When it comes to almond extract substitutes, there are quite a few decent options.
From vanilla extract and cinnamon to walnut extract, and more, your recipe won’t be ruined if you’re all out.
Almond extract is a well-loved ingredient. And it’s known for its sweet, nutty flavor, and adding complexity to a number of almond cakes, cookies, and treats.
But if you forgot to pick up a new bottle, there are some stellar substitutes to try.
The only thing is, some aren’t taste-alikes.
You see, almond is a very specific flavor. And only a couple of things can replicate that.
Instead, some of the options below simply help to add flavor to your recipe where it might be lacking without the almond.
So keep reading and find an almond extract substitute that works best for you.
Almond Extract Uses
Almond extract is a type of flavoring used mainly in sweets and baked goods. It’s quite potent, so a little goes a long way.
But it’s excellent for plain recipes that need a kick of nutty goodness.
Here are some ways you might use almond extract:
- Baking: Almond extract is a popular ingredient in many baked goods. This includes cookies, cakes, pastries, and sweet bread.
- Drinks: It adds warmth and depth to classic drinks like coffee, cocoa, cocktails, or smoothies.
- Cooking: Some savory dishes use almond extract for a sweet, nutty flavor. It’s a staple in Asian cuisines, especially sauces, stews, and stir-fries.
- Ice Cream and Cold Desserts: It’s a lovely addition to plain homemade ice cream, pudding, or other cold treats. It also pairs well with fruits like cherries, peaches, and apricots, like in the crust of a cobbler.
The Best Almond Extract Substitute
1. Almond-Flavored Liqueur
Almond-flavored liqueur, like Amaretto, is made from a mixture of apricot kernels, bitter almonds, and peach stones.
Together, they make a sweet and nutty liqueur you can swap out for almond extract in a pinch.
Since it’s alcoholic, it’s best in cooked/baked recipes where the alcohol will be cooked out.
Though if you’re feeding adults, it makes delicious whipped cream.
Amaretto is far less concentrated than almond extract, so you’ll need to use more to get the flavor.
That often means cutting back on some of the other liquids in the recipe.
Also, be sure to get good quality liqueur so the flavor isn’t synthetic.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 4 teaspoons of Amaretto.
2. Maraschino Cherry Juice
If you don’t have Amaretto on hand, maybe you have a jar of cocktail cherries hiding in the fridge.
This might be a surprise, but did you know that Maraschino cherries are sitting in almond-infused syrup?
Also, cherry pits taste just like almonds, so it makes total sense! Maraschino cherry juice works well in a bunch of recipes.
You can use it as an alternative in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as in beverages and baked goods.
Of course, it’s sweeter than almond extract and less potent. So you’ll need to add more and maybe cut back on the sugar/other liquids in the recipe.
Oh, and you might get a light pink hue in the final product.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 4 teaspoons of cherry syrup.
3. Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
Most people would put vanilla at the top of this list. But while it’s a great swap, it’s obviously not a taste-alike.
So if you want almond flavor, use one of the top substitutes above.
But if you just want sweet warmth and a bit of extra oomph in your recipe, vanilla is the next best thing.
It has a rich, complex flavor, and it’ll work in everything from hot drinks and cookies to cakes and pastries.
Plus, it’s a commonly available substitute typically found in your pantry.
I prefer vanilla bean paste, but the extract works just as well.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or vanilla paste.
4. Almond Milk
Almond milk has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor similar to almond extract but much less concentrated.
So again, you’ll need more, which means cutting back on the liquid already in the recipe.
But if you have a recipe that already calls for milk, this is a terrific swap.
For example, a cake batter that calls for milk or buttermilk would be ideal. You’ll still get the creamy texture and a kick of nutty flavor to boot.
And in that case, you can just swap the milk straight out. (1 cup of almond milk + 1 teaspoon of lemon juice = 1 cup buttermilk)
That said, this isn’t the best swap for dry/firm recipes, like cookie dough. The added liquid will make the dough too soft.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 4 teaspoons of almond milk.
5. Diluted Almond Essential Oil
Almond essential oil has a strong, rich almond flavor.
And unlike most of the other swaps above, it’s much more concentrated, so you need a lot less.
I suggest adding 1 drop to 1 teaspoon of neutral oil, then adding more as needed.
Also, be sure you have food-grade essential oils that are safe for consumption.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1 drop of almond oil + 1 teaspoon of neutral oil.
Let’s move away from potential almond flavor swaps and look at some simple ways to bring flavor to a recipe.
No, cinnamon doesn’t taste anything like almond. But the warm, sweet spice is excellent in both sweet and savory recipes.
It’s a fantastic substitute for almond extract if you’re looking for depth. And it’ll turn a simple butter cake into something lavish with just a dash.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
7. Orange Zest
Orange zest has a tangy, slightly bitter flavor that can add complexity to a recipe.
So it’s kind of like almond extract but with a fruitier finish.
The natural citrus notes in orange zest help lift the overall flavor of a dish. It’ll bring a different but enjoyable taste experience.
Orange zest is a good substitute in recipes with bright flavors that complement other ingredients.
But you can easily add it without needing to reduce any other ingredients.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of orange zest.
8. Walnut Extract
Walnut extract has a warm, nutty flavor.
So while it doesn’t taste exactly like almond, it’s still in the nut family. So it’s a reasonable substitute for recipes that require that sweet and nutty taste.
Like almond extract, walnut extract works well in sweet and savory recipes.
However, it can have a slightly bitter aftertaste, so start with just a little and add more as needed.
I recommend trying it in a small batch of cookies to see if you like the taste.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of walnut extract.
9. Pecan Extract
Like walnut extract, pecan extract provides a rich, buttery, nutty flavor.
Again, it’s not exactly the same as almonds. But it gives a similar depth and complexity.
It’s ideal for baking, cooking, and even in beverages that call for almond extract.
This versatility makes it a convenient substitute.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1 teaspoon of pecan extract.
10. Hazelnut Extract
Almonds and hazelnut extracts are derived from different types of nuts. But hazelnut extract has a similarly sweet, nutty taste.
This makes it a fitting substitute, particularly in recipes where a general “nutty” flavor is desired.
Hazelnut extract works well in recipes like cookies, cakes, and pastries. It pairs well with chocolate, coffee, and fruit flavors, too.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of hazelnut extract.
11. Mint Extract and Chocolate Extract
I know this one might seem odd, but if you want to add depth of flavor to a recipe, it’s a lovely choice.
It’s something you can add to a plain butter cake or batch of butter cookies in place of almond extract to make it more exciting.
Of course, it will also work well in chocolate desserts. But I don’t recommend this blend in recipes with bold flavors, like lemon or strawberry.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate extract + 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract.
12. Brown Butter
Brown butter is just regular butter that’s melted and cooked until it turns brown.
The flavor is rich, creamy, and wonderfully nutty. And like the almond milk option above, you can use this in place of regular butter in most recipes.
That will bring a nice nutty finish without the need for almond extract.
The nutty flavor isn’t super prominent, but the toasty notes will make any cake or cookie drool-worthy.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1 teaspoon of brown butter.
13. Homemade Almond Extract
I left this one for last because it’s not the easiest swap if you’re in a hurry.
Obviously, swapping almond extract for almond extract would be the best choice, flavor-wise.
But unless you already have a batch of homemade extract in the pantry, you’ll have to wait a few weeks to use this.
Here’s my go-to recipe:
- Blanch 10-12 almonds for 1-2 minutes in boiling water.
- Drain and rinse under cold water and remove the skins.
- Roughly chop the nuts, then transfer them to a glass jar.
- Pour 1 cup of good-quality vodka over the top and seal the lid.
- Store in a cool, dark place, shaking once a week.
- Leave for 4-6 weeks, then strain the liquid into a fresh jar.
Since you’ll use pure vodka, you don’t need to worry about keeping this in the fridge.
It should last 6-12 months if you store it right (in a clean jar, in a cool place).
How to Substitute: Swap 1 teaspoon of almond extract with 1 teaspoon of homemade almond extract.
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