Try making this easy Orange Julius recipe at home for a tasty, refreshing treat that’s creamy and frothy and citrusy sweet!
I recently posted about how to make stovetop popcorn, which got me thinking about one of my favorite treat pairings from my childhood – freshly popped popcorn with homemade orange julius!
There is just something about that salty-sweet but also fruity combo that I loved growing up.
But I feel like most people’s experience with orange julius comes from those orange julius stands at the mall. At least, I used to see them at the mall, although I think they merged with Dairy Queen. Or I don’t visit the mall enough anymore to know if they are still around.
My orange julius recipe comes from an old family cookbook with plastic comb binding. You know the kind, right? The ones that are made by women’s groups at churches or collections from large family clans where everybody submits a few of their favorite recipes that then get compiled?
I LOVE those cookbooks and I have a number of them from family reunions and church groups and the pages are warped and splattered with vanilla stains.
The particular orange julius recipe I use was submitted jointly by my Grandma Johnson and Aunt Judy. The only change I’ve made here is to decrease the sugar a bit for a slightly less sweet orange julius than what I grew up with. It’s a bit more balanced this way, allowing the citrus to shine through a bit better I think.
If you love oranges and all things citrus-related, you should definitely check out these knotted orange sweet rolls that my sister-in-law Deborah makes. They are divine and I think they are perfect for Easter! Or make an orange jello salad to serve on the side!
What is an Orange Julius?
An orange julius is a cool, creamy drink that was created in the 1920’s in Los Angeles. Which makes perfect sense since that part of the country is still well know for it’s oranges. Orange County got it’s name for a good reason. Which is why I’m backtracking a bit and adding this yummy dessert beverage to my collection of California recipes for my American Eats series.
I grew up, well, all over. But I spent a lot of my childhood living in Southern California and I loved driving past the orange groves and smelling the orange blossoms. An orange julius definitely takes me right back to my childhood on so many levels.
The orange julius drink is made up of ice, orange juice, sweetener, milk and vanilla. It’s like a creamy, frothy smoothie except more dairy based. Or like a fruity, slightly icier milkshake.
I use low-fat milk but whole milk gives a slightly richer texture. The sugar is definitely necessary to balance out the tart, concentrated orange juice that you use for the orange flavor. We often used granulated sugar growing up, but powdered sugar makes for a smoother, less grainy version of the drink.
We like to make orange julius and popcorn for an after-school snack or for Family Home Evening treats. They are super fast and easy to make in a blender and we always have the ingredients on hand.
How to Make Orange Julius at Home
Making this copycat orange julius recipe at home couldn’t be easier. This is a great recipe for kids to make because they can do the whole thing all on their own.
Just add milk, water, orange juice concentrate, powdered sugar, vanilla, and ice to a blender.
Then blend the ingredients until smooth. Divide the orange julius between glasses and drink through a straw. It’s fun to garnish with a slice of orange for presentation.
Orange Julius Variations
- Orange Banana: Make the recipe as written except add in a frozen banana for a thicker, creamier shake with banana orange flavor.
- Strawberry Orange: Throw in a couple handfuls of fresh or frozen strawberries for a pretty pink variation.
- Pineapple Orange: Fresh or frozen pineapple works best, not canned.
- Dairy-Free Coconut Orange: If you need a dairy-free version or just want a tropical twist, swap out the milk for the same amount of coconut milk.
Can you make Orange Julius with Fresh Orange Juice?
Yes, you can make an orange julius with fresh orange juice instead of using orange juice concentrate. The texture is slightly different and the flavor might be slightly less orange-y since the orange flavor won’t be concentrated but it’s still completely delicious.
Just replace the 1 cup of water and 6 ounces of orange juice concentrate with 2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice. If you are planning ahead and can freeze the orange juice in an ice cube tray first before adding it to the blender, this will help the texture be closer to the original, but it’s not totally necessary.
Another option that I haven’t tried but that I’ve heard of is to just peel and use 4 whole oranges in place of the orange juice concentrate and water. If you try this approach, let me know what you think in the comments!
More Tasty Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Make in a Blender
- Virgin Pina Coladas
- Horchata (a Mexican cinnamon rice drink that is wonderful!)
- Brazilian Lemonade (Limeade)
Try making this easy Orange Julius recipe at home for a tasty, refreshing treat that's creamy and frothy and citrusy sweet!
- 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup ice cubes (about 8-10 ice cubes)
Combine orange juice concentrate, milk, water, powdered, sugar, vanilla, and ice cubes in a blender.
Blend until smooth and frothy, then divide between four cups and garnish with orange slices, if desired. Serve with a straw!
If you don't have orange juice concentrate or prefer to make your orange julius with fresh orange juice, just replace the orange juice concentrate and water called for in the recipe with 2 cups of fresh orange juice or 4 peeled oranges instead.
Have you tried this recipe?
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