What can substitute for ladyfingers in tiramisu?

Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert that typically consists of layers of ladyfingers soaked in coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder, and other ingredients. The crisp, crunchy ladyfingers are a key component in tiramisu, providing a nice contrast to the rich, creamy mascarpone layers. However, ladyfingers can be difficult to find in some areas, so many people wonder what they can use as a substitute in tiramisu recipes. There are several options for replacing ladyfingers that will allow you to create a tasty tiramisu.

Reasons to Substitute Ladyfingers

There are a few reasons why you may want or need to substitute ladyfingers in a tiramisu recipe:

  • Ladyfingers are not readily available in your area. They tend to only be stocked at specialty grocery stores like Italian markets.
  • You don’t have time to run out and buy ladyfingers. Tiramisu is best assembled right before serving, so missing this one ingredient could delay your plans.
  • You want to avoid gluten. Traditional ladyfingers contain wheat flour. Using a gluten-free substitute allows more people to enjoy tiramisu.
  • You want to experiment with flavors and textures. Substituting different cookies or cake provides variety.
  • You simply don’t like the taste or texture of ladyfingers. Using a substitute creates a tiramisu that suits your preferences.

Having backup options for times when you can’t find ladyfingers or want to change up the tiramisu recipe is helpful for home bakers. The good news is that there are a number of suitable alternatives.

Choosing Ladyfinger Substitutes

When selecting a substitute for ladyfingers in tiramisu, you want to aim for options that have a similar taste and texture:

Flavor – Ladyfingers have a delicate, sweet, eggy, and vanilla-like flavor. Substitutes should not overpower the tiramisu but complement the coffee and mascarpone.

Texture – A key aspect of ladyfingers is that they are low in moisture so they retain their crunch and don’t become soggy when soaked in the coffee mixture. Substitutes should be biscuit-like rather than soft and cake-like.

Shape – Ladyfingers have an oblong, finger-shaped form. While not critical, substitutes sliced into sticks or fingers help achieve the layered look.

You also want to consider how the substitute will soak up the coffee mixture used to flavor the tiramisu. Dry baked goods tend to absorb liquid well.

Keeping these factors in mind will help you select a ladyfinger substitute that makes a successful tiramisu.

Best Substitutes for Ladyfingers

Here are some of the best options for replicating the taste, texture, and look of ladyfingers in a tiramisu recipe:

Savoiardi (Italian Ladyfingers)

Savoiardi are the traditional Italian ladyfingers used for tiramisu. If you’re able to find them, they will provide the most authentic flavor and texture. Seek out savoiardi at specialty markets or in the international foods section of well-stocked grocery stores.

Graham Crackers

Graham crackers check many of the boxes in terms of being an ideal ladyfinger substitute. They have a similar sweetness, crunchy texture, and ability to absorb liquid. Cut graham crackers into sticks to loosely mimic the shape of ladyfingers.


Biscotti are Italian almond cookies that are twice-baked to create a very dry, crunchy texture. Their richness pairs nicely with coffee and minimal moisture means they won’t fall apart when dipped in the coffee mixture. Cut into strips before using in the tiramisu.

Boudoir Biscuits

These delicate European sponge biscuits have an oblong shape similar to ladyfingers. They are light, crisp, and only slightly sweet making them ideal for soaking up the coffee and flavoring of tiramisu. Look for them at specialty bakeries or gourmet markets.

Savoiardi Biscuits

Not to be confused with Italian savoiardi ladyfingers, these French biscuits have an elongated shape well-suited for tiramisu. Though crisper and less sweet than ladyfingers, their egg-bread flavor complements tiramisu nicely.

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake has a tender, feather-light crumb due to the egg whites used. When cut into strips, it soaks up coffee beautifully. The mild sweet flavor allows other tiramisu tastes to shine.

Pound Cake

When stale, pound cake develops a firm, dry texture that stands up well in tiramisu. Cut pound cake into cubes or strips and allow to dry for a day or two before using to prevent mushiness. Sweetened pound cake pairs better than unsweetened.


Crisp butter cookies, almond biscotti, and gingersnaps also make solid stand-ins for ladyfingers. Their hardness prevents them from turning to mush while their sweetness balances coffee and cocoa. Break into pieces before assembling.

Sponge Cake

Sponge cake is similar to ladyfingers with a light, airy crumb due to whipped egg whites. Cut into fingers or cubes. Let dry for a couple days before using for maximum crunch.


Wafers offer crisp texture and neutral flavor for tiramisu. Vanilla wafers are a great option. Break them into pieces for a unique look. Chocolate or cinnamon wafers can also be used.

Tips for Using Ladyfinger Substitutes

When using a substitute for ladyfingers in your tiramisu, keep these tips in mind:

  • Allow baked goods like pound cake or sponge cake to dry out for 1-2 days before using for best texture.
  • Cut substitutes into 1-2 inch long sticks or cubes to mimic traditional ladyfingers.
  • Dip substitute pieces quickly in coffee mixture to moisten but not cause them to become saturated and fall apart.
  • Use baking extracts like vanilla or almond to boost flavor if substitutes are more plain than ladyfingers.
  • Increase amount of cocoa powder or espresso powder between layers if substitutes don’t provide enough flavor contrast.
  • Sample as you assemble tiramisu to adjust sweetness, flavor intensities, and moisture level of layers.

Experimenting with different ladyfinger substitutes allows you to discover new taste combinations and variations on classic tiramisu.

Substitute Options by Dietary Restriction

If you are limiting ingredients due to food allergies or dietary restrictions, here are some ladyfinger substitutes to consider:


Gluten-free wafers, angel food cake, gingersnaps, sugar cookies, or vanilla biscotti. Read ingredient labels.


Cut strips of almond flour cake sweetened with honey or maple syrup. Bake until very dry and firm.


Look for brands of graham crackers, gingersnaps, or vanilla wafers made without nuts. Check labels carefully.


Use dairy-free cream cheese, coconut cream, or thick cashew cream as the filling rather than mascarpone.


Use egg-free sponge cake or cut firm tofu into finger shapes. Soak in coffee mixed with sugar instead of eggs.

Best Tiramisu Recipes Without Ladyfingers

If you can’t find a good ladyfinger substitute, there are also great tiramisu recipes that don’t require them at all:

Tiramisu Trifle – Layer mascarpone cream and soaked pound cake cubes in a glass trifle bowl instead of a pan.

Tiramisu Cheesecake – Make a no-bake cheesecake with equal parts cream cheese and mascarpone flavored with coffee and cocoa powder.

Individual Mason Jar Tiramisus – Construct each serving in a mason jar for easy assembly without ladyfingers.

Tiramisu Cups – Line muffin tins with chocolate wafer crumbs then fill with coffee-infused mascarpone.

Tiramisu Parfaits – Alternate layers of mascarpone and whipped cream with coffee liqueur and cocoa in parfait glasses.

With a little creativity, you can find or adapt a tiramisu recipe that will taste delicious without ladyfingers. The coffee and cocoa flavors paired with creamy mascarpone are what really shine in tiramisu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make tiramisu without eggs?

It’s tricky to make eggless tiramisu, since raw eggs are traditionally used in both the ladyfingers and the mascarpone filling. For an eggless tiramisu, use dairy-free cream cheese in place of mascarpone and choose an eggless ladyfinger substitute.

Is it OK to use store-bought ladyfingers?

Yes, you can absolutely use store-bought ladyfingers in tiramisu. Opt for savoiardi ladyfingers if you can find them. Otherwise, look for brands that contain mainly eggs, sugar, flour, and vanilla.

Can I use graham crackers instead of ladyfingers from scratch?

It works well to use graham crackers as a substitute for ladyfingers you make from scratch. Graham crackers offer similar flavor notes and have the right crisp texture to stand in for ladyfingers in tiramisu.

Do you have to dip the ladyfingers in coffee for tiramisu?

It’s ideal to dip or quickly soak the ladyfingers or substitute in the coffee mixture. This step moistens and infuses them with coffee flavor. If not dipped in coffee, they may be too dry and bland.

Can I freeze tiramisu made with ladyfinger substitutes?

Most tiramisus made with dry, crispy ladyfinger substitutes freeze well for 1-2 months. Pound cake, biscotti, and graham crackers hold up best. Some moisture may be lost, so balance sweetness accordingly.


Ladyfingers can be swapped for a variety of crisp cookies, biscuits, cakes, and wafers in tiramisu recipes. Savoiardi ladyfingers, graham crackers, biscotti, boudoir biscuits, and angel food cake all make excellent substitutes. Look for options that will soak up coffee without becoming soggy. With the right substitute, you can create a tiramisu that still has the classic flavors and textures even without ladyfingers. Be sure to sample as you assemble the tiramisu and adjust components as needed to achieve the perfect sweetness, moisture, and flavor balance.

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