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11 Amazing Delicious Cointreau Substitutes You’ll Love

Cointreau is undoubtedly one of the most commonly used liqueurs. Whether you’re making cocktails or desserts, a bottle of Cointreau always comes in handy. However, sometimes you find out at the last minute that you’ve run out of it, and in those moments, having a good cointreau alternative on hand always saves the day. 

Up ahead, you’ll find the best Cointreau substitutes you can use for anything from margaritas to cosmopolitan cocktails.

What Is Cointreau?

Cointreau is a famous brand of triple sec, a class of orange-flavored liqueur often made with orange peels. 

It was first released in 1875 after French confectioner Adolph Cointreau and his brother Edouard Jean Cointreau perfected the recipe. Since then, the liqueur brand has taken off, with up to 13 million bottles sold each year.

As is common with most triple sec liqueur, Cointreau is made from a mixture of slightly bitter orange peels steeped in spirit and combined with powdered beet sugar and neutral spirit.

It is light on the palate and has a perfectly balanced taste that is both bitter and sweet. It also has notes of a rich citrus aroma due to essential oils released during the production process.

Cointreau is also very potent and contains up to 40% alcohol. It can be consumed neat (preferably on the rocks), although most people prefer to incorporate it into some kind of cocktail mixture.

In addition to cocktail drinks, Cointreau is also a common ingredient used in many dessert recipes and some orange-flavored sauces.

Although it is a staple you’ll find at most bars, Cointreau is actually traditionally enjoyed as an aperitif (pre-meal drink) to whet the appetite before the main course is served at dinner or a digestif ( After meal drink) which is meant to aid in digestion.

Now, as amazing as Cointreau is, sometimes, you don’t always have it on hand when you need it. So, we’re going to highlight the best replacements you can use in those moments. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Value TableCalories (Per 100g)
Triple Sec102
Grand Marnier- Cordon Rouge75
Curacao154
Orange Juice Concentrate148
Orange Extract47
Hesperidina35
Aurum86
Aperol154
Blue Curacao154
Orange Zest100
Picon44

1. Triple Sec

As we’ve mentioned above, triple sec is any type of orange-flavored liquid, which includes Cointreau. However, there is also a brand of liqueurs simply labeled as triple sec. 

Triple-sec liqueur is a great substitute for Cointreau. It is made from orange peels and has a straightforward citrusy flavor that mimics the taste of Cointreau very well. 

Triple sec is less potent than Cointreau and often has a lower alcohol content that falls below 30%, so it is usually less expensive than Cointreau.

Therefore, triple sec is an excellent choice if you want a more affordable replacement for Cointreau.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Cointreau with triple sec. However, if you want the same high alcohol content as Cointreau, you may have to use more triple sec as it typically contains less alcohol.

2. Grand Marnier – Cordon Rouge

Commonly known as just Grand Marnier, cordon rouge is an orange flavored liqueur made by the french brand Grand Marnier.

It is made from a combination of bitter orange alcohol and cognac brandy. Those ingredients give it a complex orange flavor with oaky and sweet vanilla notes. 

Just like Cointreau, Grand Marnier cordon rouge has a 40% alcohol content and can be consumed neat or added to cocktails.  It is a great substitute for Cointreau as the two have similar flavors and the same alcohol potency.

Grand Marnier is also a great liqueur for cooking, so if you’re making desserts or sauces that call for Cointreau, it is an ideal replacement. 

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting Cointreau with Grand Marnier cordon rouge. However, Grand Marnier tends to be much sweeter than Cointreau, so if you don’t want your drink or dish to be too sweet, then you may need to reduce the quantity. You can use half a cup for each cup of Cointreau required. 

3. Curacao

Curacao is a popular liqueur that gets its name from the Dutch Caribbean island where it was first made. It is an orange-flavored liqueur made from dried peels of the bitter laraha orange.

Curacao has a sweet orange taste with varying hints of bitterness, and depending on the brand; it can contain an alcohol content ranging from 15%- 40%. 

Since it has a bittersweet orange flavor, curacao makes a great substitute for Cointreau as the two taste very similar.

Just like Cointreau, Curacao is also often colorless, so if you replace one with the other, no one would even really notice the difference.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Cointreau with curacao.

RELATED: 10 Best Rum Substitutes For Baking & Cooking

4. Orange Juice Concentrate

Orange juice concentrate is a great substitute for Cointreau for those looking to cut out alcohol completely. It is also probably a more nutritional alternative to Cointreau as it contains vitamins C, E, and potassium. 

Adding orange juice concentrate to any drink will impart a fresh and sweet orange flavor, and when used in baked goods and desserts, it brings out a refreshing aroma that elevates the taste. 

How To Substitute

Use half a cup of orange juice concentrate for each cup of Cointreau when substituting. However, Orange juice concentrate has a slightly thick syrupy consistency, so if you are making a cocktail, you’ll need to add a bit of water to the mixture to lighten the consistency.

5. Orange Extract

Orange extract is a mixture containing concentrated orange flavors and alcohol. It is one of the best ways to impart a strong citrus flavor into any food or drink. 

It makes a great substitute for Cointreau if all you want is something to replicate that intense orange taste and aroma. It is the ideal substitute to use in baked goods and desserts, but you can also add it to any drink.

How To Substitute

When substituting, use three drops of orange extract for every two tablespoons of Cointreau required in a recipe.

6. Hesperidina

Hesperidina is an argentine liqueur made from bitter and sweet orange peels. This orange-flavored drink was first made in Buenos Aries in 1864 by an American Immigrant named Melville Sewell Bagley.

This liqueur has lots of flavonoids which give it great antioxidant properties. 

It has a herby and citrusy aroma but possesses a strong bitter-sweet orange taste, making it a great Cointreau substitute as they both have very similar flavors.

It is often mixed with tonic water, but it can be enjoyed plain or mixed into cocktails.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting Cointreau with Hesperidina.

7. Aurum

Aurum is a sweet Italian liqueur made from a mixture of brandy, herbs, and a citrus fruit infusion.  It has a strong citrus flavor and makes a great substitute for Cointreau. 

Aurum can be added to cocktails and pairs well with fruit juices but it can also be used in baking or making other desserts like ice cream.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting Cointreau with aurum.

8. Aperol

Apero is another Italian liqueur that makes an excellent substitute for Cointreau. It is made from a combination of bitter and sweet oranges, herbs, and rhubarb.

This mixture gives it a bitter and fruity flavor with floral undertones. Aperol has an orange-flavored taste similar to Cointreau, so the two can be used interchangeably.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Cointreau with Aperol.

9. Blue Curacao

https://in.pinterest.com/pin/71353975336591411/

Blue curacao is a type of curacao that has been combined with artificial coloring. It is one of the most popular forms of curacao, and it is a great Cointreau substitute for fun and colorful cocktails.

Like most curacao liquor, blue curacao has a bittersweet orange flavor reminiscent of Cointreau.

How To Substitute

When substituting Cointreau with blue curacao, use a 1:1 measurement ratio.

Blue curacao is a very versatile drink, and it can be used to make a wide variety of fun cocktails. If you’re unsure what drinks you can make with it, here is a video to give you some inspiration

RELATED: 9 Best Alcoholic And Non-Alcoholic Substitutes For Brandy In Cooking And Baking

10. Orange Zest

Orange zest is the colored portion of an orange peel, and it is filled with a slightly bitter and citrusy taste that replicates the flavor of Cointreau really well.

It is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in cooking or added to cocktails and mocktails.

Orange zest is also the best affordable last-minute substitute you can use, as all you’ll need is an orange and a grater.

However, when removing the zest, you’ll need to ensure you only take the yellow part, as the white portion is quite bitter and doesn’t have the best citrus flavor.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Cointreau with orange zest.

You’ll usually need to zest a fresh orange when using this option, so here’s a video to show you how to get fresh orange zest.

11. Picon

Picon is a French caramel-colored alcohol made from a mixture of fresh oranges, caramel, and alcohol. It was created by French distiller Gaetan Picon in 1937, and it is a very popular drink in many parts of France. 

Picon has a complex flavor with a citrusy taste and spicey notes of sweet caramel. It is a great substitute for Cointreau as it mimics the orange flavor really well.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing Cointreau with picon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Triple Sec And Cointreau The Same Thing?

Cointreau and triple sec are not exactly the same, although they have similar qualities. Triple sec often refers to a sub-group of orange-flavored liqueurs, so in that sense, Cointreau is a type of triple sec.

However, triple sec is also the name of a brand of a low-quality orange liqueur, so it is not the same as Cointreau. Cointreau is a different brand that is much stronger and higher in quality.

What Does Cointreau Taste Like?

Cointreau has a perfectly balanced bitter and sweet orange-forward flavor with aromatic notes of warm spices that give it a smooth finish.

Is Cointreau Sweeter Than Grand Marnier?

Grand Marnier is slightly sweeter than Cointreau because of the brandy used to make it.

Is Cointreau Necessary For A Margarita?

Cointreau is a popular component of margaritas, but it is not completely necessary as you can substitute it with other orange-flavored liqueur like Grand Marnier or Curacao.

Can You Replace Cointreau With Triple Sec In A Margarita?

Triple sec is great orange-flavored alcohol with flavors similar to Cointreau, so you can use it in place of Cointreau when making a margarita.

What Kind Of Alcohol Is Cointreau?

Cointreau is triple-sec alcohol which means it is an orange-flavored liqueur. It is also colorless and has an alcohol content of 40%

Can I Use Brandy Instead Of Cointreau?

Brandy is not really a good substitute for Cointreau. So, unless you want an entirely different flavor, it is best to avoid using brandy in a recipe that calls for Cointreau.

This is because brandy has a sweet oaky flavor that is quite different from the bittersweet citrusy flavor of Cointreau. 

If you’re really particular about using something with brandy, then Grand Marnier would be a better substitute, as it is an orange-flavored liqueur that also contains brandy.

Can You Replace Cointreau With Orange Juice?

Orange juice can be used as a replacement for Cointreau, especially If you want a nonalcoholic drink to add to a mocktail.

11 Amazing Delicious Cointreau Substitutes You’ll Love

5 from 5 votes
Prep time

2

minutes
Cooking time

3

minutes
Total time

5

minutes

In addition to cocktail drinks, Cointreau is also a common ingredient used in many dessert recipes and some orange-flavored sauces.

Ingredients

  • Triple Sec

  • Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge

  • Curacao

  • Orange Juice Concentrate

  • Orange Extract

  • Hesperidina

  • Aurum

  • Aperol

  • Blue Curacao

  • Orange Zest

  • Picon

Directions

  • Pick any substitute you prefer from the lists above.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your preferred substitute and use the proper ratio required while cooking.

Recipe Video

Jess Smith