Hawaii expat living abroad in Australia, food and family blog



When I moved to Australia I never realised how difficult or impossible it would be to find some of what I would consider standard (American) foods needed in so many recipes! Here is a list of hard to find American to Australian food substitutes to make your cooking conversions easier when you can’t find that exact ingredient.

Also, check out my post on 5 Tips for moving to a Foreign Country.

I’ve had to do a bit of experimenting and searching to make some of my favourite dishes. Below are a few options for cooking substitutions that have worked well for me.

Libby’s Canned Pumpkin

pumpkin squares closeup

My first Thanksgiving in Australia I searched far and wide for a can of Libby’s 100% pumpkin. NO LUCK! Now I couldn’t go without my all-time favourite Thanksgiving treat, pumpkin squares, so I took the more difficult route of using fresh pumpkin.

I’ve experimented over the years and have found I prefer the flavour of Butternut pumpkin then the other types of pumpkin that were available in the supermarket here. It’s really not THAT much extra effort to bake a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin, and so absolutely worth it!

I usually use 1/2 of a butternut pumpkin, steamed or baked and pureed, in place of one can of Libby’s 100% pumpkin. I’ve also added in 1/2 of an orange sweet potato with the pumpkin and that works great too!

Just make sure that after you cook the pumpkin to let it sit for a few minutes and let the excess water drip away so your pumpkin does not get too watery.

Graham Crackers

Another common American item I was devastated to not find in Australian stores was the Graham Cracker! You can search online for the original Graham Crackers, I found them here on Amazon, or use one of the substitutes below.

After quite a bit of biscuit taste testing, I am happy to share two alternative options for creating a substitute Graham Cracker crust.

Give the Digestive or Granita biscuits a try! Both use wheat flour to capture that nutty flavour reminiscent of Graham Crackers.

The Granita biscuits lean slightly sweeter compared to the Digestive biscuits. Read more on my comparison here.

I also experimented with the Marie biscuit, but I found that it is closer in flavour to a vanilla wafer or animal cracker than to a Graham Cracker.

Digestive, Granita and Marie biscuit comparison

So I’ve done some experimenting with the available biscuits to find the best Graham Cracker Crust alternative and have created this recipe.

Mock Graham Cracker Crust

A s’more is a classic, beloved treat that brings together the irresistible combination of toasted marshmallows, creamy chocolate, and graham crackers. The name “s’more” is a contraction of “some more,” which perfectly captures the sentiment—after having one, you’ll definitely want some more!

To make a s’more, a marshmallow is roasted to gooey perfection over an open flame, whether it’s a campfire or a stovetop burner. Once the marshmallow reaches that golden-brown, slightly charred state, it’s sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers along with a thin piece of chocolate.

The heat from the marshmallow melts the chocolate, creating a delectable, messy, and utterly satisfying treat that is a quintessential part of campfires, cookouts, and cozy gatherings. My campfire memories always include an indulgent and messy s’more.

A reader suggested trying a chocolate-coated Digestive biscuit, and it’s truly an amazing s’more alternative!

With the chocolate already adorning the biscuit, its round shape is just the right size for a large marshmallow.

Give it a try and share your experience with me! These delightful treats come in both milk chocolate and dark chocolate coated options.

Vanilla (Nilla) Wafers

Vanilla Wafers are also nowhere to be found in the general supermarkets in Australia. The closest substitute I’ve found for this item is Lady/sponge fingers. They have that light airiness about them similar to Vanilla Wafers.

The Marie biscuit, which is a crisp vanilla biscuit may be a suitable alternative for a vanilla wafer crust. More experimenting will be done on this soon!

Depending on what you are using the vanilla wafers for these may be your best options:

  • Marie biscuits – would work well as a vanilla wafer substitute for a crust.
  • Ladyfingers – They have a light and airy crispness similar to vanilla wafers. These work great is recipes like banana pudding.
  • Sponge fingers – Similar to ladyfingers but lacks the crispness. Could work in some recipes, but I would prefer to use ladyfingers if available.
Nilla wafer substitutes

I’ve experimented with vanilla wafer substitutes in my banana pudding recipe here.

Easy Banana pudding recipe
Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafer Substitute
A modified version of your classic banana pudding recipe using ladyfingers as a vanilla wafer substitute and reduced sugar.
Check out this recipe

Chex Cereal

Now another one of my all-time favourite snacks is the CHEX MIX! Silly me to think that I would be able to find your good old rice, corn and wheat Chex in the stores here. NOPE!

They do have Crispix Cereal, which is the equivalent of the corn Chex. They do NOT however, have the rice or the wheat Chex varieties.

Check out some of the other cereals to add to your mix – Nutrigrain works great.

Cool Whip

So I know that Cool Whip is not the healthiest item added into a recipe but damn I love how easy it is! But alas, no frozen Cool Whip tubs in the freezer section.

You can try just using some Thickened Cream and whipping it up with a bit of sweetener to taste. It works in some recipes but not in all… Oh, the sacrifices we make.


The last item on my list here is BACON! Seriously, how could this simple deliciousness be so different from one country to the next?

If you’re needing that nice crispy bacon, then look for Streaky Bacon. Standard bacon here is more like Canadian bacon.

I hope that makes things slightly easier when adapting your American recipes when in Australia! Happy cooking!

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