The 8 Best calamansi substitutes for making juices, desserts and in savoury recipes!
What is calamansi?
It's a citrus hybrid, also called kalamansi, calamondin, Philippine lime or Philippine lemon, and it grows readily in the tropics. A common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisines such as Indonesian, Filipino, Singaporean and Malaysian food, it is actually a mix of a kumquat plant and another citrus, most likely mandarin orange.
How to use
It is often squeezed onto Singaporean dishes, such as Hokkien Mee Noodles, Sambal Stingray, mee siam or the famous Chicken Rice Chilli, to add a hint of acidity as well as to desserts such as sea coconut jelly. Calamansi also tastes great in homemade condiments such as sambal mayonnaise!
In Philippines, it is used to make Toyomansi, a calamansi soy sauce, that goes well with with Sio mai. Filipinos also use this zesty fruit to marinade pork and fish.
If you're looking for something summery and full of Vitamin C, use calamansi to make lemonade- it's fruitier than the usual Meyer lemon- or in your cocktails and mocktails!
This citrus fruit is also delicious in pies, tarts and other calamansi desserts!
What does it taste like?
Obviously, calamansi is tangy- but besides being tart, the flavor is more complex as it is also sweet and floral, which is why key lime is its best replacement.
As mentioned above, the floral bouquet of this citrus fruit makes it the closest substitute for calamansi. If using bottled key lime juice, remember to make sure it's pure and not laden with sugar or other ingredients.
If you can't get such a specific type of lime juice- in Asia, for example, key lime is not widely available- the juice of any lime will do in a pinch. It won't hurt to add some lime zest as well!
P.S. Similarly, you can also use calamansi lime to replace other types of citrus fruits.
And whilst pure lemon juice can be used instead of calamansi juice, a mix of lemon and lime juices actually makes for a better substitute!
As mentioned earlier, calamansi is actually a kumquat hybrid, so it makes sense that kumquats would be a good substitute for calamansi. Unfortunately, they're pretty small so quite hard to juice- you could wash them well and blend them, skin and all, to make a puree though!
Yuzu is a less common citrus that's very popular in Japan, Korea and China- it's actually a great replacement for calamansi but I've only included it so far down on this list of substitutes as it's quite hard to get outside of a Japanese supermarket.
Note: I like using my yuzu to make refreshing konnyaku jelly!
Whilst tangerine can be used instead of calamansi, they're much sweeter so you may want to add some lemon juice- or even a touch of dry white wine- to increase the acidity.
Other types of oranges would work too!
Now vinegar- think apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar etc- would be a bad idea if you're trying to replace calamansi in a juice or some kind of beverage, but it could work in savoury dishes, such as marinades.
P.S. I've seen people include fish sauce as a substitute but personally I don't really see the link! Calamansi and fish sauce are a terrific combination but I'm not so sure they can replace each other!
Let me know if I've missed out on anything in this list of best calamansi substitutes!