Don’t you just love the sweet, nutty flavors of caramel? If this particular flavor is an absolute must in your desserts, then you’ve got caramel extract to thank!
Caramel extract is one of the most popular and appreciated food extracts available today, and who could deny that?
It’s got the toasty aroma, adding a rich smokiness to any baked good and sweet dessert.
But of course, we understand why you’ve come here – because you might have run out of caramel extract in the middle of your dessert. Or maybe you’re not the hugest fan of caramel. Gasp!
All is not lost folks. There is a perfect caramel extract substitute made for you and we’re here to list down your options, so read on!
What’s Caramel Extract?
Caramel extract is a must-have in the kitchen pantry, especially for bakers and those with a sweet tooth and a knack to make rich desserts!
This food extract allows you to make chocolate chips, cinnamon rolls, puddings, butterscotch cookies, among many other sumptuous baked goods and desserts.
Caramel extract is made by soaking a ton of caramel in a strong solvent like ethanol, alcohol, or even water or oil. As a result, the taste is fruity and burnt sugar with hints of cream and vanilla.
Fun fact: Caramel extract has health benefits! It contains antioxidants that can prevent the effects of free radicals. However, it has a ton of sugar and can result in obesity, diabetes type 2, and other conditions. Don’t use or consume too much!
Why Do You get a caramel extract substitute?
There are different reasons why you’ll need a caramel extract substitute. Maybe you aren’t a fan of caramel flavors, you have none in your kitchen or can’t find it in the grocery store. Another notable reason is that caramel extract contains alcohol.
While you will use only a small amount of caramel extract and the alcohol likely burns off while baking, some recipes may not do well with the alcohol content. Or some people might be sensitive to alcohol, hence the need for a replacement.
The Best substitute for caramel extract
If you have no caramel extract in the kitchen, you can replace it and use a caramel extract substitute from these options:
1. Caramel Syrup
Caramel extract and syrup are not the exact same, but they are closely related. As the name suggests, they have the same flavor, though caramel extract has a thinner texture.
Just like caramel extract, caramel syrup adds a rich sweetness to drinks, whether evening cocktails or morning coffee. You can also drizzle it over desserts and sweet breakfast food like French toast, pancakes, waffles, cakes, or ice cream.
Since caramel extract has a more intense flavor than caramel syrup, you may need to add more syrup to your recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of caramel extract, add two teaspoons of caramel syrup.
2. Caramel Liqueur
Caramel extract comes from steeping its ingredients in alcohol, so it makes sense to use caramel liqueur as an alternative. Caramel liqueur has a high alcohol content with a similar flavor and content. They have an almost identical taste, to the point some people can’t tell the difference!
3. Butter Extract
If you don’t want to add more sugar or aren’t a fan of caramel extract, other ingredients give off a nice flavor to your dishes, like butter extract. This is also a good substitute for those who have gluten intolerance or celiac, as butter extract is free of sugar and gluten.
We use this for sugar-free desserts, and you won’t even feel like anything’s changed besides the caramel flavor.
As the name suggests, butter extracts give off a smooth and buttery texture to dishes. That said, there’s a different and less intense flavor to butter extract, so we recommend adding only half the amount a recipe requires.
4. Vanilla Extract
Another excellent substitute for caramel extract goes out to caramel extract, which has a sweet flavor matching caramel extract in baked goods and desserts. Plus, it’s more readily available in grocery stores than caramel extract.
Fun fact: Vanilla extract contains 35% ABV! You won’t get drunk off it with a few drops, but be wary when using it in coffees, especially for younger ones.
But of course, expect vanilla extract to taste more vanilla than caramel. If you want to match caramel’s intense flavor, then we suggest adding double the amount a recipe needs.
5. Almond Extract
If you have no vanilla or butter extract, almond extract can also work. It’s also a suitable caramel extract replacement if you like a nuttier flavor in your desserts.
Almond extract comes from cold-pressing almonds, which preserves most nutrients. It will then produce a slightly yellow-colored oil, which will be mixed with alcohol and water.
Almond extract would change the flavor of your dessert, but it’s worth trying if you want to experiment. Caramel extract has a fruity and burnt sugar flavor, whereas you get nutty flavors from the almond extract. Regardless, they are both sweet and you can use a 1:1 ratio.
Fun fact: Almond extract is toxic when ingested in large amounts. A 7.5ml bottle of bitter almond oil is lethal, which can be consumed from a bottle of almond extract! A few drops will go a long way, so don’t overdo it. (*)
6. Caramel Candy
If you’ve got caramel candies lying around at home for the munchies, you can also use them for your desserts. Sweet lovers most likely have them at home already, you just need to melt them before mixing them in with your recipe. (*)
Fun fact: Before making chocolate, Milton Hershey used to produce caramels! Caramel comes from the word caramelo, which is a French and Spanish word.(*)
Melt your candies by heating them on a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a bit of water and stir until your candies melt completely. As a result, you get a thick caramel syrup with a sweet, intense flavor, perfect for desserts and baked goods. If you want a thinner texture and less intensity, you can always add a bit more water.
Fudge is another good caramel extract alternative for baking recipes. Like caramel candies, fudge is a sugar candy made of sugar, milk, and butter. You’ll also need to melt it as you would with caramel candies to use for baked goods and desserts.
However, it’s important to note that fudge is sweeter and may add a grainier, granulated texture to your dish. We recommend adding only half the amount a recipe calls for, only adding more as needed, and after taste-testing.
8. Golden Syrup
Golden syrup is readily available in grocery stores, a simple sugar syrup made from granulated sugar, water, lemon juice, or citric acid. You can even make it yourself!
While you get the sweet flavor caramel extract offers, you won’t get the toasty notes many people admire. Instead, you’ll get a mild and buttery flavor, which people still appreciate.
9. Make a Caramel Extract at Home
If you have more time and want to try making your own batch of caramel extract, you can do so! It’s easy to do and gives you a huge supply of extract for future recipes. Here’s a good recipe you can follow:
- 8-10 caramel candies
- Bottle of vodka
- Airtight glass jar
-HOW TO MAKE-
- Place your caramel candies in the glass jar. With your towel, dip it in warm water then place the towel on the table. Put the jar of caramels on top of your towel, which will warm up your candies slightly without melting them.
- Wait for about two minutes before removing the towel. Allow the caramel jar to rest for one minute, then fill it up with your bottle of vodka. Fill up the jar until the vodka reaches the top. Cover it properly and store it in a cool, dark area at room temperature, away from direct light.
- Leave the jar of vodka and caramel for about six weeks. Afterward, remove your candies, pouring the extract into another bottle with a funnel. And you’ve got caramel extract for your desserts!
Where do you use caramel extract?
Caramel extract has a rich, fruity, sweet, and buttery flavor that goes well in many sweet recipes, particularly in cookies, fruit dips, frostings, cakes, and more! Here are some of the popular recipes that call for this versatile ingredient:
- Applesauce frosting
- Caramel popcorn
- Apple cupcakes
- Cookie bars
- S’mores pie
- Coffee lattes
Fun fact: Caramel has been around since the 17th century, making it one of the sweets with the longest history! Early Americans made caramel with boiling water and sugar. As for caramel extract, this is made with water, alcohol, propylene glycol, caramel color, and natural and artificial flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have more questions about using caramel extract or its substitutes, we’ve got you covered with these frequently asked questions:
Wrapping It Up
If you’re looking for a suitable caramel extract substitute, you most likely won’t have to look too far. Some are in the groceries while others are already waiting to be used in the kitchen! Whether it’s caramel-flavored syrup or fudge, butter extract, or butterscotch candy, there are so many options that will suit your recipe.
Did you enjoy our article? Then check out our All Food Ingredients Substitutions article to get into the world of food and cooking!