Almond extract is an exciting ingredient choice for many applications. While it doesn’t provide the exact almond taste, it comes pretty close. It is a regular fixture in cooking and baking, although the latter functionality is where it seems to shine the most.
While almond extract is a great ingredient, it isn’t immune to the substitution requirement. You might be looking to get alternatives to the component for several reasons, which we’ll look into below.
So, what is the best substitute for almond extract? The ideal substitute for almond extract is imitation almond extract. The latter provides a similar taste and is especially great for people with possible allergies. Since it’s almost a one-to-one substitute, you can use imitation almond extract pretty much the same way you use traditional almond extract.
An Overview of Almond Extract
Almond extract is a liquid food ingredient with a concentrated flavor. It is made by combining almond oil (from the traditional bitter almond fruit) with water and ethyl alcohol. The pure almond extract is made from bitter almonds, while the natural extract also contains some portions of cassia bark essence.
It’s worth noting that almond extract doesn’t taste much like real almonds. This disparity comes due to the presence of ethyl alcohol and bitter almond oil. While the bitter almond is seen as inedible, its oil comes with a sweet and concentrated flavor.
You can use almond extract for various reasons. It is an ideal ingredient in baking, and it also works as a filling or natural topping for several pastries. Almond extract is also an impressive complement in pitted fruits, including apricot, cherries, and peach desserts.
Why Substitute Almond Extract?
- You dislike the taste: While almond extract tastes pretty nice, some people might not be fans of its flavor. So, if you’re looking to switch things up in your recipe, you’ll need a proper substitute to stand in.
- Allergies: There is a considerable number of people allergic to almonds – or, generally, nuts. For these people, a substitute for almond extract will most likely be an ideal option.
- Non-availability: If you can’t find almond extract around and you need to whip up a recipe quickly, you’ll need to have a substitute around you.
Options for Almond Extract Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Almond Extract: Imitation Almond Extract
When it comes to substitutes for almond extract, you might as well go for something that’s pretty much the same thing.
Imitation almond extract is essentially the same thing. Still, it has one primary difference – instead of being pure almond extract, it is made with synthetic Benzaldehyde instead of the traditional almond oil. Thanks to this makeup, imitation almond extract is ideal for people looking to avoid almond or nut allergies.
Remember that pure almond extract is made from alcohol, bitter almond oil, and water. That almond oil supplies the Benzaldehyde, which is what gives the almond extract flavor. Through lab synthesis, you can capture the same essence of Benzaldehyde and get imitation almond extract.
While imitation almond extract has a similar taste and is ideal for people with allergies, you should keep in mind that its flavor is a tad more concentrated than that of pure almond extract. So, you want to be pretty careful when you apply it to your recipe. However, it is safe and effortless to work with. It’s basically pure almond extract with a bit of a twist to it.
Sadly, imitation almond extract is also pretty tricky to find. Not many producers make it, and you might not be able to get it at a grocery store near you easily. So, your best bet will most likely be to get it online and keep some at home for when you’ll need it. That way, you know you’re always covered.
Next Best Substitute for Almond Extract: Vanilla Extract
If you need to whip up a lovely recipe and you don’t have time to go looking for almond extract substitutes, vanilla extract is the ideal choice for you.
So, you won’t get the same flavor and taste that almond extract will provide. However, vanilla extract remains a top substitute option for sure. Vanilla extract can sweeten your recipe even more, and it a relatively nutritious option that anyone will enjoy. You also get a similarly sweet taste and an extract that goes well with the same ingredients you would use almond extract for.
Note, however, that there are several differences between both options. For one, almond extract is significantly more aromatic than vanilla extract. It also has more flavor and a stronger taste than the latter.
So, if you’re looking to compensate for almond extract, you will most likely have to get more vanilla extract quantities. Some recipe sources will even recommend that you use double the amount of vanilla extract.
It is also much better for you to use a vanilla extract made with real vanilla beans. Like almond extract, vanilla extract also has an imitation variant – which is made with vanillin. When looking for extracts, ensure your vanilla extract comes with real vanilla beans.
Best Substitute for Capturing Almond Flavor: Amaretto
Amaretto is perhaps the ideal substitute for people looking to capture the real almond flavor. Interestingly, the liqueur is made with apricot kernels – as well as a few spices and herbs that you add to the mix.
Amaretto has a general reputation for having a pretty intense flavor. However, it isn’t too concentrated to work with desserts and pastries.
Note that it’s not a one-for-one substitute for almond extract. To capture the full almond taste, you’ll need to use about four times the quantity of amaretto you use for almond extract. The only slight problem with this is that it might also increase the volume of alcohol in your recipe. So, you want to be careful with how you add the amaretto.