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9 Best Orange Liqueur Substitutes

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Orange liqueur is a popular ingredient in quite a number of cocktails, and it pairs well with so many flavors too. You might even just enjoy sipping some orange liqueur on ice!

However, not all of us have orange liqueur on hand at home.

If you come across a cocktail recipe you really want to try, but you don’t have the orange liqueur which is needed, or if you are looking to try something different to orange liqueur, you might need a good alternative.

What are the best orange liqueur substitutes? The best orange liqueur substitute will depend on what you needed the orange liqueur for, but generally, the substitute should have an orange or citrus flavor and contain a similar alcohol content if you wanted to make an alcoholic beverage.

You do not only have to pick an alcoholic substitute for orange liqueur though. There are some non-alcoholic options you can use to make virgin cocktails instead, but still enjoy all the flavors of the beverage!

Read on to find out more about the best substitutes for orange liqueur!

What Is Orange Liqueur?

Orange liqueur is sort of an umbrella term given to a variety of specific flavored beverages.

At its base, orange liqueur is an alcoholic beverage that is flavored using orange peel. It could have a neutral base such as vodka, or it could have a deeper base such as brandy.

Most orange liqueurs have a sweet, syrupy taste and texture, with the fresh and rich citrus notes from the orange peels.

Some of the most popular and well-loved orange liqueurs include Triple Sec, Cointreau, Curacao, and Grand Marnier. These are mostly used in cocktail recipes, but some people enjoy them on ice or even used in a dessert.

Understanding what orange liqueur is will give you the best tools to find the right substitute for what you need!

The 9 Best Substitutes For Orange Liqueur

You need to consider what you are needing the substitute for to be able to work out what the best option might be.

One substitute that might work well in a cocktail might not be the best substitute for orange liqueur in a dessert, after all!

To help, we have listed the best 9 orange liqueur substitutes and suggestions as to what they might be best used in place of orange liqueur:

RankSubstituteBenefitsBest Use
1.Coffee liqueur Rich flavor, chocolate notes, mildly sweetCocktails, desserts
2.Orange juiceNon-alcoholic, orange flavorMocktails, sauces, desserts
3.BrandyRich flavor, versatileCocktails, cooking
4.Maraschino liqueurFruity, similar alcohol content to orange liqueurCocktails
5.GrenadineFruity, tart, sweet, non-alcoholicCocktails/mocktails
6.Orange extractStrong orange flavor, non-alcoholic, need very littleCocktails/mocktails, various drinks, desserts
7.CalvadosApple and pear notes, rich flavorsCocktails, desserts
8.Elderflower liqueurFloral notes, similar alcohol content Cocktails
9.Orange zestFresh, accessible, strong orange flavorCocktails/mocktails, beverages, cooking, desserts

To help you pick the right one for your needs, let’s look at each one closely and how to best use it.

1. Coffee Liqueur

Suggestion: Leopold
Bros Coffee Liqueur
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It might not be the first option that pops into your mind, but coffee liqueur is one of the best substitutes to use in place of orange liqueur, especially in cocktails.

You might not get the same orange flavor from coffee liqueur, but the rich taste that the coffee brings works so well when you do not have citrus.

Believe it or not, coffee often pairs well with the same flavors you know and love with orange.

Most coffee liqueurs also have chocolate notes to them, and the espresso-cocoa blend is usually mildly sweet with some herbal details too.

There are quite a few different coffee liqueur options on the market, and the one you choose would really be down to personal preference. It could be that you prefer something sweeter, or something with a little more bitterness.

Coffee liqueur also acts as a great substitute for orange liqueur in desserts. You could use the coffee liqueur as a topping for ice cream instead of orange liqueur. mmm.

Sweet, chocolate, or even red fruit flavors all go well with coffee. If you want orange liqueur for its strong, rich flavor, then coffee liqueur is an easy substitute.

You might even find that coffee liqueur might be your new favorite addition to a cocktail!

2. Orange Juice

Suggestion: Simply Orange juice
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Orange juice is probably the most obvious non-alcoholic substitute for an orange liqueur.

It is one of the best ways to get that true orange flavor without the added alcoholic base.

Orange juice is popularly used as a base for cocktails. So if you want to omit the orange liqueur, you can increase the orange juice content or add in a splash of orange juice to get the citrus flavor.

Naturally, this is a great way to make mocktails, too! You can fundamentally serve the same drink to drinkers and non-drinkers alike, and no one is left out.

You can also use orange juice in place of orange liqueur to make certain recipes, such as sauces. It is also a great option to use when making desserts.

If you only want to add in a small amount of orange juice, then it is best to use orange concentrate and add in more of the citrus flavor without adding in too much liquid to the drink or dish. Concentrate is much stronger.

But if you want big, large cocktails that are sweet and fruity, splash the regular OJ freely into the glass!

Just keep in mind that the orange juice could be a little more tart than some liqueurs, so you might have to add some sweetener to the cocktail to make up for this. For a fun flavor combo, try pairing orange juice with a little maple syrup!

If you are feeling adventurous, then you could opt to use a different fruit juice or even an orange juice blend. This can bring new flavors to the drink or recipe you are making, and you can decide whether the fruit juice is smooth or with pulp.

3. Brandy

Suggestion: Hennessy
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Brandy might not have the orange twist to it, but it does offer a depth of flavor that can bring some sweetness to a cocktail or dish too.

You might even already have a bottle of brandy sitting in your liquor cupboard at home, which means it is an easy-enough substitute to use.

The benefit of using brandy is not only that it can be used to add sweetness and depth to a cocktail, but it works well in different cooking methods too.

You can use brandy to flambe a dessert or add it to a sauce for a bit of a flavor kick, and in both cases, it works well in place of orange liqueur.

The dish or the drink will not have the same orange flavor to it, but you might enjoy the citrus-free depth that brandy gives, and you could even add in some orange juice to make up for this.

4. Maraschino Liqueur

Suggestion: Luxardo Maraschino Originale
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Maraschino liqueur might not have the citrus notes that orange liqueur does, but it is still fruity and slightly sweet. So it does well in place of orange liqueur in a cocktail or beverage.

The cherry liqueur has a similar balance between sweet and tart as orange liqueur does, so it actually makes a great substitute.

The fruity notes and the tartness really add some brightness to a cocktail, and you likely won’t even notice the orange liqueur missing.

Maraschino liqueur is not as sweet as orange liqueur typically is, which might be ideal if you prefer something with the same strong flavor but less sweetness. But if you want you can always add a sweetener to the cocktail if you miss the sugar.

You will find that maraschino liqueur has a similar alcohol content to orange liqueur too, so not too much change to the recipe would be needed. Just be sure to check on this first before substituting maraschino liqueur for orange liqueur.

5. Grenadine

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Grenadine is a popular ingredient used in cocktails and beverages, and it makes for a good substitute for orange liqueur in many cocktail recipes.

The pomegranate, fruity flavors that grenadine has are quite delicious!

It has a good balance of tart and sweet, and the colorful liquid adds some fun to the drink, too. The balance of tart and sweetness is similar to that of orange liqueur. It is also non-alcoholic, so it can be used to make low-alcohol drinks or non-alcoholic drinks.

When using grenadine in place of orange liqueur, you should use half the amount recommended, and then taste and adjust from there. So if the recipe needs two ounces of orange liqueur, you should start with one ounce of grenadine.

Just keep in mind that grenadine has quite a strong red-pink color, and if you are wanting to control the color of your cocktail, you will have to use less of the red grenadine and more of other color ingredients.

6. Orange Extract

OliveNation Pure
Orange Extract
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Orange extract is made from oils that are extracted from orange peels, these oils are then concentrated into a solution with quite a high alcohol content.

You will likely only find orange extracts in small bottles, and this is all that is needed, as even the smallest amount has a big kick of flavor!

It is a good idea to use orange extract in place of orange liqueur when you are only after the orange flavor, and you do not want to add too much of another ingredient into the drink or dessert.

Orange extract also works well when you want the orange flavor without having to use orange liqueur which will add sugar or alcohol to a dish or drink.

Use a few drops of orange extract as a substitute for orange liqueur in non-alcoholic drinks, cocktails, desserts, and sauces.

7. Calvados

Suggestion: Lecompte
12 Year Old Calvados
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Okay, so this one might feel a little like a repeat, but it bears being its own substitute!

Calvados is a type of brandy (hence the repeat!) made using apples, and it carries notes of both apples and pears, giving the liqueur a fruity, rich flavor.

But Calvados is distinct from other brandy types.

This is quite a versatile substitute, as it can be enjoyed on its own, in a cocktail, or even enjoyed with coffee.

The brandy side of calvados adds some richness and depth to a cocktail or to a dessert, and the fruitiness of the pears and apples makes it a good substitute in place of orange liqueur.

There is also some sweetness to calvados, but it is not so sweet that it would add too much sweetness to a drink, more than what orange liqueur would.

8. Elderflower Liqueur

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Elderflower liqueur might be the secret ingredient you never knew you needed!

This liqueur can elevate just about any cocktail, and because of its fruitiness, it makes a great substitute for orange liqueur.

There aren’t any orange notes in elderflower liqueur, but the delicate flavors with the floral hints will be great in a cocktail that calls for fresh notes from orange liqueur.

It really is a good idea to keep elderflower liqueur tucked away in your pantry. It not only makes a good substitute for an orange liqueur, but its delicate flavors also allow it to pair so well with many different flavors and ingredients.

You can use it in place of other liqueurs too.

Not having any citrus notes is not such a big deal if you have a few drops of orange extract to add to the cocktail along with the elderflower liqueur, and you’ll have a whole bouquet of flavors to enjoy.

Elderflower liqueur will often have the same alcohol content as orange liqueur, so it is good for cocktails, but you can also use elderflower extract if you do not want to use anything containing alcohol. 

9. Orange Zest

Lastly, you could choose to use orange zest in place of orange liqueur in a variety of recipes, whether cocktails, mocktails, desserts, and in cooking.

Orange zest is easy to come by and affordable, you just need an orange or two and a zester. It is a good option for when you want a pop of fresh orange flavor but you do not want to add any additional alcohol to the recipe you are making.

Orange zest is strong, tangy, and citrusy, and is as fresh an ingredient as you could hope for. When using orange zest, you only want the outer layer of the skin, and not the white pith underneath, as that is bitter and not so palatable.

Use a fine grater to gently grate the outside of the orange and collect the zest to add into a drink, a dessert, or a meal.

You could also use the orange zest to add an orange, citrusy flavor to a cocktail where you have used a substitute liqueur that does not have orange in it. Zest can help you fully substitute what you would have gotten from an orange liqueur.

Orange zest will also be a great addition to a dessert or to a sauce or casserole, so there really isn’t much that you can’t use orange zest for as a substitute for orange liqueur.

The Best 9 Orange Liqueur Substitutes

There are more than enough great substitutes for orange liqueur that you can choose from, as we have listed above.

We have included the best options out there, whether you are looking for a substitute for cocktails, mocktails, desserts, or even for cooking.

So, if you do not have any orange liqueur at home but you have a recipe that calls for some, there is no need to panic or rush out to the store, you simply have to read the above suggestions and find the substitute that you think would be best.

Choose a substitute that is alcohol-free, choose one which has different flavors, which brings strong citrus flavors or even orange zest which isn’t a liquid – there are enough options for every taste!

Related Questions

Is Triple Sec An Orange Liqueur?

Triple Sec does fall into the category of an orange liqueur, since it has orange notes to it. It is similar to Cointreau but is slightly more affordable and not as high-quality.

Can You Use Orange Liqueur For Baking?

Orange liqueur can be used for baking, and it can add quite a rich citrus flavor to the dessert you are making.

Can I Use Orange Extract In Place of Orange Zest?

Orange extract can be used in place of orange zest, as it will bring the fresh citrus flavor that you get from orange peels.

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