Orange juice is refreshing and sweet at the same time, which is a perfect combination. For many people, it’s hard to imagine starting a day without it. Not only it’s a preferred morning beverage with breakfast, but a fresh drink many opt for – especially in the summer months.
What do you do when you’re out of fresh oranges, and going to the store to pick some up feels like too much of a hassle at the moment? We’re quite positive you have an orange juice substitute in your fridge or pantry.
The best substitutes for orange juice
If we’re talking about freshly squeezed orange juice, which is basically the best variant of orange juice, it is made by squeezing or reaming oranges.
Also, taste and the color will differ greatly depending on the type of orange you’re using, whether it be tangerine, blood orange, navel orange, valencia orange, or clementine.
Of course, you can always get the store-bought orange juice if you’re not in the mood for making some fresh juice yourself. However, commercial orange juice is typically pasteurized to prolong shelf life, which means that the oxygen is removed from it.
This kind of processed orange juice usually loses much of its original flavor and requires a flavor pack to be used. If you’d like to steer away from this kind of processed juice, you should look for 100% pure orange juice in your local store.
Also, make sure to carefully check the list of ingredients, as there can always be some hidden flavor enhancers, sweeteners, and artificial colors you generally want to avoid in your diet.
Since orange juice already has a high content of natural sugars, there’s no need for any additional sugar in your drink.
Besides being a refreshing, citrusy beverage, orange juice has many more applications in the kitchen. Due to its acidic profile, it can be used in your marinades instead of vinegar to tenderize meat such as pork and poultry.
If you’re not a fan of vinegar in general, you can also replace it with orange juice in salad dressings.
Orange juice can also be used for quick desserts such as ice pops, and you can even mix it with some yogurt to get a creamier texture. It is also an ideal addition to fruit toppings, cakes, quick bread, and citrus glaze in combination with sugar, butter, and lemon.
Check out our list of the best alternatives to orange juice to find the most adequate option for your recipe.
1. Orange zest
Orange zest is the colorful part of the orange peel, without the white pith which is usually quite bitter. You can implement it into your cooking in many ways since it is extremely flavorful and aromatic.
You’ll notice that orange zest is a bit more tangy and bitter than orange juice, which is a great choice if you’re not looking for much sweetness in your dish.
When zesting your orange, make sure to continuously turn the orange so you’re getting only the orange part, without getting any of the white pith. To do so, you can use a box grader, zester, or just a really sharp knife.
If you’re looking for a substitute for orange juice in cake recipe, and the recipe is calling for that citrusy flavor (and not necessarily liquid), orange zest is a great choice.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Contrary to plain white vinegar, apple cider vinegar has a specific fruity, tangy flavor, and it is a great blend of acidity and sweetness. It is most commonly used as a refreshing salad dressing, especially if you like a hint of fruitiness in your salads.
Apple cider vinegar can also be a great substitute for orange juice in marinade, chutney, soups, and sauces.
Apple cider vinegar, as opposed to many other vinegar types, isn’t purely acidic. It has a rather complex flavor and aroma profile, providing fruity notes that can brighten just about any dish.
3. Lemon juice
If you’re looking to stay within similar flavor notes, you can substitute orange juice for lemon juice. It is citrusy, acidic, and fresh – with a hint of unique bitterness and tanginess that you’d normally get from less sweet oranges.
However, if you need that sweetness of orange juice, lemon juice won’t be able to replace it without the addition of honey, sugar, or sweeteners.
You can also use lemon juice to substitute orange juice in a marinade to tenderize the meat or as a replacement for vinegar in salad dressing. You can also drizzle some on top of your grilled meat, veggies, and seafood to enhance the flavors.
4. Lemon zest
Lemon zest can often be even stronger than lemon juice since it has an extremely tangy, citric aroma that will certainly be noticed in your dish.
Besides being used in marinades, sauces, soups, and salad dressings, lemon zest can also be a great substitute for orange juice in baking – and not only to enhance the flavor. You’ll notice how you’ll get completely different results if you use lemon juice instead of lemon zest in baking.
While lemon juice can certainly add that citrusy freshness, with lemon zest, you’ll get a fluffier, more airy texture of your baked goods, in addition to a bright, sweet flavor.
5. Orange concentrate
This orange juice replacement is much more intense, but usually also sweeter than fresh orange juice, which makes it a great addition to your cocktails, desserts, but also marinades, sauces, and dressings.
The concentrate is usually made by heating up orange juice and removing much of the water, which usually leaves a rather sweet, intense flavor.
If you’re getting your orange concentrate from the store, make sure to study the list of ingredients, as there can be many artificial colors and flavors in some of them.
Most of the quality orange juice concentrates are up to 7 times more concentrated than the actual orange juice, which basically means that a little bit goes a long way.
6. Grand Marnier
A great alternative to orange juice in beverages, especially cocktails, are orange-based liqueurs such as Grand Marnier.
It is a French orange liqueur, and essentially a mixture of triple sec and cognac. Besides orange notes, you’ll also notice subtle hints of oak and vanilla in this orange-flavored brandy.
Grand Marnier isn’t only a delicious beverage and sophisticated addition to your cocktails – it can also be used in cooking. It makes for a great sweet yet tangy marinade, aromatic chicken sauce, but it is also amazing in desserts, including truffle, souffle, custard pie, and pecan pie.
7. Orange marmalade
Here’s yet another delicious substitution for orange juice – especially in desserts. Orange marmalade is basically a food preserve made from both the juice and the peel of the oranges, with the addition of sugar and water.
The main difference between a marmalade and a jam is that the jam includes the pulp and there’s no juice, while the marmalade combines juice and peel or a rind, leaving chunky bits in its texture.
You can use it as a sweet condiment for your favorite baked goods, including toast, biscuits, and croissants. However, if you’re a fan of the savory-sweet combination, it is a beautiful glaze for meats and veggies.
8. Meyer lemon
In case you’re often conflicted between orange and lemon, Meyer lemon may be the perfect solution for this problem. It is a hybrid fruit and a mix between lemon and mandarin, so it’s perfectly acidic and sweet at the same time.
It has a unique floral note that you usually won’t get from either regular lemons or mandarines, and it is sweet enough to be added to desserts and cocktails.
This cross of lemon and mandarin orange has deep yellow skin and distinctive dark yellow pulp. You’ll also notice that Meyer lemons are smaller in size and they have slightly smoother skin than regular lemons.
9. Citric acid
Citric acid isn’t going to add any flavor depth, aroma, or sweetness, but it is a convenient and rather effective source of acidity when it comes to cooking.
It is a crystalline white powder that can help you manage the acidity of your food, or add a touch of sourness without having to develop the flavors for too long. You may also find it under the name “sour salt” – since it resembles salt in texture.
This preservative is food-safe and can often be found in processed foods such as sour candy, beverages, and snacks. Citric acid is also a great choice for baking, since it improves the leavening, adds tanginess to homemade bread, and improves the overall flavor of the baked goods.
As beverages, orange juice, and coke pretty much have nothing in common. However, as ingredients in pastries and cakes, they’re interchangeable in many recipes – as surprising as it may sound.
Coke can be added to baked goods and desserts in general to achieve that fluffy, airy, creamy texture, and it also adds enough sweetness so you can skip the sugar.
However, keep in mind that coke cannot replace that acidity and fruity flavor of orange juice, in case you want to add it strictly for flavor. On the other hand, coke may become your secret ingredient for soft, light pastries.
11. Orange extract
Just like with orange concentrate, you want to be careful when adding the orange extract to your dishes, as it can quickly take over the entire dish.
It is even more concentrated than the orange concentrate, and a few drops are often enough to get that full orange flavor. Orange extract is usually made with alcohol, and it has a rather dominant flavor and aroma.
You can use orange extract just like you would any other extract. Add a few drops to your dessert, filling, marinades, sauces, and dough for a touch of acidity, sweetness, and freshness.
How to choose an orange juice substitute
Each substitute for orange juice we’ve mentioned has something unique to offer to your dishes and beverages. The choice depends solely on your preferences and the recipe you’re following.
If you’re in a party mood and you’d love to make a batch of refreshing cocktails but you’re out of orange juice, all you need is lemon juice, orange concentrate, Grand Marnier, Meyer lemon juice, or a couple of drops of orange extract.
Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and citric acid can provide the desired amount of acidity – especially to your salad dressings and sauces. For a light, airy texture of your baked goods, opt for lemon zest or coke, and you won’t end up with flat, chewy pastries.
Lemon zest, orange zest, and orange marmalade are delicious, extremely versatile options – especially for desserts and fillings, but you can also experiment with savory dishes.