Orange juice is delicious in recipes, but if you don't have it on hand, there are plenty of options to replace it while keeping a similar flavor and results. Here are the 12 best substitutes for orange juice!
Picture this – it’s a Monday night, you stopped at the grocery store on the way home from a long day at work to get ingredients for dinner, you walk into your kitchen, and then realize you forgot to pick up oranges to juice for your recipe.
No need to fear, because if you have one or more of the following liquids in your refrigerator or cabinet, you can use that to substitute the orange juice your recipe calls for!
In this post, we will cover five fruit juices that can be used in place of orange juice, as well as seven other non-juice potential substitutes that you likely already have in your pantry.
It’s important to remember that these substitutes are not one-to-one ratio substitutes for orange juice. Some will be naturally sweeter than orange juice, less acidic, or somewhere in between. Be sure to taste your replacements as you go before adding to your recipe!
Why Include Orange Juice in Recipes
Oranges are easy to juice, slightly acidic, cheap to pick up at the grocery store, and a favorite of so many (including myself!) to include in their cooking arsenal. Orange juice is commonly found in all kinds of recipes from meat marinades to salad dressings to cocktails to dessert batters.
The natural sugar found in oranges sweetens up any recipe without adding additional or artificial sugar. Plus, those perfect citrus notes add a bright and light flavor to whatever you have planned to make.
Orange juice pairs well with just about any other fruit or fruit juice by adding sweetness without dominating its accompaniment and its versatility is unmatched. That’s why it’s used so often in my recipes, from meat dishes to smoothies and more.
Juice Substitutes for Orange Juice
In my experience, using a juice substitute for orange juice is going to be your best bet. While there are non-juice substitutes, they do not account for the slight tartness that some oranges have.
It’s also important to remember what you are using it for. Some recipes may be okay with any substitute, but some may have a drastically different flavor or result. With baked goods, I highly recommend using a juice substitute, but sauces, meats and smoothies will be okay with non-juice substitutes.
When in doubt, try a one-to-one ratio, meaning to substitute for as much as called for of orange juice. It may take some testing and the flavor may be slightly to extremely different.
Lemon juice is probably the most common and cheapest substitute for orange juice. Lemons provide the same citrus flavor and acidity that oranges offer, and even replicate the tartness that certain oranges provide. When combined with simple syrup to account for the sweetness of oranges, you have a perfect mixture to swap out your orange juice for.
For a complete list of different oranges’ flavor profiles, read here.
Grapefruit juice is a great substitute for orange juice but results in a slightly more tart taste. Because grapefruits yield so much juice, like oranges, you can likely use a 1-to-1 ratio as a substitute. Like the lemon juice, you may want or need to add a simple syrup or sugar alternative to account for the sweetness that oranges have.
If you are trying to replicate the sweetness of orange juice, pineapple is a great go-to juice replacement. Pineapple juice will also provide a tropical twist to chicken, pork, seafood, or just about any other type of meat for marinating or glazing.
While never exact because the individual fruit will vary, a general rule of thumb is that pineapple juice is twice as sweet as orange juice, therefore I recommend using half as much pineapple juice as orange juice (depending on the recipe). Be sure to taste as you go!
You can also dilute your pineapple juice with water to even out the sweetness, just keep your total liquid content in mind if mixing with water – don’t water down whatever you are making!
Cranberry juice, much like lemon juice, will provide a bright and tart flavor to your dish in place of orange juice. It is often more acidic, so be sure to keep that in mind when subbing cranberry juice into your recipe (cranberry juice measures around 2.4 on the pH scale whereas orange juice can measure anywhere from 3.5-4.0, depending on the orange used).
To even out the acidity if needed, add sugars (honey, simple syrup, or sugar), water, citrus zest, or even baking soda to the cranberry juice.
White Grape Juice
For a more subtle flavor with an underlying fruity taste, white grape juice is a great option. White grape juice is sweeter than standard grape juice but its tartness and intensity is more mild. Opt for a store bought grape juice that does not have added sugars.
Overall, it tastes less like grapes than red grape juice and serves as a subdued, sweet replacement for orange juice.
Non-Juice Substitutes for Orange Juice
While different fruit juices can mirror the sweetness of orange juice, you can also substitute orange juice for other liquids that aren’t fruit juice at all. These additions may not replicate the taste of orange juice, but their chemical properties can serve the same functions that orange juice does. This includes marinades to tenderize tough meats, provide acidity to sauces or dressings, or create balanced and delicious glazes for fish or chicken!
When in doubt, try water! While it adds no taste whatsoever, it can be a neutral liquid to substitute for orange juice. If making a smoothie or juice, or even sauces, water can be a good starting point. Make sure that the recipe includes stronger flavors of other ingredients, otherwise you may not get the result you want.
Apple Cider Vinegar or Vinegar
When used conservatively, vinegar or apple cider vinegar can replicate the acidity provided by orange juice. I recommend diluting the vinegar in water to tone down the acidity while also mimicking the tartness of orange juice.
Apple cider vinegar will be a bit sweeter than regular vinegar, but just remember that it still will not replace the overall sweetness of orange juice.
Clear soda such as sparkling water, Sprite or ginger ale contribute a sweetness and unique carbonation to recipes that require orange juice. Soda can be overly sweet, however, so either dilute your soda in water or simply use less soda than you would use orange juice.
For marinating meat, you can substitute for light beer, as this will tenderize or marinate the meat as orange juice would. Since orange juice is a lighter, fresher liquid, I recommend trying a lighter beer versus a heavy ale.
Coconut water is a great substitute for orange juice, especially in desserts or tropical recipes that require sweetness. While not overly sweet, coconut water adds just enough of a sugary taste along with a bit of coconut flavor that can either replace orange juice in your recipe, or be added alongside orange juice to enhance any tropical dish.
In savory recipes or with hearty meat dishes, either chicken broth or beef broth can serve as a replacement for orange juice. Broth is great for marinating meats and creating glazes for meat or vegetables, but it does not provide any sort or sweetness.
Just remember a beef broth may add a more deep flavor to any replacement recipe you make, whereas chicken or vegetable stock have a lighter flavor.
Honey or an easy simple syrup replicate the sweet flavor of orange juice, but do not add any notes of citrus or much acidity. Simply mix equal parts honey, maple syrup, or sugar with water over low heat and stir until combined to create a simple syrup for cooking or cocktails.
To tone down the sweetness, add more water to your mixture.
Using this guide, you can now be confident to substitute orange juice with something else that you likely already have on hand!
While there's no perfect substitute for orange juice, there are plenty of options to replace it in tons of recipes. Be sure to taste your substitute as you go to ensure the correct balance of sweetness and acidity, and don’t be afraid to try something new!