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Almond Extract Substitute


When it comes to finding a good almond extract substitute, there are quite a few options available. Next time you’re preparing muffins, French toast, or cakes, consider using one of the options below.

white table top with dark brown glass bottle labeled "organic pure almond extract"

What Is Almond Extract?

Almond extract is one of the top flavoring agents that adds a strong almond taste to recipes. This extract was created after the 1700s. During this time, there was a shift in how food items were transported, including processing for better preservation. The downside of processing was removing a lot of the flavor from foods. Flavored extracts became an easy way to add a variety of flavors back in foods. 

You can use it in many baking recipes, including sweet and savory (like bread) dishes. Almond extract is often used in cakes because it gives them a sweet and nutty almond flavoring. You can also use it in other desserts, like ice cream or pudding.

This extract is made from different ingredients depending on whether you purchase natural almond extract, pure almond extract, or imitation almond extract. Below, you’ll find the difference between each.

Almond Extract Varieties

As noted above, the three varieties of almond extract include pure, natural, and imitation.

Pure almond extract (typically found on store shelves) is created from bitter almonds. These almonds, alcohol, and water are combined to create the extract. On some occasions, this type of extract is made from apricot kernels or similar stone fruits.

Natural almond extract is not made from almonds. Instead, it’s made from cassia bark (like cinnamon). 

Imitation almond extract recreates the taste of pure almond extract using chemicals. This replacement for almond extract is the most cost-effective option at local grocery stores. 

Regardless of the ingredients in each type of extract, they have nearly the same flavor. There are very subtle taste differences. However, most people will not notice this in recipes unless they have a sensitive palate. 

Almond Extract Substitutes and Alternatives

Imitation Almond Extract

Imitation almond extract is a good substitute for almond extract in a pinch. As no nuts are used in processing this extract, it makes an excellent swap for those who have a nut allergy and still want a nutty, almond taste.

Pros

This almond extract alternative is easy to find and affordable. It replaces the flavor nearly perfectly. Use it for all recipes.

Cons

Those with a sensitive palate may taste the small taste difference in this swap.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use this replacement in a 1:1 ratio.

Amaretto (Almond Flavored Liqueur)

Almond liqueur is created similarly to almond extract. For weeks, flavoring agents, like apricot and almond pits, soak in vodka or another similar alcohol. Once the alcohol has absorbed the flavors, it is strained, then sugar is added to it. 

You’ll be able to find a similar nutty taste. However, almond-flavored liqueur will have a sweeter taste due to the added sweetener. You’ll also note a more subtle almond flavor along with additional flavor notes in the liqueur. 

Pros

Smaller bottles of almond liqueur are pretty affordable and easily found at nearby grocery stores. This swap offers a similar nutty taste and sweetness. Use liqueurs for cake recipes.

Cons

Because of the milder taste, adding more liqueur into recipes is necessary, altering the texture. You may need to adjust the additional ingredient quantities to better suit this replacement. The flavor is not an exact match because of the other flavoring agents included during the seeping process.

Cooking Tip:

  • Start with a 4:1 ratio and add more for a stronger flavor.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is a versatile flavoring agent that you can use in baked goodies. This extract swap offers a sweet, sugary, flower taste to recipes and it’s the best substitute for almond extract in cookies.

Vanilla extract is also pricier unless you’re using imitation vanilla extract. This replacement for almond extract is easily found at stores, though it’s likely you already have some in your kitchen, especially if you bake often.

Pros

This extract is versatile and readily available. It adds a similar sweet flavor and warmth to recipes. You can use this substitute in nearly all recipes.

Cons

Purchasing vanilla extract is a pricy option that may not align with all budgets. It also presents a much different flavor.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio. 

Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla bean paste is another replacement for almond extract. This paste works well in thicker recipes that need a lot of moisture, like custards. It’s made from ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and corn syrup.

Pros

Using this option provides a delicious vanilla flavor to specific desserts. This paste is an excellent substitute for an almond extract for those who dislike the alcohol aftertaste. 

Cons

Due to the texture, the uses are limited. Since this paste already has a sweetener, you may need to adjust the quantities of other added sweeteners.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use ½ the amount required by the recipe.

Maraschino Cherry Juice

This cherry juice might seem like one of the odd substitutions for almond extract. However, maraschino cherries and bitter almonds are often soaked together in a mixture during the creation process. Using maraschino cherry juice will add a slight nuttiness and sweet taste to recipes. 

Pros

Maraschino cherry juice is easy to find, especially if you have a jar of cherries already in the fridge. It’s an inexpensive alternative that provides a similar nutty, sweet taste. This swap can be a great alternative if the appearance is not an issue.

Cons

The flavor will be different since the cherry juice is much sweeter. Don’t use this substitute if your dish is lighter, as the bright red liquid will create a red hue.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use a 4:1 ratio.

Chocolate Extract

The chocolate extract is made similarly, though cocoa beans are soaked instead of vanilla pods or bitter almonds. Expect a rich chocolate flavor with a slight alcohol aftertaste when using chocolate extract. Use this substitute in cakes, ice cream, cookies, and muffins. 

Pros

Chocolate extract adds a delicious flavor to any recipe. Use it in recipes with a chocolate base (like chocolate muffins) or a flavor base that works well with chocolate. 

Cons

This extract swap is challenging to find at the store. You will likely need to order it online instead. It also does not bode well with all recipes.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute with chocolate extract

Ground Cinnamon

Although ground cinnamon does not offer an almond flavor, it still works well as a flavoring agent. It brings warmth and a slightly woodsy taste to dishes. Use cinnamon for most baked goods, except for specific fruit-based recipes like anything that includes cherries.

Pros

This replacement is readily available, budget-friendly, and aromatic. Ground cinnamon adds a delicious taste to sweet recipes.

Cons

Cinnamon does not share the same flavor, so there will be a noticeable taste difference.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon for every four drops of almond extract.

Chopped Almonds

If you’re only looking for an almond taste in recipes and aren’t concerned about changing the texture of your dishes, chopped almonds can also work as replacements. They will add both a crunch and flavor to any baked dishes. You can use this swap in both sweet and savory recipes as they have a neutral taste. 

Pros

You’ll have a similar almond flavor. They’re also easy to find in the grocery store. 

Cons

Chopping almonds adds time to the recipe; it does not produce the same flavor. Plus, purchasing almonds can be pricey.

Cooking Tip:

  • There is no exact ratio for this swap. You can start with ¼ cup of chopped almonds to replace 1 teaspoon of almond extract and adjust depending on the recipe and your taste preference.

Homemade Almond Extract Recipe

Creating your own almond extract is much easier than one might expect. It only involves two ingredients, including blanched almonds and high-quality vodka.

This option is an excellent choice if you have plenty of time as it takes 8-10 weeks to prepare almond extract as it needs to steep in the alcohol for this time frame. 

If time is not an issue, this pure almond extract replacement will offer a delicious and similar flavor to recipes.

To make homemade extract, you will need:

-1 cup of raw blanched almonds (skinless)

-3 cups of water

-1 cup of vodka

Instructions:

1. Soak the almonds in the water overnight.

2. Strain the almonds. Roughly chop them and place them into a glass jar and add the vodka. Screw on the lid and shake well.

4. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 10 weeks, shaking the jar every couple of days.

5. After 10 weeks, strain the extract through a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or mesh strainer. Discard chopped almond. Bottle, and label your extract.

Pros

This option offers a similarly delicious taste in baked goods. Plus, you can customize the flavor as you see fit.

Cons

Making this homemade recipe is pricier, and high-quality vodka is an expensive ingredient. It also requires advance notice due to its long steeping time.

Cooking Tip:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Substitute Almond Extract for Vanilla Extract?

Yes, you can substitute almond extract for vanilla extract and vice versa. This option is one of the most effortless replacements, as you can use a 1:1 ratio. The flavor will be slightly different; however, you’ll still have a delicious taste in your baked goods.

What Does Almond Extract Do in a Recipe?

Since it offers a unique aroma, the primary use of almond extract is to add flavor to sweet treats like desserts and baked items.

Can I Use Ground Almonds Instead of Almond Extract?

Yes, you can use ground almonds instead of almond extract. However, this will not work with all recipes as it will change the consistency. You will also need to alter the other ingredients to account for the change in texture. 

Summary

The next time you are baking you can easily find a suitable option from the list above. One of the best substitutes for almond extract is a vanilla extract or you can make homemade almond extract as the top option.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document easy real food recipes perfect for busy families. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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