What is the Best Substitute for Rose Water in Baking and Cooking?

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Rose water is a popular ingredient that adds a touch of elegance to a variety of dishes. However, it can be a challenge to find in your local grocery store. Although making rose water at home is possible, it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. But who wants to go through all that trouble when there’s a better solution? So look for a substitute for rose water, and you’ve got that sorted out!

When it comes to finding a substitute for rose water, the possibilities are endless. Lemon juice, rose essence, vanilla extract, orange water, lavender, hibiscus water, almond extract, and more can all serve as a suitable replacement for rose water, each lending its unique flavor profile to your dish.

If you’re looking for a rosewater substitute, it’s important to understand your options. And, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try making your own rose water, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions. So, whether you experiment with substitutes or take the DIY approach by rose water making, you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious and aromatic dishes.

What Is Rosewater?

Before exploring the best substitutes for rose water, you need to understand what it is. You need to understand why people use it in cooking.

Rose water is created through the process of distilling rose petals. People use rose water in cuisines like Middle Eastern, French, and Mediterranean cooking.

When added to a dish, rose water imparts a delicate, fruity, and floral flavor. Rose water helps elevate the taste of sweet and savory dishes. Unlike some flavors, rose water does not overpower the dish. Instead, it provides a subtle and delicate touch that complements the other ingredients. Adding rose water elevates the other flavors in a dish. It makes it a popular ingredient in many different types of cuisine.

Best Substitute For Rose Water

It’s important to consider the different substitutes for rose water. You must also choose the one that suits your specific needs and preferences. Consider the recipe you’re using, the substitute, and the flavor profile. By considering these factors, select the substitute that’ll result in the best outcome.

1. Orange Water

Orange water comes from mixing crushed orange flowers and distilled water. You need to let it sit for some time to let the flavors and aromas develop. Although the orange water comes from the flowers, it does not have the same floral scent as rose water. Instead, it has a more fruity character.

If you don’t mind this citrusy twist, orange water can substitute for rose water in your recipe. To use it as a rose water substitute for baking, replace one teaspoon of rose water with one teaspoon of orange water. Then, add half a teaspoon of sugar to balance the flavor. It will produce a slightly fruity scent but maintain the desired sweetness.

2. Vanilla Extract

When faced with a cooking or baking predicament and you can’t get rose water, you can use vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is a staple in most households, and you can easily find it in grocery stores.

Although it won’t bring the same floral scent and flavor, it has a sweet aroma that works well in sweet baked goods. However, it’s important to note that it’s not the best choice for savory dishes due to its sweet scent. A small amount of vanilla extract can have a significant impact on the flavor of the dish. To use it as an alternative of rose water, replace one teaspoon of rose water with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

3. Hibiscus Water

Hibiscus water, Jamaica flower water, is an excellent rose water alternative. It has a similar light, floral scent and flavor to rose water. But, it is important to note that there will be slight variations in the taste. The benefit of using hibiscus water is that it has a similar flavor intensity as rose water. This makes it possible to substitute it on a one-to-one ratio.

Hibiscus has a distinct flavor compared to rose water. However, it still has a floral and perfume-like character, adding a unique touch to the dish. Also, like rose water, hibiscus water can add a slight sweetness to your recipe. You can use it in sweet and savory dishes. Remember that hibiscus water may add a slight Caribbean taste to your food. This can be a fun and interesting twist!

4. Almond Extract

Almond extract is a common pantry staple, and like vanilla extract, it may be available in your home. When used in cooking, almond extract brings a sweet and nutty flavor. It is a well-loved ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. Although it doesn’t come from flowers, the almond extract has a beautiful aroma and flavor.

When using almond extract as a substitute for rose water, remember it is stronger and more potent. We recommend using a much smaller amount of almond extract than rose water. Especially to avoid overpowering the dish with the almond flavor.

A good starting point would be to use a quarter of the amount of almond extract that you would have used of rose water. Also, try to adjust the measurement to taste. Overusing almond extract can overwhelm the dish with its scent and flavor. So, it’s essential to be cautious when using it as a substitute.

5. Rose Essence

Rose essence is a concentrated form of rose water. It comes from the evaporation of the liquid part of the roses, leaving only the critical juices. This results in a more intense flavor, which is why rose essence is available on the market in small bottles.

When using rose essence as a substitute for rosewater, remember that it is more concentrated and to use less of it. For example, use half a teaspoon of rose essence instead of two teaspoons of rose water. In addition, a small amount of rose essence can bring a strong floral flavor to a dish, so it is unnecessary to use a large amount.

6. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice and rose water may have distinct differences. But both ingredients can impart a fruity essence to any sweet or savory dish. Although not like rose water, lemon juice is tart. Also, you can use sweet flavor as a substitute to bring a fresh citrusy note to your recipe.

Add some sugar to incorporate lemon juice into your recipe to balance the tangy flavor. Then, add the lemon juice to the dish and taste it to avoid overpowering the recipe with too much lemon flavor.

You need to remember that the dish will take on a more dominant lemon flavor. Besides, adding lemon juice and some sugar can still work well in savory dishes. This makes it a viable alternative to rose water.

7. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a popular spice, particularly in baking. It has an aromatic, sweet, and warm flavor unmatched by any other spice. Despite not having a floral effect, you can use cinnamon as a substitute for rose water due to its sweetness.

But, it’s essential to be mindful of the amount of cinnamon used, as it is stronger and sweeter than rose water. In addition, most desserts contain milk and sugar. So, adding too much cinnamon could produce an overly sweet dish. To substitute one teaspoon of rose water, use just half a teaspoon of cinnamon. With these substitutes, you can make delicious dishes even without rose water.

8. Lavender

Lavender is famous for its scent. It’s also famous for its ability to create a relaxing atmosphere in indoor settings. But only a few people know it also has a flavor like rose water. Lavender is not a flower in its traditional sense, but it has a sweet and floral flavor. So, you can use it in cooking and baking.

When used in dishes, it provides a unique taste similar to rose water, making it a great alternative. With lavender, start with a small amount and add more to your dish as needed, as it has a distinct and strong flavor. It works well in dairy dishes and other recipes that enjoy a hint of floral sweetness.

Lavender is a great rose water replacement in desserts or recipes that needs a floral flavor. But, its flavor profile differs from rose water. Therefore, it can sometimes cause issues with certain dishes. Lavender has a sweeter flavor with earthy and floral undertones. As a result, it may be difficult to mimic the taste of rose water exactly.

It’s important to remember that the lavender scent is powerful and distinctive. Also, too much can lead to an overpowering flavor. So, starting with a small amount is best, and adding more as needed is best. This helps ensure that the final dish is balanced. Also, it enables you to learn to appreciate lavender’s aromatic qualities. With a little experiment, lavender will become one of your favorite ingredient substitutions.

9. Cardamom

Cardamom is a versatile spice used in sweet and savory dishes, food, and beverages. It doesn’t have the same taste profile as rose water. But its flavor can bring a similar aromatic effect. It’s an excellent substitute for rose water when making meat or chicken dishes, especially when used with other herbs and spices. You may need to catch the rose water in your dish.

Cardamom is available and is a staple in Indian cuisine, making it easier to find compared to rose water. To use cardamom in place of rose water, you can add a few pods for flavor. Its soft aroma and flavor make it less overpowering than rose water. So you don’t have to worry about it dominating the flavor of your dish.

10. Pandan

Pandan is a herb that grows in tropical regions and is popular for its fragrant scent. As a substitute for vanilla essence, pandan can replace rose water in cooking. Pandan has a strong vanilla scent with a musky undertone. It makes it an excellent substitute of rose water. But, as pandan is a milder flavor, you may need to use a bit more compared to rose water. Besides, this ingredient will elevate the dessert’s flavor. It also offers a memorable taste experience.

Can I Make Rose Water Myself?

Yes, you can make rose water yourself at home using simple ingredients and tools. To make rose water, you will need fresh roses (preferably organic), distilled water, and a large pot. Start by removing the petals from the roses and placing them in a large pot. Next, add distilled water to the pot until it covers the petals.

Boil the mixture for about 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. After boiling, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for an extra 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. Strain the mixture to remove the petals and pour the liquid into a clean, airtight container. Your homemade rose water is now ready to use.

You can use rose water in various ways, such as a skin toner, face mist, hair rinse, and even cooking. It is popular for its soothing and refreshing properties. People used it for centuries in various beauty and wellness rituals. Rose water has antibacterial properties, making it an excellent option for sensitive skin. By making your rose water, you can save money and control the ingredients’ quality.

Can I Use Lavender Essence Instead of Rose Water?

Can I Use Lavender Essence Instead of Rose Water

Yes, you can use lavender essence instead of rose water sometimes. But, it is important to note that they are only interchangeable in some uses. Lavender essence and rose water have unique scents and properties. This helps make them suitable for different uses.

Lavender essence has a fresh and floral aroma. It is popular for its calming and relaxing properties. You can use it in beauty and wellness products, like bath salts, body lotions, and aromatherapy. In some cases, you can use it as a substitute for rose water in skin care, as it can help to soothe and calm the skin.

Remember that lavender essence is stronger and more potent than rose water. With lavender essence as a substitute for rosewater in a recipe, you may need to use less of it, as a little goes a long way. However, lavender essence is less popular in cooking and baking than rose water. Therefore, it may not be the best choice for recipes that need a more delicate floral flavor.

With lavender essence as a substitute for rose water, consider its properties and aromas. Lavender essence is great for products that promote relaxation and calm. But rose water is better suited for skin care and cooking applications.

What Are Some Uses For Rose Water?

What Are Some Uses For Rose Water

Rose water has a long history of being used in various beauty and wellness rituals and is valued for its refreshing and soothing properties. But, what is rose water used for?

One of the most common uses for rose water is as a skin toner. Rose water helps to hydrate and balance the skin, making it an ideal choice for sensitive skin. It can be used as a standalone toner or added to other skin care products, such as moisturizers or face masks, to enhance their benefits. Using rose water as a toner can help reduce redness, calm irritation, and restore the skin’s natural pH balance.

Another popular use for rose water is as a face mist. This can be especially useful during the summer months when the skin needs an extra boost of hydration. Simply store the rose water in a spray bottle and mist it onto your face throughout the day to refresh and rejuvenate your skin. Rose water can also be used as a hair rinse, helping to nourish and soothe the scalp and leave the hair with a subtle, floral scent.

In addition to its beauty benefits, rose water is commonly used in cooking and baking. In addition, it can be added to various dishes to impart a subtle, floral flavor. Rose water is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and can be found in dishes such as baklava, rice pudding, and various sweets. It can also be used in drinks, such as lemonade or tea, to add a touch of flavor and aroma. Overall, the versatility of rose water makes it a must-have ingredient in any kitchen or bathroom.

Homemade Rose Water Recipe

Making of rose water at home is a simple alternative to buying it or using a substitute if you have access to fresh rose petals. While cold-pressing is the ideal method for making rose water, hot-infusing is a more practical option for those who do not have the necessary equipment or time.



  1. Gently pluck the petals from the roses and transfer them to a large strainer. 
  2. Rinse the petals under lukewarm water to remove any dirt or chemicals.
  3. Place the rinsed petals in a large pot and add enough distilled water to cover them.
  4. Put the pot on medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the pot from heat and strain the mixture to separate the petals from the water. Discard the petals.
  6. Let the rose water cool to room temperature. Then, pour it into an airtight bottle or jar and store it in a cool, dark place.
  7. Wait 2 weeks before using your homemade rose water in beauty and wellness routines, cooking, or other applications. The rose water will improve in fragrance and flavor as it sits.


When considering a substitute for rose water in cooking, it’s essential to consider the amount you should use and in what recipe it would be best utilized. By considering these factors, you will better understand which alternative will work best for you and stop asking yourself the question: what can I use instead of rose water?

Don’t let the absence of rose water stop you from making your favorite dishes or trying out new recipes. First, take advantage of these alternative for rose water and enjoy the delicious results. Then, start experimenting and find the perfect alternative that works for you. With these suggestions, you’ll be able to create tasty and flavorful treats without the need for rose water.

About Cynthia

Cynthia Odenu-Odenu is the founder of Cyanne Eats. She is an avid baker and cook of delicious delicacies. She uses this blog to share her love for different cuisines.

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