Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
Caramel extract is almost an essential ingredient to have in your pantries. You can make anything you desire with this sticky, sweet extract, from butterscotch cookies to cinnamon buns, along with a variety of delicious treats.
Despite its valued importance, many of us run out of our favourite ingredients without finding the time or place to buy some more before we intend to bake again. If you’re one of those people, don’t panic because there are some caramel extract substitutes that’ll do the job just as well, if not better. Take a look at our list below!
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Caramel Extract?
- 2 Caramel Extract vs Caramel Syrup
- 3 10 Best Caramel Extract Substitutes
- 4 Caramel Extract Substitutes
- 5 FAQs
What is Caramel Extract?
Caramel extract is yellow in colour, with a thin consistency; it’s basically one part sugar and one part water. It’s similar to vanilla extract in the sense that it infuses flavour into desserts, baked goods, and other foods, much like other food extracts. Caramel extract, when added to your baking recipes, will bring out an incredibly sweet taste, especially to baked goods like chocolate chip cookies, butterscotch cookies, and cinnamon rolls. When extracted, you can see a beautiful liquid with a thin texture and yellow colour. Using caramel extract to flavour your desserts whether it’s cinnamon rolls, pancakes, or fudge, is a great way to create multiple layers to your dishes!
Caramel Extract vs Caramel Syrup
While both caramel extract and caramel syrup are typically used to flavour desserts, they do have their differences. Caramel syrup is a little thinner and sweeter than caramel extract. It’s also more versatile since it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes (like a nice glaze for chicken wings). However, if you want to achieve the thick consistency of actual caramel sauce with your dessert, you need to use an extract instead of syrup. The only downside is that it has a stronger flavour so go easy on it, or else your dessert could end up tasting like burnt sugar!
10 Best Caramel Extract Substitutes
Caramel extract is a common ingredient used in many recipes, from cakes to cookies to ice cream. However, it’s not always easy to find and can be expensive when you do. Let’s talk about some of the best substitutes for caramel extract and how to use them.
- Caramel Syrup
- Caramel Sauce
- Vanilla Extract
- Butter Extract
- Almond Extract
- Caramel Candy
- Golden Syrup
- Butterscotch Candy
- Caramel Liqueur
Caramel syrup has a sweet and fruity taste that is similar to that of caramel extract. Caramel syrup is much thicker compared to caramel extract and a lot sweeter as well. Adding too much caramel syrup to baking recipes may thin out the dough, so try to keep a balance in mind when using this ingredient.
The ingredients needed for preparing a batch of caramel sauce include sugar, water, vanilla extract, and salt – if you wish. Both raw and white granulated sugars can be used to prepare caramel syrup. Raw sugar provides you with a rich brown colour, coupled with an intense flavour, while white sugar gives you a mild flavour and a golden-coloured syrup, much like the name implies; however it’s not as thick as what you’d normally get from using raw cane sugar in your recipe.
Caramel sauce is made by blending caramelised sugar with cream. Any additional ingredients can include butter, fruit purees, liquors, or vanilla beans. Caramel sauce closely resembles caramel syrup except in its consistency – the latter is a bit thicker than the former.
The caramel sauce has a rich sweet flavour and a smooth, velvety texture with the presence of butter. If you are particularly bothered with its thick consistency, you can always add water to thin it down, especially if your recipe calls for this type of consistency.
If you love caramel as much as we do but don’t want to use caramel extract because of its excessive calories, then vanilla is an excellent substitute. You can find vanilla extract in many desserts and even savoury dishes. The sweet and creamy flavour makes it a versatile ingredient for your kitchen. Vanilla extract will give a slightly different flavour than the one provided by caramel extract, but this doesn’t mean it won’t be tasty. In fact, they both share similarities when used correctly in recipes such as bread puddings, cakes, or even ice creams!
The intensity of vanilla is stronger than that of caramel, so make sure that you reduce the amount called for in any recipe by half (1 teaspoon instead of 2 teaspoons). This way, your dish will still taste good while keeping its nutritional value intact.
If you’re looking for a substitute that will enhance your baked goods with the taste of butter, then this may be the choice for you. Butter extract is made from butter by distilling it and allowing it to age. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free (but contains casein). The creaminess takes over any sweetness needed in a recipe, so if a slight reduction in sweetness doesn’t faze you then these yummy creamy flavours should work just fine! Most varieties are also kosher, so many can enjoy this substitute in abundance.
Almond extract is a great substitute for caramel extract, but keep in mind that it has a strong almond flavour. Many prefer almond extract to caramel because it is strong, sweet, and has the distinct flavour of almonds. Unless you want your dessert to taste like an éclair or marzipan, you may want to choose another option.
Also, remember that your dessert will be imbued with the flavour of almonds and other ingredients used with this type of flavouring such as nutmeg or cinnamon. While it’s not quite similar to caramel extract, the nutty flavour can be used in many recipes like cakes, cookies and frostings simply by using some drops of this liquid at a time until the desired sweetness has been achieved without overpowering their individual flavours with too much sugar (or sugar substitutes).
If you’re looking for a caramel extract substitute and don’t have any on hand, there are some great alternatives that will hopefully dampen the absence you feel. Caramel candy is a good substitute because it contains the same ingredients used to make caramel extracts – water and sugar. The only difference is that the process of making caramel candy involves adding butter or margarine along with cream and corn syrup. To use this option as an extract substitute:
- Melt your candies into a sauce in a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom of your pan over low heat, stirring often
- You’ll need to use it immediately in your desserts or other recipes, because syrup crystallises instantly
Golden syrup is a kind of sugar syrup made by refining sugarcane or sugar beet juice into sugar. You obtain this syrup by treating sugar with an acidic ingredient, which is normally lemon juice. Golden syrup is a plump amber-coloured syrup, with a distinctive buttery, caramel-like flavour. The sweetness is guaranteed with golden syrup in desserts, cookies, puddings, biscuits, and toffees because it’s almost as sweet as caramel extract.
Fudge is a confection made by dissolving sugar in water, then boiling the mixture to form a thick, rich syrup, and finally adding milk and cream. This is also another caramel extract substitute that you can use in your baking recipes. Fudge is a sugar candy containing sugar, butter, and milk.
To use it as a caramel extract substitute, melt it in a pot with a little water at low heat until it becomes smooth and cloudy. You should note that this is much sweeter and can add a grainy, granulated texture to your dish when you overdo it, so be sure to use it in moderation. As fudge is quite tough, feel free to crush it into powder and sprinkle some of it on your desserts for an extra sweet flavour.
Butterscotch is a very distinct flavour, and it shouldn’t be confused with caramel. Butterscotch has a rich sweetness like caramel and a toasted flavour, but it’s a lot sweeter when compared to caramel. To get the most out of your butterscotch candy, you can melt it down and use it as an extract substitute; this will give your dessert recipes that sweet, toasty taste that comes from the butterscotch in them.
For anyone who doesn’t like their desserts to release an excessively sweet flavour, caramel liqueur might be the best option. This liquid has a slight caramel flavour with strong notes of alcohol and a little bit of saltiness. It is sweet enough to be considered an extract but not as much as syrup or sauce. If you are looking for a substitute with a very similar taste to caramel extract, but don’t want your baked goods to taste too sweet, then this will work perfectly for you!
Caramel Extract Substitutes
By now, you should have a better idea of what kind of alternatives exist, in place of caramel extract, and their variety of uses. You may also have learned that not all extracts are created equally, and the face that they don’t happen to share the same level of sweetness, though they’re all perfect in their own ways! We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to substitute for an extract if need be so you can continue enjoying your recipes.
Can you substitute caramel extract for vanilla?
Caramel extract can be used in place of vanilla due to its rich, sweet flavour that is almost identical to vanilla. Most recipes that call for vanilla extract can be substituted with caramel extract to obtain similar flavours of sweetness and depth to your desserts.
What is in caramel extract?
Caramel extract contains water, propylene glycol, artificial flavour, and caramel colour.
Is there a caramel extract?
Yes, there is, and caramel extract is a type of natural flavour blend that can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, buttercream, and ice cream.