8 Best Substitutes For Rose Water

Rosewater is added to some baked goodies and savory dishes to give them a floral aroma. It is not very overpowering but strong enough to add a little hint of flowery goodness to the dish.

This makes rosewater a favorite ingredient for most cooks and has always been a traditional ingredient in some cultural cuisine.

However, rose water may not be easy to come by in certain regions, and you would need other substitutes for rose water if a recipe happens to call for it and you don’t have it at the time.

You can substitute rose water with lavender essence, lemon juice, rose essence, orange water, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.

What Is Rosewater?

Rosewater is made from distilled rose petals and adds a floral hint to meals; it has been in use since ancient times.

Rosewater is commonly found in Indian or middle eastern supermarkets and is added to french, middle eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines for flavor.

It adds a subtle floral note and a fruity flavor to both baked goods and savory foods. Rosewater can be used in sorbets, salad dressings, cookies, fruit compotes, pastries, candies, and meats.

Rosewater adds a delicate yet unusual flavor that is not too overpowering but just enough to give the dish the right taste of flowery deliciousness.

This and many more beneficial reasons is why rosewater is a beloved ingredient among most chefs and has a long history of use in several cultural dishes.

Fortunately, even though rosewater isn’t very easy to source, you can use another readily available substitute for rose water, such as lavender essence, lemon juice, rose essence, orange water, and vanilla extract.

Best Substitutes For Rose Water

1. Rose Essence

Rose essence is the closest substitute to rose water in terms of cooking and baking. It is essentially a concentrated version of the lovely scent of a rose blossom which means it offers a similar flavor or perfume that you would achieve with rose water.

However, rose essence has a more intense taste and smell and is far more potent than rose water. So, you will only need a small amount of rose essence in replacement of rosewater in any recipe.

On average, rose essence has four times the potency of rose water. Therefore, divide the amount of rosewater a recipe calls for by four; this gives you the suitable substitution amount of rosewater.

A common ratio is to use one teaspoon of rose essence to replace every two tablespoons of rosewater.

2. Jamaica Flower Water

Hibiscus is another beautiful flower, its water, is also known as a Jamaica flower water, can be used as a substitute for rose water. It also adds a pleasant floral scent to dishes, although it has a slightly different flavor from rosewater.

Jamaica flower water has a similar intense flavor as rose water, so you will not need to convert the quantity when using it as a substitute in a recipe; you can simply add the same amount of Jamaica flower water or hibiscus water that the recipe specifies for rose water.

The two floral water has similar sweetness and a little difference that isn’t noticeable. Jamaica flower water can also give your dish some Caribbean touch as it is commonly used in Mexican and Caribbean cuisine.

3. Orange Flower Water

Orange flower water is made by crushing orange flowers into a paste which is then mixed with distilled water. Next, the liquid is squeezed out and concentrated for two weeks.

This water has a distinct flavor and aroma like rose water because it is made from a fruity source like orange but has a stronger fruity kick.

Although orange flower water has a slightly different flavor and scent than rosewater, it can be used for similar purposes.

Orange flower water is commonly used in many desserts and dishes in African, middle eastern, Mediterranean, and French kitchens.

This makes orange flower water more readily available than rosewater, making this substitute a super easy one. If you are not extra keen on replacing the classic floral of rosewater, then you can use orange flower water as a viable alternative to rose water.

Orange flower water has the same flavor intensity as rose water which means there isn’t very much of a difference in taste between rosewater and orange flower water. Hence, you can easily disguise the absence of rosewater in flavor, and an average person may be unable to tell the difference.

Because of their similar taste and intensity, you can easily use the same amount of orange water flower to substitute for rose water.

They both have a strong and sweet flavor; orange flower water is especially great when making a dish with meat.

4. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is an ingredient that is commonly used in baking and other types of cooking. It can also be used as a substitute for rose water. Substituting vanilla extract for rosewater works well as they have the same flavor and aroma.

However, vanilla extract has a deeper scent and sweetness than rose water, so you’ll need a lower amount of vanilla in dishes that ask for rosewater to prevent the dish from being overly sweet or smelly.

Besides this little drawback, vanilla extract makes a handy and quick replacement for rosewater in certain delicacies requiring a sugary flavor. Vanilla extract is versatile and has a distinct aroma and flavor, which complements most sweet dishes better than rosewater.

5. Almond Extract

Almonds have a high protein, fat, and fiber content, making them a great addition to most diets, they are macronutrient-dense whole nuts, and their extract can be used to make a variety of recipes.

Almond extract is commonly used in middle eastern countries to add a natural sweetness to dishes. Almond extract has a sweet taste and is a transparent viscous liquid with a strong flavor, quite similar to vanilla extract. This makes it also similar to rosewater.

But you would need to use almond extract with caution as it has a little stronger flavor, which could overpower your dish.

When using almond extract in place of rosewater when preparing a meal, you will need to reduce the amount of almond extract you use so its aroma does not get too overpowering.

6. Lavender

Lavender is known for creating a more pleasant scent in indoor environments or enhancing one’s presence with its scent. But it may come as a surprise to know that lavender blossoms taste similar to rose water.

Lavender has a scent similar to vanilla, but it is more of a plant than a flower and has a unique taste that is quite similar to rosewater.

Lavender may have a distinct smell but is not as common in foods and is typically used to make sweet foods. It complements dairy dishes very well and can be added to any dishes that could benefit from some floral sweetness.

It works well as an excellent rose water substitute for desserts or recipes that need a hint of flowery goodness.

However, its sweet flavor is clouded with an earthy and floral undertone which may not pair well with some dishes and make it more challenging to replicate rosewater in some recipes.

Lavender has a strong, distinctive, and overpowering scent, especially if you use too much. Hence, you need a tiny amount of lavender for your cooking or baking.

7. Lemon Juice

Lemon may appear to be an odd substitution for rosewater, but it achieves a great result nonetheless. Like rosewater, lemon adds a fruity punch to your dish. Adding a slight citrus flavor to your drinks, salads, and main courses is a great way to intensify its flavor.

Lemon has a slightly bitter and tangy flavor, and if you are making a sweet dish, the mildly bitter flavor may be an issue. To solve this, you need to add some sugar to your lemon juice before using it in place of rose water.

This will add the needed sweetness to the dish and make this substitute as tasty as the original. Adding extra sugar to lemon juice as a rosewater substitute enables the lemon to deliver a unique but delightful and refreshing touch to any dish.

However, due to the overwhelming taste of lemon juice, you will need to utilize it with caution.

Lemon juice may not be the perfect substitute for rosewater, but it gets the job done as long as you apply a little extra effort to adjust the lemon flavor. Lemon is also readily available; this makes it a quick substitution option.

8. Cardamon

Cardamon is part of the ginger family and is often used to add flavor and spice to both food and drink. Cardamon has a taste similar to lavender and lemon more than rosewater. It adds a touch of lemony and herbal flavor that can somewhat mimic rosewater in some dishes.

It is an excellent substitute for rose water, especially in dishes that use meat or chicken, and you may not be able to tell the difference.

Cardamon is commonly used in Indian cuisine, and it adds a great flavor to masala chai or Indian sweets. You can get cardamon from your local Asian market, and its availability also makes it a quick substitute for rosewater.

Switch out rosewater for a little extra cardamom, and although it is not as soft as rose water, it is not too overpowering either.

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