Homemade Orange Liqueur Recipe

Homemade Orange Liqueur - DIY Triple Sec

The Spruce Eats / Colleen Graham

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Infuse: 336 hrs
Total: 336 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 25 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
84 Calories
0g Fat
8g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 25
Amount per serving
Calories 84
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 4mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Orange liqueurs are incredibly versatile and among the most often used liqueurs in cocktails. While there are multiple options available at any liquor store, making orange liqueur from scratch is easy and offers multiple ways to customize it to your specific taste and needs. The recipe requires just a few ingredients, and while it isn't the fastest homemade liqueur, it's mostly a hands-off project

You can take this orange liqueur recipe in several directions to mimic the variety of commercially available options. When made with vodka, the combination of fresh sweet orange and dried bitter orange peels creates a sweetened bitter citrus flavor that's most similar to a triple sec or orange curaçao. It becomes a replica of darker orange liqueurs like Grand Marnier if you add brandy to the mix.

To make orange liqueur, you'll begin by infusing vodka with the orange peels for at least a couple of weeks; letting it infuse for an entire month intensifies the flavor. After that time, the infusion is blended with simple syrup to transform the citrus liquor into a liqueur. The liqueur is drinkable right away, though the taste is even better when it's allowed to rest for an additional week or two.

The recipe makes about 3 cups of orange liqueur and will fill a standard 750-milliliter liquor bottle. You can use it in any cocktail recipe that calls for an orange liqueur, including margaritas or the cosmopolitan and orange martini.

Ingredients

  • 30 grams (1/2 cup, unpacked) fresh navel orange peel, from 2 medium oranges

  • 2 1/2 cups vodka

  • 10 grams (2 tablespoons) dried bitter orange peel

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from two navel oranges.

  3. In a 1-quart jar, add the vodka, fresh orange peel, and dried bitter orange peel. Seal, shake well, and let infuse in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks (or up to 1 month), shaking the jar every day or two.

  4. The day the infusion is complete, make a rich simple syrup: Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir in the sugar until completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. Reduce to a simmer. After 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely.

  5. Strain the orange peels from the vodka using a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.

  6. Rinse out the infusion jar and use it to blend the orange liqueur by adding 3/4 cup of the simple syrup to the orange-infused vodka. Shake very well for at least 30 seconds. Taste the liqueur and add more syrup to sweeten to taste.

  7. Transfer the orange liqueur to a bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid and use in your favorite cocktail recipes.

Tips

  • Readily available year-round, navel orange peels have a nice sweetness that offsets the bitter peel in this recipe. To reduce waste, peel the fruit then cut it in half and squeeze out the juice.
  • A vegetable peeler is a quick and easy way to remove large strips of peel and avoid most of the white pith, which will add even more bitterness to the liqueur.
  • For consistent results, purchase dried bitter orange peel. It's sold in small bulk packages by retailers that specialize in dried botanicals, including several online shops.
  • Avoid using the cheapest vodka for this recipe, particularly if you hope to replicate high-end liqueurs like Cointreau or Grand Marnier. While top-shelf is not required, it's best with a smooth vodka that you enjoy drinking straight or in mixed drinks.
  • To make a Grand Marnier substitute, replace one cup of vodka with brandy. Using tequila instead transforms this recipe into a liqueur that's similar to Patrón Citrónge.

How to Store

Alcohol is a natural preservative, but sugar reduces a liqueur's shelf life. It's best to drink your homemade orange liqueur within six months and store it away from heat and direct light. Refrigeration is not required, and you may want to shake it before use. If you notice any crystalizing or off-flavors, make a new batch.

How Strong Is Homemade Orange Liqueur?

When made with 80-proof vodka, the orange liqueur weighs around 28 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 56 proof). That's similar to the average triple sec and equivalent to a shaken margarita. Using a 100-proof vodka intensifies the flavor and yields a liqueur closer to Cointreau, at around 38 percent ABV (76 proof).

What's the difference between triple sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and orange liqueur?

There are several styles of orange liqueur. While they all have the same basic citrus taste and are suitable substitutes for each other in most instances, there are subtle differences. Cointreau is a premium brand of triple sec that's stronger, drier, and less sweet than most triple sec. Curaçao is very similar and focuses on dried bitter orange peels. The majority of orange liqueurs use neutral spirits, which is why they're clear or have a slight orange color. Grand Marnier uses brandy, giving it an amber color and darker flavor profile.

Can you drink orange liqueur by itself?

Orange liqueur is most often used in cocktails and mixed drinks. A premium orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau can be sipped straight. It's best on the rocks because as the ice melts, a little dilution softens the sweetness and flavor.