19+ best Ouzo Substitutes & way to use

Ouzo is popular for its distinct anise flavor and its translucent cloudy appearance.

It is often served as an aperitif or after-dinner drink, usually with ice cubes and water or sometimes without any addition of water.

If you cannot find ouzo or if you want to try something different, here are the best substitutes for ouzo.

What kind of alcohol is ouzo? What is ouzo used for?

Ouzo is a clear, anise-flavored alcoholic beverage that is popular in Greece and Cyprus. It typically has an alcohol content of between 37–50%.

Ouzo is traditionally served as an aperitif or digestive after meals, mixed with water to create a milky white drink.

It can also be appreciated neat or over ice, and some people enjoy adding other ingredients like citrus fruits or herbs for flavor.

Ouzo is often paired with appetizers such as Greek mezes (small dishes) for flavor balance.

In some regions of the world, ouzo may also be used in cooking to add flavor to sauces and marinades. It is also a popular choice for cocktails and mixed drinks.

Ouzo can be found in many liquor stores, supermarkets, and specialty liquor shops.

Best Ouzo substitutes

1. Pastis or pernod – a good Ouzo Substitute

Pernod is the most similar to ouzo because it also uses star anise as its main flavor. Pernod is also more readily available than ouzo, so it may be the best choice if you cannot find ouzo.

However, Pernod is sweeter than ouzo, so you may want to add a little bit of lemon juice to balance out the sweetness.

Ouzo can be hard to find in some places, so good substitutes like pastis or Pernod will do the trick. These anise-flavored liqueurs have a seven percent alcohol by volume.

pernod is a good ouzo substitute

While they may not have the same potency as ouzo (which is about twice that ABV), their lightness can be a blessing for those who are more sensitive to alcohol effects.

Pastis and Pernod work best in drinks like the refreshing cocktail Faire La Réverence or The Cannibal Corpse, each of which has subtle differences in its ingredients that bring out distinctive flavors from either spirit.

So, when you’re unable to find ouzo at the store, remember that pastis and Pernod make great alternatives!

2. Sambuca 

Sambuca is a great alternative to ouzo. It is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur. Sambuca has a sweet taste, but it also has herbal notes that give it balance and complexity.

Traditionally, sambuca is enjoyed as a digestif after meals, either straight or mixed with coffee to make a classic Italian cocktail called “sambuccino.” However, sambuca can also be used in many cocktails for additional flavor.

Popular options include mixing it with vodka and lemonade (known as the Lemon Drop), adding it to white wine spritzers (the Red Sangria), and adding it to champagne (the Sambuca Royale).

It can also be used in cooking, bringing a unique flavor to many dishes. Try using sambuca as part of a marinade for meat or fish or drizzling it over fruits such as melon and strawberries.

There’s no wrong way to enjoy this sweet-yet-herbal liqueur!

3. Raki- an ideal Ouzo alternative

Raki is an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage, typically enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It is made from two base ingredients: grape alcohol and aniseed.

The combination of these components creates a flavorful spirit that has subtle notes of licorice and sweetness with a dry finish. Raki can be served chilled or at room temperature, depending on the preference of the drinker.

Due to its distinct anise flavor, raki pairs well with a variety of dishes. It is often enjoyed with mezze, an assortment of small appetizer-style dishes.

In Turkey, it is also consumed following a meal as a digestif to aid in digestion. Additionally, raki can be used as an ingredient in cooking and baking, adding flavor and complexity to various dishes.

4. Arak

Arak is a type of liquor traditionally made in the Middle East, some Mediterranean regions, and North Africa.

The drink is typically produced with aniseed as its main flavoring, which is similar to the taste of ouzo and displays many similarities when comparing the two drinks.

Arak has a mild yet distinctive taste which makes it ideal as a substitute for ouzo. Unlike ouzo, Arak is naturally colorless but turns milky white when mixed with water due to its anise content.

As a result, it has earned a reputation as the ‘lion’s milk’ in countries like Lebanon and Iraq.

When served on its own, Arak can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature. However, it works better when used to make cocktails or as part of long drinks that include other ingredients such as herbs and spices.

With this variety of drinking options on offer, Arak can be a delicious replacement for ouzo that also takes your tongue on a trip around the world!

5. Absinthe

Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic spirit derived from herbs and spices, including grand wormwood, green anise, and fennel.

It has a much higher alcohol content (45-89% ABV) than ouzo (which typically sits at around 40% ABV). It is also less sweet than ouzo—absinthe has herbal notes that are not present in ouzo.

Unlike ouzo, absinthe can be enjoyed neat or with a small quantity of water added to it. If served this way, the addition of the water causes the absinthe to “louche” or turn cloudy white.

Absinthe is most often enjoyed neat or slightly diluted with cold water or as an apéritif before meals or as part of cocktail mixes.

Adding water causes the essential oils in the absinthe to emulsify, which creates the signature louche effect- a milky haze that forms when water is added to this unique spirit.

6. Try Aguardiente to replace Ouzo Substitute

Aguardiente is a strong and flavorful alcoholic beverage that is gaining popularity around the world as an excellent substitute for ouzo.

The spirit can be found all over Latin America, where it’s often infused with any number of native fruits and spices, giving it a unique regional flair.

In its most popular form, Aguardiente is a clear spirit made in Colombia from fermented sugarcane juice. 

It has an intense flavor of anise and licorice with a hint of sweetness, making it perfect for pairing with citrus-y dishes or simply sipping on its own.

Whether you’re searching for a great method to add some pizzazz to your next dinner party, or simply enjoy a unique distilled beverage all on its own, give Aguardiente a try—it’s sure to be a hit!

7. Mastika

Instead of trying to find a recipe that includes ouzo for your next Greek feast, why not switch it up with mastika?

This popular Greek spirit has anise as its main flavor profile and is known for its sweet and aromatic touch. Unlike ouzo, mastika has a more woody aroma and feelings of bitterness, similar to menthol.

Ideal when served neat or on the rocks, this is the perfect choice to make a refreshing summer cocktail. Enjoy its distinctive taste paired with traditional appetizers such as olives, bread, or dolmades.

Mastika will provide a unique experience and memorable moments for all your guests!

8. Anisette – an excellent Ouzo Substitute

One of the best-kept secrets in the world of cocktails is ouzo’s flavor cousin, anisette.

It has a very similar flavor profile to ouzo with its characteristic licorice notes, but it doesn’t contain any of the strong spices that some find too off-putting in ouzo.

This makes it a perfect option for those who want to add that subtle hint of sweetness, bitterness, and aroma to their drinks.

Anisette is slightly sweeter than ouzo, so it mixes better with other ingredients like fruit juices and syrups while still retaining its unique flavor characteristics.

If you’re searching for a good substitute for ouzo in your cocktails without sacrificing the flavor, anisette is a great choice.

9. Galliano

Galliano is a great option. Packed with a range of herbs, flowers, and spices such as star anise, juniper berry, musk yarrow, elderflower root, and much more.

It is flavorful enough to give any drink character – and smooth enough to enjoy on its own. It has a delectable spicy-citrus flavor that pairs well with anything from fresh fruit or coffee to desserts or cocktails.

It’s slightly sweeter than ouzo but still has a slightly boozy taste and makes for a great liqueur on its own or in mixed drinks.

Those who enjoy the herbal twist of ouzo will appreciate this subtle yet complex flavor combo of Galliano.

Try replacing ouzo with Galliano in drinks like the Greek Orgasm or the Adonis, and you won’t be disappointed!

10. Herbsaint

Mediterranean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular among food connoisseurs. Its unique spices and flavor combinations make it a favorite for any special occasion.

One traditional flavor of the area is ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur that is often used as a digestif or cocktail ingredient. If you’re in search of a good substitution for ouzo, then Herbsaint may be the answer.

With an absinthe-like taste, Herbsaint bridges the gap between the herbal notes of ouzo, creating a richly flavored combination that will please even the pickiest palates!

This genie-like beverage made with a blend of 86 herbs and spices hails from Louisiana and is quite different in the flavor profile.

You’ll get bright flavors of anise, licorice, and peppermint with subtle hints of lemon zest, stone fruit, and flowers all in one bottle.

Whether savored neat or as the perfect base for your favorite craft cocktail concoctions, Herbsaint is sure to become the new favorite in your liquor cabinet.

11. Xtabentún

Xtabentún is an alcoholic beverage produced in the Yucatán Penninsula of Mexico. It is made from fermented honey, anise, and rum.

The name Xtabentún comes from a Mayan word meaning “honey flower,” referring to the nectar-rich flowers used in its production.

Xtabentún has a unique taste that can be described as sweet, spicy, and slightly smoky. It has a deep brown color with hints of red and bottom notes of licorice flavor while sipping it.

The primary use for Xtabentún is as an after-dinner drink or digestif because of its sweet flavor profile.

xtabentun is a good ouzo alternative

It is often served neat or over ice as a refreshing treat on hot days. Some people also enjoy adding it to coffee or tea for an extra kick of flavor.

Xtabentún can also be used in cocktails, such as margaritas or mojitos, to add sweetness and complexity. Additionally, some recipes call for using it to marinate food before cooking.

It is a multipurpose liqueur that can be used in many ways!

non-alcoholic substitute for ouzo

1. Anise extract

Anise extract is the best non-alcoholic substitution for ouzo.

As a substitute, it can be used to make ouzo drinks and cocktails such as the Greek Fizz. It is also used to flavor dishes such as moussaka and pastitsio.

Anise extract can be added to cakes, cookies, bread, and other baked goods for a unique flavor.

When using anise extract in place of ouzo, you should use half the amount called for by the recipe since anise extract is much more potent than ouzo.

Additionally, if you’d like your food or drink to have that distinct licorice-like taste of ouzo without the alcohol content, adding a few drops of pure anise oil may do the trick.

With its numerous uses in cooking and baking, anise extract is a great substitute for ouzo.

2. Ouzo Flavored Water

This non-alcoholic ouzo has all the essence of the original liqueur but None of the alcohol. Sip it on its own or use it as a mixer in cocktails. Ouzo water can be enjoyed any time of day!

3. Ouzo Soft Drink – a good non-alcoholic substitute for ouzo

This is another great way to enjoy the taste of ouzo without alcohol. There are a few brands that make ouzo soda, so it should be easy to find one that you like.

The taste is slightly sweet with a strong anise flavor – just like the real thing! Serve it over ice for a rejuvenating treat on a hot summer day.

If you want something fizzy without any sweetness, try seltzer water with a few drops of ouzo extract or oil added. It’s not quite the same as soda, but it’s close enough!

4. Frozen Grape

 If you’re searching for a quick and easy way to enjoy the flavor of ouzo without any alcohol, try freezing some grapes.

Then, simply add a few frozen grapes to your glass of sparkling water for a refreshing “mocktail.” You can also add them to smoothies or yogurt for a tasty treat!

5. Star anise pods

One other item you may want to consider keeping on hand if you enjoy cooking with ouzo is star anise pods.

Simply add one or two pods to your dish while cooking for a boost of flavor – then remove them before serving.

These can be found in most grocery stores these days, and they’ll last indefinitely if preserved in a cool, dark place.

6. Licorice Root Powder- non-alcoholic replacement for ouzo

The licorice root powder is another great substitute for ouzo extract or oil. It has a similar taste, but it isn’t quite as potent, so you may need to utilize more than you would with extract/oil.

Just be careful not to overdo it! You can find licorice root powder online and at some health food stores.”

7. Fennel Seeds

Last but not least, fennel seeds are another common ingredient used in recipes calling for anise flavorings like ouzoice seeds have a very mild licorice flavor, so they won’t be quite as potent as some of the other substitutes on this list.

But they’ll work in a pinch!”

8. Dill Seeds

Dill seeds have a mild anise flavor that makes them perfect for substituting in recipes calling for ouscrubbed potatoes.”

9. Tarragon Leaves

Tarragon leaves have a licorice-like flavor that makes them ideal for substituting in recipes calling for ouroot vegetables.”

FAQs on Ouzo Substitute

Q1. Is ouzo similar to gin?

No, ouzo is not similar to gin. Ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored spirit made from distilled grapes and flavored with aniseed and other herbs such as fennel, coriander, star anise, mastic, or licorice. It has a sweet, herbal aroma with a mild licorice flavor.

Gin is a juniper-infused grain alcohol that typically has strong citrus notes and can be mixed into cocktails. The two spirits are distinctly different in taste and preparation.

While ouzo pairs well with fish dishes, desserts, and fruits such as melon or strawberry, gin is usually enjoyed neat or on the rocks but also makes excellent cocktails when paired with tonic water or citrus juice.

The two spirits are not interchangeable and cannot be used as substitutes in recipes. If you’re looking for an anise-flavored spirit, ouzo is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a cocktail ingredient or a strong citrus profile, then gin is the ideal choice.

Both spirits offer unique flavors that can create memorable experiences when enjoyed responsibly.

Q2. Can I substitute ouzo for Pernod?

Yes, you can use ouzo as a substitute for Pernod. Ouzo is an anise-flavored Greek liqueur that is often used as a substitute for Pernod. Like Pernod, ouzo has a distinct flavor of licorice and other herbs.

When substituting ouzo for Pernod in cocktails or recipes, it’s important to remember that ouzo has a higher alcohol content—over 40 percent ABV compared to the 40 percent ABV of Pernod. As such, you may need to adjust measurements accordingly if substituting ouzo for Pernod in any recipe.

Additionally, keep in mind that ouzo will give your drinks and dishes their own unique flavor, which may not be what you intended. If you’re using ouzo as a substitute for Pernod in cocktails, try it before committing to the recipe to make sure that the flavor is right for your taste. Enjoy!

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