Known for their crimson-red interior and impressive nutritional profile, blood oranges are perhaps one of the best types of oranges out there — but what can you use when you don’t have them around?
What are the best substitutes for blood orange? Blood oranges are loaded with antioxidants and a delicious sweet and tart flavor. Luckily you can use many similar-tasting and equally healthy substitutes like tangerine, regular oranges, mandarin, pomegranate juice, cranberries, and much more!
Read below to learn more about the characteristics of blood oranges and the best substitutes for them.
What Are Blood Oranges?
Blood oranges belong to the same family as regular, sweet oranges.
These oranges are thought to have originated in the southern Mediterranean, where they have been cultivated for around 300 years.
These oranges, much like the regular oranges that everyone knows of, come from the same species called “Citrus × Sinensis.”
Blood oranges were once considered to be royalty in Sicily and held a very high status due to their exotic appearance and crimson color.
Nutritionally, these oranges provide far more micro and macronutrients than their regular counterpart.
One regular serving of blood orange can provide you with a significant portion of your daily value for vitamin C, folate, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
Blood Orange Characteristics
Here are some of the characteristics of this delicious fruit.
Blood oranges have a very distinct flavor. They have a tart flavor with a hint of sweetness and also share some subtle flavor notes of raspberries, cherries, and even red grapefruit.
There are three main varieties of blood oranges, and all of them have almost the same flavor profile. Some people have even claimed that blood oranges can be less tangy than regular oranges and provide a more floral flavor.
This is where blood oranges earn their reputation!
While the exterior of blood orange can look similar to a regular orange, except for a few reddish spots, the interior is the most striking aspect of this fruit.
Blood oranges can also have a particularly striking red color, and some varieties, like the Moro blood orange, can have a strong red color to the exterior and an even darker interior!
Blood oranges can be used in the same way as regular oranges. However, since these oranges are smaller, they are usually either juiced, sliced, or eaten on their own.
There are hundreds of recipes that use blood oranges for their unique color and the combination of tart and sweet flavors. These oranges are usually used as a garnish on salads, and you can even make a crêpe cake using them.
Blood oranges are also juiced — although you miss out on all the natural dietary fiber found in the pith of the fruit, you still get loads of vitamins and essential nutrients in the juice.
Why Substitute Blood Oranges?
One of the biggest reasons to substitute blood oranges is their lack of availability.
These fruits are seasonal and are usually found during winter or early spring.
They are grown in Mediterranean climates, which means that they will usually be found in abundance in Italy, Spain, and even California. But in other areas, it can be hard to source high-quality or even fresh blood oranges.
Blood oranges can also be substituted for their strong color, which can leak into other food.
Some find this a desirable trait — but for others who only want the flavor of blood oranges without the accompanying color, it can be difficult to keep its dark crimson color separated.
The final reason for substituting blood oranges is their cost.
Since they are grown for a limited time and in select locations, their picky harvest results in a slightly higher cost than regular oranges. Luckily, there are quite a few alternatives that you can choose from!
Best Substitutes For Blood Oranges
Here are our top picks for the best blood orange substitutes in the market.
1. Regular Oranges
If you don’t have blood oranges, then why not go for plain old regular oranges?
Regular oranges have more or less the same sweet and tangy flavor — although you won’t get the subtle cherry and cranberry flavor notes, you can still easily use them in any recipe that calls for blood oranges.
Typical oranges also have a similar nutritional profile, making them an excellent substitute for healthy drinks — plus they don’t cost as much!
Oranges have a wide variety of applications in general cooking and even baking. They are also readily available almost everywhere.
So, if you are looking for something that can deliver the same qualities, then just go with regular oranges.
2. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate is one of the best-tasting fruit in the world. They are grown almost everywhere and are readily available in fresh or frozen varieties.
The reason why this fruit makes for a great substitute for blood oranges is that it provides more or less the same nutritional benefits — and it tastes great too!
If you want the most value out of this substitute, then we recommend juicing pomegranate. A glass of pomegranate juice can look similar to a glass of blood orange juice. You can even mix in a bit of orange juice for a closer flavor!
Dislike the tartness of blood oranges? Then check out tangerines. This fruit belongs to the same family as blood oranges and regular oranges.
However, they are smaller than regular oranges and can be comparable in size to blood oranges.
Tangerines have a pleasantly sweet flesh with only hints of tartness in them, which makes them an excellent contender for beverages and cooking recipes.
This fruit is readily available and cheap too. They also provide similar nutrition — and if you want a crimson color, then we recommend adding a few drops of red food color in the juice to make it look similar!
Mandarins are another great option that you can use to substitute regular oranges, blood oranges, and even tangerines.
Mandarins have a compacter shape and are known for their easy-to-peel exterior and sweet interior. Some varieties can also have a similar exterior to blood oranges!
Although they share almost the same visual characteristics as regular oranges (except for size), they arguably taste better and can provide you with healthy nutrition and energy.
If you are looking to substitute blood oranges in juice or cooking recipes, then we highly recommend that you try out mandarins, especially if you don’t have access to regular oranges or tangerines.
5. Cranberry Juice
If we were to present you with a blind taste test between blood orange and cranberry juice, then there is a very good chance that you might get confused between the two.
Since blood oranges have a hint of cranberry in them, cranberries can come very close to tasting like blood oranges, especially if you mix in orange juice.
They have almost the same color and are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and protective antioxidants.
6. Navel Oranges
Navel oranges are larger than blood oranges, and even regular oranges — but they are arguably the best-tasting type of orange out there.
They look similar to oranges but they contain far more juice and flavor!
Known for their low-acidic content and balanced range of tangy, sweet, and tart flavors, they can come incredibly close to the flavor of blood oranges. They are also seedless and can be peeled within seconds!
We highly recommend that you check out navel oranges, especially when you want to add a balanced citrusy and orange-like flavor to your recipes.
Tangelos are perhaps the closest you will get in terms of flavor! These fruits are a cross between tangerines and a variety of grapefruit called pomelo. Hence the name “Tang-elo.”
Tangelos have a very unique pear-like shape. They are very tender and can provide a range of sweet, tangy, tart, and grapefruit-like flavors.
They are also nutritionally dense, and can be used in the same way as blood oranges, regular oranges, tangerines, and even mandarins!
The reason why this fruit makes our list is that it also provides a similar floral aroma and flavor, just like blood oranges. This means that all you need to substitute blood oranges with tangelo is a few drops of red food color!
Now that you know the best substitutes for these crimson oranges, here are some related questions.
Can you use regular orange juice to substitute blood oranges?
Yes, you can use regular orange juice with some food coloring to get more or less the same product.
However, to add more flavor to the juice, we recommend adding a hint of cranberry and orange extract to the glass, along with a bit of sugar to tie in the flavors and to bring it even closer to blood oranges!
Are raspberry oranges and blood oranges the same?
Yes, blood oranges are also sometimes referred to as raspberry oranges.
This name comes from their color and flavor. Please note that “raspberry oranges” is a colloquial name, and the fruit is primarily only referred to as “blood oranges” around the globe.