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Blood Orange Substitutes (How To Use Them)

Blood Orange Substitutes (How To Use Them)

Blood oranges are my favorite type of orange and I use them for everything from smoothies, mixed drinks, dessert and more.

But if you are all out of blood oranges, or they’re not in season, no need to fear! There are a number of substitutes you can use no matter what you are making.

The sweet citrus flavor of blood orange compliments all types of recipes, so finding a good alternative means using an ingredient that offers a similar flavor to blood orange. And today I will let you know what those blood orange replacements are.

So what are the best substitutes for blood oranges?

The top blood orange substitutes are navel oranges, mandarins, Valencia oranges, orange extract, tangerines, orange juice, and cranberry juice.

Blood Orange Alternatives

blood orange slices

Unlike other types of oranges, blood oranges have a red color flesh. They offer a sweet flavor and soft texture that makes them perfect for all types of cooking and beverage concoctions.

The flavor of blood orange is complex. It has a deep, sweet flavor with a bit of tang and even bitter. It is quite unique but ultimately it is a citrus fruit, meaning our best substitutes will also be citrus.

Blood oranges are called for in all types of recipes. They are a popular component to mixed cocktails and smoothies, as well as desserts and dinner dishes.

I use it often in ice cream, gelato, and even sorbet too.

The flesh, juice and even the zest of blood orange can be used to enhance the flavor of all sorts of recipes.

Read on for how to use each of the blood orange alternatives in your particular recipe.

Navel Oranges

navel oranges in wood crate

When it comes to finding an orange with a similar flavor to blood oranges, navel are the way to go. This variety is readily available in most regions most of the year even though they are a winter orange.

They do not offer the red flesh of the blood orange but they will work in all recipes that call for blood oranges. This classic types of orange offers a sweet taste with a tart and tangy flavor that works particularly well in beverages and desserts.

Navel oranges are popularly used in breakfast, mixed drinks and smoothies. And you can use navel oranges in just about any dish that calls for blood orange.

When substituting navel oranges for blood oranges use a 1:1 ratio.


pile of mandarin oranges

These small oranges offer a very sweet flavor and soft flesh that makes them a great option for all types of recipes that call for blood orange. These little oranges a nutrient packed and offer a wonderful citrus aroma and taste that makes them an ideal blood orange alternative.

They offer a flavor that is particularly suited for desserts such as tarts, cakes and more. The zest also is an excellent replacement for blood orange zest.

The flavor of mandarin oranges pairs well with all flavors that go well with blood orange such as vanilla, chocolate and so much more.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting mandarin oranges for blood oranges.

Valencia Oranges

numerous fresh Valencia oranges

This popular type of orange offers a tart and sweet flavor that is well suited for using in beverages.

Valencias are also a great substitute for blood oranges in marinades, sauces, and savory dishes.

The juice is plentiful and the zest is well suited for use in place of blood orange zest as well.

This variety of orange is readily available in most areas and quite affordable too.

Use a 1:1 ratio when using Valencia oranges instead of blood oranges.

Orange Extract

bottle of orange extract and sliced fresh oranges

When oranges are not in season and my local grocery store options are minimal, orange extract is the best way to add a sweet citrus flavor to any type of recipe.

Orange extract can be used in any recipe that requires the flavor of blood orange and I use it in everything from ice cream and cakes, to sauces and savory chicken or beef meals.

When substituting blood oranges with orange extract use 1 teaspoon of extract at first and slowly add more to taste.

Related: Substitutes for Orange Extract


Tangerines in basket

If you are looking for a sweet alternative to blood orange then tangerine is an excellent option.

These little citrus fruits are much sweeter than blood oranges and do not have the bitterness or tanginess either.

They are incredibly juicy with a soft flesh. You can use tangerines in all types of cooking and beverage making. Tangerines work well in marinades, sauces, as well as desserts and smoothies.

They do contain seeds that you will want to remove as they are quite bitter.

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing blood orange with tangerine.

Orange Juice

glass of orange juice and fresh oranges

When you need to add orange flavor to a dish or drink but you’re store is all out of oranges, orange juice is a simple way to get the job done.

Orange juice works well as a blood orange substitute in sauces, marinades, and mixed drinks. It provides the sweet citrus flavor you need and most will already have some in their fridge.

Pulp or pulp free can be used and about a 1/2 cup should be used for each blood orange called for in your recipe.

Related: Substitutes for Orange Juice

Cranberry Juice

glass of cranberry juice and whole cranberries

If you want a sweet alternative to blood orange with a nice tart flavor, cranberry juice is an excellent option.

This popular juice offers a complex flavor that goes well in many sauces, marinades, and beverages that call for blood orange.

It’s often associated with the holiday season, but cranberry juice is available year round and is a nice flavor to add to all sorts of recipes.

Similar to orange juice, use about a 1/2 cup for each blood orange called for in your recipe.

Blood Orange Replacement FAQ

Can I use normal orange instead of blood orange?

Yes. The most common type of orange at grocery stores are navel oranges. They are an excellent substitute for blood orange in all types of recipes.

What orange is closest to blood orange?

While there is no type of orange that is exactly the same as the blood orange in flavor and color, navel oranges, mandarins, and Valencia are the most similar to blood oranges in flavor and texture.

Is blood orange like grapefruit?

Blood orange does offer bitterness but it is sweeter than a grapefruit. When substituting grapefruit for blood orange it is important to keep in mind that your recipe may need additional sweeteners added.

Can cara cara be substituted for blood orange?

Yes cara cara can be used in place of blood oranges. They are much sweeter than blood oranges and do not have much acidity.

Keep in mind that cara cara has the same growing season as blood oranges and may not be available when blood oranges are out of season in your area.