What Can I Use as an Almond Extract Substitute?

What can I use as an almond extract substitute

I once heard a professionally-trained chef give the advice, "if you want your desserts to taste extra delicious, add a bit of almond extract." I was already an almond extract fan (case in point: my go-to cut-out cookies), but this little nugget sealed the deal for me. 

Alas, sometimes we're out of almond extract. Maybe we're baking for someone with an allergy. What can we use to replace almond extract when we need to? 

Substitutes for Almond Extract

substitutes for almond extract

*photo credit: McCormick

Imitation Almond Extract

Assuming you're using pure almond extract to begin, imitation almond extract is a great sub when baking for someone with an almond allergy. It's made using the synthetic BENZALDEHYDE, not almond oil. 

I will warn you that it's tough to find. Neither my closest grocery stores nor Target had it in stock. (Yes, I'm on every security camera in town, walking to the baking aisle, scanning the shelves, and walking back out.) My advice, buy a bottle online to have when the need arises. Ordering mine now. I found this McCormick culinary version and a more standard everyday one.

how to substitute amaretto for almond extract

Disaronno Amaretto

Despite its almond flavor, Disaronno Amaretto is made with apricot kernels (along with herbs and spices). I'm being specific with the brand here because I can find the ingredients. I love this sub for almond extract since I always seem to have a bottle of Amaretto I bought for cocktails tucked away in a cabinet. Because almond extract is such a concentrated flavor, you'll need to use about 4 times the amount of amaretto. And, you might want to fix yourself an Amaretto Sour while you're at it. 

Almond Extract Substitutes

Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract

While you won't get the almond flavor, you really can't go wrong subbing vanilla for almond extract. Since I'm losing a bit of flavor that might make the dessert really pop, I try to use vanilla bean paste in its place if I have it. Those little flecks add something special to the look of the recipe. When I'm subbing with vanilla, I usually double the amount of vanilla versus almond. 

Unusual Substitute for Almond Extract

Maraschino Cherry Juice

Now, here's my out-of-the-box answer for an almond extract substitute: maraschino cherry juice. Cherries and almonds play so well together and apparently, cherry pits taste like almonds! Go take a whiff of those maraschino cherries in your fridge - I'll wait. Now, the ingredients may not list "almond extract," I feel like the listed "flavors" might contain some almond. It's a hunch, and I think it's a good one. Plus, I just love a maraschino cherry. 

Again, almond extract is much more potent. Start with about 4 times the amount of cherry juice to the almond extract that the recipe calls for. You will get some cherry flavor as well. 

Skip it

If your recipe has other flavors, like vanilla or lemon or butter, you can leave the almond extract out altogether. Unless the recipe is a full-on, ALMOND-centric recipe, it should be just fine, just not as almond-y without it. Think shortbread, royal icing, or pound cake. 

Substitute for Almond Extract in baking

Here are some of my favorite almond recipes to try:

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