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Substitutes for Orange Extract – What Can I Use Instead?

Orange extract, which is most commonly used in baking, is not something you are likely to have just lying around – unless you’re a regular baker. Orange extract will be commonly called for when making a whole range of desserts and sweet treats, such as; hard candies, fudge, chocolates, cheesecake, and cookies and biscotti. The fact that it is so commonly used, yet so rarely kept in stock, means that quite a few will regularly find themselves in this situation where a substitute needs to be found, fast!

Naturally, orange extract isn’t limited to just these few uses. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and so it is a great ingredient to keep stocked. We’ve found that it has its uses in teas, in hot cocoa, and even in savoury dishes – particularly duck and chicken dishes. Not a bad ingredient to have stocked, then, all that being said.

How do I make orange extract?

Making orange extract is a remarkably easy process. The main ingredient is time. In terms of tangible products, all you will need is some cheap vodka (the quality doesn’t matter as the alcohol will evaporate during baking) and the zest of one orange. Simply zest the orange, avoiding the pith. Then place that zest into a mason jar and cover with alcohol. Place into a cool and dark area for a minimum of two months. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavour will be. And that’s it – simple!

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Can I use another citrus extract?

Of course! But, this comes with the caveat that your dish will end up adopting that flavour instead of orange. However, in most cases, lemon is a welcome replacement for an orange flavour. This is especially true for cheesecake and hard candies.

Substitutes for Orange Extract

In comparison to several other ingredients, orange extract, thankfully, is much easier to substitute for. This is no part due to how easy it is to produce. It is one of the simplest mass produced ingredients out there. Orange extract, after all, is only the concentrated fruit which has been preserved in some strong alcohol. Technically, there’s no reason we all couldn’t be making this at home. However, that’s not why we’re here. Instead, we’re going to give you a quick rundown of the best substitutes for orange extract when time is short. So, without much further ado, here they are!


1. Orange Juice

orange juice

Sometimes the simplest solution is also the best, and it doesn’t get much simpler than this. This is precisely the reason why orange juice tops the list of potential substitutes. The chances are, there’s already a carton of it in your fridge, or perhaps there’s a few juicy oranges lying around that are just waiting to be juiced!

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Naturally, replacing a concentrate with a juice does come with its own set of complications. For example, to achieve the same flavour, you will need to use much more juice. To compensate for this, it is advisable to substitute some of the water out of your recipe in order to pack in more orange. If you are seeking a stronger hit of orange, you can always couple the juice with a little bit of zest to fill out the flavour. For best results, choose an orange juice that is free from any additives and preservatives.



  •         Excellent fresh flavour
  •         Readily available
  •         An easy, inexpensive solution


  •         Can be complicated to use and may not deliver the same tanginess as extract


2. Orange Liqueur

orange liquer

Orange liqueurs such as Cointreau also make a great stand in for orange extract in a pinch. Fortunately, they behave in much the same way during the baking process. Like with the extract, the alcohol bakes away and evaporates leaving only a delicious tangy orange taste. An excellent substitution if you happen to have some lying around – but a very expensive one if you need to go out and buy it.

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It is also worth noting that not all orange liqueurs are of equal value to you and your baking. Take for example Grand Marnier; this is undoubtedly an excellent flavour, but it is made using a brandy base which will be detectable in your recipe. As such, we would recommend using an orange liqueur which uses a ‘neutral’ alcohol base. For this, we suggest Curacao as the best substitute.



  •         Excellent flavour in baking
  •         Distinctive and instantly recognisable taste
  •         The alcohol content bakes away meaning it is safe for kids


  •         Very expensive compared to extract


3. Orange Oil

orange oil e1597170846782

Orange oil is also a concentrate of orange so straight away makes for a strong contender based on its strength of flavour. It is also super easy to substitute as there are no complicated mathematical calculations to do to get the flavour right – you simply use two drops for every one of extract!

However, as with all substitutes, there is always something which doesn’t quite work in the exact same way which can cause a nasty surprise. In this case, it is the simple fact that orange oil will add in extra oil to your recipe. However, in this case the positives outweigh the negatives as the amount of oil it adds to the recipe is negligible.


·         Can also be used as a scent to freshen up musty rooms

·         Excellent pricing

·         Smells like freshly squeezed oranges


·         Not as versatile as orange extract


4. Orange Zest

orange zest

Thankfully, using orange zest is a much easier process than using orange juice in that 2 teaspoons of orange zest should provide roughly the same flavour as one teaspoon of orange extract. As we mentioned earlier, the best results tend to come from using zest and juice in unison in order to round out the full flavour profile of the orange.

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Again, this is something that you are pretty likely to have in your home already. In that case, it is an excellent and instant substitute. However, there is always something to watch out for to save from ruining your recipe. Firstly, it is advisable to spread the zest evenly across your recipe to avoid dense tangy bites after baking. Second, always avoid getting any of the pith in there as that will only provide a bitter and quite unpleasant flavour that can potentially overpower everything else.



  •         Readily available and could even be in your kitchen right now!
  •         Very easy to use
  •         Cheaper than the original issue!


  •         Doesn’t provide the exact same flavour, but it is close!



We hope that you found this guide to substituting for orange extract to be a valuable and information source as you embarked on a quest for an alternative option. As you can see, there are several decent substitutes out there – one or more of which may be lurking in your kitchen as you read this!

We invite you to review the following questions and answers section for some additional information that just might be of some use to you.

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