Looking for an alternative to the Almond Extract? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Almond Extract Substitutes.
What is Almond Extract?
Almond Extract is a baking ingredient made from the oil of bitter almonds or apricot, peach kernels or cherry pits. It has a strong chemical flavor best characterized by marzipan. It’s completely different from the nutty flavor of roast almonds.
Best Almond Extract Substitutes
1. Skip it.
If a recipe calls for almond extract I just leave it out. With all the sweet sugary goodness in cookies or cakes you probably won’t miss the strong bitter almond taste.
2. Almond Essence
Essences are the artificially produced alternatives to flavour extracts. Almond essence also called imitation almond extract is much cheaper and if you want that strong marzipan flavor and aroma it will work really well.
3. Amaretto or Frangelico
If you happen to have any nut based liqueurs like Amaretto, the almond-flavored liqueur or the hazelnut based Frangelico you could use them as an almond extract replacement to flavor your dish. These won’t have the intense bitterness of almond extract so be prepared for a more subtle flavor. And if using in ice cream just remember the alcohol will result in a softer ice cream because if changes the freezing point of the mixture.
4. Hazelnut Extract and other nut extracts
If you happen to have hazelnut extract or imitation hazelnut essence it can be used in a similar manner to almond extract. Especially good in things like muffins. The same goes for other nut extracts like pecan extract, walnut extract or pistachio extract.
4. Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Extract
Vanilla is more commonly used to flavor baked goods or desserts and is a good alternative to almond extract. Especially for those with a nut allergy. If you have either artificial Vanilla essence or the natural vanilla extract either can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for almond extract or almond essence.
5. Vanilla Bean Paste / Powder
Vanilla bean paste which is ground vanilla beans mixed with a sugar syrup is a good alternative. My favorite option is vanilla bean powder which is finely ground vanilla beans without the sugar. Both are much more economical than whole beans and they have the benefit of providing the visual of the little black specks of vanilla that normally come from the seeds of the whole pod.
1 vanilla bean = 1 teaspoon of paste = 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder = 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
While cinnamon is a completely different flavour to almond extract, it can make an nice alternative.
7. Cardamom Pods
Again these take the flavour in a different direction but cardamom often works well in a similar way to almond extract.
8. Orange Zest
Another ingredient that will give a different flavor profile and depth of flavor to almond extract but can still be lovely. Orange oil is another option here.
9. Lime Zest
Similar to orange but again a slightly different flavour. Lemon zest or lemon oil could also be used.
10. Vanilla Beans
Vanilla extract is made by infusing vanilla beans in an alcohol solution so the flavour transfers from the beans to the liquid. So you can go straight to the source and use whole vanilla beans instead of the extract. The downside of this is that the beans are significantly more expensive and more labor intensive. You’ll need to halve the beans and scrape the seeds out and use the seeds in your recipe instead of the liquid extract. One the up side the flavour from the vanilla beans is hard to beat.
1 vanilla bean = approximately 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
You can make your own vanilla extract by soaking vanilla beans in vodka (recipe below).
11. Sea Salt Flakes
For super sweet confections made with marzipan, sea salt flakes can balance out the sweetness in a similar way to the bitter flavor of almond extract. Just sprinkle the sea salt on when serving so the flakes don’t dissolve and get lost.
12. Almond Paste
If you have marzipan you can use it to flavor your dish because it has the same flavor profile – the only thing is it will have a completely different texture so may be difficult to get it to disperse in a similar manner to almond extract so it’s not high on my list of options
13. Maraschino Cherry Juice
Bitter maraschino cherries contain benzaldehyde – the flavor compound which gives almond extract its distinctive bitter flavor. The flavor of the cherry juice won’t be as intense as almond extract so be prepared to use a higher ratio. And you’ll also have a different color which may or may not be a good thing.
14. Make your own Almond Extract
For home made pure almond extract you’ll need almonds, vodka (or other alcohol) and the magical ingredient of time. For a good simple almond extract recipe see Jenna’s beautiful version.
How to Store Almond Extract
Keep in the pantry in an airtight jar.
What’s the difference between Almond Extract and Almond Essence?
Almond extract is made from the oil of bitter almonds, apricot kernels or peach kernels. Where as Almond essence is made from a manufactured artificial chemical called benzaldehyde. Because the flavor of natural almond extract includes many different flavour compounds it is much more complex than the one dimensional flavour of almond essence.
Is almond extract necessary?
NO! Because it is only providing flavor it isn’t going to ruin a dish if it is omitted. It will just change the flavor which for people like me who aren’t a fan of the strong bitterness, leaving it out will make your sweet treat more appealing.
What does almond extract do to food?
It’s included to change the flavor of various recipes. Almond extract provides the strong bitter notes to balane out the sweetness of the dish. Because it is used in such small quantities it doesn’t have any impact on the texture or physical structure of the recipe. The only thing it changes is the flavor.
Can you use imitation almond extract instead of pure?
Yes imitation almond extract or almond essence can be used but the flavor will not be as complex. But it will be significantly cheaper.
Does almond extract make a difference?
Yes it does make a difference to the flavour but not necessarily in a good way if you’re not a fan of bitter flavors (like me). So as I mentioned above – I always just leave it out because for me things taste better without almond extract.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Bicarb Soda
- Vanilla Beans
- Vanilla Extract
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!