9 Best Substitutes for Orange Juice you Should Know

Few drops of orange juice can change the game of cooking, but little did we know it’s not always that the fantastic ingredient is in reach. And since the tangy, citrusy taste is a must, whether it’s cake, bread, or a smoothie, leaving out orange juice cannot be an option.

So, here are the 9 best substitutes for orange juice that you can use when orange juice is not available. In the end, we have also listed some other great options that you can use as orange juice alternatives to master your recipes!

1. Orange Juice Concentrate

Whether preparing dinner or baking something for lunch, the closest substitute for orange juice you can use is orange concentrate. Also known as “orange frozen juice” or “orange squeezed juice,” a few drops of orange concentrate can give your recipe the exact flavor of orange juice.

Since orange concentrate is prepared using premium quality fruit by removing maximum water, the remaining concentrate has a thicker density; it is kept frozen to be used for a longer time.

Also, as the water consistency in oranges is removed, using orange concentrate as a replacement for orange juice would require you first to mix it with water. You can either prepare the concentrate in your kitchen, which though, does take some time. Or, you can grab a bottle from your grocery store and use it per instructions.

Lastly, if you find yourself where your orange concentrate doesn’t come with the proper instructions, you can use this basic rule: 1 quarter cup of orange juice = 1 tbsp orange juice concentrate + 3 tbsp water. The quantity can also vary, for instance, 2 quarters or a half cup of orange juice = 2 tbsp orange concentrate + 6 tbsp water or 1/3 cup of water, and so on.

2. Orange Juice Extract

Orange extract is another substitute for orange juice, but it is different from orange concentrate, as the name suggests. The latter is made by washing, scrubbing, crushing, or blending the oranges and then removing the maximum amount of water from the pulp. It gives the remaining concentration a thicker density which is used along with water.

As for orange extract, the peels of the fruit are first soaked in alcohol (or vodka) for six to eight weeks with shaking the jar or bottle once a week. That being said, it is not “concentrated” from the orange juice itself; instead, it is “extracted” from the oils present in the peels of the fruit.

If you plan to use the orange extract in your recipes, a few drops will do the job; abstain from adding too much quantity or drinking straight from the jar. If you feel the tangy, citrusy flavor is too much, you can also add a few drops of water to balance the taste. Maple syrup, sugar syrups, and even honey can be added to the orange extract to make the perfect orange juice substitute.

3. Lemon Juice

If you are health-conscious and use only fresh ingredients in your recipes, lemon juice is always a handy option. And the best thing about lemons is that you can find them anywhere, in any season. However, though lemon falls into the same category of citrus fruits, like oranges, using it as a substitute for orange juice may not provide a similar taste if you add it directly to your recipes.

Lemons have low pH levels, which promote healthy digestion, but at the same time, they also have high acidic levels, which you may want to balance first. Besides, high acidity also means less sugar, which again recalls using a third ingredient to balance the taste.

Water is the best, go-to solution out of the many options you can mix lemon juice with. For every one tbsp orange juice, just mix lemon juice with water following the 1:1 ratio. Water reduces the acidic levels, and if you want a sweet taste alongside, you can dissolve two tbsp of maple syrup, sugar, or honey for every quarter cup of lemon juice mixed with water.

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4. Sweet Lime Juice

Limetta, mousami, musami, sweet lemon, citrus limetta – sweet limes have many names. They belong to the same category of citrus fruits and can be used as an alternative to orange juice. However, you should remember that sweet limes are not the same as lemons and thus shouldn’t be used in a similar way to lemons.

Though they look identical, limes are small citrus fruits, green in color, while lemons are big, almost oval, and yellow in color. Also, the pH level of sweet limes is less than lemons which makes them less sweet and more acidic than lemons.

If you want to use limetta in your recipes, you should stay aware of the bitterness they can add to your food. Thus, always use them in smaller quantities and never forget to mix with water to neutralize the bitterness. You can also add sweeteners; honey is the best option though sugar, creams, and maple syrups also work right.

Lastly, you should only use sweet limes if you don’t have access to lemon because of their high acidity. And if you do, go for the ratio of 1:2 for lime and water, respectively.

5. Vinegar

Not orange, lemon, or lime; vinegar is an excellent alternative if you want something out of the box. However, you should only use vinegar if you are craving the acidic taste of orange juice, as vinegar is high in acidity. Also, since vinegar can subdue the other flavors in the recipe, you may want to add it in precise quantities.

You can go for white vinegar, or rice vinegar as both of them have a neutral flavor. You can get either fresh vinegar from your local stores or even use the old bottle from the pantry. Typically, vinegar doesn’t expire if stored properly; however, its flavor can change with time. It is recommended to taste your vinegar before adding it to your recipe if it’s too old.

Also, if you prefer store-bought vinegar, then keep in mind that different brands’ tastes (acidity) can vary. And since vinegar is an ingredient that can improve or spoil your entire recipe, you should always mix it with water (1:1 ratio). For sweeteners, you can use sugar, honey, maple syrup; if not, any type of cream would also do the job.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

As said before, white vinegar is the best solution if you want your recipe to have the tangier, citrusy taste of orange juice. But it tends to overpower other flavors if not balanced properly. Plus, unless you are an expert in cooking, the chances of having a balanced taste are minimum even if you use sugary additives.

Apple cider vinegar is different from regular vinegar in terms of both flavor and acidity. It works just like vinegar but has a milder taste and is rich in nutrients compared to white vinegar. The levels of acetic acid in white vinegar range between 5-10 percent, while apple cider vinegar remains between 4-6 percent, which makes it an ideal substitute for orange juice.

Another thing to note about apple cider vinegar is that it is made of apples. That being said, you may have to miss on the sweet, tangy or angry taste if you are using apple cider vinegar. Though it does help balance the flavor in your recipes just like orange juice would.

A simple trick to enhance the taste of apple cider vinegar is to buy unrefined and unfiltered. Add sugar, maple syrup, honey, creams, or whatever suits you to balance the taste! And again, you should mix one-quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with one-quarter cup of water before using it.

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7. Pineapple Juice

Whether it’s lime, lemon, vinegar, or orange-based products like orange concentrate or extract – each requires balancing the taste before using. When you are in a hurry and want thighs done without going through the hectic of measuring and mixing ingredients, pineapple juice is both handy and convenient.

Though you would need to visit the nearest grocery store, unlike lemons or vinegar, pineapple juice is not always around. Given the fact you can use pineapple juice directly in your cooking without adding any water or sugary additives, it is likely you would never go back to the alternatives.

Still, you should not forget that pineapple juice, like apple cider vinegar, tastes like pineapple and may add extra sugar to your recipe. It naturally has a sweeter taste, unlike the tangy taste of orange or lemon, which is why it is recommended to use pineapple juice when you are looking for a sweeter taste.

And since pineapple already has a sugary taste, there is no need to add any honey or maple syrup. You can, however, balance the sweet flavor by adding a few drops of water in every tbs of pineapple juice.

8. Orange Water

Need an orange juice substitute, why not use orange water? It differs from orange concentrate and extracts, for it is prepared from the blossoms of an orange tree instead of the fruit itself. It is the same reason it tends to have a floral, tangy flavor rather than the rich, citrusy flavor of oranges.

Orange water is often confused with orange liquor because both have alcohol in them. Yet they are different; the former is an alcoholic beverage while the latter is used in cooking, skincare, and even as an indoor fragrance. Though orange liquor can also be used in recipes, it has an intense aroma than orange water, which often isn’t pleasing.

Also, remember that orange water has a citrusy, sweeter taste, yet much stronger than what you would get from orange juice. Thus, be very aware of how much orange water you are adding to your recipes. You can use sugary additives to reduce the strong tangy taste of orange water, and the best way to do so is to mix a few drops of lemon water (other than water, of course). It is not recommended to use lime water, for they already are bitter.

9. Tangerine Juice

A type of orange but not orange itself, Tangerines are an excellent substitute for orange juice. They differ from oranges as they are darker in color yet a bit smaller than oranges. Also, tangerines are sweeter and less acidic than oranges and are high in Vit A, unlike oranges and other citrus fruits, which feature Vit C.

If you plan to use tangerine juice in your cooking, you need not mix it with water, sugar, honey, or any other additive, for they are already sweeter. Thus, they are a ready-at-hand orange juice alternative that is most suitable for recipes with a sugary taste. However, they may not work with every recipe because of their extra sweet taste.

Still, if you are concerned about the sweet taste of tangerine juice, you can mix it with water to neutralize it a bit. You can simply squeeze out one cup of tangerine juice and mix it with a quarter cup of water. If you use store-bought tangerine juice, you can add water according to your taste.

Some Other Substitutes for Orange Juice

Orange juice is widely used in cooking and baking for its sweet and tangy flavor. Yet, at times when you have run out of any citrus fruit, concentrate, extract, even vinegar, here are some of the other best substitutes for orange juice that you can use.

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●    Orange Zest

Orange zest is a great way to add that tangy flavor to your recipes. Not to be confused with orange peel, zest is the color part of the fruit, while the peel is the entire skin of the fruit. You can either get the zest in fresh form by using any grater, preferably a cheese grater or, you can grab ready-made orange zest from your local store.

You can also save the skin of oranges when using them in your recipes and make the zest for later use. However, the only thing necessary is that orange zest is stronger than orange juice, concentrate, water, and even extract. Since it is in powdered form, you may add it little by little until you get the desired taste or mix it with water or sugary additives.

●    Citric Acid

Since all you need is the acidic taste, a citric acid is a handy option. It has a slight taste and is found in all citrus fruits, which means you can add a few drops to get the tangy, sour flavor. However, be careful that the acid has extreme soreness intensity, which can also ruin the taste of your recipe.

●    Orange syrup

It is made of orange zest but is undoubtedly the best alternative to orange juice. With its tarty, tangy taste, you may like to add a few drops of water before using it. PS, you can make it at home, but it doesn’t last more than a week even if you refrigerate it.

The other option you can consider is the store-bought which again, should be first mixed with water following the 1:1 ratio.

●    Tarty fruits

Of course, you can always use lemon, lime, tangerines, but they are not the only fruits with a tangy, orange-like flavor. You can also grab green grapes, plums, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, pears, and pomegranate to give your recipe that citrusy flavor.

Since all these are natural fruits, you can either add them straight to your pan as per your requirements or mix them with water. You can also use grapefruits, but they tend to have a bitter taste, so be careful using that. Also, fresh, healthy fruits are always a win against processed foods if you balance the taste!

●    Orange Liquor

As said earlier, orange liquor can have an intense aroma. Also, you should prefer orange water if drinking products aren’t your thing. And if you go for orange liquor, you can add a few drops of essential oils to reduce the tangy aroma. Remember to make sure the oil you are using, and the ingredients in your recipe go well together. For sweetening, you can add honey or maple syrup too.

Conclusion

Orange juice is a crucial ingredient in most exquisite recipes, but not every time you find the ingredient on your shelf. What you can do instead is to choose from a long list of best substitutes for orange juice: lemon juice, sweet limes juice, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, orange concentrate, extract, and also orange water, liquor, zest, and orange syrup.

Other than that, tarty fruits like pineapple, tangerines, raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, green grapes, and pomegranates are also handy options as alternatives to substitutes. If nothing works for you, you can even go for citric acid to give your recipes a great, tangy taste! 

Lastly, the only thing that can give you the exact orange flavor is the orange itself; substitutes like lemon, lime, pomegranate, pineapple, and other tarty alternatives come with their acidity.

The best way is to mix them with water and add them little by little to your recipe until you get the desired taste. You can add sweeteners like sugar, honey, maple syrup, or creams for even better results.