Cointreau Substitutes

Find out the best Cointreau substitutes for all your favorite cocktails and get your most common questions about Cointreau answered.

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Are you getting ready to make a cocktail with a recipe that calls for Cointreau but just looked in your cupboard and realized you’re out? No need to worry – there are plenty of substitutions you can make to still make a delicious cocktail without this specific brand of orange liqueur.

In this post, find out what Cointreau is, what the best Cointreau substitutes are, and answer some of the most common questions related to substituting Cointreau in cocktails.

What is Cointreau?

Cointreau is a type of triple sec, an orange flavored liqueur. Cointreau is a specific brand of orange liqueur produced in Saint-Barthelemy d’Anjou, France.

It has a sweet orange flavor and is colorless. It is most often used in mixed drinks and contains between 30 and 40 percent alcohol by volume, depending on the variety used.

What is Cointreau used for?

Cointreau is used in many cocktail recipes, providing a sweet orange flavor to these drinks. Cointreau is often called for in some very popular cocktails, like margaritas, cosmopolitans, and sidecars, and mai tais.

Top 7 Cointreau Substitutes

Next time you find yourself needing Cointreau for a recipe, but don’t have any on hand, try one of these substitutions instead. 

Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier is a great substitute for Cointreau, because it is orange flavored and has a similar alcohol content. This liqueur is made in France, so not too far from where Cointreau is produced.

This liquor is a blend of cognac brandy, bitter orange essence, and sugar. Some folks even prefer Grand Marnier in their cocktails over Cointreau, so keep an open mind if you try this substitute out!

Triple Sec

Triple sec is a type of orange flavored liqueur that is more sweet and has a lower alcohol content than Cointreau. That said, this is an easy to find liqueur that substitutes well in most cocktails for Cointreau.

Try this option if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.

Orange Curaçao

Curaçao comes in a variety of flavors, but the orange one is a good substitute for Cointreau, because it is made using bitter orange peels just like Cointreau is.

While curaçaos and triple secs are different, orange curacao will substitute nicely in many cocktail recipes because of its flavor and consistency.

Try this option if you’re looking for a lower alcohol content in your drinks.

Orange liqueur

A generic orange liqueur of any type will work as a substitute for Cointreau in many cocktail recipes or baking recipes. You can find orange liqueurs at a variety of price points.

Note that the flavors will not be as nuanced as Cointreau, but will still provide an orange flavor to the drinks or recipes you’re making.

Orange extract

Orange extract is a non-alcoholic substitute for Cointreau that you might decide to use if you’re only looking to substitute the flavor of Cointreau in a recipe as opposed to the flavor and alcohol.

Use a high quality orange extract if you have one or are shopping for one, as you’ll get what you pay for.

This swap is especially useful for baking, but can also be applied to cocktails as well.

Orange juice or orange juice concentrate

Orange juice is a bit of a stretch when it comes to replacing Cointreau, but it can be done. Depending on what you’re making that calls for Cointreau, substituting orange juice can be just as effective in your recipe.

In cocktails, using orange juice or orange juice concentrate will work if you’re trying to mimic the orange flavor, but the consistency and look of the drink won’t come out as the recipe is intended.

If you’re baking and a recipe calls for Cointreau, you can substitute orange juice or orange juice concentrate to get an orange flavor without needing to buy or use a liqueur of any kind. 

In general, I’d say this is a last resort to substituting Cointreau, but it can be done.

What is a cheaper version of Cointreau?

Cointreau usually sells for about $25 to $30 for 750ml, depending on where you buy it. If this is on the expensive side for you and your budget, you may opt for a triple sec liqueur instead.

Cointreau is a brand name triple sec, but you can buy less expensive brands of triple sec that still have a great orange flavor. These are produced with less commitment to detail and quality than a brand name triple sec, but still get the job done when mixing into cocktails.

You can find a triple sec in the $10 to $20 range at most liquor stores.

Is triple sec and Cointreau the same thing?

Triple sec and Cointreau are similar, but not exactly the same. Cointreau is a triple sec that is made using a specific process and recipe, whereas other liqueurs that are classified as just “triple sec” can be made with any type of orange peels and have a variety of different recipes.

Cointreau is a type of triple sec, but triple sec is a larger umbrella term for an orange liqueur.

Can I substitute Grand Marnier for Cointreau?

In most drinks, yes. Grand Marnier is similar to Cointreau in flavor and usage, and is a good substitute in most cocktail recipes that call for an orange flavored liqueur.

Grand Marnier is a blend of cognac and triple sec, whereas Cointreau is a triple sec. These two liqueurs taste similarly, but Grand Marnier is less sweet than Cointreau and you can taste the brandy in it.

Be aware that the flavor of the brandy can come through in your cocktails, so make this swap with that in mind.

If you’ve been looking for a substitute for Cointreau in cocktails or your baking recipes, I hope this post has helped you get all the information you need to make all your favorite drinks and treats.

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