When you hear the word “Cointreau,” you’re probably thinking, “Woah, nope, too fancy, I don’t have that!”
Don’t worry, we thought the same thing, and it does sound fancy and hard to get in the liquor store. Some of you may even know it and just ran out in the kitchen or grew sick of the taste (hey, it happens).
So, what can you use instead?
Well, just like other kinds of liquors, there are great Cointreau substitutes you can use without having to compromise on flavor and texture.
Please take a look at the best Cointreau substitutes here on our list!
- The Best Cointreau Substitute
- The Best Non-Alcoholic Cointreau Substitute
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
The Best Cointreau Substitute
Cointreau may not be readily available in your supermarket or kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to chuck your recipe or omit the ingredient altogether.
To achieve the flavor and texture you want, then here are the best Cointreau substitutes you can use:
1. Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier is a French liqueur made with cognac, triple sec, and some sugar. Since Grand Marnier contains cognac, it has a sweeter and heavier taste profile with an amber-gold color. However, it’s still the best Cointreau substitute for your recipes.
These two orange liqueurs have a lot in common, which is why you can use them as a good substitute for one another. Both are orange-flavored and sweetened with natural sugars and have 40% alcohol content or 80 proof. However, Grand Marnier has a stronger and deeper tone with just a hint of oaky sweetness, making it less ideal for Sangria or White Ladies.
You aren’t limited to making beverages with Grand Marnier; you can also create sauces and other delicious dishes. However, you’ll need to add half the amount first when you substitute for Cointreau, adding more until you reach your desired flavor.
2. Triple Sec
Cointreau has a variety of triple sec so that you can use these two interchangeably in cocktail recipes. “Sec” means dry in French, so triple sec literally means triple distilled or triple dry.
Triple sec is a kind of clear liqueur made of brandy, distilled water, and orange peels. Triple is a more neutral spirit than Cointreau, with a lower alcohol content ranging from 20-40%. We love using triple sec to replace Cointreau for margaritas with its strong, mildly bitter, and citrusy flavor.
3. Orange Curacao
The traditional orange curacao is made using a special type of orange too bitter to consume. Then, people discovered sundried peels with a pleasant fragrance added to the sugar brandy base. It’s what created the distinctive spirit we’re aware of today.
There are so many different kinds of curacao, depending on the color. Regardless of color, they all share the same flavor. Curacao is slightly bitter, running on a sweeter side. It has a moderate alcohol content of 15-40%.
4. Luxardo Triplum
Luxardo Triplum is another classic triple sec from Italia, made of three kinds of dried orange peels: mandarins, sweet oranges, and curacao. As a result, you get a perfectly balanced sweet and bitter flavor with a lovely aroma.
But compared to Cointreau, Luxardo Triplum is more mature and on the drier side, with a floral note setting it apart from the rest.
5. Combier Liqueur D’Orange
Many orange liqueurs, such as Combier Liqueur D’Orange, are part of the French heritage. It’s distilled from French sugar beets and orange peels, similar to Cointreau. Combier has a pure and clear character with a bright citrus flavor. You can use this as a Cointreau substitute in many classic cocktails and recipes.
The only difference between Combier and Cointreau is that the former has a subtle bitter tinge. When served near, Combier is on the sweeter and semi-dry side.
6. Regular Rum
Regular or spiced rum are great options for playing with as a Cointreau substitute. While it isn’t as orange-y as Cointreau, you’ll enjoy the variety of spices in the drink.
We recommend using it as a Cointreau substitute for savory dishes and desserts. It’s also very accessible and easy to find without spending a lot.
7. Orange-Flavored Liqueur
Cointreau and other orange-flavored liquors mentioned above may be difficult to find, but there are different types of liquors to use. You can find any other orange-flavored or similar sweet citrus liquor as a substitute. These can be more affordable and found in your local liquor store.
We recommend orange-flavored vodka mixed with a bit of lemon juice and sugar.
8. Patron Citronge
Patron citrange originates from a Mexican distillery and is considered a premium reserve made of dried peels of Jamaican sweet oranges and Haitian bittersweet oranges from a neutral spirit flavored with sugar.
Expect a balanced bittersweet and zesty citrus flavor. It’s great for margaritas and tequila-based beverages. We love its delicate, fruity alcohol that replaces Cointreau well.
Bols is a triple sec drink, making it a great Cointreau substitute, too. Besides oranges, it has unique flavors, such as hints of cloves and cinnamon. However, it might be too sweet for specific dishes, and it’s more of a full-on intense orange flavor, so take note of this.
We recommend Bols as a flavoring for glazes, marinades, and desserts, along with cocktails like cosmopolitans.
The Best Non-Alcoholic Cointreau Substitute
If you’re not allowed to take alcohol or consume it for other personal reasons, you can create mocktails and other recipes calling for Cointreau. Here are non-alcoholic substitutes you can try:
10. Orange Juice Concentrate
Orange juice or orange juice concentrate works excellently as the best Cointreau substitute without alcohol. However, it may take some experimenting to achieve your desired flavor profile. Besides orange juice or concentrate, you can use orange flower water and orange oil.
We recommend reducing it to a syrup before using it in your recipe when using orange juice. The reduction will condense the flavor, making a better Cointreau alternative.
Plus, it’s easy to access, very affordable, and you can make it yourself with fresh oranges at home.
11. Orange Zest
Besides orange juice, you can use orange zest, too. It takes time and effort to get the proper balance, so we recommend experimenting before using it in your recipe. Furthermore, avoid catching the white pith as it can taste very bitter.
12. Orange Extract
While orange extract doesn’t have a similar flavor profile as Cointreau, it does just the trick. You can also add spices like nutmeg and cinnamon for a more accurate taste.
You can also use this in savory dishes and desserts, if not cocktails. We love how it can brighten up icing, batters, beverages, and buttercream!
It’s easily accessible and works in a pinch. Just make sure you use one teaspoon of extract for every tablespoon of Cointreau.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t worry; we’ve got more in store for you! Learn more about Cointreau and substitute it with our frequently asked questions:
1. What is Cointreau?
Cointreau is not a brandy but a triple sec orange-flavored liqueur distilled by mixing it with oranges or bitter and sweet variants with alcohol made of beet sugar. It’s colorless, and has a strong flavor, with just enough sweetness.
2. What cocktails can I do with Cointreau?
Cointreau is a famous alcoholic beverage used in popular cocktails, like cosmopolitans, margaritas, and more drinks like:
- Mai Tais
- Long Island Iced Tea
- The Singapore Sling
- The Black Dahlia
Besides using it on cocktails, you can also use it in certain desserts and sauces. There are recipes like meringue, cranberry relish, cake, brownies, as a glaze, and more!
The French spirit brings depth and freshness into the food, thanks to the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, whether for drinks or food. It also has high amounts of essential oils, so you get aromatic notes without adding sugar.
3. Can I drink Cointreau on its own?
Yes, you can drink Cointreau on its own, enjoying the flavor profile. Personally, we best enjoy this alcoholic beverage when mixed as a cocktail. We usually enjoy Cointreau as an aperitif or digestif.
Cointreau contains about 40% alcohol, more or less, depending on the variant you purchase. While strong as a liqueur, it’s manageable when consumed moderately. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as an alcohol-free Cointreau.
4. How can I substitute Cointreau with orange liqueur?
You can substitute Cointreau adequately, depending on what you need it for. Here are tips to follow when choosing your alternative:
- Cointreau has a strong alcohol content, so if you use it for a cocktail, get as close to 80 proof unless you want to reduce the alcohol content.
- Bottles would indicate whether the flavors are from sweet or bitter oranges or both. Note that Cointreau is dry and not too sweet, coming in different varieties.
- Orange liqueurs are becoming more popular, with numerous distilleries putting signature flavors to them. Unless you want to experiment, ensure you have no added spices in your liqueur.
Wrapping It Up
We hope you found the best Cointreau substitute you need for your recipes. Whether using distilled spirits or orange peel, experiment with these ingredients for your dishes. Happy cooking, and learn more about using different ingredients here in our blog!