Best Ladyfinger Substitutes

28 Best Ladyfinger Substitutes

Ladyfingers are great for snacking with tea or coffee and are perfect for teething toddlers. They shine in desserts like Charlotte cake, tiramisu, trifles, and chocolate or fruit gateau. Ladyfingers are typically soaked in coffee, liqueur, or sugar syrup to make them moist and flavorful before adding more ingredients.

If you can’t find them, here are some easy ladyfinger substitutes for your recipes. Keep reading to discover the best option for you.

What are Ladyfingers?

Ladyfingers, aka Savoiardi biscuits, are Italian treats shaped like slender fingers. They originated in the 1300s in Piedmont, Italy, when a cook named Conte Verde created them to welcome French royalty at the Savoy court.

These biscuits, made with eggs, sugar, and type “0” wheat flour, are essential for a delicious tiramisu. Surprisingly, despite being made with similar ingredients, the Sardinian and Sicilian sponge biscuits have distinctions from the traditional ladyfingers.

Sardinian Savoiardi, known as Pistoccheddus or Pistoccu de caffei, are slightly bigger, flatter, and firmer compared to their Savoyard relatives. Sicilian Savoiardi have a rustic appearance and are as hard as the Sardinian ones, but they achieve this texture by using a higher oven temperature.

Top Ladyfinger Substitutes 

When you browse online, you’ll come across various names for fancy-sounding cookies like ladyfinger biscuits, tiramisu biscuits, tiramisu lady fingers, sponge finger biscuits, Naples biscuits, and simply tiramisu fingers.

But if you need to swap out lady finger cookies while keeping the perfect results and flavor harmony in your tiramisu dessert, let’s discover the best substitutes.

1. Biscotti

Biscotti, or cantucci

Biscotti, or cantucci, are sweet and crunchy Italian cookies available in various flavors. If you want to swap out ladyfingers for a coffee treat, biscotti are a closer match than most cakes. These cookies are twice-baked, making them dry and great for replacing ladyfingers in tiramisu or trifle. Use them in similar amounts as the original ingredient. If the recipe involves dipping in liquid, skip that part and instead soak them well. They need to soften or will be too crispy for dessert.

2. Sponge Cake

Sponge cake

Sponge cake is a wonderful substitute for ladyfingers, known for its light and airy texture. It is similar to ladyfingers and boasts a sweet, buttery taste that complements various desserts.

You can make a cake-style tiramisu using sponge cake. Cut the sponge cake into two or three layers, soak it in strong coffee, and layer it with cream for your tiramisu. Chill the dessert for 12 hours, and serve with a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top.

3. Margherite Cookies

Margherite cookies, also called Biscotti Margherita in Italian, work well as a ladyfinger alternative. Though they could have topped the list, they’re hard to find in stores nowadays. If you have some at home, use them for your tiramisu. They have a sweet vanilla taste and a similar shape.

These cookies are a bit denser than American ladyfingers. If you let your dessert sit in the fridge overnight, they’ll get closer to ladyfinger texture. They take about 10 seconds to soak in coffee. Ensure the outsides are soft while keeping the insides dry.

4. Pound Cake

Pound cake is an excellent ladyfinger alternative in tiramisu and trifles due to its soft consistency. Unlike ladyfingers, it won’t become overly soft or fall apart because of its dense, spongy texture. You can easily cut it into ladyfinger-like shapes for your dessert. To use it in tiramisu, dip strips of pound cake in coffee (and rum for extra flavor), layer with mascarpone mixture, and repeat for a delicious treat. Finish by dusting the top with cocoa powder.

5. Panettone


Panettone, an Italian cake, is a tasty substitute for ladyfingers in your recipes. It’s equally delightful enjoyed on its own as a snack. Traditionally associated with Christmas in Italy, this sweetbread has gained popularity in other European countries. With its cylindrical shape, you can easily slice it to the desired size for your cake, tiramisu, or other desserts.

6. Pavesini Cookie

Pavesini cookies are a common ladyfinger alternative. They are small, thin, low in calories (nine per piece), and sugary. Invented in 1948, they have a distinct appearance from classic ladyfingers. Pavesini cookies have a less consistent texture compared to Savoiardi fingers. Therefore, it’s best to brush them with coffee instead of dipping.

Tiramisu with Pavesini is a popular variant, especially when made in cups, but if dipped in coffee, they tend to “dissolve,” creating a deconstructed tiramisu.

7. Madeleines

Madeleines are light and delicate, much like ladyfingers. Madeleines features a buttery, tender texture and a subtly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with other dessert ingredients.

Their airy quality works well in layered treats like Tiramisu, as they can absorb flavors.

Start by dipping madeleines in cold coffee (1-2 seconds), place them on the first cream layer, and cover with more cream. Chill for 4 hours, and sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder before serving.

8. Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cake has a texture similar to sponge and pound cake. It uses vegetable oil instead of butter, making the batter lighter and airier. The result is a very moist and fluffy cake.

It’s a fantastic alternative to ladyfingers in tiramisu. It soaks up brushed-on coffee, offering a fluffy texture. This provides a nice contrast to the heavier mascarpone and whipped cream in your tiramisu.

9. Coffee Cake

Despite its name, coffee cake doesn’t have coffee in it. Instead, its purpose is to complement a cup of coffee, making it a suitable substitute for ladyfingers in some recipes.

Additionally, its soft texture and slightly crunchy topping can contribute a delightful contrast to the typically soft texture of tiramisu.

Just cut the coffee cake into smaller strips for the best tiramisu. It’ll taste great when soaked in coffee!

10. Gingerbread Cookies

If you’ve made gingerbread cookies at home, you know they’re tasty and soft when freshly baked. The ginger spice contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the other ingredients in the cookies.

You can easily use gingerbread cookies instead of homemade ladyfingers in tiramisu. They’re soft but not too delicate, making them a perfect substitute, especially for Thanksgiving or fall-themed meals.

11. Macaroons

Macaroons are sweet cookies typically crafted from ground nuts, often almonds or coconuts. It’s important not to mix them up with macarons, those vibrant meringue-based treats with various flavors.

The soft inside and slightly crunchy outside of macaroons closely resemble the texture of ladyfinger cookies. They can handle a generous coffee soak before being layered with other tiramisu components. Moreover, they bring a delightful nuttiness to the dessert, adding an unexpected twist to its deliciousness.

12. Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake lives up to its name, being incredibly light and airy. This American classic offers a distinctive alternative to ladyfingers in your desserts. With a texture similar to ladyfingers, it brings a delightful sweetness and a subtle vanilla undertone to your desserts.

Angel food cake is a light and flavorful substitute for ladyfingers in desserts like Tiramisu. Soak the cake layers in coffee for extra taste, then stack them with creamy filling and a drizzle of fudge ice cream topping.

13. Zwieback Toast

Zwieback Toast is a crispy, sweetened bread popular in Europe. It’s often given to teething children but makes a surprising substitute for ladyfingers. This variant, baked with a dusting of cinnamon sugar, comes from the renowned Trenary Home Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Zwieback Toast is crunchy with subtle sweetness, offering a different texture from soft ladyfingers. Its crispness adds a unique twist to desserts like Tiramisu.

14. Vanilla Wafers

Vanilla wafers are a great alternative to ladyfingers. These small, round cookies are sweet and full of vanilla flavor.

Vanilla wafers differ from ladyfingers as they are firmer with a crisp texture. In terms of flavor, they are sweeter and carry a robust vanilla taste, making them a great complement to various desserts.

These wafers work well in various desserts, like pies or banana pudding. While they don’t absorb as much liquid as ladyfingers, you can still use them in Tiramisu and similar desserts. Slightly reduce the liquid to prevent them from getting too soggy.

15. Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies serve as an excellent substitute for traditional ladyfingers. Their simple taste and high absorbency make them ideal for dipping in coffee.

Dip them in cold or warm coffee for optimal soaking, creating a cookie layer at the dish’s bottom.

Opt for chocolate shortbread or shortbread with dark chocolate chips to enhance the tiramisu’s flavor. The bittersweetness of these cookies will effectively balance the sweetness of the biscuit base.

16. Amaretti Cookies

Amaretti cookies, boasting an Italian almond flavor and a crispy exterior transitioning to a slightly chewy interior, make for a delightful substitute for conventional ladyfingers.

For simple tiramisu cups, these classic Italian cookies are an excellent choice. They’re crispier than ladyfingers and bring a unique almond flavor to enhance your dessert.

Break the cookies, brush them with cold coffee infused with Grand Marnier, and layer them with tiramisu cream. Complete the dessert by topping it with amaretti cookie crumbs and a dusting of cocoa powder.

17. Graham Crackers

Graham crackers, a cherished delight in North America, are sweet biscuits crafted from whole wheat flour, featuring a subtle sweetness and a hint of nuttiness.

With a firmer and crunchier texture compared to ladyfingers, these biscuits contribute a unique nutty flavor to the blend.

Make the graham crackers moist on the outside with a dry center inside. Layer them alternately with cream until the dish is filled. Chill for 3-4 hours and finish by sprinkling with cocoa powder.

18. Oro Saiwa Cookies

Oro Saiwa cookies, known since the 1950s, are a fantastic substitute for ladyfingers. Their neutral flavor doesn’t overshadow the coffee and cocoa bitterness or the mascarpone cream sweetness, providing a delightful texture to the dessert.

The rectangular shape of Oro Saiwa cookies allows for creating “Tile tiramisu” with Saiwa Gold or “Mattonella tiramisu” in Italian. This results in a slightly thinner and less caloric dessert while maintaining a soft and equally delightful texture.

For an individual tiramisu portion with Oro Saiwa, quickly dip two cookies in cold coffee, layer with cream, and sandwich between two biscuits.

19. Speculoos Cookies

Speculoos cookies

Biscoff, Lotus, speculaas, and speculoos cookies are perfect for a delicious speculoos tiramisu. Drenched in coffee or milk and stacked with whipped cream infused with Biscoff flavor, they create a divine tiramisu delight.

20. Biscotti al Cacao, or Cocoa Biscuits

Biscotti al cacao, or cocoa biscuits, offer an excellent twist to the traditional ladyfingers. Dip these soft cocoa biscuits in chilled espresso coffee and layer them alternately with mascarpone cream.

Alternatively, immerse the cocoa biscuits in strawberry syrup for a tangy twist in the tiramisu layers.

21. Biscotti Integrali, or Wholemeal Biscuits

Biscotti integrali, or wholemeal biscuits

Biscotti integrali, translated as wholemeal biscuits, serve as a wholesome and tasty alternative to ladyfingers. Wholemeal flour, butter, muscovado sugar, eggs, and lemon zest come together to infuse a delightful flavor and rustic appearance into the tiramisu dessert.

22. Pink Champagne Biscuits

Pink champagne biscuits, also known as Biscuit Rose de Reims, are traditional French treats dating back to 1960. While they’re delightful with champagne, they offer endless possibilities for desserts like Charlotte cake, Fraisier, crinkle cookies, and tiramisu. These biscuits pair beautifully with lychee, as seen in the Lychee Cake with raspberries. For a romantic twist, try making tiramisu with pink biscuits and raspberries—soak them in cold coffee or milk for a coffee-free option.

23. Pandoro

Utilizing leftover pandoro is a fantastic idea for crafting a Christmas tiramisu.

To avoid excessive coffee absorption, allow pandoro slices to air-dry at room temperature for a few hours. Let your creativity shine by integrating grated dark chocolate, dried fruit, fresh berries, or slices of orange.

24. Financiers

Classic or pistachio financiers, prepared individually or as a cake base, serve as an excellent alternative to ladyfingers. Layer sponge cakes with mascarpone cream, similar to the madeleines mentioned earlier, or crumble financiers to create delightful jarred tiramisu.

25. Brownies

Tiramisu brownie is a unique dessert that combines the indulgence of Italian tiramisu with the deliciousness of American brownies. This chocolatey treat can be easily prepared within an hour.

26. Macarons

French macarons make a delightful tiramisu in jars, perfect for kids since it’s coffee-free. Crush macarons, layer them in jars, add cream, crumble more macarons, and finish with cream and cocoa powder.

27. Wafers

Consider using chocolate or vanilla wafers as a backup for ladyfingers. Alternatively, using individual wafer cones adds a twist. In just 15 minutes, you can make mascarpone cream and fill cones or crunchy waffle bowls, turning your kids’ party into a tasty adventure.

28. Waffles 

Homemade or store-bought waffles offer a unique twist in creating what’s known as tiramisu baskets or “cestini tiramisù” in Italian.

Add mascarpone cream on top of the waffles, sprinkle with bitter cocoa, and garnish with whipped cream. For a bolder approach, consider using waffles as a substitute for ladyfingers in the traditional tiramisu.

Factors to Bear in Mind When Using Substitutes

Swapping out ladyfingers can bring exciting changes to your desserts, sometimes pleasantly surprising. Let’s embrace fearless baking and explore the essentials of using ladyfinger substitutes.

1. Flavor and Texture Choices

Different substitutes bring unique flavors and textures to your creations. Softer options like sponge cake, angel food cake, and pound cake might absorb more liquid. In contrast, Biscotti, madeleines, and cookies provide a delightful crunch for a fun twist.

2. Baking Time and Temperature

When using substitutes, be ready to tweak baking times and temperatures. Cakes and cookies may bake differently than ladyfingers. So keeping a close eye on the oven is a smart move.

3. Allergy Awareness

Consider food allergies or dietary restrictions when choosing substitutes. Keep in mind that some substitutes, like Biscotti with nuts or madeleines and sponge cake with eggs, may have allergens.

See Also – Easy Homemade Oreo Cake Recipe


So, with a range of popular ladyfinger substitutes at your disposal, you’re all set to whip up your delightful tiramisu. Whether it’s Pavesini biscuits, shortbread cookies, or French madeleines, let the ingredients you have guide you in creating the perfect treat. Your next tiramisu is sure to be a hit!


What is the origin of ladyfingers, and are they exclusively Italian?

Italy is a major producer, but they originated in the 15th century at the Duchy of Savoy’s court, inspired by a visit from the French King.

How do Vienna fingers differ from Lady Fingers?

Vienna fingers have a vanilla cream filling between cookies and are denser, meant for standalone eating. Ladyfingers are lighter, absorb liquids, and originated as the official court biscuit at the Duchy of Savoy.

Are ladyfingers typically soft?

Authentic Italian ladyfingers have a soft, crispy, and dry texture that is easy to bite into. The U.S. version is smaller, softer, and more cake-like, suitable for soaking in tiramisu. Brief baking at a low temperature can enhance the texture of the U.S. version.

What are some alternative names for ladyfingers?

Ladyfingers are also called sponge fingers, sponge biscuits, biscuits à la cuiller, or Naples biscuits.

What happens to the flavor when I replace ladyfingers with a substitute?

The flavor change varies based on the substitute used. Consider how the substitute’s taste will complement other ingredients in your dessert.

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