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Orange liqueur recipe: Homemade Triple sec

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Homemade Orange liqueur, also known as Triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier, is a type of liqueur made from orange peel and a neutral spirit, such as vodka or brandy.

What is an orange liqueur?

Flavored with oranges, Orange liqueur is a sweetened distilled spirit made of orange peel and neutral alcohol. Known for its sweet, citrusy flavor, this liqueur is often used to add a subtle orange flavor to cocktails, desserts or savory dishes.

Homemade orange liqueur

Why Make your Own Orange Liqueur?

Although purchasing this orange liqueur from a store may be more straightforward, you can avoid unwanted preservatives or artificial flavors by making it yourself.

If you enjoy cooking and experimenting with different flavors, making your own liqueurs can be a fun and rewarding experience. I love to select the best ingredients and create something unique and delicious.

People that grow their citrus trees and want to preserve the citruses for later appreciate this recipe. I like to make it when I squeeze the juice and have leftover peels. When oranges are in season, I like to dehydrate them, make orange cordial or use them for decoration.

This recipe lasts for several months when kept refrigerated, and I use it whenever I need an orange flavor – in tea, or in baking.

What is an orange liqueur?

Ingredients

Oranges

Opt for organic oranges that are of wax. Although the wax is safe to eat, you better de-wax nonorganic oranges before zesting. Just pour hot water over citruses in a colander and scrub them with a brush to remove the e wax coating. Dry them before zesting.

The navel or Valencia oranges are the best choices for orange liqueur. They have sweet and juicy flesh, which makes them the perfect addition to a liqueur. They also contain plenty of essential oils that give the liqueur a refreshing and robust taste.

Alcohol

You can select alcohol such as vodka or rum as the base for your liqueur. Vodka will allow the citrus flavor to shine, while rum will add distinct notes to the final product. 

You can also use grain alcohol, such as Everclear which is a high-proof alcohol that does not have any distinct flavor. This means it is a good choice if you want the orange flavor to be the dominant taste in your liqueur.

How to make orange liqueur

See recipe card for quantities.

How to make orange liqueur

Making homemade liqueur is easy however requires patience.

First step: Wash Your Oranges!

Rinse the oranges thoroughly with clean water and dry them with a clean towel before using the orange zest for the liqueur.

Ensure you’re using organic fruits if you are concerned about pesticides.

peeling oranges

Second step: Zest the Oranges

The zest is where most of the orange’s flavorful oils are concentrated.

You can use various tools to zest the citruses, such as a vegetable peeler, a zester, or a grater.

Make sure you are only getting the orange part of the rind; the white pith makes the liqueur bitter.

Tips for homemade orange liqueur

Third step: Make an extract

Place the zest in a clean bottle or mason jar, and pour vodka over so the zest is submerged in the liquid. Add lemon slices on the top, close the bottle or jar with a lid, and place it in a cool and dark place for 30 days. Over time, the alcohol will absorb the flavors from the orange peel and turn into bright orange color. After one month, strain the liquid through the cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer.

making orange extract

Fourth step: Make a syrup

Over medium heat, boil the sugar and water in a saucepan. Add cinnamon sticks and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

What is the difference between triple sec and Cointreau?

Fifth step: – Combine orange extract with the syrup

Combine orange extract with the syrup, and mix it well.

The syrup will turn the liquid cloudy and pale orange, which is what you aim for. Let it rest for a while so that any sediment will fall to the bottom. Then, use a funnel to ladle the orange extract into a sterilized bottle with a lid.

Note: If you have used grain alcohol, double the water in this recipe.

Note: If you have used grain alcohol, double the water in this recipe.

Homemade Triple sec

Substitutions

  • Sugar – Adjust the sweetness to your taste: Start with a small amount of sugar, and add more to taste. Any kid of sugar will work, brown sugar may affect the color of final orange extract. You can also experiment with sweeteners like honey or agave nectar.
  • Fruits – Experiment with different fruits: Try other oranges such as Valencia, navel, or blood oranges to see which one you prefer. This liqueur is similar to limoncello, which uses lemons instead.
  • Alcohol – You can use Everclear instead of vodka or rum. Please note that it is exceptionally potent, with an alcohol content of 95% or 190 proof, so you’ll want to dilute it properly. A general rule of thumb is to use a 1:1 ratio of Everclear to water or other liquid, such as simple syrup or orange juice. Every part of Everclear uses one amount of water or another nonalcoholic drink.

Variations

If you’re feeling adventurous, mix up a special batch with some extra spices or flavorings. Add other herbs and spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg, to add depth and complexity to the flavor.

Equipment

  • fine mesh strainer
  • funnel
  • 1-liter bottle
  • saucepan
tools you need for orange liqueur

How to store homemade orange liqueur?

Store the liqueur in a clean, sterile bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. This will help to prevent the liqueur from losing its flavor or becoming cloudy. Label the bottle with the date you made it. This orange liqueur recipe can typically last for up to a year, but it’s always best to check it regularly and consume it before it starts losing its flavor.

Top tip

Label the bottle with the date you made it, so you know when to consume it.

Orange extract
Orange extract

Orange liqueur cocktails

Here are cocktail recipes that call for orange liqueur.

Margarita is made with tequila, your liqueur, and lime juice. Or Hawaiian margarita where you use pineapple juice and coconut water. If you are into Margaritas you have to try these refreshing mixed berry Margaritas.

Cosmopolitan is my favorite. All you need is a shaker with ice filled with vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and lime juice.

By the way, Tequila and cranberry juice make a festive cocktail for holiday parties.

If you replace cranberry juice with pineapple juice you will make a Caribbean Nights Cocktail.

Sidecar is a classic cocktail drink made with cognac, your homemade liqueur, and lemon juice.

Classic Mimosa uses a winning combination of fresh orange juice, orange liqueur, and bubbly champagne.

This nectarine cocktail made with sparkling rose wine is a great summer drink.

To make a White Lady just mix gin, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.

And lastly Screwdriver with orange juice and vodka with a splash of orange liqueur.

Why Make your Own Orange Liqueur?

Desserts you can serve with orange liqueur

Orange liqueur can be a delicious addition to various desserts, adding a bright, citrusy flavor. Here are a few ideas of desserts you can serve with orange liqueur:

Chocolate orange truffles: Mix orange liqueur with dark chocolate and roll into balls for a decadent treat.

French Chocolate Orange Tart is a healthy dessert infused with the zest of bright, fresh oranges, orange liqueur, and cooled in a gluten-free almond chocolate tart crust

Add it to the cheesecake batter, crepe batter or to the graham cracker crust for a delicious citrus twist.

Mix your liqueur with juice and sugar for a refreshing sorbet.

Add the liqueur to this almond cream cake or to the filling for a delicious citrus flavor.

Orange creamsicle Cocktail is a dessert in liquid form taht combine orange liqueur with milk, orange juice, and whipped cream.

Mix the liqueur with custard for a delicious and creamy dessert.

Poach these apricot bites in orange liqueur and serve with a vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Combine it with eggs, sugar, butter, and orange juice to make a delicious curd that can be used as a tart filling or as a topping for cakes or pancakes.

Mix it with a classic lemon meringue pie filling for a citrus twist.

Remember that a little goes a long way with liqueur, so it is best to start with a small amount and adjust to taste.

FAQ

What is the difference between triple sec and Cointreau?

There are several types of orange liqueurs. While the orange base is the same, there are some differences. DIY orange liqueur is a cost-effective alternative to expensive top-shelf brands like Grand Marnier or Cointreau.


Cointreau is made from a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels and is considered a higher quality than triple sec which is traditionally made from bitter orange peels.


Cointreau has a higher alcohol content than a most triple sec, usually at 40% alcohol by volume, while triple sec is usually bottled at around 15-30% alcohol by volume. While triple sec has a sweeter and less complex flavor, Cointreau stands out with its well-balanced, smooth, and complex flavor.
Orange curaçao, on the other hand, is very similar and focuses on dried bitter orange peels. If you add brandy, it becomes a replica of darker orange liqueurs like Grand Marnier.

ingredients you need for orange liqueur
Yield: 20 serving

Orange liqueur recipe: Homemade Triple sec

Orange liqueur recipe

Homemade Orange liqueur, also known as Triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier, is a type of liqueur made from orange peel and a neutral spirit, such as vodka or brandy.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 days
Total Time 30 days 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 organic oranges
  • 2 cups (500 ml, 16 oz) vodka, brandy or rum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Rinse the oranges thoroughly with clean water and dry them with a clean towel before using the orange zest for the liqueur. Ensure you're using organic fruits if you are concerned about pesticides.
  2. The zest is where most of the orange's flavorful oils are concentrated. You can use various tools to zest the citruses, such as a vegetable peeler, a zester, or a grater. Make sure that you are only getting the orange part of the rind, white pith makes the liqueur bitter,
  3. Place the zest in a clean bottle or mason jar, and pour vodka over so the zest is submerged in the liquid. Add orange slices on the top, close the bottle or jar with a lid, and place it in a cool and dark place for 30 days. Over time, the alcohol will absorb the flavors from the orange peel and turn into bright orange color. After one month, strain the liquid through the cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer.
  4. Over medium heat, combine the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Add cinnamon sticks to a saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Combine orange extract with the syrup, and mix it well. The syrup will turn the liquid cloudy and pale orange, which is what you aim for. Let it rest for a while so that any sediment will fall to the bottom. Then, use a funnel to ladle the orange extract into a sterilized bottle with a lid.

    Notes

    Note: If you have used grain alcohol, double the water in this recipe.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    20

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 67Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 0g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

    Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

    Vladka Merva on January 28th, 2023

    9 Comments on “Orange liqueur recipe: Homemade Triple sec”

    1. This is such a great recipe, especially in conjunction with other drinks. I will no longer be buying orange liqueur from a store!

      Reply
    2. I can’t believe how easy this is to make your own liqueur! Definitely going to come back to this for the holidays to make a bunch of DIY gifts.

      Reply
    3. I have been experimenting with new recipes and loved this one. I used it in my dessert recipe yesterday and a cocktail we served. Will be making this again for sure.

      Reply
    4. Oh my word, I had NO idea you could make this homemade until I came across this recipe – now I’ll NEVER go back to the prepared stuff! My GOSH this is SO LOVELY and SO TASTY! Thank you SO SO much!

      Reply
    5. Oh yes, this was a super delicious fresh liqueur with dinner yesterday. My husband was a huge fan of it. Thanks for sharing this easy drink recipe.

      Reply
    6. Has anyone ever done a mix of vodka and brandy to make the liqueur? Also, do I use all of the extracted orange mix to the sugar water mixture? How big of a container does this end up making?

      Reply

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