15 Best Substitutes for Caramel Extract with Ratios & How to Use Them

Caramel extract can add a rich depth of flavor to a variety of baked goods, from cakes and cookies to frostings and sauces.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find caramel extract in stores, and it can be expensive to purchase online.

Suppose you find yourself in a bind and need a quick substitute; fear not. In that case, there are several ingredients you can use to achieve a similar flavor profile.

In this post, we’ll explore the 15 best substitutes for caramel extract, including their ratios and how to use them.

In short, " What can I use instead of caramel extract?"

Caramel Sauce, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract and Molasses, Maple Syrup, Butterscotch Chips, Toffee Bits, Caramel Candy, Caramelized Sugar, Caramelized Condensed Milk, Caramel Essence, Butterscotch Pudding Mix and many more.

What is caramel extract, and what does caramel extract taste like?

Caramel extract is a concentrated flavoring made by infusing caramelized sugar into a liquid base, typically alcohol or water.

It is used to add the rich, sweet, and distinct flavor of caramel to various recipes and baked goods.

Caramel extract has a deep, buttery, and sweet taste that closely resembles the flavor of caramelized sugar.

It offers notes of toasted sugar, caramelized butter, and a hint of bitterness that counterbalances the sweetness. 

The intensity of the flavor can vary depending on the attention of the extract and the brand.

When added to recipes, caramel extract enhances the overall taste and provides a warm, indulgent flavor.

It allows you to incorporate the distinct taste of caramel into your culinary creations without the need for actual caramelization.

Uses of caramel extract

Caramel extract is an incredibly versatile ingredient with a wide range of uses.

It can add a sweet, caramel-like flavor to desserts and baked goods such as brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream and puddings. 

Caramel extract can also be used to enhance the flavor of savory dishes such as sauces or soups. It is sometimes used in drinks such as milkshakes or hot chocolate for added sweetness.

Additionally, caramel extract can be combined with other ingredients to create unique flavors in both savory and sweet recipes.

For example, it pairs wonderfully with coffee to make a caramel mocha latte or with rich spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for a delectable dessert topping.

Where to buy caramel extract?

If you are looking for caramel extract where to buy, there are a few other places you can go. Many specialty food stores carry it, as do some international grocery stores

You can also order online from many retailers that provide a variety of diverse flavors and types of caramel extract.

15 best substitutes for caramel extract and how to use them

Here are the top 15 best substitutes for caramel extract and how to use them:

1. Caramel Sauce – A good substitute for caramel extract

caramel sauce is good substitute for caramel extract

One of the most obvious substitutes for caramel extract is caramel sauce. This thick, rich sauce can be used in place of extract in a variety of recipes.

Ratio or measurement: Start with a 1:1 ratio, though you may need to use more or less depending on the recipe.

Keep in mind that caramel sauce will add more moisture to your recipe, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

2. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is another good substitute for caramel extract. The molasses in brown sugar provides it a caramel-like flavor, making it a great choice for baked goods.

Ratio or measurement: Use a 1:1 ratio of brown sugar to caramel extract.

Keep in mind that brown sugar will make your recipe denser, so you may need to adjust for that as well.

Discover more: Best cane sugar substitutes

3. Try Vanilla Extract and Molasses instead of caramel extract

If you have vanilla extract and molasses on hand, you can create a homemade caramel substitute.

Ratio or measurement: Start with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of molasses for every 1 teaspoon of caramel extract called for in your recipe.

Mix well and use as you would caramel extract.

4. Maple Syrup

maple syrup is good alternate for caramel extract

Maple syrup is a tasty alternative to caramel extract, especially in recipes that also call for brown sugar.

Ratio or measurement: Use a 1:1 ratio of maple syrup to caramel extract, though you may like to lower the quantity of sugar in your recipe to recompense the sweetness of maple syrup.

5. Butterscotch Chips – A great alternative to caramel extract

If you have butterscotch chips in your pantry, you can use them as a caramel extract replacement. Melt the chips and add them to your recipe in place of the extract.

Ratio or measurement: Start with a 1:1 ratio, and adjust as needed.

6. Toffee Bits

Toffee bits are another great substitute for caramel extract. Crush the bits and use them in place of the extract in recipes that call for a crunchy texture.

Ratio or measurement: Start with a 1:1 ratio, and adjust for taste and texture.

7. Caramel Candy – a good substitute for caramel extract

If you have caramel candies on hand, you can use them to create a homemade caramel extract substitute. Melt the candies and add them to your recipe in place of the extract.

Ratio or measurement: Use a 1:1 ratio, and adjust as needed for sweetness and texture.

8. Caramelized Sugar

caramelizing sugar is nice substitute for caramel extract

Caramelizing sugar is another way to create a homemade alternative to caramel extract. Begin by melting sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.

As the sugar melts, stir constantly until it turns golden brown. Remove from heat and add water to create a caramel syrup.

Ratio or measurement: Use this syrup in place of caramel extract, starting with a 1:1 ratio.

9. Caramelized Condensed Milk – A decent replacement for caramel extract

Caramelized condensed milk, or dulce de leche, is a rich and delicious substitute for caramel extract. Simply simmer a can of condensed milk for 2-3 hours until it turns caramel in color.

Ratio or measurement: Use a 1:1 ratio in place of the extract.

10. Caramel Essence 

Caramel essence is a highly-concentrated liquid that can use as a substitute for caramel extract.

Ratio or measurement: Use a 1:1 ratio of caramel essence to caramel extract, but keep in mind that the essence may be more potent, so use sparingly.

11. Use Butterscotch Pudding Mix to replace caramel extract

A box of butterscotch pudding mix is used as a direct replacement for caramel extract in most recipes without sacrificing flavor profile or texture.

Its creamy, robust flavor makes it perfect for pies, cakes, and other dessert items alike.

12. Marshmallow Cream 

marshmallow cream is good caramel extract substitute

Marshmallow cream adds a fluffy texture along with a distinct sweet taste similar to what you would find in caramels, making it suitable for desserts like cupcakes or bars where you want something light yet filling.

You can also add it straight into your batter before baking, which gives muffins an extra bit of oomph!

13. Honey – A tasty substitute for caramel extract

Honey is my all-time favorite.

Honey’s complex chemistry infuses dishes with an intense sweetness while maintaining its own unique floral undertones, which will give any dessert recipe an added depth beyond just regular sugar. 

Whether stirred into oatmeal cookies or drizzled over French toast, honey’s versatility makes it an excellent substitute option!

14. Whiskey 

While not traditional, whiskey adds a smoky depth along with its mild sweetness, which pairs nicely with desserts such as apple crisps or even puddings if you don’t mind adding alcohol into your cooking repertoire!

15. Coconut Milk – similar to caramel extract

coconut milk is good caramel extract replacement

Coconut milk is full-bodied and creamy with subtle undertones of sweetness similar to what you get from caramels making it ideal for use in place of dairy ingredients such as cream cheese.

Because its flavors are more delicate than those found in real caramels, coconut milk works best when combined with other potent flavors like chocolate chips!

How to Decide the Most Suitable Substitution Option for caramel extract

When choosing a suitable substitution option for caramel extract, consider the following tips:

1. Flavor Profile: Understand the flavor profile of caramel extract, which is rich, sweet, and often has a distinct caramelized sugar taste.

Look for substitutes that can replicate or complement this flavor profile to achieve a similar taste in your recipe.

2. Caramel Flavor Alternatives: Consider using alternatives like caramel sauce or caramel syrup as substitutes for caramel extract.

These options can provide a similar flavor and sweetness to your recipe. Adjust the quantity to achieve the desired intensity of caramel flavor.

3. Vanilla Extract: In some cases, vanilla extract can provide a hint of caramel-like flavor, especially if combined with other ingredients like brown sugar or butter.

Vanilla extract can add depth and richness to your recipe and can be used as a substitute for caramel extract in certain applications.

4. Butterscotch Extract: If you are specifically looking for a flavor similar to caramel but with a slightly different taste profile, butterscotch extract can be a suitable alternative.

It offers a sweet and buttery flavor that can provide a similar effect in your recipe.

5. Caramelizing Sugar: For recipes that call for caramel extract as a flavoring, consider caramelizing sugar to achieve a homemade caramel flavor.

Heat sugar in a pan until it melts and turns amber in color, then add it to your recipe. Exercise caution when working with melted sugar to avoid burns.

6. Recipe Adaptation: Be prepared to adjust your recipe to accommodate the chosen substitute. Consider the texture and consistency of the substitute and how it may impact the overall outcome of your dish.

Experiment with different quantities and tastes as you go.

7. Taste Testing: Conduct taste tests to ensure that the chosen substitute provides the desired caramel flavor and sweetness. Make adjustments as necessary to achieve the desired taste in your recipe.

8. Consider Prevalence: Take into account the prevalence of caramel flavor in your recipe. If it is a prominent component, consider investing in caramel extract or caramel flavoring to achieve the most authentic and concentrated caramel flavor.

9. Product Recommendations: Consult reputable recipe sources, culinary forums, or baking communities for recommendations on suitable substitutes for caramel extract.

Experienced bakers and chefs can provide valuable insights and suggestions based on their expertise.

10. Personal Preference: Ultimately, consider your personal taste preferences and the desired outcome of your recipe.

Choose a substitute that aligns with your flavor preferences and complements the other ingredients in your dish.

Homemade Caramel Extract Substitute

Homemade Caramel Extract is a delicious and convenient way to bring the sweet flavor of caramel to all your favorite recipes.

Caramel extract is easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients.

With a combination of brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract and heavy cream, you can make a rich and flavorful caramel extract that will add an amazing layer of sweetness to any recipe.

Making your own caramel extract ensures that you know exactly what goes into it, which is especially important for those trying to avoid unhealthy additives or food coloring often found in store-bought versions.

The flavor from homemade caramel extract is incomparable; it has a wonderfully soft and creamy texture with notes of deep brown sugar and slight nutty undertones from the butter.

Once you’ve made your homemade caramel extract, it can be used in so many ways.

Use it in baking cookies, cakes, pies or tarts; drizzle over ice cream sundaes; or mix into warm drinks like coffee or hot chocolate for sweetness and extra flavor.

Make sure to keep your homemade caramel extract stored in an airtight utensil in a cool and dry place – it’ll last up to six months!

Caramel extract vs. caramel syrup

Caramel extract and caramel syrup are two ingredients that are often used in recipes to add sweetness, flavor, and richness.

Caramel extract is made from a mixture of sugar, butter, vanilla, and other natural flavorings.

This blend is heated until it caramelizes and then combined with alcohol to create a concentrated liquid that can enhance the flavor of food items like cookies, cakes, puddings, and more. 

On the other hand, caramel syrup is typically made from corn syrup or sugar that has been boiled till it turns into a thick liquid. The syrup is also often flavored with butter or cream for an even richer taste.

When deciding between caramel extract and caramel syrup for a recipe, one factor that should be taken into consideration is the intensity of the flavor they will provide.

In general, caramel extract will provide a stronger and deeper flavor than the typical store-bought syrups because of its higher concentration of natural ingredients.

The syrup, on the other hand, tends to have a sweeter taste due to its higher content of corn syrup or sugar which makes it better suited for topping desserts like ice cream or pancakes.

Ultimately though, both extracts and syrups can be used interchangeably in many recipes as their respective flavors blend together well in most dishes.

Another element to consider is the texture of the finished product.

Caramel extract will provide a softer and smoother texture, while caramel syrup can give treats like cookies and cakes a crunchy and chewy effect.

Depending on which type of flavor or texture an individual is trying to achieve, they can choose either one to get the desired result.

Ultimately, both caramel extract and caramel syrup can be used together in recipes for an even richer flavor and unique textures.

With careful consideration of their respective strengths, cooks can use these ingredients in countless ways to create endlessly delicious desserts.

Alternative ingredients for caramel extract

Caramel extract is a popular baking ingredient that provides a sweet and rich flavor to many desserts.

However, several alternatives can be used as substitutes to create similar results.

Vanilla extract is a great alternative for adding sweetness, while maple syrup or golden syrup will provide a similar caramelized taste. 

For those looking for something less sugary, brown sugar and even molasses can be used to impart a deep caramel flavor.

To get an even stronger flavor, try combining some of these ingredients together.

For example, you could mix the vanilla extract with brown sugar or combine golden syrup with molasses.

Alternatively, you could also use other ingredients such as roasted nuts or nut-based extracts like almonds and hazelnut.

Each of these alternatives will create unique flavor varieties that will bring out the best in your recipes.

Conclusion on substitute for caramel extract

Caramel extract is a wonderful ingredient to have on hand, but if you find yourself without it, don’t worry. 

There are plenty of substitutes you can use to achieve a similar flavor profile, from caramel sauce and brown sugar to maple syrup and butterscotch chips. 

Experiment with various ingredients and ratios to find the perfect substitute for your recipe. Happy baking!

FAQs on substitute for caramel extract

Q1. What flavor is similar to caramel extract?

Caramel extract has a sweet, buttery flavor reminiscent of caramelized sugar. This extract is often used to add a subtle richness and sweetness to baked goods like cakes, cookies, pastries, and candy.

Some other flavors that are similar to caramel extract include butterscotch, molasses, and vanilla.

Each of these flavors has its unique taste profile that retains the same creamy sweetness associated with caramel extract. 

Butterscotch is more robust than caramel extract, with plenty of brown sugar notes, while molasses is deep and earthy with an almost smoky flavor profile.

Vanilla has a mellow sweetness that is slightly more subtle than both caramel and butterscotch extracts.

Q2. Can I use caramel syrup instead of caramel flavoring?

It is certainly possible to use caramel syrup instead of caramel flavoring in recipes that require it.

However, the flavor and texture of the finished product may differ significantly from what you would expect with traditional caramel flavoring.

Caramel syrup tends to be much thicker and slightly sweeter than most artificial caramels, so using it could result in a dish that is overly rich and sweet.

Additionally, caramel syrup can cause baked goods to become denser due to its high sugar content, resulting in a heavier final product than anticipated.

If you choose to use caramel syrup instead of flavoring, keep these differences in mind when adjusting the recipe accordingly.

Q3. Can you substitute dulce de leche for caramel sauce?

Yes, you can substitute dulce de leche for caramel sauce. Dulce de leche is a creamy, sweetened milk-based condiment that originated in South America.

It’s made by simmering cow’s milk with sugar and vanilla essence until it becomes thick and caramelized.

The flavor is similar to that of caramel sauce but more intensely flavored and intense in color too.
When used as a topping or filling, it adds sweetness to desserts without being overwhelming. 

It also pairs well with fruit like apples and bananas, making it a great addition to pies and cakes.

And because it has a good shelf life, you can create your desserts ahead of time and store them until you’re ready to serve them.

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