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Best Ladyfinger Substitutes

Best Ladyfinger Substitutes

Ladyfingers are small sponge cakes that absorb syrup or cream. They are typically eaten as a dessert with either ice cream, lemon pudding, or whipped cream. Though they may be most popularly known as the base for tiramisu.

Ladyfingers are traditionally used in a number of desserts but they are not always readily available premade and if you need a ladyfinger substitute read on for the best options and what each is best used for.

What are the best substitutes for ladyfingers?

The best ladyfinger substitutes are biscotti, sponge cake, margherite cookies, pound cake, panettone, and pavesini cookies.

Ladyfinger Alternatives

ladyfingers and coffee

Often used for dipping in hot beverages and as a base tiramisu, ladyfingers are truly delicious. But if you don’t have any available use one of the following replacements.

Keep in mind that not all of these ladyfinger alternatives are appropriate for every type of recipe. So make sure to read on for the best way to use each of them.


Biscotti on rustic table with coffee cup

While ladyfingers are quite similar to biscotti, they aren’t exactly the same. But they do make an excellent substitute for ladyfingers when you are looking for a treat to dip in tea or coffee.

Biscotti is a type of Italian cookie made from flour, eggs, sugar and butter or oil and it’s often flavored with almonds. Biscotti is baked twice to give it a hard, dry texture. The texture is similar to that of a ladyfinger and the flavor is comparable since the ingredients are similar.

While not my first choice for using in tiramisu, biscotti can be used in a pinch. Because they are much harder than most store bought ladyfingers, soak them longer than your recipe calls for.

Sponge Cake

homemade sponge cake

Sponge cake is made from flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs and milk. It’s similar to a ladyfinger in flavor, but it lacks the protein and fat in order to give the sponge cake a spongier texture.

Sponge cakes are best used for cream puddings or fruit tarts or as a side for hot beverages. Sponge cake is too soft to be used as a base for tiramisu.

Margherite cookies

Margherite cookies are my go to substitute for ladyfingers when making tiramisu. They offer a flavor and texture that is quite similar to ladyfingers. Some varieties are a bit harder than ladyfingers, in which case you will want to soak them longer than your recipe calls for.

Margherite cookies are rolled out into more of a flat cookie and are not as thick as a traditional ladyfinger. Margherite cookies are typically made with hazelnut flour and you may find varieties called Margarine biscuits.

Related: Ladyfingers vs Margherite Cookies

Pound Cake

two slices of pound cake

Made from flour, butter, sugar and eggs, pound cake is the usual side to serve with tea or coffee. Pound cakes range from light and fluffy to more dense in texture. They don’t have a strong flavor, and tend to be flavored with vanilla, almond or chocolate.

Pound cake is best served with coffee, tea, or other hot beverages. It is not suitable for tiramisu due to it’s soft texture.


Panettone cake on cutting board

Panettone is a type of bread eaten during Christmastime in Italy. Panettone is typically a long, cylindrical bread with a wide central hole.

It is not commonly stocked in US grocery stores or bakeries, but when available it is a wonderful treat to serve with tea or coffee. Here is a great recipe for making your own.

Pavesini cookies

The pavesini cookie looks similar to a ladyfinger but lacks the protein and fat found in an actual ladyfinger.

Pavesini cookies are variants of a traditional Italian biscuit that’s been flavored with anise and orange blossom.

They tend to be flat instead of sponge-like, but are still light in texture and taste great dipped in warm milk or coffee.

They can be lightly toasted in the oven and used as a base for tiramisu. Warm them in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for 3-5 minutes before using them for tiramisu.

Other Names For Ladyfingers

ladyfingers sprinkled with sugar

Ladyfingers are known by a number of names, so to avoid confusion I wanted add them in. You may see them called sponge biscuits, Naples biscuits, sponge fingers, boudoirs, and biscuits a la cuiller.

If you are not able to find ladyfingers at your local grocery store, they are available at most specialty grocery stores as well as many online retailers.

What Is The Difference Between Ladyfingers and Vienna Fingers?

cream filled Vienna Fingers

Ladyfingers and Vienna Fingers are similar to each other in that they are small sponge cakes. The main difference is the ingredients used to make both of them and the preservation process.

Ladyfingers are made with eggs, flour, leavening agent (baking powder), sugar, and a small amount of protein while Vienna Fingers have an extra egg in their recipe along with a different leavening agent (mixed baking powder).

Are Ladyfingers From Italy?

Ladyfingers are an Italian cookie named after their shape and size, as some say they resemble a lady’s finger.

Another cited reason for their name is that during the Renaissance period, cakes were quite popular in Italy as it was considered sophisticated to be able to whip up a tasty treat. So a lady would bring cake with her when visiting friends and family or when attending a party.

Bottom Line

The best ladyfinger substitutes are biscotti, sponge cake, margherite cookies, pound cake, panettone and pavesini cookies.

Not all of these options may be available at your grocery store, but most specialty shops stock them. And if you are still having difficulty locating a good alternative, there are multiple reputable online retailers you can find them at.