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Orange Extract Substitute: Similar Taste & Substitution Ratios

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

Orange extract is a popular ingredient in different desserts and sauces. However, if you are out of orange extract, you are not out of luck. Several substitutes can mimic the orange extract taste with the correct measurements. Although it sometimes depends on the dish, the best orange extract substitute is usually orange zest.

Orange extract is highly concentrated and has a distinct orange flavor. You can add it to sweet dishes like fudge, jams, fruit salads, and cookies. The orange extract can also compound the flavor in butter and marinades. If you are in the mood for something savory, you can add it to salad dressings, poultry, or vegetable dishes.

Orange extract consists of the rind of an orange, water, and alcohol. It has a high alcohol content and a potent flavor. It is a versatile ingredient and a staple to many spice cabinets. How much orange extract you use in recipes is dependent on several elements like the size of the batch and the other ingredients. Some ingredients highlight the flavor, and others will hide it.

Keep reading to learn more about the best orange extract alternatives for different recipes. Spice up your sauces and sweeten your desserts—there is an option for every dish. These top five ingredients are sure to become staples in your spice cabinet.

Orange Extract
Orange Extract

Some elements to consider when choosing an alternative are the type of dish and whether the other ingredients are going to compliment or deter the orange flavor. Dishes that contain other strongly-flavored ingredients will require equally as powerful alternatives that mimic the high concentration of orange zest. 

Our 5 recommended substitution for orange extract are:

  • Orange Zest
  • Orange Liqueur
  • Orange Oil
  • Orange Marmalade
  • Orange Juice

Orange Zest: Best Orange Extract Substitute

Orange Zest is regarded the best orange extract substitute
Orange Zest

Orange zest is the most simple substitute for orange extract. The zest of orange is the outer skin of the orange peel. All you need to do is grate it—be sure not to include the white pith in the zesting. This pith is chewy and has a very bitter taste.

Orange extract is slightly more potent than zest, so you will need to use a little more zest to obtain the flavor of orange extract. One teaspoon of orange zest is about the same flavor as half of a teaspoon of orange extract.

To make orange zest that is fine enough for recipes, you should use a microplane, box grater, or vegetable peeler. You need to use something with smaller holes. These tools yield zest fine enough to use in recipes, unlike the large chunks that you would use as a cocktail garnish.

An orange zest substitute is best in certain desserts, salad dressings, and sauces. You should opt to stick with orange extract in dishes such as cakes and bread. If you are really in a pinch, you can also opt for the zest of a Meyer lemon.

Orange Liqueur:

Orange Liqueur is another great alternative to use for orange extract
Orange Liqueur

Orange liqueur is an effective substitute for orange extract. It accurately mimics the strong flavor, and there are plenty of brand options. Many orange liqueurs consist of an infusion of sweet and bitter orange peels with straight alcohol. The alcohol will burn off during the cooking.

Grand Marnier is a cognac-based orange liqueur. Its flavor is sweet and slightly bitter. Grand Marnier’s dark base gives dishes a distinctive flavor. Curacao, Triple Sec, and Cointreau are a few other well-known options. An orange liqueur substitute is best in pastries, cakes, and glazes. The biggest downside to this substitute is that it is more expensive than other alternatives.

Two tablespoons of Grand Marnier are equivalent to half of a teaspoon of orange extract.

Orange Oil:

Orange Oil
Orange Oil

Orange oil is a versatile ingredient. It can also perform as a natural surface cleaner, air freshener, linen spray, or degreaser. A few drops of orange oil are sufficient to create a delicious orange flavor.

Orange oil is an extraction from the rind of sweet orange. The method is called cold pressing.

The flavor of orange oil is more subtle than orange extract; it is not as bitter or sweet.

You can purchase orange oil at any specialty gourmet store. Many grocery stores also carry orange oil. Be sure that the oil you are using is food-grade.

It is very potent and can be used sparingly in any recipe that calls for orange extract or orange zest. Orange oil is best in cakes and cupcakes.

Orange Marmalade:

Orange Marmalade
Orange Marmalade

Orange marmalade consists of orange rinds, orange juice, water, and sugar. It makes a good substitute because it has a sweet and slightly bitter citrusy flavor. You boil the mixture until its texture becomes thick.

You can also purchase orange marmalade at any grocery store. Orange marmalade’s consistency is similar to that of jam, so it is delicious as a glaze for an orange chicken recipe. It works best when you use it in a sauce, glaze, or dessert.

There are various varieties of orange marmalade, including thick-cut, thin-cut, and flavored. Thick-cut marmalade has the most bitter flavor of all the varieties because the orange peel is left in thick chunks. In thin-cut marmalade, the peel is less prominent, and the flavor is smoother. Grand Marnier is one of many flavors of orange marmalade available.

Orange marmalade’s sugar content is much lower than orange extract, so it will require a higher amount to mimic the intense orange flavor. Two-three teaspoons of orange marmalade are equivalent to a half teaspoon of orange extract.

Orange Juice:

Orange Juice
Orange Juice

Orange juice is the most convenient orange extract substitute, but it can be slightly tricky to use.

Orange juice can be used in a variety of recipes, from orange chicken to your favorite dessert. It has a more subtle taste than orange extract, so you will have to use more of it to get enough flavor. Keep in mind that orange juice is also less sour than orange extract.

You may have to substitute all of the liquid in your recipe with orange juice to get that hint of orange flavor. If a recipe that requires orange extract calls for one cup of water, replace the water with orange juice.

Be sure to use pure-squeezed or freshly-squeezed orange juice. If you want a stronger flavor, pair your orange juice with another substitute, like orange zest. You can also use frozen orange juice concentrate.

To reduce the amount of liquid and keep the flavor, you can simmer your orange juice in a pan before you use it.

Can’t find orange Juice? See best orange juice substitutes.

Can you substitute Triple Sec for orange extract?

Yes, you can use Triple Sec as a substitute for orange extract. Triple sec is a liqueur made from orange skins. It is slightly lower in alcohol content than Cointreau, containing about 15% to 30% alcohol, varying by brand. Triple Sec and Cointreau contain the same base ingredient of dried orange peels.

Orange liqueur has a similar taste to orange extract. It is one of the least nutritional alternatives as it contains mostly alcohol and holds no nutritional value. For a mild orange flavor, you can mix orange liqueur into the batter for baked goods. For a bolder, more intense flavor, add it to frosting, syrups, or drinks.

You can use two tablespoons of Triple Sec to imitate the flavor of two tablespoons of orange extract.

Is orange extract the same as orange peel?

No, the orange extract is not the same as orange peel, but you can substitute orange peel for orange extract in recipes. You can use dried or fresh orange peel, but please note that the measurements are different.

When you use fresh orange peel, you can replace each half teaspoon of the orange extract with a tablespoon of fresh orange peel. When an orange peel is dried, it is equivalent to one and a half teaspoons of orange extract.

Orange peels make for a delicious treat on their own or as an ingredient in desserts. You can make candied orange peels with a simple combination of common kitchen ingredients: oranges, water, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt.

You can also add orange peels to your tea or make orange peel-infused olive oil.

Is orange extract the same as orange zest?

No, the orange extract is not the same as orange zest, but you can substitute orange zest for orange extract in recipes. Orange zest is the best substitute for orange extract. The orange extract is more concentrated than zest—one teaspoon of orange zest is the flavor equivalent of a half teaspoon of orange extract.

What is orange extract made of?

Orange extract consists of orange rind oil, water, and alcohol. It has a very strong citrus taste. It provides a distinct orange flavor in dishes and sauces.

You can make your orange extract at home with some old orange peels or find it to purchase at most grocery stores. To make orange extract, combine orange peels in vodka in a jar and allow the orange to infuse with the vodka. Allow the mixture to sit for at least four weeks.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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