Easy Homemade Orange Extract for Baking & More

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Add the bright, tangy flavors of orange into your baking and cooking with this easy orange extract recipe. Once you know how to make orange extract from scratch, you’ll want to make a bunch of citrus extracts!

bottle of homemade orange extract on a wooden table.

The first time I made pure orange extract, I found myself adding it to everything! Who knew it would taste so good in iced tea, homemade ice cream, and salad dressings? The high alcohol content creates a potent orange flavoring, so a small amount goes a long way with this type of extract.

Many brands you find in grocery stores are actually imitation extracts that use artificial flavors and food coloring, so making it yourself is always the best way. Not to mention, this flavorful extract makes a great DIY gift (so you can never have too much orange extract on hand)!

What is Orange Extract?

Citrus extracts are some of the easiest homemade extracts to make! The peel is loaded with flavor oils, which are slowly extracted into the alcohol. 

It’s less concentrated than orange oil and completely unsweetened, unlike orange liqueur, and is the best way to add orange flavor to your scones, muffins, and more.

Why you’ll love this orange extract recipe


  • SO EASY TO MAKE – With just two simple ingredients, this recipe is incredibly low maintenance. All you really need is a spare jar and a bit of patience!
  • ADD ORANGE FLAVOR ANYTIME – Having your own orange extract on hand is super convenient! With easy access to this versatile ingredient, you’d be surprised how many recipes you can enhance with this orange extract flavor.
  • PRESERVE THE HARVEST – Whether you grow your own oranges or stock up at the farmer’s market, pure extracts are a wonderful way to preserve that orange essence for later. I like to make a batch once a year during the winter citrus season!

Equipment

To make this orange extract, you’ll need:

  • Pint or half-pint mason jar
  • Paring knife
  • Small strainer & funnel (optional)
ingredients for homemade orange extract.

Ingredients

  • Orange peel – Choose organic oranges to avoid pesticides and waxes. You only want the rind, not the bitter white pith. You can either use a zester or grater for this process or just shave it off carefully with a paring knife.
  • Vodka – Choose a high-proof neutral spirit like vodka or Everclear.

How to Make Orange Extract

  1. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin from your orange. Avoid the pith as much as possible.
  2. Add the peels to your glass jar. Cover with alcohol.
  3. Shake the jar daily. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks.
  4. Once the extract has a strong orange scent, strain out the peels and store the extract in a jar with an airtight seal.
  5. For an even stronger extract, restart the process with new orange peels.

Storing

After straining, store the homemade extract in an airtight container, like a small clean jar or glass bottle, in a cool place out of direct sunlight. I prefer to use amber glass bottles as these can help prevent the sunlight from degrading the extract.

Don’t use plastic bottles, as the alcohol can degrade the plastic, causing chemicals to leech into your extract.

For best results, use within a year or two. Extracts can last a long time!

Tips & Variations

  • Go organic. Since we’re using the orange rind, I recommend using organic citrus to avoid waxes and preservatives.
  • Experiment with different types of oranges. I typically use navel oranges for this recipe, but blood oranges and mandarins also taste amazing!
  • Use vegetable glycerin for an alcohol-free extract. While food-grade vegetable glycerin can get expensive (~$40+ per gallon of organic food-grade glycerin), it’s one of the best substitutes for those who don’t use alcohol in their house.
  • Try other citrus fruits. From limes to lemons to grapefruits, this recipe works well with any citrus fruit!
  • Use the leftover orange to make fresh juice or marmalade. Or you could just eat the orange slices, of course! Though, orange marmalade is another great way to enjoy this unique flavor while giving your oranges a shelf life.
  • Make a perfect hostess gift! Homemade citrus extracts are a great pantry addition for any baking lover or home chef. The flavor of orange extract enhances sweet dishes and savory dishes alike.
  • Substitute for orange liqueur. The extract has a stronger flavor, so use 1 teaspoon of orange extract for every 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur. Thin it out with water as needed.

How to Use Orange Extract

This homemade orange extract pairs well with a variety of different flavors, so the possibilities are endless. Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:

mason jar with homemade orange extract recipe.

FAQs

How much orange extract to use?

It varies, of course, depending on the recipe and the desired potency of flavor, but generally, 1 teaspoon of orange extract equals 1 tablespoon of dried orange peel. It’s also about 12 times as potent as fresh orange juice. I like to use it as an alternative to vanilla extract, so usually just 1 teaspoon per recipe.

Can orange extract be substituted for orange zest?

Absolutely! It’s generally recommended to use half a teaspoon of extract for every 1 teaspoon of zest.

What is orange extract made from?

Orange extract is made from the orange part of the peel and a strong, neutral alcohol, like vodka. The vodka extracts the flavor oils from the orange peels so you can give any recipe a citrusy twist. Always avoid the white pith as much as possible by using a peeler, grater, or paring knife. It has a bitter flavor that can ruin your extract.

Related Recipes

If you enjoy this orange extract, you will love these other homemade extract recipes:

jar of homemade orange extract on a wooden surface.
bottle of homemade orange extract.

Homemade Orange Extract Recipe

This homemade orange extract recipe is one of my most commonly used extracts! It adds a punch of orange flavor to your favorite scones, muffins, and more and only requires two simple ingredients. Great for baking all year long!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Infusing Time 21 days
Course Baking
Cuisine American

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1-2 organic oranges, zest or peel only

Instructions
 

  • Peel or grate the skin from the orange. Avoid the white pith.
  • Place the peels in your glass jar. Cover with alcohol.
  • Shake the jar daily and store it in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks.
  • Once the extract has a strong orange aroma, strain out the peels and store the extract in a jar.
  • For an even stronger extract, restart the process with a new batch of orange peels or zest and the finished extract from the first round of infusing. Allow the mixture rest for 2-3 weeks again, then strain out the peels and store the extract in a glass bottle.

Notes

After straining, store the homemade orange extract in an airtight container, like a small clean jar or glass bottle, in a cool place out of direct sunlight. I prefer to use amber glass bottles as these can help prevent the sunlight from degrading the extract. For best flavor, use the orange extract within 1-2 years.
Keyword homemade orange extract recipe, how to make orange extract
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