Baking Flavors and Extracts 101
Sometimes using a flavor extract or flavor concentrate is easier and yields a tastier result than adding the actual ingredient itself in a recipe. Cherry flavor might be preferable to using chopped cherries in some breads or cakes to better disperse the flavor and achieve a uniform texture, for example.
Experienced bakers and new cooks alike may sometimes be confused about when to use a baking extract versus a concentrated baking flavor. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Flavor concentrates usually have stronger flavor than extracts. Because their base is gum acacia, flavor concentrates can have a cloudier, more opaque appearance.
For this reason, extracts (which have an alcohol base) are best used whenever you want to keep the clarity of the result intact — such as in clear beverages or dairy products.
Flavors and extracts become less potent when used in high heat applications.
Because extracts are set in an alcohol base, they evaporate easily and are less heat stable than flavor concentrates when exposed to high heat or prolonged cooking.
Otherwise extracts are comparable in strength to flavor concentrates. They're at their most potent when they are used with a high alkaline ingredient like salt.
Extracts dissolve into water-based applications, but separation may occur when extracts are added to an oil base.
You’ll need to experiment to achieve the perfect strength for flavoring your recipes, if the recipe doesn’t specify exact amounts. Many concentrated flavors can be added by desired amounts to beverages, batters, ice cream, and other dishes.
Some common flavors, extracts and their uses include:
Vanilla is by far the most popular baking extract. It adds a distinct yet subtle flavor to almost any recipe.
Vanilla extract comes from vanilla beans that have been steeped in alcohol. It's widely used to flavor desserts, especially baked goods and ice cream. Many chefs have discovered it to be an interesting ingredient to use in savory dishes as well.
In order for a vanilla extract to be called pure in the United States, the USDA requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon.
Italian Cheese Pie
Apple-Peanut Butter Pancakes
Vanilla Extract, Tahitian
Tahitian vanilla beans (Vanilla tahitensis), grown in the South Pacific, are shorter, plumper and have a higher water and oil content than the more common Vanilla planifolia ( The more fruity and floral aroma of Tahitian vanilla beans makes them very popular with European gourmet cooks.
Natural vanilla flavoring is derived from real vanilla beans with little to no alcohol. This concentrated vanilla flavor is often extra-rich and creamy, making it especially useful for baking.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic and has a flavor like licorice. Anise flavor adds a licorice twist to cookies, cakes, candies, teas and coffees.
Butter flavor concentrate is a secret cooking weapon for many dieters. For butter flavor without the fat, add a few drops to water when cooking vegetables. Though it cannot be used to replace the shortening or fat in baked goods, it can be added to many baking recipes to boost the butter flavor.
The taste of butterscotch is the result of a blend of butter and brown sugar. It’s flavor name evolved when the candy was poured out to cool and then scored — or "scotched" — before being broken into pieces. This flavor concentrate is handy for candy, pudding and cookie recipes, icings, coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes.
Butterscotch Maple Frosting
Cinnamon flavor is used when the powder would interfere with the moisture or clarity in recipes. To use, you can simply mix a few drops into cookie, cake, waffle or pancake batter. (You can also make a non-edible kitchen aromatic by adding cinnamon flavor to a quart of simmering water, along with cloves and cinnamon sticks.
This concentrated flavor adds coffee flavor to desserts like tiramisu, brownies, hot fudge, milkshakes, hot cocoa and homemade ice cream. Using coffee flavor concentrate allows you to achieve strong coffee flavor without adding large amounts of liquid brewed coffee to your recipe.
As far as the caffeine content, our flavor concentrate contains 7mg caffeine per 1/8th teaspoon serving. The average cup of coffee contains 90-150mg of caffeine per serving.
Add maple flavor to fudge, brownie, taffy and frosting recipes. Try a dash or two in baked beans, barbecue sauce, soups, cookies and pies, hot cereal, muffins, and breads. It’s delicious with all types of squash, and makes an easy flavor upgrade for butter, too.
Pumpkin Corn Maple Muffins
Butterscotch Maple Frosting
Mint is a versatile flavor. Think outside the chocolate box and add it by the dash to icings and coffee, as well as cake, pudding, and cookie recipes. Hot or cold teas perk up instantly with a bit of mint flavor.
This flavor is a best friend to chocolate, holiday baking and sinful drinks. Use in cupcakes, scones, brownies, frosting and homemade ice cream. Add to milkshakes, puddings and hot chocolate.
Coconut Chocolate Mint Custard
Nut Flavors & Extracts
Almond extract’s flavor has a sweet, nutty essence. It's well suited for baking, especially in pastries like croissants, turnovers, and cookies.
Mocha Almond Parfait
Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies
Mexican Chocolate-Almond Cake
Add almond flavor to your favorite cookie, frosting and meringue recipes. Almond flavor won’t evaporate as quickly as almond extract when heated. For a special treat, add 1/2 teaspoon to waffle, pancake and French toast batter. Also try a dash in coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes.
Sometimes a walnut flavor is desired minus the work of shelling the walnuts themselves. Try a few drops of tasty walnut flavor in berry vinaigrette or in Waldorf salad dressing. Add to pancake and waffle batters, or to sweet roll, brown bread or cookie recipes.
Use coconut flavor to add a tropical flair to frostings, pancake batter, syrups, cookies and candy. Also try a dash in your favorite milkshakes and smoothies.
Bananas are grown in the tropics, but their flavor is enjoyed worldwide. Drizzle banana flavor into chocolate sauces, fruit smoothies and milkshakes, or add to waffle, pancake or French toast batter. Use it to boost the flavor of your favorite banana bread recipe.
Lemon flavor concentrate will add stronger lemon flavor than lemon juice. Use it in cakes, cookies, candy, bars, puddings, sauces, ice creams and sorbets, muffins, icings and frostings. Try a dash in hot or cold tea.
Orange flavor gives a stronger taste to your recipes than orange juice. It’s useful when you want to add the citrusy taste to your baking without squeezing the actual fruit. Use in cookies, muffins, breads, ice cream, puddings, and icings.
Orange Cardamom Bells