 2 cups plus 1 cup powdered sugar, divided
- 3 cups blanched almonds, whole
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- Add one cup of sugar and blanched almonds to a food processor and blend until the consistency is very finely ground. You may need to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Pour in the remaining sugar and pulse until incorporated into the other ingredients.
- Add the almond extract and egg white and process until the mixture turns into a clay-like texture. If it is still a little sticky then add another tablespoon of sugar and pulse until smooth.
- Wrap the paste tightly in plastic and then store refrigerated, in a zip-lock bag, until required.
Note: Watch the texture closely to ensure it doesn’t get over-processed and turn into almond butter.
Can I use almond butter to replace almond paste?
The taste and texture of almond butter and almond paste are very different and the two should not be used interchangeably. Almond paste has much higher levels of sugar so it has a stiffer texture that holds up well when baked in food like croissants or tarts.
Comparison of ingredients
You can see from the ingredients lists below how almond paste compares to the other substitutes on this list. Of course, these lists will vary depending on the manufacturer, but it gives a good estimate of what is used.
|Almond paste||Almonds (45%), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Water.|
|Marzipan||Sugar, Almonds (24%), Glucose Syrup, Water, Inverted Sugar Syrup, Preservatives.|
|Persipan||65% apricot kernels, 35% sugar.|
|Chestnut paste||Chestnuts, sugar, vanilla.|
Almond paste is a mix of ground almonds and sugar that is excellent for adding flavor and structure to cookies, pastries, and cakes. Although this paste is a unique ingredient, you can use marzipan as a substitute when you're in a pinch. They both have a similar almond flavor, but marzipan is higher in sugar so allow for this in the recipe. Persipan and chestnut paste are also suitable replacements but they won’t have the same flavor so adding a little almond extract will help.
If you have the time, then making your own almond paste will yield the best results. Make a big batch and freeze it so that you always have some when the time comes to bake.
Do you have a useful replacement for almond paste that we have mentioned here? Please let us know in the comments below.