There are several acceptable substitutes for Grand Marnier, including Cointreau and Curacao.
Grand Marnier is a delightful liqueur made of cognac brandy, bitters, triple sec, and sugar or simple syrup. The orange bitters and syrup give the drink a fruity and light beginning, and the cognac provides heavier flavors of oak and vanilla at the end.
Whether you’re cooking or mixing drinks with Grand Marnier, it’s helpful to know the ingredients. This knowledge will help you understand why we chose these specific substitutes and when you should use them.
Of course, the closest Grand Marnier replacement in anything will be alcohol. While you can mimic the flavors of this liqueur without alcohol, you won’t be able to get the body or richness of an alcoholic drink without another form of alcohol.
However, there are a few options for non-alcoholic recipes or drinks. Here are some of the best Grand Marnier substitutes!
Recommended Grand Marnier Substitute
Cointreau is a form of triple sec, one of the subtypes of orange liqueur. It’s used in conjunction with other forms of alcohol to sweeten and give the drink an orange flavor. Using Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier is especially good when you’re cooking – the flavor you’re looking for is orange, and Cointreau will provide that!
Triple sec is a little closer to the original Grand Marnier (after, triple sec is an ingredient in the liqueur) but can be a little more expensive than a plain orange liqueur. Triple sec is orange-flavored but has a cleaner, clearer taste than Grand Marnier. It works well in lighter, fruitier drinks or if you don’t like that brandy kick.
Without a doubt, the closest substitute for Grand Marnier in any recipe is Cointreau. While it doesn’t have the deep, rich flavor of brandy, Cointreau will satisfy with orange flavor and sweetness!
Can’t find cointreau? See recommended cointreau substitute.
Curacao is yet another type of orange liqueur, but it has a brandy base instead of a clear liquor base. While this might not seem like it makes a difference, it gives the drink a richer undertone and a stronger kick.
Curacao is pretty close to Grand Marnier but lacks a little bit of the body and flavor. If you don’t have Grand Marnier or Cointreau, curacao is a pretty close second. Add a little bit of brandy and bitters and make homemade Grand Marnier!
However, you might not be looking for the orange flavor in Grand Marnier. You might be looking for that strong aftertaste. In that case, skip the liqueurs and go straight for the brandy. Brandy, especially cognac, is the alcoholic base of Grand Marnier. You can use any kind of brandy as an alternative, though!
To get that signature orange flavor in alcohol is to use any kind of orange liqueur. While Cointreau and Curacao are specific brands, tons of different orange liqueur types will do the job, especially when combined with brandy.
You can just substitute the same amount of brandy as you would have Grand Marnier or a little less and add a dash of orange liqueur (any variety). Tailor this mixture to your liking, and watch your cocktails become more and more as you planned them!
4. Orange Drink Concentrate
If all you’re looking for is the Grand Marnier flavor and none of the kick, don’t worry! You can still make a fantastic meal or drink without using any of the alcoholic alternatives for Grand Marnier.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, unsweetened orange juice concentrate (the kind you find frozen in cans) is an excellent replacement for Grand Marnier. It offers the same flavor and thickness without any alcohol.
However, even unsweetened concentrate is extremely sweet (and much more sugary than bitters). You’ll have to add the concentrate to your taste, but start very small. Once you’ve added the concentrate, you can taste your drink and adjust from there.
If you can’t find concentrated juice, plain old juice from the refrigerator will work just fine! It’s much thinner than the liqueur and several times sweeter, so you won’t need nearly as much to achieve the flavor.
Either way, use about half the juice in a cocktail and add brandy or bitters to even out the amounts. For a cooking recipe, you can add equal parts water and OJ to thin out the sugars and help everything cook through. It won’t have any of the original bitterness or rich flavor of Grand Marnier, but it will work if you need it to!
Learn more about orange juice:
5. Orange Extract
Orange extract is perhaps the most potent of the options available. Because it comes directly from the rind of the orange, the extract is extremely concentrated. It will provide a lot of strong orange flavor, especially when cooking. However, there is no sweetness in orange extract – if you’re using it in a cocktail, you might want to add some simple syrup to even out the flavors.
It’s essential to not use too much extract – a few drops of it will work well in a cocktail, and not much more than that while cooking. If you need to make up the volume, we recommend mixing it with brandy or bitters and simple syrup to compensate for the tiny amount of extract. If you’re avoiding alcohol completely, put it in some sparkling water or soda!
See recommended orange extract substitute.
While each of these replacements works well instead of Grand Marnier, they are tailored to different situations.
Not all replacements are created equal, and some may behave differently! Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about replacing Grand Marnier in recipes and cocktails!
Because of Grand Marnier’s sophisticated and subtle flavor, it can be used in all kinds of cocktails. Traditionally, the liqueur is used in sidecars and the D’Artagnan (which is like a boozier mimosa). However, you can add Grand Marnier or a replacement to margaritas, Mai-Thais, and whichever cocktails you like!
Look for a little more orange flavor when you add an orange liqueur to a cocktail. Here are several recipes that use Grand Marnier, and which would be just as delicious with Curacoa or brandy.
If you can cook with Grand Marnier, you can cook with a Grand Marnier replacement. If you’re using orange liqueur or brandy, the alcohol will work the same way as it would have originally.
However, know that whichever substitute you use, the signature Grand Marnier taste might be missing.
Most recipes that use liqueurs are sauces for desserts or the desserts themselves. Occasionally you’ll find the main course that uses alcohol, but it’s usually in the marinade. While the alcohol itself cooks off during the process, the flavors are still mostly there.
These sauces and marinades aren’t quite the same without alcohol but will work well with the substitutes on this list! For a non-alcoholic substitute, it won’t have the same flair in cooking sauces or desserts. However, you can combine orange concentrate with brandy or another alcohol to give your sauce the same kick and flavor.
There’s no replacing the exact flavor of Grand Marnier, unfortunately. The closest you can come is using Cointreau and throwing a dash of brandy in for body. If you’re not using liquor of some kind, the texture of your cocktail might seem a bit off.
However, many of these replacements have the same effect that Grand Marnier does in recipes and cocktails. All you need to do is try them and see which one works best for you. Who knows? You might find a replacement that you like more than the original!
If you are longing for the exact taste of Grand Marnier, don’t worry. By combining a few of these replacements, you can make your own. There are even ways to make homemade orange liqueur, but that’s a little too complicated for this article.
To make as close a copy of Grand Marnier as possible, you need cognac brandy and orange flavoring. This can be an orange liqueur, orange zest, or even a little bit of orange concentrate. However, orange liqueur like Curacao or Cointreau works best.
All you have to do is mix the two ingredients in equal amounts, and you have a near-perfect Grand Marnier copycat! You can play around with the ratios to make your drink more or less heavy (more brandy adds weight), and use it in cocktails and cooking!