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5 Best Orange Extract Substitute Options

Love oranges for their bright, citrusy flavor? Try orange extract for a simple way to get that delightful orange flavor in your dishes. Use it to give cheesecakes, smoothies, and other recipes a citrusy flavor boost without the added acid.

Orange extract isn’t a staple in most cupboards, however, when you just want to try out a new recipe and aren’t looking to go on a baking frenzy, there are some easy substitutes for orange extract. Much like with maple extract or rum extract, there are a few pantry staples you can turn to.

Search your kitchen for components of these workable substitutes – orange juice, zest, oil, and even orange liqueur. These are all acceptable alternatives to orange extract that will save you a trip to the store, with limited doctoring. Each replacement has advantages and disadvantages, as well as varying volumes needed for the ideal balance in your recipes.

What Makes Up Orange Extract?

Orange extract is made from the peels of the orange fruit, in particular the oil found in the skin. This concentrated flavor, whose fruits are rich in vitamin C, is mixed with alcohol to preserve it. Most recipes call for very little extract, and the alcohol in it dissipates when heated, so there is little to no trace of it in your final dish. 

The extract imparts a wonderful burst of orange flavor, making it a great option when only a little orange is needed in recipes. Considering how flavorful it is, only a little is necessary to achieve the desired taste. That being said, follow the recipe as closely as possible for the best outcome in your dish.

Orange extract is available in stores. Look for a brand that offers the fewest ingredients listed with little to no unfamiliar additives, or even make your own. Crafting this condensed flavoring at home is a surprisingly easy achievement to unlock. Simply fill a glass container with fresh orange peels, then fill it up with an alcohol-like vodka, and store it for a month. 

Seek quality, organic oranges from local farms in order to make an extract that is free from exterior biological contamination; the outermost part of the peel has the most essential oil. The hardest part will be waiting for it to bloom into that delicious concentrated flavor, which can take several months. 

How to Use Orange Extract?

The concentrated orange taste is useful anywhere a little citrus is needed. 

Orange extract is used in making lots of delicious desserts. Its fruity bite best compliments the sweet, creamy notes common in desserts like cakes, pastries, pies, and puddings. The most popular flavors that pair well with orange extract are vanilla, chocolate, strawberries, pineapple, and other sweet and tart fruits. Here are some recipes where its strong citrus flavors and sweet, orange taste really shine: 

The versatility of orange extract makes it perfect for use in both sweet and savory applications. Orange extract lends itself well to savory recipes such as salad dressings, sauces for meats and seafood, and marinades & glazes. Here are some savory uses for orange extract.

  • Duck l’Orange
  • Orange Chicken – Panda Express Copycat
  • Citrus Salad dressing
  • Orange Sauce for shrimp, fish, and vegetables
  • Olive oil infusion with herbs and orange extract
  • Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce
  • Orange Chutney

Always take into account the powerful flavor of orange extract in recipes. You can even substitute it for other citrus flavors, like lemon or lime, but keep in mind that your dish will now have an orange sauce rather than a lemon sauce.

soft, buttery orange cookies, flavored with orange zest and orange juice

5 Best Orange Extract Substitutes

Although each of these alternatives has its advantages and disadvantages, the majority of them will function reasonably well in recipes.

Orange Juice

Orange juice is easily available in many homes and markets. It’s the most suitable substitute for orange extract due to the similarity in flavor, but one obvious difference is the amount of liquid. With a concentrated orange extract, you only need a few drops to enhance the flavor of your dish. 

When substituting orange juice you’ll need to use it in a recipe that calls for a significant volume of liquid, and even then the result will only be a faint orange flavor. Substitute 1 cup of orange juice for every ½ teaspoon of orange extract + 1 cup of water called for in the recipe. Try this swap in dressings or marinades. An orange juice concentrate will provide a strong orange flavor, but there will be a flatter flavor and slightly medicinal taste from the additives.

Orange Zest

Orange zest is the simplest alternative to orange extract. If your recipe doesn’t require any liquid and only needs the citrus flavor, orange zest is the best substitute.

The zest of orange is grated orange peel, which adds a tang to recipes. You can grate the skin using a Microplane, box grater, or vegetable peeler, but be careful not to reach the white pith, as it will add an extremely bitter flavor to your dish. As an approximation, one orange yields about 2-3 tablespoons of zest. 

More orange zest will be needed to substitute orange extracts, so use it in a 2:1 ratio.

homemade orange liqueur

Orange Liqueur

Orange liqueur is not just great for cocktails and beverages; it can also be a great swap for orange extract, especially in baking. This sweetened alcoholic beverage contains the orange flavoring you need, while the alcohol in the liqueur will burn off during the heating process.

Popular orange-flavored liqueurs are triple sec and curacao, while some brands you may recognize are Grand Marnier and Cointreau. The orange liqueur has a moderately sweet, tangy, mildly bitter flavor with prominent orange notes. It gives a comparable flavor to orange extract and may be used as a substitute in a 2:1 ratio. 

Orange Marmalade

Orange marmalade is a versatile, delicious, and quick substitute for orange extract. It’s especially good in savory recipes like sauces, and marinades. or glazes. Classic orange marmalade is simply cooked orange fruit, citruses like lemon, water, and some sugar. Oranges contain natural pectin that thickens the marmalade without the need for additives. 

To replace orange extract in a dish, you may want to thin out the marmalade in the liquid of your dish by adding a tablespoon of it directly in place of a few drops of orange extract. Similarly, if you need a less sweet flavor, reduce 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade + 1/4 cup of water in a pan, which will cook down some of the intense saccharinity.

Other Citrus Extracts

If you don’t have orange extract, you can substitute any other citrus extract that you have at home. Some common citrus extracts include lemon, lime, or grapefruit; any of these may be used in place of orange extract. These concentrated extracts, similar to the orange-flavored variety, are obtained from the skin of these fruits. 

Any of these will add the much-needed zesty flavor and aroma to your recipes. Remember that whatever extract you will use, will be part of the final flavor of your dish. If you use lemon extract in place of orange extract, then your orange cream pie will become a lemon cream pie. Use in a 1:1 ratio.

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