12 Best Substitutes For Orange Extract (And How To Use Them)

Best Substitutes For Orange Extract

Orange extract is one marvelous ingredient for sweets and savories. The unique bitter-sweet taste and citrusy notes will woo your tastebuds. It has known to be the star ingredient in making several types of marinades, sauces, desserts, and syrups due to its fruity taste.

That being said, it is not always possible to find orange extracts at a store near you. Either you can make it home, or you can look for orange extract substitutes. But choosing the proper substitutes that almost match the flavor of orange extracts can be tiresome if you don’t know what blends best.

Keeping that in mind, we decided to help all you citrus enthusiasts by listing the best orange extract substitutes. There are plenty in the market, but we handpicked the best ones that match the exact flavor of orange extract.

Bonus: We also help you make your own orange extract at home.

How Does Orange Extract Taste?

The orange extract works as an excellent addition for specific preparations like cakes, pancakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc. Orange belongs to the class of citrus fruits; therefore, the extract has a very citrusy and tangy flavor. 

Orange is acidic but not like other citrus fruits like mandarins, lemons, etc. Therefore, the acidity levels in the orange extract are very mild. Having said that, the orange extract also makes use of alcohol that sublimes the sweetness and adds a bitter tinge to the extract.

Overall, the taste is delightful, with a slightly sour and bitter note. It also has a slight herb-like aroma once cooked, which often attracts people. Therefore, if you want to add and play with various ingredients but still maintain the sweetest notes in your preparations, then the orange extract is your go-to ingredient.


Best Substitutes for Orange Extract 

Can’t find orange extract around you, or simply looking for an alternative? Below is the list of the best orange extract substitutes you can use:

1. Orange Juice


If you can’t find orange extract around you, then using the original ingredient always makes sense, doesn’t it? Orange juice is nothing but the juice coming out of squeezing oranges.

Since it has no other additives, it has a very high nutritional value, particularly rich in Vitamin C. You can mix it with sugar or salt as per your taste preferences.

Pro Tip: If using orange juice, make sure to use freshly squeezed oranges rich in natural, citrusy flavor. If the orange is not fresh, you can tell by the taste of the juice.

Orange juice may not be as sweet. It is comparatively sour to taste. Plus, unlike orange extracts, it does not contain alcohol, so you may not get the bitter taste either. Therefore, if used for preparations or baking, you may need to add sugar separately.

How to use it as a substitute: If you use one teaspoon of orange extract, then use twice the quantity of orange juice.


2. Orange Zest

Orange Zest

Orange zest is considered one of the best alternatives to orange extract. Orange zest is made by peeling off orange skin. On a general note, it has a very bitter taste but offers a herb-like citrus fragrance that almost smells like orange essential oils.

It is one of the best unique orange extract substitutes and almost matches the taste notes and orange extract flavor. It is highly acidic, but the herb-like smell is the most mesmerizing part.

Orange zest is not as acidic and sour as compared to orange extract. You may only want to use it as a topping on specific preparations because of its white pith-like texture. But, while peeling off the skin from fresh oranges, make sure not to add the inner white pith as it is very bitter to taste.

Again, remember, you would still need to add extra sugar for sweet preparations because orange zest is nowhere close to being a tad bit sweet.

How to use as a substitute: If you are using one teaspoon of orange extract, use two teaspoonfuls of orange zest to match the sourness of the orange extract.


3. Orange Liqueur

Orange Liqueur

Orange extract and orange liqueur contain the same ingredients – Orange juice and alcohol. The only difference is the nutritional composition. Orange liqueur contains no fat, cholesterol, or vitamin content but has added sodium, potassium, fiber, and added sugars to the liquid.

Different brands of orange liqueur can be used to substitute for orange extract. This is because different brands have different strengths and alcohol content. Therefore, orange liqueur can instead be used as an appetizer.


How to use it as a substitute:

It can be difficult to determine how much orange liqueur you can use as a substitute for orange extract. Brands like Triple Sec and Curacao have a good amount of neutral orange flavor. Therefore, one drop of orange liqueur should easily suffice for one spoonful of orange extract.

Other brands like Grand Marnier Vodka have a much stronger flavor, with high and intense levels of alcohol. Therefore, based on your taste buds, you may want to add a lesser quantity than that for orange extract.

Orange liqueur is very expensive as compared to other orange extract substitutes. Therefore, not many people prefer using it as an alternative to orange extract. But, the bitter, rich flavor is worth trying, and if you need a change in taste, please go for it!


4. Orange Oil

Orange oil is also obtained by extraction from orange, which is similar to making orange extract. Therefore, they are pretty similar in terms of taste. Sometimes, it may get difficult to differentiate between orange extract and orange oil, but you can make it out by the taste and ingredients used in the making.

Orange oil makes use of preservatives and chemicals along with orange extract, which makes it thicker in texture.

In comparison, an orange extract is not as thick and tastes slightly different. Orange extract is sourer as compared to orange oil. But orange oil may contain alcohol, preservatives, and added sugar, making it a less healthy alternative. It is also cheaper and easier to find in stores.

Warning: Use orange oil from a reliable brand that uses healthy, non-toxic preservatives. Please do not use it often as a substitute for orange extract.

The benefit is that orange oil makes for a great ingredient in cakes or cupcakes due to the added oil content in your preparations, making them tastier.

How to use it as a substitute: If you use one drop of orange extract, you will need to use two drops of orange oil due to its low acidity.


5. Orange Marmalade

Orange marmalade is similar to orange jam. It has low nutrition levels, but it has exceptionally high sugar levels. Orange marmalade majorly contains orange juice extract, sugar, gelatinizing substances, and other flavors or colors.

The extreme sweetness can be used for baking, especially orange-flavored cakes. The texture and thickness of orange marmalade make it suitable for preparing sauces or pastes. You can also use it to neutralize the bland flavor of salads as a dressing.

You can use orange marmalade to replace sugar in specific preparations or improve or thicken the texture of cakes or doughs. If you compare orange marmalade to orange extract, it has low acidity but high sweetness. In comparison, the orange extract is highly acidic and mildly sweet.

How to use it as a substitute:

If you use one teaspoon of orange extract, you will need to use 3-4 teaspoonfuls of orange marmalade.


6. Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier is somewhat similar to orange extracts because it has an alcohol origin. It has additional flavors like vanilla and spices with a tinge of brandy that adds to the sweet notes.

However, it is pretty much concentrated with the alcohol flavor. Therefore, Grand Marnier is best for those who prefer an alcoholic taste in their dishes. Adding just a few drops of Grand Marnier should suffice when using it as a substitute.

The acidity levels of orange extract and Grand Marnier are more or less comparable. But, the alcohol concentration being high can slightly alter the taste of your dishes but brings out an excellent overall flavor. You can find Grand Marnier in almost any liqueur store.

How to use it as a substitute:

If you use one teaspoon of orange extract, you will need to use just 2-3 drops of Grand Marnier as a substitute.

7. Meyer Lemon 

Mayer lemon is a hybrid fruit originating from China. However, it is available around the globe. Its mellow and sweet flavor with hints of bitterness allows you to substitute it in recipes that call for whole lemons or orange extract.

The zest of Meyer lemon can be used in desserts, sauces, salad dressings, etc.

How to use it as a substitute: 

The same proportion of Meyer lemon can be substituted with orange extract in the recipes.

8. Mandarin orange

Mandarin orange is a small citrus tree fruit that is usually eaten plain or added to fruit salads. It has hints of vanilla and spiciness with a strong citrus aroma. While it is a mix of floral, woody, and nutty, the overall aroma is fruity.

It can be used in savory and sweet recipes that demand orange extracts.

How to use it as a substitute: 

You can use it in the same proportion as orange extract.

9. Clementine’s

Clementine is a tangerine of deep orange-red color that is grown around the Mediterranean and South Africa. It is a variety of mandarin that is easy to peel and sweet.

Its distinct aroma is similar to the wild orange oil with lemony notes.

How to use it as a substitute: 

You can add it to sweet and savory dishes in the same proportion as that of orange extract.

10. Tangerines

People are often confused between tangerines and oranges and assume them to be the same. However, tangerines are generally reddish-orange and are less tart and sweeter than oranges. Moreover, they have a strong flavor with a sweet, citrusy aroma.

How to use it as a substitute: 

You can use it in place of orange extract in sweet and savory dishes by maintaining the same proportion.

11. Bergamot orange

Bergamot orange has a distinct scent and flavor that is more like lime than orange. When it is eaten raw, it may taste bitter. But the same can be added to sweet and savory dishes to enhance the overall flavor.

How to use it as a substitute: 

You can add it to salads, cakes, cookies, and other savory dishes in the same proportion.

12. Other citrus extracts (Vanilla extracts, lime extracts) 

We all know the class of fruits that come under the citrus family. Therefore, if you cannot find orange extract, you can use these citrus fruits as alternatives. The only factor that you need to worry about is the flavor.

If a lemony flavor complements your preparations well, you can use lime extract. If your preparation demands vanilla flavor, you can use vanilla extract instead. The taste might alter accordingly, but if it’s favorable, then it can blend really well.

How to use it as a substitute:

You can use the same quantity of other extracts as much as you would use your orange extract.


What are the uses of Orange Extract?

What are the uses of Orange Extract

An orange extract can be used for making savories, desserts, drinks like cocktails and mocktails, etc. It adds sweetness and tanginess as well as the citrusy flavor of orange.

Pure orange zest has more or less the same flavor as orange extract. Therefore, orange extract makes for a great substitute if you do not want to take the burden of peeling orange zest. It also works best as an alternative for other citrus extracts, especially in cakes and bread.

You can use the orange extract for marmalades, cupcakes, macaroons, and many more dishes that demand a sweet citrusy flavor.


Can you make Orange Extract at Home?

Can you make Orange Extract at Home

For certain home chefs who believe that the best preparations are whipped in the kitchen, orange extracts can too be made at home. The best part is homemade orange extract is safer, as it does not contain any additional ingredients like flavors, preservatives, etc.

Moreover, you can find a cheaper alternative to vodka used as the alcohol base for orange extracts. Ultimately, the vodka will go off while baking or cooking preparations, leaving just the citrusy orange flavor.

So how exactly can you make orange extract at home? Follow our step-by-step guide to learn more:


Orange extract with alcohol

Things you need:

  • One mason jar
  • Orange zest (of one orange or as per required quantity)
  • Peeler
  • Vodka
  • Extract jar
  • Strainer


How to make:

Take a fresh orange and peel off the zest carefully using a peeler. Be careful not to include the white pith as it can make your extract bitter which you don’t need.

Next, stuff all the peels in a mason jar and cover it with 1 cup of vodka (alcohol). The idea is to submerge the orange peels into the alcohol. Therefore, the more the zest is used, the more generous you can be with adding alcohol.

Seal the jar’s lid tightly and place it in a dark enclosure or kitchen cupboard for at least two months. The longer the solution stays, the stronger the orange flavor gets. You can check the taste from time to time.

Once you have attained the desired orange flavor, strain the zest and transfer the remaining liquid into an extract jar.

Extract jars are special jars that have airtight caps. They are usually dark in color to ensure no light reacts with the extract.

The extract, after it’s ready, should be yellowish-orange in color. Store it in a cool, dry place and use it for years and years!


Orange extract without alcohol

Making orange extract without alcohol is relatively easy. The only thing is you need to use an alternative ingredient to alcohol. The one ingredient that works best is food-grade liquid glycerin.

To substitute for alcohol – Use one part of water with three parts of food-grade liquid glycerin. Pre-combine and mix the water and glycerin well, and then use it with your orange rinds.

The liquid glycerin may not impart the same taste as orange extract with alcohol. But, it has zero sugar which makes it a healthier alternative. And for those, who don’t prefer consuming alcohol, this orange extract alternative is the best.

Use it in similar quantities as your orange extract, and it will not impact the flavor as much.

Overall Best Substitute For Orange Extract In Baking?

If you want a distinct orange flavor in your cookies, cakes, chocolate sauce, etc., an orange extract is the best option. In case it is unavailable, you can use other substitutes like orange zest, orange liqueur, or any other citrus extracts. These will help you recreate the same fruity taste in your baking.


Is orange extract healthy?

Orange extract is health neutral. It is neither beneficial nor harmful. If you are looking for health benefits from oranges specifically, consuming the whole fruit, drinking fresh fruit juice, consuming the rind, or even using orange essential oils will work.


Is orange juice the same as orange extract?

No. Orange juice is the natural juice squeezed out from raw fruit. Orange extract is orange juice with alcohol in it. Orange juice is a healthier and tastier alternative.

Orange extract, on the other hand, is a great substitute for preparations that demand bittersweet tastes.


What is the shelf life of orange extract?

The orange extract contains alcohol. Therefore, you can easily store it for more than 3-4 years. The orange extract does not expire. It only loses its flavor after years. But, the quality can deteriorate if it comes in contact with something toxic. Therefore, the best is to store it in a cool, dark place and an airtight container, away from direct light or heat. Use a dropper for pouring, so nothing toxic enters the jar either.


How to store orange extract?

Store orange extract in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. You can store it in a dark bottle to avoid direct contact with light. You can also keep it in the refrigerator for almost a year.


Can I drink orange extract directly?

We would advise you not to! The orange extract contains almost 95% alcohol and is impossible to drink unless diluted. It will mess up your digestive system and cause terrible hangovers if consumed. Neither does it taste good if consumed raw.

You can mix it with cocktails and mocktails for a diluted flavor with other ingredients.

Can you substitute Triple Sec for orange extract?

Yes, you can substitute Triple Sec for orange extract while making cocktails. This liqueur contains 15-30% alcohol, and its sweet and orange notes will help you recreate the same taste as orange extract.

How much orange juice do I substitute for orange extract?

If you are using orange juice instead of orange extract, it is necessary to maintain the right proportions. The best way is to use 1/4 cup of orange juice in place of other citrus extracts to ace the flavor and aroma.


Orange extracts are a flavorful and tangy addition to your sweet and savory dishes. That being said, some of you may look for alternatives because of a change in taste or simply because you don’t prefer alcohol.

Therefore, we have listed the best orange extract alternatives for you to try. Some of the best ones are orange zest, orange liqueur, orange oil, and even raw orange juice. With our steps mentioned above, you can also easily prepare orange extracts at home that impart a much better flavor.

Please read our article above and tell us which is your best preferred orange extract substitute in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your ideas for using orange extract substitutes for various sweets and savory delights.


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