The 9 Best Rose Water Substitutes

Rose water is often used for skincare products but this beautifully fragrant floral water also has a variety of other uses.

If you don’t have any rose water to hand, then you can also enjoy rose water substitutes that resemble the subtle fragrance of rose petal water.

You can add rose water to give your savory and sweet dishes a botanical aroma. While rose water is popular in Indian cuisine, it works best in desserts, cakes and cocktails.

We take a closer look at the 9 best rose water substitutes that you can add to your cooking or baking.

The 9 Best Rose Water Substitutes

What Is Rose Water?

Rose water is pure water infused with the aroma of rose petals. It is made in a distillation process that combines rose petals and steam.

Rose water is a popular ingredient in French, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. This being said, rose-infused water is also a key ingredient in many skincare products, such as creams, lotions and soaps.

The 9 Best Rose Water Substitutes

You use rose water almost everywhere. While this fragrant botanical water is a staple at grocery stores, you might not want to take a trip to the store or you just want to spruce up your dishes with something different.

Then you can add a great variety of rose water alternatives to your sweet and savory dishes, from rose essence to lemon juice.

Here are our best rose water substitutes that give your recipes a subtle floral flavor.

1. Rose Essence

Also known as rose extract, rose essence is the closest alternative to rose water. It has the same concentrated rose flavor and powerful rosy smell.

This makes rose essence ideal for recipes where you want the floral notes to come out in your dish. You can use rose extract in cooking, baking and even cocktails.

Rose essence is typically available in grocery stores but you can also make your own rose extract at home.

As rose extract contains concentrated rose flavor, you need to be careful with the amounts of extract you add to your dishes. Rose essence is much stronger than rose water.

If you add too much rose extract, then your recipes may taste like soap or artificial. The best way to avoid this is by adding only a quarter of the amount of rosewater you would add to the recipe.

As long as you make sure that you only add a little bit of rose essence to your cooking or baking, you will get a subtle rose aroma that tastes and smells just like rose water.

2. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is another fantastic alternative for rose water. It doesn’t change the flavor of your dish and you can still enjoy the gentle floral aroma.

This being said vanilla extract is a lot more intense than rose water. It also has a greater sweetness which means that you need to use only a small amount of vanilla extract to achieve the same rosewater flavor.

If you include too much vanilla extract in your recipe, then it might be too sweet. You may also end up with a strong alcoholic aroma which doesn’t work in every dish.

The best way to use vanilla extract as a rose water replacement is to add it to your baking recipes. The sweetness often balances well with other baking ingredients, such as sugar or flour.

3. Crushed Rose Petals

If you want to create a natural flavor in your recipes, then crushed rose petals are one of the best rose water alternatives.

You can create a subtle rose flavoring, together with a crunchy texture. This makes crushed rose petals ideal for baked goods, such as cookies and cakes. You can even use rose petals as decoration.

It is important that you only use rose petals that haven’t been treated with pesticides. You also need to avoid rose bushes in dusty environments, such as near roads.

4. Rose Oil

Rose oil is an oil-based rose flavoring that has similar concentrations to rose extract. You can easily use it as a rose water substitute. However, make sure to use only 2 drops of rose oil for your dish.

As rose petals contain natural oils, rose oil is one of the best ways to replace rose water. This being said, you need to be careful with adding this oil to hot dishes.

Rose oil isn’t very stable in hot temperatures, so the flavor might burn off in recipes that require higher cooking temperatures.

However, rose oil is ideal for baking and chocolate making. You can add the oil to tempered chocolate and make your favorite chocolate bars.

5. Dried Rose Powder

It only takes a teaspoon of dried rose powder to give your recipes a subtle rose flavor.

Rose powder is perfect for smoothies, cocktails, lattes, baking and cooking. You can even use it for making homemade face masks and cosmetics.

If you need a dry rose water substitute, then dried rose powder is perfect. It doesn’t add any moisture to recipes, such as whipped desserts or frozen jelly pudding.

6. Lemon Juice

While lemon juice doesn’t sound like the most obvious rose water substitute, it is a great ingredient in many baked goods.

The citrus flavor of lemon juice can taste slightly aromatic, fruity and floral which creates the subtle notes of rose water.

Plus, lemon juice is widely available which makes it an easy alternative to find in your nearest grocery store.

Alternatively, you can also make your own freshly squeezed lemon juice which makes your dishes taste light and zesty.

Depending on your recipe, you may need to use a smaller amount of this fruity juice. It is worth adding some juice to your recipe and then taste it.

7. Lavender

Lavender has a beautiful aroma because it contains a large amount of essential oils, similar to rose. This makes fresh or dried lavender ideal for many dishes.

It closely resembles rose water but adds a spicy twist to your recipes. That’s why it is a good idea to use lavender in small amounts.

While lavender is often used in sweet dishes, it also has a place in many savory recipes because lavender combines well with turkey, chicken, lamb and salmon.

8. Orange Flower Water

While orange flower water isn’t as strong as lemon juice, it has the same zesty flavors that are often enjoyed in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

The subtle citrus notes make orange flower water the perfect alternative to rose water.

Orange flower water is made in a slightly different way to rose water. This type of flower water uses crushed flowers that are mixed with pure water.

This process gives it a stronger flavor than rose water which makes it suitable for spicy dishes.

As orange flower water is also a type of floral water, it works well as a liquid rose water substitute, so you can use it as a one-to-one ratio.

9. Pandan

Pandan is a herbal plant with vanilla notes. It is a staple in Asian cuisine where chefs use chopped pandan leaves in a variety of recipes.

While it has similar flavors to vanilla and rose extract, it doesn’t taste exactly the same. This being said, if you want to make an Asian dish without rose water, then pandan is the best alternative.

You can find pandan in Asian stores where you can buy pandan leaves, pandan liquid extract or pandan powder.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy our 9 best rose water substitutes in your favorite cake or a special Middle Eastern recipe.

Alternatively, you can easily make your own rose water at home. Just take a handful of fragrant rose petals, simmer them in water for an hour and then strain the water.

If you need rose water quickly, then you can simply use one of the rose water alternatives.

The 9 Best Rose Water Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Rose Essence

  • Vanilla Extract

  • Crushed Rose Petals

  • Rose Oil

  • Dried Rose Powder

  • Lemon Juice

  • Lavender

  • Orange Flower Water

  • Pandan


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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