So many sophisticated cocktails have Grand Marnier liqueur in them, and now it’s easy to make a homemade version!

All it takes are a few basic ingredients and a simple technique to make this fantastic Grand Marnier substitute! Cognac or brandy liqueur is tinged with a hint of citrusy bitter orange. This Homemade Grand Marnier recipe is the best way to up-level everything from coffee to cocoa to all kinds of cocktails. Learn how to make the best liqueur ever, right at home, with this easy brewing method that’s ready to use in no time.  

shot glass full of Homemade Grand Marnier

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What is Grand Mariner?

Grand Marnier is a brandy based liqueur with an light orange flavor. It’s slightly sweet with a slightly strong finish. Grand Marnier was started in 1880 in a fruit distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, a small city outside of Paris. It was an idea originated by Louis-Alexandre Marnier, who had a novel idea to combine French cognac with a bitter orange from the Caribbean.1

  • Prepare this Grand Marnier recipe and package it in small, elegant bottles for friends and family as a special gift!
  • Sip Grand Marnier on its own neat, on the rocks, or warmed up. It warms easily for 15-30 seconds in the microwave. Serve in a snifter for a warm and cozy drink, perfect for drinking apres-ski, or by the fire wrapped in a cozy blanket.
  • Add it to any hot or cold drink. Every home bar set-up needs a bottle of Grand Marnier! Cointreau is a suitable substitute for Grand Marnier but it won’t have that smooth, aged finish.
  • Similar to Cointreau or Triple Sec because of its orange flavor, Grand Marnier is a combination of both liqueurs and adds a heady, rich flavor to nearly any libation from margaritas to shots and even bubbly Prosecco for a fancy toast!

Homemade Grand Marnier ingredients and tools

Ingredients & Variations

BRANDY: The base of the best Grand Marnier recipe starts with brandy. Often, it is said “the better the quality, the better the result.” If you’d like, choose a top-shelf, aged Cognac or brandy. Cognac is distinctively French, so it’s smoother (and pricier!), but a quality VS (Very Special) brandy will do, especially if you are making Grand Marnier for the first time. 

We’ve done tests using 5 types of brandy, at the same time, and did taste tests. While each type of brandy tastes slightly different in the final product, the more expensive cognacs didn’t prove to be “twice as nice” as the more reasonably priced ones. So for your first time, as mentioned, a nice VS brandy will do just fine!

FLAVORINGS: Grand Marnier liqueur needs sugar, an orange, and some lemon zest. Superfine sugar will dissolve more quickly. Be sure to scrub and dry the navel orange and lemon before using to remove any chemicals or wax that may have been applied to the peels during transportation to the market. A clean, organic cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, or a couple of star anise pieces can be added to the mixture for some depth of flavor and a little variation on the regular taste.

hanging oranges in jars to make Homemade Grand Marnier

How to Make Grand Mariner

This festive looking jar will look beautiful on the pantry shelf while it marinates, and prep is so easy!

  1. Combine brandy, sugar, and lemon zest in a large jar (as per recipe below).
  2. Suspend the orange over the brandy and close the jar tightly.
  3. Swirl the jar so the orange gets coated with the brandy  and then shake or swirl the jar a few times a day for 10 to 12 days. Swirling the jar daily mixes the orange essence into the brandy, which is where the lovely orange flavor comes from.
  4. Once ready, discard the orange and twine.
  5. Strain the liqueur and store in bottles at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

filling jars with Homemade Grand Marnier

Must Try Tips & Tricks

  • Use twice as much twine so you won’t have to pierce the orange more than once. A turkey lacer makes an excellent ‘needle.’
  • Do not steep longer than 12 days. If the orange appears to be discolored or mushy, remove it, strain, and store per recipe directions.
  • Always start with clean fruits, a clean jar free of detergent residue, and clean hands. If the mixture gets polluted, it will spoil and you’ll have to start all over again.
  • Store homemade Grand Marnier liquor in a cool, dark place with other spirits and liqueurs and it will last in the refrigerator up to a year.

Homemade Grand Marnier in a jar with bottle in the back

Best Grand Marnier Cocktails

While there are cocktails that Grand Marnier is specially made for, there are others that it makes a tasty substitute. Switch out the Triple Sec and make a delish Strawberry Margarita with Grand Marnier (and remember to add the float too!). And for a fun shot, use Grand Marnier in a B-52. Try the stunning Irish Flag shooter, or add a splash of Grand Marnier to a Sidecar, Manhattan, and even a cool glass of Creamy Lemonade or iced tea by the pool!

glasses filled with Homemade Grand Marnier

More Drink Recipes

shot glass full of Homemade Grand Marnier
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Homemade Grand Marnier

This homemade version of Grand Marnier liqueur is easy to make at home.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 12 days
Total Time 12 days 30 minutes
Servings 18 servings
Author Candace


  • 26 ounces brandy or cognac
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 orange large navel orange is best


  • In a large jar, combine brandy, sugar, and lemon zest. The sugar may not all dissolve at first.
  • Thread kitchen twine through the center of the orange*. Suspend the orange 1 inch above the surface of the brandy**.
  • Shake the jar to coat the orange in the brandy, and then shake the jar 3-4 times per day for 10-12 days***. The droplets (essential oils) on the outside of the orange should be mixed into the brandy (and the sugar will dissolve).
  • After the grand marnier is ready, discard the orange and twine. Using a funnel and cheesecloth strain the grand marnier (to remove the lemon zest).
  • Store grand marnier in bottles or jars. Will keep for a few months at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


*Cut more twine than you think you’ll need. I use a turkey lacer to thread the twine through the orange, but any sharp object should work.
**Use clips, buttons, or another object to help keep the orange suspended, leaving the objects on the outside of the lid with the orange in the jar. After closing the jar lid, adjust the orange to be 1 inch above the brandy. Seal the jar tightly to avoid leaking when shaking the jar.
***12 days is best. If you notice the orange starting to rot, remove the orange, strain brandy and store per instructions.
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Nutrition Information

Serving: 2ounces | Calories: 138 | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American

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2 glasses of Grand Marnier Liqueur with writing

2 shot glasses of Grand Marnier with writing

A shot glass of Grand Marnier Liqueur with writing

Two glasses of Grand Marnier with writing

Top image - 2 glasses of Grand Marnier Liqueur. Bottom image - a shot of Grand Marnier with writing

A shot glass of Grand Marnier Liqueur with writing

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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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      1. Mama-mia, Sacre Bleu!! And all the rest! I cannot wait to try this as GM is my absolute No. 1 drink but the exorbitant pricing and the speed with which the bottle empties are both prohibitive!

        Thank you Candace, I’ll be back (as Arnie would say) to let you know if I am going to dump the original and make gallons of your version! Is heaven around the corner? Let’s see!