Rose water substitute

Rose water substitute

Rosewater is a special kind of exotic product left after distilling rose petals. The product became popular and exotic because it contains the floral notes of rose, which added to any food and a wonderful flavor and floral note to it. Rose water has been in use since ancient times, especially in the Middle Eastern regions, where its popularity spread to India, Asia, and all the other countries. You will find a lot of recipes that include or recommend the use of rose water for its exquisite fruity and floral notes that compliment some food like bakes, cakes, pastries, candies, salads, sorbets, fruit juices, smoothies, and even main courses and meats.

Rose water adds a delicate change to the overall taste and flavor, never overpowering. Therefore it always ends up complimenting the original flavor without changing anything. However, chances are that you have run out of Rose water or do not have access to any. In such a case, it is essential to find a suitable substitute that will add to the taste and flavor. Let’s look at some of the substitutes you can easily use.

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Rose essence

Any other rose-based product will be the best first substitute among all the rest. Rose essence is just the rose scent in a concentrated form. More concentrated than rose water. Therefore you have to be a little careful when using rose essence as it can be four times stronger than rose water. The best part is you have the same essence, flavor, and aroma as rose essence. Ensure you adjust the quantity to just 1/4th of the amount specified for the rose water. So if the recipe says you need four tablespoons of rose water, you can substitute with just one teaspoon of rose essence. Be careful with the amount, and remember that less is always safe.

Jamaica Flower water

Sometimes, all that recipes need is an intense floral note that brings some added freshness and aroma to the preparation. Jamaica flower water is made from the hibiscus flower and is famous for its floral notes. Since the preparation method for Jamaica flower and Rosewater are the same, they also have the same intensity. So you can substitute the amount of rose water with Jamaica Flower water. However, the flavor will be different, so we recommend you either try it out in a sample or use a slightly lesser quantity when you first use it. The natural scent and flavor of the Jamaican flower water best suits Caribbean and Mexican cuisines. So if you are cooking these dishes, you can undoubtedly try Jamaican Flower water.

Orange flower water

Just like the rose and hibiscus flowers, orange flowers are crushed, then mixed with distilled and stored for over two weeks to get orange water. Unlike the other substitutes, though it’s still an orange flower, it will have distinct fruity notes in addition to the floral notes. Some people may prefer this over using one with just the floral notes. Fruity notes go well in cakes, bakes, desserts, and pastries. However, the flavor and aroma are entirely different from the rose water; the only thing common is that both have some floral notes.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is our favorite hot substitute simply because it’s so readily available in most homes and all stores. Nearly impossible not to find it. The best part is Vanilla extract closely replicates the aroma and flavor of rose water. However, vanilla extract is concentrated in flavor and aroma, so use it in lesser amounts. Otherwise, the preparation will be sweet and smelly. Vanilla extract has a distinct sugary flavor which comes in extremely handy in preparations like bakes and cakes. It better compliments sweet preparations than even rose water.

Almond extract

Similar to vanilla extract, Almond extract also has a sweet and nutty flavor which makes it popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. Use it carefully, as it’s concentrated and has a more robust flavor and aroma. This is to prevent the scent from overpowering the prominent flavor and aroma of the preparation.


Lavender is famous for adding an excellent fragrance to anything. However, many are unaware that its flowers taste similar to rose and vanilla. It can work well in sweet preparations, dairy dishes, and others that need a floral essence.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice may sound like an odd fit in the list of substitutes. There are specific reasons why fresh lemon juice qualifies. First, it adds a strong hint of freshness with its flavor and aroma. Second, it balances out all the flavors in the preparation beautifully and adds its own. We are all aware of how citrus flavor adds to the taste of recipes. To control the tangy flavor, you can add a bit of sugar to lower its intensity. Lemon will also hint at bitterness if you try to squeeze too hard or if it’s not entirely ripe. To avoid this, do not wholly squeeze out any lemon. The edges and the outer skin of the lemon hold the bitterness.


Pandan is a herbaceous plant that grows in tropical regions and is typically found in South East Asian preparations. It is a close substitute for Vanilla Extract; due to this, it can also be used to substitute for Rose water. Pandan comes with a more pungent vanilla scent, so use it carefully. It also has a musky undertone and may slightly taste different.

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Final Words

There are various reasons for using substitutes for Rose water in recipes. For one, it may simply not be available at home, and second, it may not be available in all countries and all stores. So instead of hopping into a car to check out stores all over the city, you can use the substitutes we have suggested. They all work well, and you will undoubtedly find at least a few in all stores at any time.

Jillian Noon

Hi, I am Jillian Noon, the owner of this beautiful cooking blog. I create this blog to share my passion for cooking and other kitchen & food tips. I hope you will enjoy it!

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