When papayas are under-ripe and green, they’re served like vegetables. In contrast, ripe papayas are super sweet and treated like desserts. Check out this list of 8 fruits like papayas to find some handy substitutes for these fabulous fruits.
If you’ve ever had mango before, you’ve probably noticed that can be quite similar to papaya. They’re closest in flavor and texture when slightly under-ripe, as fully ripe mangoes get very squishy.
Choose green-red mangoes instead of yellow ones for the closest papaya substitute. If you’re more interested in adding nectar-like sweetness to smoothies, then any type of mango will do.
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2. Passion Fruit
Both of these fruits contain a multitude of seeds surrounded by sweet, juicy pulp when ripe. Although they look very different their flavors and textures are surprisingly similar.
Use passion fruit juice or puree in lieu of papaya in smoothies, desserts, and sauce recipes.
While cantaloupes look nothing like papayas, their juicy orange flesh makes a good substitute. You’ll have to choose an immature cantaloupe for the best effect, however. You can tell whether a cantaloupe is ripe by tapping it. If it’s heavy and sounds hollow, then it’s perfectly ripe.
As such, choose one that doesn’t “thunk” quite as hard when you tap on it. Then cube or slice the inner flesh to use in lieu of papaya for the recipe you’re preparing. For example, try it as a substitute in this cumin-grilled tofu dish with papaya salsa.
This massive, multi-purpose fruit can be a great substitute for green papaya. While the two fruits are quite different when ripe, they have a similar juicy crunchiness when they’re immature. This makes them rather spectacular for salads and other raw dishes.
Use julienned young jackfruit as a substitute for papaya in your next salad-making adventure. It’s particularly good at the height of summertime when you’d rather have colorful, chilled food instead of anything hot.
Related Article: When is Jackfruit in Season?
Speaking of under-ripe papayas, slightly immature avocados can also be great substitutes for those tropical fruits. Now, under-ripe avocados are notoriously difficult to scoop out of their shells. The best way to ensure that you set their deliciousness free is to peel them first, then slice the flesh away from the large inner pit. Then you can use that pit to grow another avocado tree!
Meanwhile, the flesh you’ve sliced off is ready to use. Try it in veggie wraps like these, with a spicy peanut or almond sauce. The only thing that avocado won’t provide as a papaya substitute is sweetness. If you like savory-sweet wraps, then use 2/3 avocado and 1/3 mango for an amazing flavor and texture combo.
6. Honeydew Melon
Much like cantaloupe, honeydew can be a great sub for ripe papaya. This is because these fruits share a similar nectar-like sweetness when fully ripe. Of course, it also means that they fall apart at the lightest touch.
As such, use ripe honeydew as a papaya substitute in desserts or drinks, rather than any recipe that needs firmness or structure.
While pineapple doesn’t taste much like papaya, it shares that fruit’s notable acidity. This is because both fruits contain enzymes that can break down proteins. These are papain and bromelain, respectively. Are you familiar with the slightly fuzzy feeling that your mouth and tongue can get when you eat these fruits fresh? Yeah, those are the enzymes basically breaking down the flesh on the inside of your mouth.
The good news is that these enzymes are great for helping people digest all kinds of protein. Add pineapple (or papaya) to your next crispy tofu dish or black bean salsa. The fruits will help to lessen digestive issues that are often associated with beans.
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Guava’s interior texture is rather grainy, much like a pear, so it’s quite different from smooth and slippery papaya flesh. The similarity between these two fruits is in their flavor. This means that you can use guava juice or nectar for any recipe that calls for papaya juice.
If you can’t find fresh guavas at your local grocery store, you should be able to find guava juice. Look for it in either the juice section, or in the Mexican/Latin American aisles. If it still evades you, then take a trip to the closest South American grocery store near you and stock up on it.
As you can see, there are several other great fruits like papayas that you can use for just about any recipe. You just need to get a bit creative with how you prepare it. Your best bet is to try both immature and super-ripe papaya when you get a chance, and make a note of what they taste like to you. Then you can sub them out with some of the fruits mentioned above whenever you need to.