Try making this easy Orange Julius recipe at home for a tasty, refreshing treat that's creamy and frothy and citrusy sweet!
We love fun, refreshing drink recipes that the whole family can enjoy! Don't miss these other reader favorites: Fresh Squeezed Homemade Lemonade, Homemade Hawaiian Punch, and Easy Brazilian Lemonade (Limeade).
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 stovetop 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)
- Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Orange Julius Recipe
- 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- ¼ 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!
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
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Reader questions and reviews
Thanks so much for posting this recipe !! I Love orange Julius and they are such a happy memory from my childhood. I've not even thought about them for years so it was a nice surprise to see this.
Do you think they would turn out well using fresh orange juice ?
I never buy concentrate but I will if I have to so i can make these 😊
Yes! You can definitely make orange julius with fresh orange juice. Just omit the water called for in the recipe, as well as the orange juice concentrate, and replace them with 2 cups of fresh orange juice or even 4 peeled whole oranges. I would freeze the orange juice in an ice cube tray first so as not to affect the texture of the orange julius quite as much, which is going to be the main issue with not using concentrate, but that step isn't totally necessary for a delicious orange julius if you want to skip it.
I LOVE this recipe!! It is so YUMMY, and EASY!!
Thanks for including the variations too.
Sometimes my kids try this with frozen apple juice concentrate too.
I have never thought to try using apple juice concentrate! That's a fun idea!
I’m thinking of all the concentrate flavors out there and this is a terrific recipe thank you for posting!!
You're welcome! I've been meaning to try this with limeade concentrate but keep forgetting when I'm at the store!
Looks so delicious and refreshing! Perfect on hot summer days ♥
yum. Good without the ice cream those other recipies call for,...
My aunt Mary made the best best orange Julius. It was just like being at the mall. I wanted to get a recipe, but I haven’t got it yet so that’s why am looking on here. Thank you.
Thank you for posting this recipe! I grew up in SoCal, where the "OJ" (as we called it) was our favourite after-school (and weekend) hangout.
When I first tried orange julius at a mall kiosk I loved it.
Someone told me eggs were part of the recipe.
When some people got sick from uncleaned eggs. In other words dirt from the shells were allowed to infuse into the final product. They were thick, creamy, and delicious. The healthboard said no more raw eggs could be sold as prepared food. The recipe changed and so did the best things about OJ. LOL. I'll be trying orange julius with an egg. Will you?
I think I'll skip the egg in mine, lol, but let me know what you think if you try it!
Do we just, crack the egg in there, or no? I’ve heard about that that with the egg, but I’ve been scared to try it, but i dont know how to do that. Please respond! I really want to try this!
I think they meant egg white, as a yolk in there doesn't really make sense. Bartenders use egg whites often in 'sours' (e.g. whiskey sour).
Just made this recipe and I have to say....thank you. This is identical in flavor to the dairy Queen orange Julius that I spend an obscene amount of money on. I assumed that I needed a special powder to make this, I am amazed that I had always had all the ingredients right at home. How embarrassing lolol. Thanks again for sharing this, you have saved me a fortune!!!
You are welcome!
Use powered vanilla or powdered malt instead of liquid vanilla that has alcohol in it
So, what? Why does that matter?
I recall, as a child in San Diego, drinking Orange Julius. It was a fabulous drink. My version is always using fresh squeezed OJ, Ice, regular Milk, a small amount of powdered Sugar, vanilla Extract, and...wait...the addition of one egg. Yup the egg makes a great emulsifier y adds a creaminess that takes it over the top. Try it. You may like it.
This is amazing!! I usually half the recipe because my blender isn’t big enough but still great!
For someone who hasnt ever had an orange julius before, this was REALLY good.
I used oranges instead of the juice concentrate... I'm not a pulp kind of person, so that part was kind of hard for me. However, a simple strainer pulls it all out and is quite delicious. I am definitely going to be making this more using the juice concentrate!
Thank you for rocking my world! 😂😊
Wow! I loved this! I made about three to four batches in the blender! It's really a great recipe!
This was so delish! I made it 1/4 the size and it made enough for me and my little brother! They just need some icecream to make it creamy.
Im mexico you can't get the concentrate, but freezing fresh is good too. However the pulp from oranges prohibits a smooth creamy texture
Can you store extra in refrigerator ?
Not really. It will separate and the ice will melt so the texture won't be the same.
My kids and husband all asked me why I haven't been making this before now haha so delicious and easy to make!!
LOL, we make them for movie nights at home and enjoy them with popcorn!
Just made this today after finding out there is no longer anywhere to get an Orange Julius nearby. The flavor was perfect and it was all gone within a few minutes. A big thank you from Seattle!
I never leave comments on recipes. This one is so good and so simple that I was compelled. It’s delicious and tastes as good as an OG OJ.
Thank you for your comment! I'm so glad you thought so!