What happens when you’re all set to whip up a dish that calls for blood oranges, and you can’t find any? Don’t worry! In this guide, I will introduce you to my top recommendations and help you find your favorite substitute for blood orange.
Blood oranges are so unique! They have this deep red color that looks like a sunset, and their flavor is like a mix of bright, sweet citrus and raspberries. It’s a good flavor pairing, if I say so myself.
But before we get into the world of blood orange substitutes, let us first understand blood oranges more and why I love having them around.
Suggested ratios for substitutes for blood oranges:
|Suggested Ratio to Blood Orange
|1/2 to 3/4 grapefruit per blood orange
|Mandarins or Tangerines
|1 to 2 mandarins/tangerines per blood orange
|Lemons and Raspberries Combo
|3/4 T lemon + 1/4 T raspberry juice per blood orange
Understanding Blood Oranges
Blood oranges have a distinctive taste that’s a bit sweet, a bit tangy, with a raspberry-like finish. This unique color comes from anthocyanins—which they produced after their natural mutation from standard oranges.
In the kitchen, blood oranges are like culinary magic. They can turn a regular dish into something fancy! Try squeezing their juice, and you’ve got this beautiful rosy liquid that can make your dressings, sauces, and cocktails pop with flavor and color.
You can also slice them up and use them in salads to add a refreshing twist. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even use the outer colorful part of the peel, called zest, to add zing to your baked goods.
Here’s the catch: Replacing them can be challenging because their flavor is one-of-a-kind! So, no other citrus fruit can replicate it perfectly. We offer several fresh produce substitutes but also a few links to packaged options, too.
Common Blood Orange Substitutes
Look for availability, texture and flavor when considering a substitute for blood orange juice and flesh. Blood orange isn’t always in season or available nationwide.
- Flavor: The substitute should have a similar flavor profile to blood orange, which is tart, tangy, acidic, and slightly sweet.
- Texture: The substitute should have a similar texture to blood orange, which is juicy and slightly soft.
- Availability: The substitute should be readily available, so you can easily find it at your local grocery store.
Regular (navel) oranges can be solid options if you cannot find blood oranges. They’re sweet and tangy, but they lack that deep, complex, raspberry-like kick. Still, they bring a burst of citrusy goodness that can work well in many recipes.
Pink Grapefruit has a tangy and slightly bitter taste, generally sweeter than regular white grapefruit when ripened, but is also wonderfully juicy. Grapefruit might be your go-to choice if you are looking for a substitute with an extra push in its taste!
Mandarins or Tangerines
Mandarins or Tangerines are both great options! They’re sweet and easy to peel, and their small size makes them perfect for snacks. While they’re not as tart as blood oranges, they can add a nice burst of citrus to your dishes.
Lemons and Raspberries Combo
If you are feeling creative, mix lemon juice with a touch of raspberry juice. Lemons bring the bright, sour tang, while raspberries can mimic the berry-like aspect of blood oranges. It’s like a citrus-berry flavorful mixture in your mouth!
Using Substitutes in Recipes
So, now that you’ve got your substitute for blood orange lined up, how do you use them? Well, it’s all about balance. Since blood oranges have a distinctive flavor, you might need to adjust your recipes a bit.
Note: 1 lb of blood oranges = about 3 medium blood oranges, which comes to about 1.25 cups of juice (Food Substitutions Bible 2E, p 386 Joachim, David)
Here’s the scoop:
Regular Navel Oranges
You would want to adjust the quantity to achieve a similar flavor profile when using them as a substitute for blood oranges. Here’s a simple ratio to follow:
For every blood orange in the recipe, use approximately one regular orange. (1:1)
Remember, regular oranges are sweeter than blood oranges and lack that raspberry-like kick.
Adding a touch of pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, or black cherry juice can help mimic the tanginess and balance the flavors.
Pink Grapefruit brings a tangy and slightly bitter punch to your dishes. It’s a strong flavor, so use it in small amounts. Here’s a ratio to consider:
For every blood orange in the recipe, use 1/2 to 3/4 grapefruit for the zest and juice.
Start with a smaller amount of grapefruit than the recipe calls for blood orange, and adjust to your taste. Mixing with a bit of naval orange juice can help tone down any unfavorable bitterness.
Mandarins or Tangerines
Mandarins and tangerines are sweet and easygoing. In using them as a substitute, you’ll want to ensure they don’t overpower your dish. Try this ratio:
Use 1 to 2 mandarins or tangerines for every blood orange in the recipe.
Because mandarins and tangerines are sweeter, you might need a touch of acidity from lemon or lime juice to achieve balance.
Lemons and Raspberries Combo
Creating your own combo of lemon and raspberry juice (or macerated raspberries) is a fun way to capture the essence of blood oranges. Since both lemon and raspberry flavors can vary in intensity, here’s a guide:
Try using 3/4 T lemon and 1/4 T raspberry juice for every blood orange in the recipe.
Remember, this combo is all about personal taste. Adjust the ratio of lemon to raspberry juice until you achieve the desired balance of sweet-tart-berry flavors.
Packaged Substitutes For Fresh Blood Oranges
It may not always be easy to find a fresh produce substitute for blood oranges, and you may just want the flavor or juice instead of the whole orange, anyway. Here are some blood orange products that may feature the extract, juice, dehydrated blood orange slices, and more. (Amazon affiliates)
- Italian Blood Orange Juice Made in Italy (Pack of 3)
- DaVinci Gourmet Blood Orange Syrup
- Blood Orange Purée
- Amoretti Blood Orange Extract
- Dried Blood Orange Slices
The bottom line
Blood oranges might be the stars of the citrus world, but when they’re nowhere to be found, don’t panic. You’ve got plenty of tasty alternatives to choose from. Whether you go with regular oranges, tangy grapefruit, cheerful mandarins, or create your own citrus-berry blend, you’ve got options! Remember, each substitute brings its own delicious twist, so don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. I hope you enjoyed the guide and found your new favorite blood orange substitute!
- Sweet, complex: Ripe naval orange + red juice like pomegranate, cranberry, black cherry
- Tangy, bright: Lemon juice & macerated raspberries
- Sweet, mild: Mandarin orange
- Sweet, mild: Tangerine
- Tangy, strong citrus: Pink grapefruit
- Mix and match any of these juices to help you create a substitute for blood orange juice in your recipe.
- Ratios will vary.
1 lb of blood oranges = about 3 medium blood oranges, which comes to about 1.25 cups of juice (Food Substitutions Bible 2E, p 386, Joachim, David)