Indulge in Citrus Season with this Homemade Liqueur

This tangerine or orange liqueur recipe is a fun way to use seasonal citrus, and it’s easy to make. This is a homemade knockoff of Triple Sec, but really, you can make any kind of citrus liqueur — grapefruit, tangelo, lime — depending on what you have readily available.

While you’re mixing up liqueurs, give this homemade creme de cacao a try, too!

Homemade Triple Sec ORANGE LIQUEUR in a shot glass

When it’s citrus season, we have an abundance (and then some) of tangerines and oranges at our disposal. I’ve made Tangerine-Ginger Jam. I’ve made Tangerine Syrup. Now I’m sharing a homemade tangerine/orange liqueur.

First, what exactly is a liqueur?

Don’t confuse it with liquor, often called hard liquor or spirits. Vodka, rum, and tequila all fall under the liquor category. Liqueur is first off, more difficult to spell. A liqueur is a sweetened, flavored alcoholic drink made from spirits or liquor. Liqueurs are often flavored with fruits and nuts (think amaretto). My homemade Kahlua-style coffee liqueur is made with real coffee.

These sweetened liqueurs can be sipped straight up as an after dinner drink or combined with additional ingredients to make a fancy cocktail.

sliced tangerines with juice

The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with more wholesome ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.


Oranges or tangerines This recipe calls for fresh tangerines or oranges. Juice the fruit, but retain some of the peels, as you’ll use those to give the homemade liqueur a bolder citrus flavor. Don’t use the white pith, as that will impart a bitterness. Use a spoon to remove that, keeping just the colorful outer part of the fruit to make this tangerine or orange liqueur recipe. More about zesting oranges here.

slices of orange skin.

Sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.

Vodka — Don’t worry about forking out for the good stuff here. A budget brand is just fine.

Making a homemade Triple Sec Knockoff

You might be familiar with a liqueur known as Triple Sec. This is an orange liqueur with Triple Sec being the brand name. But you, my friends, are going to make your very own right at home. For less!

Making this Triple Sec liqueur is easy, but it does require a bit of planning. In order to impart the flavor of the citrus into the liquor, you’ll combine your chosen fruit with the liquor and tuck it away in a dark place for a month or so. The flavor of tangerine or orange in this liqueur needs time to transform into a citrusy flavored drink.

pouring juice into a glass jar

You’ll need to cook the sugar in water to dissolve it, but beyond that it’s pretty much just a matter of combining the ingredients in a jar. You’ll need to strain them later, but really, it couldn’t be simpler. And homemade liqueur makes a great gift!

When the tangerine liqueur — or orange liqueur recipe — is ready, strain it to remove the skins and particles. Store it in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place.

ingredients for tangerine homemade Triple Sec liqueur from above - sliced oranges, vodka, sugar

Giving liqueur as gifts

Once made, this tangerine/orange liqueur will need at least a month tucked in an out-or-the-way place to let the flavors get happy. Planning to give this as a gift for the holidays? Make sure you allot enough time for that.

Package strained “Triple Sec” liqueur in pretty bottles and tie on a tag. You might even consider adding a recipe or two for using this homemade liqueur and a couple of nice cocktail glasses.

ingredients for homemade tangerine Triple Sec from above - sliced oranges

 ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

Homemade Triple Sec aka Orange Liqueur

This homemade tangerine or orange liqueur is easy to make and a fun way to use seasonal citrus.
4.64 from 77 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Infusing time: 30 days
Total Time: 30 days 55 minutes
Servings: 5 pints
Author: Kris Bordessa


  • 2 cups tangerine or orange juice (about 15 tangerines or 10 oranges)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 750 ml bottle of vodka


  • Zest four of the tangerines into strips. [More on how to zest here.]
  • Cut tangerines or oranges in half; juice.
    2 cups tangerine or orange juice
  • Divide strips of zest between five pint sized jars.
  • In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water; heat until sugar is dissolved. 
    1 cup water, 3 cups sugar
  • Stir in juice. Simmer for five minutes and then allow to cool to room temperature. 
  • Pour in entire bottle of vodka, then divide liquid between the jars.
    750 ml bottle of vodka
  • Screw on caps, set the jars in a cool dark place, and forget about them for a month. Once your month of waiting is up, strain out the tangerine peels and you're ready to mix a drink.


  • Makes about 5 pints.
  • Don't use the white pith, as that will impart a bitterness. Use a spoon to remove that, keeping just the colorful outer part of the fruit to make this tangerine or orange liqueur recipe.
  • You can use any citrus juice to make this liqueur. Grapefruit, orange, tangello -- they're all fair game. 


Serving: 1shot glass | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 0.04g | Fat: 0.04g | Saturated Fat: 0.002g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 0.4mg | Potassium: 13mg | Fiber: 0.01g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.02mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!
Originally published in February 2012; this post has been updated.

Click to save or share!

About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

49 comments… add one
  • Na7 whatsapp May 19, 2024 @ 8:47

    Love this recipe! I’ve been scouring the internet for a DIY triple sec recipe and this one is absolutely spot on. The flavors are so smooth and orangey, it’s like I’m sipping on a margarita at a fancy bar. Great job on sharing this recipe, can’t wait to experiment with it in my own cocktails!

  • Cheryl G. Giles Oct 30, 2023 @ 8:21

    I have a Calamondin tree and make liqueur and marmalade every year. Calamondin (cross between a Mandarine and a Kumkuat) has a most intense citrus flavor over and beyond that of any orange!

    • AttainableSustainable Nov 2, 2023 @ 5:14

      Interesting and sounds delicious!

  • Bee Feb 4, 2023 @ 15:55

    Does it have to be exactly one month? Will it get bitter if longer? TIA

    • Bee Feb 4, 2023 @ 15:57

      Also, how do you strain it? Cheese cloth? As there are some tiny seeds in there.

  • Karen Shepard Feb 2, 2023 @ 3:35

    I’m getting ready to strain and test my 1st batch of Triple Sec made from our tangerine fruit! I also salted Meyer lemons, and made lemon liqueur using vodka and tequila. I’ll add some simple syrup to the lemon versions- so hopefully those will turn out well. I’ll let you know my results.
    Do you have any suggestions as to possible uses for the peels after I strain them out from the liquor? I hate to waste them!

    • AttainableSustainable Feb 2, 2023 @ 4:52

      It all sounds delicious! As for the orange peels, maybe candy them? I’d say dry them for tea or use them for zest or a cleaning solution, but soaked in the liquor I’m not sure.

    • Karen Shepard Feb 2, 2023 @ 12:37

      Thanks! Yes- I wasn’t sure how the liquor might affect things. I’ll experiment and let you know. I hate to throw anything away!

    • Liz Collins Oct 20, 2023 @ 1:42

      Maybe chop and dry and use in baking or anything you would use candied fruit

  • Karen Jan 16, 2023 @ 15:44

    I have a batch going right now! Can’t wait to try it!

    • AttainableSustainable Jan 19, 2023 @ 7:38

      Yay, you’ll love it!

  • Andrew Nov 10, 2022 @ 19:36

    Why do some recipes use just the rind of the fruit and others use the whole fruit?
    Is there a reason?

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 4, 2023 @ 13:18

      I honestly don’t know.

    • Jeremiah Sesvold Apr 26, 2023 @ 15:02

      I’m assuming using just the rind allows you to extract the oils and flavors, without decreasing the ABV too much. It may also just have a stronger orange flavor coming from the rind than from the juice.

  • Catherine Jun 16, 2022 @ 19:40

    Just came on your recipe and am wondering if like making vanilla extract leaving it longer then a month to cure would give it even more flavor?

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 21, 2022 @ 3:01

      It might, try it!

  • kelbel Jun 12, 2022 @ 11:22

    If you mix this 50/50 with CranGrape juice and add ice, you have a refreshing boozy version of a grape tootsie roll lollipop, somehow.

    • AttainableSustainable Jun 14, 2022 @ 7:55

      That sounds pretty good!

  • Suzan Mar 5, 2022 @ 3:49

    Hi. My orange liquor has a harsh bitter taste. I tried adding more simple syrup and adding some cinnamon but it still is bitter. Any ideas on how to fix it?

    Thanks. SJ

    • AttainableSustainable Mar 8, 2022 @ 8:46

      If this batch is too bitter, try using it in cocktails to add other flavors to it and see if it’s more tolerable. I hope that helps!

  • Cynthia Jan 30, 2022 @ 18:39

    This homemade Triple Sec is amazingly good. My hubby and I drink it on the rocks with a splash of seltzer water. So good!

    • AttainableSustainable Feb 1, 2022 @ 4:50

      That sounds like a delicious way to drink it, glad you enjoy the recipe! 🙂

      • Andrea Wallace Oct 13, 2023 @ 9:29

        How long is this good for in the bottle since u don’t can it?

        • AttainableSustainable Dec 29, 2023 @ 10:15

          It should last a long while, months or more. Although I’m sure it will be gone by then!

  • plum Dec 19, 2021 @ 6:27

    This is fabulous. I want to make some more, to share. Is there any reason you can think of why it wouldn’t be ok to keep it in one container versus dividing it out for the month waiting period?

    • AttainableSustainable Dec 21, 2021 @ 9:34

      That should be ok if you have a container big enough and can still easily pour it. 🙂

  • Gretchen Wallace Sep 17, 2021 @ 7:50

    I’m trying the recipe for Christmas gifts this year. Where did you get the glasses shown in the picture? Thanks

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 18, 2021 @ 7:47

      Glad to hear it! And honestly I’m not sure – sorry!

  • C marty Dec 1, 2020 @ 14:38

    Enjoyed making this for Christmas gifts .
    I used Blood oranges. I found it much easier to use a potato peeler on the whole oranges to get thin strips of peel with no pith, also strained the orange juice it didn’t say to in the recipe. It also doesn’t say to refrigerate it?

  • Brenda Jul 30, 2020 @ 5:00

    Love the recipe. I make Limoncello and Orangecello every year, but have never tried this one. Seeing how I always have all that juice left after making Orangecello, this will be perfect. Where did you get those lovely liquor glasses?

    • Cassandra Dmytryshyn Oct 26, 2020 @ 16:58

      Can I use concentrated orange juice instead of juicing oranges?

      • Kris Bordessa Oct 26, 2020 @ 17:01

        YES. Just be sure to use 100% real juice and not an “orange drink.”

  • Mary Jean Jan 13, 2019 @ 8:22

    What if anything could I sub for the regular sugar in this? alternatives?

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 13, 2019 @ 8:24

      Mind you, I haven’t *tried it, but I imagine honey or rice syrup could work fine.

  • Rose Sep 29, 2018 @ 9:29

    Hi, can I use gin instead of vodka with the tangerines?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 17, 2018 @ 9:38

      Sure! It will taste different, but it will work.

  • Amanda Apr 4, 2018 @ 18:00

    How long does this last without going bad? Does it need to be refrigerated once it’s done brewing?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 9, 2018 @ 17:20

      Oh, for a good long time. I’d say at least a year. And no, I don’t keep it refrigerated.

  • christy Feb 16, 2014 @ 20:27

    can’t wait to try this recipe..i go through store bought triple sec way too fast. i hadn’t even thought that i could make my own…and i bet this is much tastier!

  • FrugalKiwi Mar 11, 2012 @ 16:35

    We are working on our first batches of limoncello and pompelmocello from very scratch-including brewing up the alcohol which is legal here in New Zealand. When our mandarins are ripe, we’ll have a go at some triple sec too. This sounds great.

    • Melanie Sep 24, 2014 @ 7:43

      We did makes some last year out of our mandarins and it was divine. This year I’m trying it with some of the neighbor’s tangelos.

    • Mikey E. Jan 31, 2020 @ 11:38

      I had an abundance of oranges and tangerines. Made a double batch, it turned out great.
      I also just made the simple syrup and keep it in the fridge, we love it.

      • Kris Bordessa Feb 6, 2020 @ 7:25

        Awesome! Thanks for letting me know you liked it.

  • sarah henry Feb 26, 2012 @ 21:13

    That sounds like a cocktail of choice on a balmy evening.

  • Sheryl Feb 26, 2012 @ 8:36

    Tangerine triple sec sounds divine. And how nice that you can just go out and pick your own fruit for it!
    PS. I’ll be right over (I wish…) 

  • SoniaR Feb 26, 2012 @ 8:26

    Kris, this sounds good!  I made pineapple vinegar using a similar method (no vodka, though 😉
    It was good!

  • Heather Feb 26, 2012 @ 3:07

    I did this recently too. I have a sour orange tree growing in the backyard of the house we just started renting. At first I was all “No scurvy for us,” thinking it was a regular orange tree. So disappointed when the fruits never got yummy! So I tried two recipes, one that called for just the peel and the other that used a whole orange and some coffee beans. Cant’ wait to try it out!

    • SoniaR Feb 26, 2012 @ 8:26

      Sour oranges are great for making a marinating sauce we Cubans call ‘mojo’ (pronounced moe-hoe).  You can adjust the quantities with no problems:
      Cuban Mojo Sauce
      3 heads garlic
      2 teaspoons salt
      1 teaspoon black peppercorns
      1 1/2 cups sour orange juice (In a pinch, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
      1 cup minced onion
      2 teaspoons oregano
      1 cup Spanish olive oil
      The mojo with oil marinade is best for chicken, duck, fish, and so on. The oil prevents the meat from losing fat and moisture.
      Mash garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in sour orange juice, onion, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.
      In a saucepan, heat olive oil to medium hot (approximately 220 degrees F) and remove from heat. Carefully whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture (prepared above) until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

      • Cat Apr 6, 2023 @ 12:32

        On the mojo…it says 3 heads of garlic. Does that mean cloves or actual whole heads of garlic. Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating