Almond extract delivers a strong nutty flavor to various baking recipes. If you’re looking for an almond extract substitute, your best options are vanilla extract and Amaretto. You can also make your own almond extract with vodka, clear rum, or food-grade glycerin and raw, unshelled almonds.
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What is an almond extract?
The almond extract – made from bitter almond oil and ethyl alcohol – has a nutty flavor with subtle bitterness and sweetness. Though “almond” is in its name, it doesn’t taste like sweet almond nuts. Its flavor profile is more similar to marzipan.
It’s used sparingly in desserts and baked goods like cakes, cookies, brownies, and ice cream. It also adds flavor to coffee, cocoa beverages, and liqueurs.
When you visit a grocery store, get a pure almond extract, considered the most genuine among the available types of this extract.
Imitation almond extract is not made from bitter almonds but from synthetic benzaldehyde. On the other hand, natural almond extract mimics almond oil flavor with the help of cassia bark or stone fruits like apricots (which belong to the same Prunus genus that almonds are a part of).
10 potential almond extract substitutes
If you don’t have this extract in your kitchen, use the following almond extract substitute options.
- Vanilla extract
- Orange zest
- Cherry juice
- Almond liqueur
- Mint extract and chocolate
- Lemon extract
- Other nut extracts
- Homemade almond extract
|Amaretto||Has a similar flavor profile, yet milder, great for various dishes, except savory|
|Vanilla extract||Provides recipes with a sweet flavor and a floral aroma, milder than almond extract, used as a swap for baked goods|
|Cinnamon||Packs a strong flavor that’s sweet, spicy, and woodsy, ideal for making sweet (but not fruity) dishes|
|Orange zest||Strikes a great balance between tang and bitterness, pairs well with sweet dishes that use chocolate, cinnamon, or honey|
|Cherry juice||Cherry pits and almonds have a similar flavor, cherry juice is used for various recipes|
|Almond liqueur||Almond-flavored liqueur can be a tricky replacement, as it has high alcohol content and may easily overpower the dish|
|Mint extract and chocolate||Chocolate and mint extract give a sweet flavor and scent with bitter undertones, are a good substitute in recipes that don’t feature dominant flavors, like strawberry or lemon|
|Lemon extract||If the recipe doesn’t involve too delicate ingredients (like mint or chocolate), you can manage with a lemon extract as a replacement|
|Other nut extracts||Pecan extract is sweet and has a rich vanilla-like flavor, with hints of butter and pecan, hazelnut extract has nutty and earthy undertones, walnut extract offers a strong walnut, earthy flavor|
|Homemade almond extract||Gives the same flavor as store-bought, if made correctly|
Amaretto is one of the best almond extract substitutes because it has a similar flavor profile, yet milder. It’s made of apricot kernels mixed with other spices and herbs.
To replicate that nutty taste, use a 1:4 ratio — for every 1 part almond extract, use 4 parts Amaretto.
To get the consistency you want when baking, consider reducing the amount of liquid ingredients like milk or water or adding more flour. Also, note this substitute is not that useful when making savory dishes.
2. Vanilla Extract
This vanilla flavoring is a more commonly used extract than almond, so many use this as an almond extract replacement. The oil from vanilla extract comes from the vanilla bean, providing recipes with a sweet flavor and a floral aroma.
Like Amaretto, it’s milder than almond extract. When used as a swap for baked goods, follow a 1:2 ratio. Use less if the recipe already has other forms of vanilla, such as vanilla bean paste.
Cinnamon packs a strong flavor that’s sweet, spicy, and woodsy. Though it doesn’t have many similarities to the flavor of almond extract, you can use it when making sweet (but not fruity) dishes — for example, cookies, cakes, and puddings.
When used as a replacement, start with a small amount. About ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon is enough to deliver nutty and earthy tones.
4. Orange Zest
Orange zest strikes a great balance between tang and bitterness. If you replace the almond extract with it, use ½ teaspoon of its pureed version for every 3 drops of almond extract. This avoids infusing the recipe with sour notes and prevents the dish from changing its texture.
The zest of this citrus fruit pairs well with sweet dishes that use chocolate, cinnamon, or honey.
5. Cherry Juice
Maraschino cherry juice is a great substitute because cherry pits and almonds have a similar flavor. However, the latter has a stronger flavor than cherry pits, so when using cherry juice as a swap, use 4 times the quantity of the almond extract needed.
6. Almond Liqueur
Almond liqueur or almond-flavored liqueur can be a tricky replacement. Though this liqueur and almond extract share several similarities, it has high alcohol content.
Depending on the brand, you may need to follow a 1:4 to 1:8 ratio. Going beyond this can alter the texture of your recipe and can give it an overpowering bitter taste and smell.
7. Mint Extract and Chocolate
When you combine chocolate and mint extract, you get a sweet flavor and scent with bitter undertones, resembling the almond extract taste.
It’s a good substitute in recipes that don’t feature dominant flavors, like strawberry or lemon.
For the ratio, use 2 teaspoons of chocolate extract and 2 teaspoons of mint extract for every 3 drops of almond extract.
8. Lemon Extract
If the recipe doesn’t involve too delicate ingredients (like mint or chocolate), you can manage with a lemon extract as a replacement for almond extract.
Mix 1 part filtered water with 6 parts lemon juice to make a lemon extract. Use 1 part lemon extract for every 1 part almond extract.
9. Other Nut Extracts
You can count on other nut extracts to give your culinary pieces an almond extract-like taste. Whether you’re using a pecan, hazelnut, or walnut extract, follow a 1:1 ratio.
Pecan extract is sweet and has a rich vanilla-like flavor, with hints of butter and pecan. Hazelnut extract has nutty and earthy undertones. Meanwhile, walnut extract offers a strong walnut, earthy flavor.
10. Homemade Almond Extract
If you want an almond extract but don’t have a ready-made one, you can prepare homemade almond extract yourself. However, you will need to wait before you can truly replicate the unique flavor of almond extract.
If you need it now, simply toast some almonds, slice them into small bits, and mix them with vodka in a jar. Remove the solids and evaporate the solution to get the extract.
How Can I make my own almond extract?
If you’re trying to make your own, know it takes over a month before your homemade almond extract will yield the desired flavor.
Here’s how to get started:
- First, you must prepare the ingredients: raw, unshelled almonds, vodka (use clear rum or food-grade glycerin as an alternative), and water
- Blanch the almonds by putting them in a bowl and bring a cup of water to a boil
- Chop the blanched almonds, then place them in a glass jar
- Using vodka, clear rum, or glycerin, fill up the jar until it reaches an inch above the almonds
- Seal the jar and shake.
- Store in a cool dark place for 5 to 6 weeks. You can also give it a good shake every day
- When it’s time to use it, pour off the amount you need. You can also strain the almonds and keep the extract for more efficient use in the future
Can I skip almond extract?
If you have a nut allergy that may be severe and life-threatening, consider using an almond extract substitute that doesn’t involve nuts. Additionally, you can skip it altogether — the final culinary output will have a subtly different flavor but will still taste great.