Rosewater sounds like such a divine ingredient. Well, that’s because it is!
It’s an essential component to various baked goods and savory dishes, adding a hint of floral aroma from the popular flower.
It’s no wonder that rosewater is a favorite for cooks and a kitchen staple for many.
It’s also a traditional ingredient in certain cultural dishes.
However, we understand that rosewater isn’t common in all areas. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a good rosewater substitute!
Read on as we relay the best alternatives to rosewater for exotic recipes or yummy desserts!
- What’s Rosewater, Anyway!
- The 13 Best Substitutes For Rosewater You Might Not Know!
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
What’s Rosewater, Anyway!
Rosewater has been around since ancient times to flavor foods, featured in French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine.
It has a delicate yet distinct flavor made best for cooking, baking, and even preparing creams, cosmetics, and face cleansing waters!
Fun fact: Rosewater offers excellent benefits, such as soothing sore throats, enhancing the mood, and even soothing skin irritation! It also has anti0inflammator properties and vitamin C, so it can do more than just bring out your recipe's flavors.(*)
You can usually find rosewater for sale in your local grocery store, though there are areas that don’t commonly carry this product. That’s alright, as there are similar alternatives or those that carry different yet delicious aromas and flavors!
A rosewater substitute will suffice if you have no rosewater at home or can’t find it in the supermarket. Here are the best alternatives for every recipe!
The 13 Best Substitutes For Rosewater You Might Not Know!
1. Rosewater Essence
Rose essence is the most similar to rosewater, though it’s more concentrated. The liquid part will evaporate during the extraction process, leaving only the rose’s key juices. Think of it as a rose extract, and it’s sold in small bottles.
This is the best rosewater substitute but use it sparingly! For every two teaspoons of rosewater needed, use only half a teaspoon of rose essence.
2. Rose Oil
Rose oil is oil-based rose flavoring. Like rose essence, it’s more concentrated than rosewater, so 1-2 drops will go a long way. Taste test as you go and only add more if needed.
You can use rose oil for any dish and get the same aroma and flavor, but it may not be stable when hot since it’s made of oil. That means if you add this ingredient to a boiling dosh, the heat may change the flavor or remove it altogether. Prevent this from happening by adding it to the dish at the end of your cooking time and once it begins cooling down.
We recommend using rose oil for chocolate since you can’t add rosewater directly to solid chocolates. You can directly add rose oil to tempered chocolate coverture, making it great for making solid chocolate shapes, bars, or lollipops.
3. Rose-Flavored Tea
You can find rose-flavored teabags in your kitchen or the grocery store, either herbal or dark tea versions. These are great in flavoring dishes where you need to add water, using tea strainers or teabags.
To make a strong rose tea essence, use 2-3 teabags with 100ml of boiling water. Let it simmer for a few minutes to get the flavors out. We recommend using tea to color and flavor your dish, particularly in Turkish delights or rose-flavored milk puddings.
4. Crushed Rose Petals
Since rosewater is made from crushed rose petals anyway, this makes an excellent substitute! However, it will still depend on your recipe.
Try crushing fragrant rose petals into the dish, adding a hint of rose flavors. It won’t be as strong compared to rosewater, but if you’d like a rose-flavored dish, you get undertones of that floral flavor. Just make sure you get rose petals that haven’t been treated against diseases and that you don’t simply get rose petals near dusty environments or roads.
We recommend using this rosewater substitute in cooking, baking, or infusing cream for truffles. Some dishes allow you to leave the petals in as they will disintegrate, but you may need to take them out with a fine sieve when making ganache or other similar recipes.
5. Jamaica Flower Water
Jamaica flowers, also popularly known as hibiscus, are a fantastic rosewater substitute! Both come from flowers; this alternative offers a sweet, floral aroma to any dish. That said, remember that you’ll get different flavors.
Another advantage to using Jamaica flower water as a rosewater substitute is how these two have similar flavor intensity. You can use equal amounts of Jamaica flower water in recipes that call for rosewater.
6. Orange Flower Water
Orange water goes through a similar process as rosewater, but you use crushed orange flowers instead of rose petals.
As expected, you’ll get a fruitier and more citrusy flavor than floral. You don’t get the floral scent even if orange water gets its scent and aroma from orange flowers. So, if you like the citrus effect or want to try something new, you can use this as an effective rosewater substitute.
Pro-tip: For every teaspoon of rosewater, use a teaspoon of orange water and half a teaspoon of sugar. It gives off more sweetness and fruity scents that way!
7. Vanilla Extract
You most likely have a bottle of vanilla extract at home, waiting to be used. If not, you can at least easily find it on sale in supermarkets compared to rosewater. It’s one of the most common kitchen staples in every home!
Vanilla extract isn’t the best rosewater substitute, but it will do when you’re in a pinch. It doesn’t offer the distinct floral aroma and flavor, though vanilla extract has that sweet scent perfect for baked dishes.
Given its sweet scent, we don’t recommend this for savory recipes! Since it’s an extract, expect that a little goes a long way. Use only half the amount of vanilla extract a recipe requires.
8. Almond Extract
Alright, almond extract isn’t exactly the best rosewater substitute, but hey! It can work if you have it in the kitchen and you’re out of ideas.
Plus, almond extract is found in Middle Eastern dishes because of its sweetness. We like almond extract in baked dishes because of the sweet, nutty flavor and aroma, though like some alternatives here, there are no floral notes.
Given its concentrated flavor, a few drops will go a long way.
9. Lavender Essence
Now, who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? And did you know that its aroma is similar to rosewater?
Not only can lavender brighten up a room with its aroma (like rosewater), but it also works amazingly in dishes and desserts that require rosewater. They also have a similar flavor!
So, if you want to have a sweet taste and aroma to dishes, lavender essence or extract works best, you can use equal amounts of it in your recipe.
10. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice doesn’t offer the same floral effects rosewater offers, though it offers a zesty tang, which many appreciate. However, lemon juice is TOO citrusy for some, and if you feel the same way, mix half a teaspoon of sugar for every teaspoon of lemon juice.
Instead of being too citrusy, the sugar and lemon juice mixture gives off a sweeter effect and removes the bitterness. However, we only recommend using this in savory recipes rather than desserts. So, think of toppings, seasonings, salad dressings, and vinaigrette, among others.
Pro-tip: No lemon? No problem! Use lime or oranges; they will give off similar effects.
Cardamom also works as an interesting rosewater substitute because of the spicy taste. It isn’t a popular alternative with its unique flavor profile, but it does the job in savory recipes, particularly with beef and chicken.
Cardamom’s flavor is a bit more potent in food, but it doesn’t match rosewater’s level. Because of that, you’ll need to use a bit more cardamom.
Cinnamon is a popular spice for baking, which you most likely already have in your kitchen! It’s sweet, aromatic, and provides the warmth you can’t find in other spices. Because of that, it makes a good rosewater substitute.
But as you probably already know, cinnamon doesn’t have the floral flavors you may desire. The silver lining is cinnamon’s sweetness, which can make up for it, so you might not notice the difference.
Pro-tip: Cinnamon is much stronger and sweeter, so avoid overusing it in desserts. Use half the amount a recipe calls for to prevent an overly sweet dish.
If you are cooking recipes from Southeast Asian cuisines, you may have heard of Pandan, a popular herbaceous plant in tropical regions. A noteworthy attribute of Pandan is its sweet aroma, which makes it an excellent rosewater substitute.
While Pandan isn’t the most popular or common compared to other options here, this ingredient can give one of the closest flavors rosewater offers. However, it’s worth noting the different fragrances and colors, though many people may not even notice the difference.
14. Homemade Rosewater
Yes, you can make homemade rosewater! Here’s a simple recipe to follow:
- Ten stems of medium-sized roses
- Two liters of distilled water
- Two airtight jars or bottles
- Remove the rose petals from their stems, then transfer them to a sizable strainer. Wash the petals with lukewarm water, removing any dirt or chemicals.
- Transfer your washed petals to a large pot and add the distilled water.
- Bring the pot of rose petals and water to a boil over medium heat. Once it begins boiling, cover your pot to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- After simmering, strain the rose petals from the water and discard them. Set the water aside, allowing it to cool down.
- Once your rosewater cools down, store it in an airtight bottle or jar. Wait for two weeks before it’s ready to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you still left with questions about rosewater? Check out these frequently asked questions:
1. Where do you use rosewater?
Rosewater has numerous common purposes, such as:
- You can cook with rosewater, particularly in Middle Eastern recipes. It provides enjoyable floral sweetness to dishes, enhancing its aroma in savory dishes, desserts, and cocktails.
- Rosewater is one of the most accessible toners for daily skincare routines. We recommend using rosewater for your skin to experience a serene, soothing effect.
- Add a few drops of rosewater to your shampoo and conditioner, which helps hydrate your hair and enhance the fragrance.
- Rosewater is also effective as a mouthwash, as it can fight against inflammation and microbes.
- Use rosewater as a base for perfumes to elevate the fragrance. It’s also great for your laundry to improve your clothes’ scent!
Fun fact: Most types of rosewater are calorie-free, with those mixed with alcohol only containing around 15 calories per teaspoon.
2. What recipes feature rosewater?
Rosewater is a common ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, particularly desserts. It has a delicate floral flavor and aroma, bringing out any recipe’s sweetness and balancing tart ingredients. These are some of the recipes you can find rosewater in:
- Rosewater milk pudding
- Rosewater and raspberry sponge cake
- Semolina cake
- Panna cotta
- Turkish delight
- Apricot almond pilaf
- Rosewater salad dressing
- And many more!
Pro-Tip: If you’re like to use a rosewater substitute for skincare, then we highly recommend using cucumber water, apple cider vinegar, lemon water, green tea, aloe water, or buttermilk. These are known for their skin health benefits, like rosewater! (*)
What’s the best rosewater substitute for Turkish delight?
The best rosewater substitutes for this popular dessert are lavender, lemon, orange, or raspberry. You can also mix these with nuts like pistachios, walnuts, or hazelnuts.
Granted, these alternatives won’t taste like roses, but they have floral undertones and will work amazingly in your dessert!
Wrapping It Up
Rosewater is a fantastic ingredient used for many applications, from cooking to skincare! If you have none of it around, not to worry. You can always use a handy rosewater substitute from our list above.
We hope our article helped you find the perfect alternative! If you found this post helpful, check out more of what we have to offer on our blog now.