I’m sure you’ve been in the middle of cooking a meal or baking a sweet treat and glanced at the ingredient list with a sinking feeling in your stomach: you forgot the orange juice.
You start to panic as you realize you forgot to pick some up on the way home from work and now your recipe is ruined.
Or maybe you’re allergic to oranges and want to find a substitute that you can use to mimic the taste as closely as possible.
With a bit of creativity and knowledge on your part, you will be able to learn to substitute your orange juice like a pro.
Often it is used to give a sweet, citrus flavor and some acidity to whatever you’re preparing so if you can find options that recreate that flavor profile you will be set.
So, what are the best substitutes for orange juice? Depending on how you plan to use it you can try orange concentrate, orange extract, orange-flavored liqueurs, lemon juice, lemonade, Meyer lemons, pineapple juice, cola, tamarind paste, or freshly squeezed clementines.
Read on to discover the best ways to use these different substitutes for all your baking, sauce-making, smoothie, and marinading needs.
1. Orange Concentrate
One of the easiest substitutes for orange juice is to use an orange concentrate. Concentrates are juices that have had most of the liquid removed so it is a concentrated form of the juice.
They are often sold and stored frozen so they last for a long time.
If you want to use an orange concentrate in place of orange juice, you will need to reconstitute it with water to achieve the right flavor and consistency.
This reconstitution is especially important if you are using it in a baking recipe since the ratios of wet-to-dry ingredients are a key component in a recipe’s success or failure.
To replace orange juice with concentrate use the following measurements:
- Per quarter cup of orange juice, you will need 1 tablespoon of concentrate plus 3 tablespoons of water.
- Per half cup of orange juice, you will want to use 2 tablespoons of concentrate plus 1/3 cup of water.
- Per cup of orange juice, you will to use a quarter cup of concentrate and three quarters of a cup of water.
- Per two cups of orange juice, you will need half a cup of concentrate and 1 and a half cups of water.
Remember that some orange concentrates will have added sugars, so you may want to decrease the amount in your recipe by a couple of teaspoons.
A concentrate can work great in sauces, marinades, baking, and even salad dressings if needed.
2. Orange Extract Plus Water
Orange extract is a little different in that its flavor doesn’t come from the juice of the orange, but from the oils in the peel.
These oils give orange extract a bright, fresh flavor that can be quite concentrated, which is why it is great to dilute it with some water before using it.
You can use orange extract and water in place of orange juice in sauces, marinades, salad dressings, smoothies, and in baking.
Remember though, that baking will require some acidity to help your recipe rise, so adding a squeeze of lemon juice is an important step to make that happen.
To dilute your orange extract you can use about 1.5 teaspoons of extract to half a cup of orange juice.
It also won’t have the sugars found in orange juice so you will want to add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar, honey, or maple syrup to balance it out.
3. Orange Flavored Liqueurs
Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, and Cointreau are all great options to use in cooking recipes to find that orange flavor if you don’t have orange juice on hand.
They are all orange-flavored liqueurs of varying intensity and can be used in lots of cooking recipes such as sauces, marinades, and soups.
Though most of the alcohol will burn off during the cooking process, it may still have a slightly alcohol-esque flavor.
Remember that these liqueurs are not going to be quite as strong in flavor as a pure orange juice. You may want to add a little extra to make up the difference.
These liqueurs are often used in baking as well because they are more subtle than orange juice.
If your recipe calls for orange juice, then you may want to add a little splash of lemon juice (a teaspoon per half-cup should work) to increase the acidity.
4. Fresh Squeezed Mandarins, Tangerines, or Clementines
If you don’t have any oranges or orange juice on hand, then freshly squeezed mandarins, tangerines, and clementines will work as a perfect one-to-one substitution.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find pre-squeezed juices at the store.
This sparkling clementine juice makes a great alternative to orange juice, especially in baking since the carbonation will give your final product a great fluffy and airy texture.
They all have slightly different flavors to orange juice but are close enough that only the most discerning taste buds will notice a difference. They have a similar acidity and sweetness, so you won’t need to adapt them at all.
These juices work great in any recipe that calls for orange juice, whether its in baking, a soup, sauce, marinade, smoothie, or salad dressing.
5. Lemon Juice
In a lot of recipes, orange juice is used to give a little sweetness and acidity to the final product. If you want to use lemon juice to replace orange juice in a recipe, then you will have to take a couple of things into account.
Lemon Juice is More Sour and Acidic Than Orange Juice
If you are planning to use lemon juice to replace orange juice in a baking recipe then knowing that it is more acidic is important. Baking is a science and all the ingredients come together in a specific way to create the proper rise and texture.
Since lemon juice is more acidic, it will have a different effect the basic ingredients such as baking powder. You will want to cut your lemon juice in half and add some water to balance it out.
For example, if your recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of orange juice, you will want to use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon of water.
If you are using lemon juice in a cooking recipe you won’t have to be quite as precise, since cooking is more of an art and doesn’t always need such strict measurements to be successful.
It is still important to keep in mind that less is more when using lemon juice instead of orange juice.
Lemon Juice Has Less Sugar Than Orange Juice
If you are using larger amounts in a recipe, say half a cup, then you will want to add some sweetener in addition to water to create a closer representation of orange juice.
You can use either a liquid or crystal sugar depending on what you have on hand. If using dry sugar, make sure to dissolve it fully.
To replace half a cup of orange juice with half a cup of lemon juice you will want to use the following:
- one-quarter cup of lemon juice
- one-quarter cup of water
- two tablespoons of sugar, honey, or maple syrup
- Stir everything together until dissolved.
Remember that lemons will have a slightly different taste than oranges, but the bright citrus flavor works perfectly in baked goods and savory recipes alike.
If you don’t want to use pure lemon juice and make your own mix, you can easily swap your orange juice for lemonade instead.
It will already have the sugar added to make it a closer approximation to the sweetness in orange juice and it will be diluted with water so it’s not so acidic.
Since it has already been diluted and sweetened, you can generally use your lemonade in a one-to-one ratio when replacing orange juice in a recipe.
Keep in mind that while lemons and oranges are both citrus fruits, they do have different flavors so that might change your final product.
If you’re unsure whether lemonade will go with the other ingredients in your recipe you can head to google and search lemonade + your ingredients to see if they complement one another.
If they don’t seem to work, then you can try using one of the closer orange flavors substitutes on this list.
7. Pineapple Juice
Pineapple juice is a great choice when it comes to substituting for orange juice. It is naturally sweet and a little acidic, so you can use it to replace orange juice without making any changes.
It also has a tropical flavor that goes well with a lot of orange-based recipes.
It’s not going to necessarily work in every recipe, but it will certainly add a delicious flavor profile to any baked goods that you were planning to prepare with orange juice.
It tastes great in sauces and makes an excellent meat marinade thanks to its acidity and enzymes that help soften meat.
If you’re wondering whether pineapple juice will work in your specific recipe you can search whether pineapple + your ingredients go together.
For the most part you should be safe to replace your orange juice with pineapple juice, but it never hurts to check before you get started.
8. Meyer Lemons
These delicious citrus fruits are a hybrid of lemons and mandarins, so they aren’t as acidic as lemons, but they also aren’t as sweet as oranges or mandarins.
Their flavor is really fresh and bright and complements most, if not all, the flavors that go well with orange juice.
If you are using more than a couple of tablespoons of Meyer lemon in a recipe, then you might want to cut it with some water and sweetener to balance out the flavor.
I go for a ratio of about two-thirds Meyer lemon juice to one-third water.
So if you have one cup of juice you would use 2/3 of a cup of Meyer lemon juice, plus 1/3 cup of water, and about a tablespoon of sugar, maple syrup, or honey.
If you really want to up the flavor in your dish, try zesting the Meyer lemon.
A lot of the most intense flavor in citrus fruits actually lives in the peel, so zesting them is a great way to increase the flavor without adding any extra moisture to your dish.
Zest works great to pump up the flavor of sauces, soups, dressings, and works great in baked goods because it doesn’t really impact the chemical structure of the final product.
9. Cola Flavored Beverages
While this option may seem completely out of left field, hear me out. Cola drinks are carbonated, which means they can give a beautiful airiness and fluffiness to baked goods such as cakes and cookies.
If you want the orange flavor, try adding a drop of orange extract to your cola.
Remember, that these soda drinks are packed with sugar. To balance it out you may want to decrease the amount of sugar you use in the rest of your recipe. It has about 23 grams of sugar per cup, which is a little more than orange juice.
Try removing 1 tablespoon of sugar for every half cup of cola you use in your baking to keep things from becoming overwhelmingly sweet.
10. Sweetened Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit juice may not be your favorite substitution since it can be slightly more bitter than orange juice, but I find the citrus flavor is so fresh and delicious that it works well in baking, smoothies, and sauces.
If you happen to be reducing your grapefruit juice in a sauce, then you might want to add a little extra sugar or sweetener to take the edge off the slight bitterness that can be present in grapefruit juice.
It shouldn’t be too bad, but a little sugar will help balance it out.
11. Tamarind Paste + Water
If you want to get really creative you can try using tamarind paste plus water in place of orange juice in your recipes.
Tamarind is a sour, dark, sticky, sweet fruit that grows in pods and is very popular in a lot of Thai, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Latin, and Caribbean cooking.
You can find it at most grocery stores in the world foods aisle or you can order some right here.
When using it to replace orange juice you will want to reconstitute it with some water in a one-to-one ratio or paste to water plus a tablespoon or two of sugar or sweetener.
Give it a good mix and use it in your sweet and savory dishes in place of orange juice.
As you can see there are not shortage of options when it comes to replacing orange juice in your recipes.
If you don’t have any of the items on this list you can even try using apple juice, buttermilk, orange marmalade, or a vinegar and sugar mixture.
Do you have any orange juice substitutes you use that aren’t on the list? Let us know below!