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Best Rum Extract Substitute

If you need a rum extract substitute, you’ve come to the right place. Rum extract is a flavor enhancer for cooked and baked dishes. But you may not always have rum extract on hand.

Today’s food guide will cover all substitutes for rum extract. Let’s explore the rum flavor and how to use this extract in the kitchen.

glass filled with rum extract and decorated with lime

What Is Rum Extract?

Rum extract is a flavoring agent made from real rum. To make pure extract, manufacturers boil the rum until the alcohol evaporates. What’s left is a thick syrup ranging from caramel to dark brown.

It comes either from light rum or dark rum. This unique flavor may vary depending on the ingredient used. This pure extract is concentrated. It offers a rich flavor containing hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. 

There are many uses for rum extract. This ingredient is suitable for both savory dishes and baked goods. You can also add rum extract to flavor coffee or ice cream. Moreover, rum flavor is used to enhance pork, beef, or chicken marinades.

Different Types of Rum Extract

At least two different types of rum extract are available in most grocery stores. There’s natural rum extract and imitation rum extract. Although they taste the same, the main difference is that natural rum extract comes from real rum.

Both rum extracts have the same rich flavor, perfect for enhancing recipes. The rum flavor may have slight variations, though. This depends on the type of rum it came from:

Light Rum.

Light rum is one of the two main types of rum. It has a transparent color and a delicate rum flavor. Light rum is a blend of rum aged in steel tanks for at least one year. It’s great for cocktails and other alcoholic beverages.

Dark Rum.

Dark rum is another popular type of rum left. It is left to age in oak barrels, giving it a distinctly dark, caramel color. Besides being a darker color, dark rum has a heavier and bolder flavor.

Best Rum Extract Substitute

Although rum extract is commonly available, it may be short on stock. Luckily, there are many quick alternatives to rum extract.

Here’s a list of 10 rum extract substitutes you can use from your kitchen pantry.

1. Rum

The perfect substitute for rum extract is real rum. Since rum extract comes from rum, it only makes sense to use the real thing. You can use white rum, dark rum, or spiced rum.

The main difference between rum and rum extract is the alcohol content. Adding too much rum to your dish can impact the flavor. And if you don’t plan on drinking, the alcohol volume may be an issue.

But there is a way to remove the alcohol. Boil the rum in a saucepan until it transforms into a sticky sauce. You’ll get the sweet rum taste without the alcohol content.

All you’ll have left is homemade rum extract. To substitute rum extract, add 3 tablespoons for every 1 tablespoon of rum extract.

2. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is one of the best rum extract substitutes. This is especially helpful if you use rum extract in a baking recipe. Vanilla extract is a popular ingredient in baked goods.

The vanilla extract consists of steeped beans, ethyl alcohol, and water. While it’s known for its fragrant aroma, the vanilla extract also has caramel flavors. Other people like vanilla extract to jasmine when it comes to fragrance and taste.

The great thing about vanilla extract is that it can be an easy rum alternative. You can use vanilla extract with a 1:1 ratio for rum extract. Both extracts have similar aromas and sweet flavors.

When used as a substitute, we recommend imitation vanilla extract. This works better if you want something less sweet. 

The only downside to vanilla extract is that it’s not alcoholic. Vanilla extract is perfect for baked goods, desserts, or drinks.

3. Bourbon

Bourbon is an excellent substitute for rum extract. It has a complex flavor profile that remains subtle in cooked recipes. It has a slightly sweet taste with hints of caramel or vanilla.

Bourbon is your right pick if you want a less alcoholic alternative. When using as a substitute, you’ll need 1/2 tablespoon of bourbon for 1 tablespoon of rum extract. 

4. Coffee Extract

Coffee extract is also one of the most accessible rum extract substitutes. When using rum extract for chocolate recipes, coffee extract is a worthy replacement. The coffee extract’s slightly bitter yet rich taste pairs well with sweet dishes.

As an alternative, steep coffee beans in hot water to create the coffee extract. In terms of taste, it will be more potent than rum extract. We recommend using it minimally and taste-testing as you bake the recipe.

5. Tequila

Tequila is a favorite party drink, but you can also use it as a substitute for rum extract. It’s a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, where it gets its sweet and fruit flavors. When used in cooking, tequila tastes excellent with citrus or warm spices.

We recommend using tequila to replicate the rum extract’s sweet tones. High-quality tequila brands will provide a better flavor profile. To substitute, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of tequila for 1 teaspoon of rum extract.

6. Cachaca

Cachaca is a versatile liquor that you can use for rum extract substitutes. It’s an alcoholic drink from Brazil made of fermented sugar cane. It has a flavor and texture consistency similar to rum, which makes it perfect as an alternative.

When using it as a substitute for rum extract, we recommend following the 1:1 ratio. You can also use cachaca in cocktails and other beverages. 

One drink made from the cachaca is “caipirinha.” Aside from cachaca, it also consists of lime juice and sugar.

7. Cognac

Cognac is a good alternative, but it can be one of the more expensive rum substitutes. But if you have a bottle that you can spare, feel free to add it to your dish. Unlike rum, cognac is a type of brandy produced from grapes.

Similar to rum, cognac has hints of sweetness and fruitiness. It’s the perfect addition to savory dishes and baked desserts. To use as an alternative, we recommend following the 1:1 ratio.

8. Orange liqueur

Orange liqueur can also be handy when substituting rum extract. Most types of orange liqueur have the same sweet, syrupy, and fruity flavors. As expected, the orange liqueur has a distinct orangey taste.

You can use orange liqueur instead of rum extract in tiki drinks and cocktails. It will affect the overall flavor of the drink, but it will still be delicious. We recommend using this option only in beverages.

9. Coconut Rum

Coconut rum is a variation of rum that can also work as a substitute rum extract. This flavored liqueur has a crisp and intense coconut flavor. Plus, its alcohol content is below the line of typical rum.

Coconut rum is a sweet addition to baked desserts. It adds hints of sweetness and a strong coconut flavor. For this substitute, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut rum for 1 tablespoon of rum extract.

10. Almond Extract

Almond extract is also an easy substitute for rum extract. It’s a mix of almond oil, water, and alcohol. Like vanilla extract, almond extract is a popular baking ingredient. 

Although made from almonds, the almond extract doesn’t taste like that. In fact, it has a strong sweet flavor with no hints of almonds. 

Its flavor pairs well with vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. To substitute rum extract, use the exact measurements as you would for rum extract.

How Much Rum Extract Should I Use?

It depends on how much rum notes you want in your dish. Rum extract has a distinct taste, but it’s not overwhelming. So it’s not easy to overuse this pure extract.

If you’re fond of the rum flavor, we recommend doubling the rum extract in recipes. It also applies if you’re using homemade rum extract. Unlike store-bought extract, you may want to take note of the alcohol content.

Can I Use Sherry Instead Of Rum Extract?

Yes, you can use sherry instead of rum extract. Sherry extract is also available in most grocery stores. Using sherry can add a crisp, tangy, and nutty flavor to your dish.

Can I Use Almond Extract Instead Of Rum Extract?

Yes, you can use almond extract instead of rum extract. It has a strong sweet flavor, and a little goes a long way. We recommend keeping an eye on measurements.

Can I Substitute Rum Extract For Rum?

Yes, rum extract consists of rum, so using real rum is the perfect substitute. You can boil the rum to remove the alcohol or let it simmer until it reaches a sticky consistency.

Is There Alcohol In Rum Extract?

No, there is no alcohol in rum extract. The alcohol from rum evaporates during the manufacturing process. To make alcoholic rum extract, we recommend using white rum and making your own.

What Is Rum Flavor Made Of?

Rum flavor owes its distinct taste to rum. However, other versions also add spices to level up the flavors.

Can You Substitute Rum Extract For Dark Rum?

Yes, you can use white or dark rum for rum extract in any recipe. But it’s essential to remember that dark rum will have a more profound and intense flavor. It may also affect the overall color of the dish.


Rum extract is a thick syrup made from rum. Plus, it has no alcohol content since the vapors evaporate during the cooking process. This simple flavoring can add complexity to savory dishes, desserts, and baked goods.

The best rum extract substitute is actual rum. You can also use other alcohols like bourbon, tequila, or cognac. If you want a non-alcoholic alternative, we recommend using vanilla extract.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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