How to make homemade orange liqueur

Updated February 21, 2017

Orange liqueur is a sweet, citrus-flavoured alcoholic drink that can be sipped alone or added to cocktails. Orange liqueur derives the majority of its flavour from orange peel. Alcohol is used to dissolve the peel's essential oils over a period of a few days. The resulting tincture has all the bright citrus flavour of the orange without any pulp or even a drop of orange juice. Make a homemade orange liqueur to create custom cocktails with the vibrant flavour of fresh oranges.

Select oranges that are free of external blemishes and have bright orange peels. To preview the flavour of the liqueurs smell the oranges as you squeeze them gently to release the essence of the oils.

Rinse all the oranges in cold running waters and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Add half a lemon or lime to the oranges to give the liqueur a tart citrus bite.

Peel away the thin outer layer of the oranges using a vegetable peeler. Press lightly as you peel to avoid cutting away any of the orange's white pith. The orange peels should be so thin that you can see light through them.

Move the thin citrus peels to a cutting board, and slice them into thin strips or small squares to expose more surface area.

Slide the sliced peels into a glass jar, and pour in the vodka or other neutral spirits. Seal the jar securely.

Place the sealed jar in the refrigerator, and allow the peels to soak for at least two weeks. Agitate daily: shake the sealed jar for three seconds, and then return it to the fridge.

Bring 2 cups of water to a slow bowl in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 cups of sugar.

Reduce the heat to low, and continue stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove the sugar water from the heat, and allow it to cool uncovered for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid from the glass jar, and cover the opening with a piece of cheesecloth that has been folded to four layers thick.

Pour the contents of the glass jar through the cheese cloth and into the cooled sugar syrup.

Pour the orange liqueur back into the empty glass jar, and seal the lid tightly.

Return the jar to the refrigerator for another two days of daily agitation. It's ready to be sipped or added to a homemade cocktail.


Add an ounce of orange liqueur to a margarita made with fresh lime juice and quality tequila. The sweet orange balances the bitterness of the lime and the bite of the tequila for a refreshing beverage.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 to 12 medium oranges
  • 1/2 lemon or lime (optional)
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Glass jar
  • 2 cups vodka or other neutral spirit (80 proof)
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Cheese cloth
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About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.