14 different ways you can substitute Seville oranges, including regular sweet oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines. Tried and tested suggestions for replacing bitter oranges in marmalade making, baking and cooking.
The reason why I often need to look for a substitute for my Seville oranges in recipes is because this bitter orange season is very short.
When are Seville oranges in season
Seville Oranges have a fairly short season in UK and are only available in the shops from the middle of January to the middle of February. Since Seville oranges are mainly grown in Spain, the availability is very similar if you are in USA or Canada too.
Seville oranges are also grown in Australia and are available towards the end of the winter (which is August to September).
Depending on the year, this might vary little, but not by much. If you miss them at the beginning of February, you won’t find them in March and you can miss making your Seville Orange Marmalade for that year!
If you do happen to see them in the shops, buy them when they are in season and either use them up to make a delicious orange marmalade or freeze them and use them later for marmalade making or cooking.
The rest of the year, you will need to improvise a bit if you want to make traditional orange marmalade or if your recipe calls for bitter orange juice.
Here are my tried and tested suggestions for replacing Seville oranges in marmalade making and cooking. I’ve narrowed it down to 14 different ways you can substitute Seville oranges depending on the recipe you are making.
Substitutes which are closest to the flavour
Kumquat is probably the closest to the Seville Orange in the terms of flavour and the one substitute that’s relatively easy to buy any time of the year.
If you are making marmalade, I would still follow a kumquat marmalade recipe instead of a traditional marmalade recipe as the kumquat skin is very thin and doesn’t need that much cooking.
For cooking, baking or marinating meat, kumquats are a perfect replacement for seville oranges.
Substitutes which are closest to the original flavour, but not regularly available in the UK
Bergamot orange is bitter and has a distinctive flavour very similar to Ear Gray tea. If you are not familiar with bergamot it has a citrusy feel to it and smells like a geraniums when you crush them.
Bergamot orange is not that easy to buy, but if you happen to have some from a market or you grow them, you can certainly use them instead of the seville oranges.
Chinese Bitter Orange
This is a great replacement for seville oranges, as the flavour of Chinese oranges is nice and bitter. Similar to the bergamot orange is not that easy to come by, but if you happened to buy some, definitely use them in your cooking and marmalade making.
Calamondin orange is not widely sold as a fruit in the shops, but you can easily buy the whole plant and grow it yourself!
These Calamondin Oranges are quite compact and are one of the easiest citrus fruits to look after. You only need a small space to keep them in as they are best to grow in a large pot. Unlike the real orange trees, you can keep your calamondin orange tree plant on a sunny windowsill in your living room or a kitchen.
Although small, the tree will give you plenty of oranges, which you can use for making drinks, cooking and marmalade making.
Substitutes which are a mix of flavour to replicate the bitter orange flavour
Sweeet (regular) orange plus lemons or citric acid (to add bitterness)
If you are making traditional marmalade, sweet – regular oranges are probably going to be your simplest option to replace seville oranges.
To add the tartiness and bitterness of the seville oranges, make sure you add lemons, limes or citric acid otherwise the orange marmalade will be very bland. Whilst marmalade is generally good for us, you can make it even healthier by using my healthier reduced sugar marmalade recipe with 50% less sugar.
A combination of regular sweet oranges and other citrus fruit is also a great idea. I often make Sweet Orange & Lime Marmalade and the taste as great as a regular orange marmalade. And the best thing is that I can make this marmalade recipe any time of the year I want (not just in January or February when the Seville Oranges are in season).
Tangerines plus limes or lemons (to add bitterness)
Next good option for marmalade making are tangerines which again need a hint of limes, lemons or citric acid to balance out their natural sweetness.
The rind of tangerines is of course not as thick as of Seville oranges, so you’ll end up with slightly lighter and more delicate tangerine marmalade.
White grapefruit plus tangerines or sweet oranges to round the flavour
Grapefruits are naturally bitter, so they are great replacement for Seville Oranges. The only thing is that they dont’ taste much like oranges. The best way to add some orange flavour is to use tangerines, clementines or sweet oranges.
Blood oranges plus lemons to add bitterness
Blood oranges have amazing colour and they are less sweet than regular oranges, so they are perfect for a substitute for Seville Oranges. I would also use some lemons if the flavour is not as sharp as you’d like it to be.
Substitutions – other citrus fruits, that will produce great marmalade with slightly different flavours
If I fancy making marmalade, but don’t have any Seville Oranges, I just use other citrus fruit. Lemons are cheap to buy and make a great citrus flavoured marmalade.
Limes make slightly lighter flavoured marmalade than lemons, but they are equally great to use. Available all year round, you can make limes marmalade any time.
RECIPES WITH LIMES
White or Pink Grapefruit
Easily available all year round, white or pink grapefruits are a great substitute for Seville Oranges and make a really good grapefruit marmalade.
They are about the same size as Seville Oranges and have a similar thick skin, which makes good shreds for marmalade.
Whilst limequat is not as widely available as kumquat, it makes a great replacement for Seville Oranges. Use them on their own or mix them with other citrus fruit to create more round bitter taste.
Slightly less tart than limequat, mandarinquat is lightly fragranced citrus fruit perfect for replacing Seville Oranges.
You might not find it available on the market, but mandarinquats are fairly easy to grow and make a nice decorative plant for a sunny room.
Bitter orange juice replacement
For example for cooking chicken or marinating other meat.
Bitter oranges are often used in Persian and Iranian recipes, where they are added to marinate meats and make fragrant sauces.
Bitter oranges are also often used in Spanish cuisine and cuisines influenced by Spanish recipes, such as Mexican foods.
Use equal parts of fresh grapefruit, regular orange and lime juice with white vinegar. If you find that this juice replacement is too vinegary, use just equal parts of orange and lime juice.