What is the Best Substitute for Caramel Extract?

by Charlie
Caramel extract

If you’re a baking enthusiast or you just love making desserts, there’s hardly a way you wouldn’t have come across caramel extract. A few drops of this product will add better taste to your recipe. 

However, it’s almost impossible to ever find a food ingredient. This extends to caramel extract as well. So, there are times when you might need to get a substitute for it. 

What is the best substitute for caramel extract? The most ideal substitute for caramel extract would be caramel syrup, which provides a very similar taste profile and a thick texture. Since they are both made from a caramel base, there is a lot of similarities between caramel extract and caramel syrup. So, the latter definitely works well as a substitute for the former.

An Overview of Caramel Extract

Caramel extract is a byproduct of caramel that has become especially popular in making desserts and baked goods. From chocolate chips and butterscotch cookies to puddings and cinnamon rolls, caramel extract is definitely a great addition to different recipes. 

While it is primarily used in flavoring desserts, caramel extract is also a great flavor addition to coffee. For some people, having caramel extract reduces the need for sugar. However, it is worth noting that caramel extract is manufactured with some alcohol content. So, it is worth considering that. 

Why Replace Caramel Extract?

  • Non-availability: Caramel extract isn’t readily available at all times. Depending on where you are, it might be difficult to get it. So, you will need a substitute. 
  • Alcohol content: Caramel extract is made by steeping caramel into some alcohol. Some recipes won’t do well with alcohol content, so you might need to find something else to do. 

Options for Caramel Extract Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Caramel Extract: Caramel Syrup 

It definitely seems like the obvious option, no matter how you look at it. Caramel syrup comes with the same sweet and fruity taste that you get with caramel extract, so it works perfectly as a substitute for the latter. 

You should note that there are some slight differences between caramel syrup and caramel extract. The former has a much thicker texture, and the intensity of its taste is also more significant than that of caramel extract. Still, they don’t matter much. You won’t have much of a problem using caramel syrup and applying it to your recipe however you like. 

Another benefit of caramel syrup is that its extra sweetness could even help you with improving the taste of your recipe. You won’t need to add any sugar to what you’re making, since the dish is already sweetened. Caramel syrup works for different dishes, from cinnamon rolls to coffee. It provides that mix of sweetness and flavor that you can’t miss. 

If you’re looking to make some fruit syrup, simply add a quarter of a teaspoon of caramel syrup to it. Note that for dishes requiring a thick caramel extract, you will need half a teaspoon instead. As long as you can properly adjust the sugar content, you should be more than fine. 

Best Alcohol-Based Substitute: Caramel Liqueur 

As we pointed out earlier, caramel extract is made by steeping the caramel into alcohol. Well, caramel liqueur is also made in the same way. This similarity goes a long way in making caramel liqueur an ideal substitute for caramel extract. 

The two have a similar taste, as you can expect. In fact, some cooking aficionados believe that caramel liqueur is the closest substitute there is for caramel extract. The problem with caramel liqueur, of course, is the alcohol content. Some people might not want to take any alcohol – for any vast number of reasons. 

At the same time, some recipes will get spoiled when alcohol is introduced to them. So, caramel liqueur might not be the most ideal substitute at all times. The lack of versatility is why it ranks second on our list 

As usual, caramel liqueur provides a signature fruity and sweet taste. You can use it as a one-for-one substitute for caramel extract, especially if you’re using it to boost the taste of your recipe and its flavor.

One challenge you might have is with finding caramel liqueur. It might not be readily available at any grocery or convenience store, so that might be a bit of a challenge. However, you could find a workaround and just purchase it online. Caramel liqueur might not always be available, but it works really well as a caramel extract substitute nonetheless. 

Best Non-Caramel Option: Vanilla Extract 

Sometimes, you might need to get a substitute for caramel extract that isn’t caramel-flavored. It’s understandable, if you’re such a person, vanilla extract will definitely be a great option for you. 

Vanilla extract comes with the same sweet flavor as caramel extract, so it works pretty well as a substitute. They don’t taste alike, but you at least get assured of sweetness in your recipe. Another significant benefit of vanilla extract is that you will be able to find it easily. Go to any grocery store or convenience store, and you’ll be able to get your hands on vanilla extract. 

Note, however, that vanilla extract will need more quantity to get the same intensity level as caramel extract. Most experts recommend that you use double the amount of vanilla extract in your recipe. With a similar sweet taste, you definitely won’t lose out on anything. 

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