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Baking Flavors & Extracts 101

Baking Flavors & Extracts 101

In some recipes, using a flavor extract or flavor is easier and yields a tastier, more uniform result than adding the actual ingredient itself. For example, cherry flavor might be preferable to using chopped cherries in some breads, cakes or cookies. Whether you're a novice or experienced baker, use the guide below to inform you as to when and how to incorporate the nuances of extracts and flavors in your recipes.


An extract is a concentrated solution that contains the complex, alcohol-soluble volatile oils, resins and other compounds – all the flavors – that are found in the physical herb, spice, fruit or nut being extracted. The extract solution used to pull these essences from the plant material is usually ethyl alcohol that’s been distilled from fermented corn. (Note: The alcohol used in Frontier Co-op extracts does not contain GMO ingredients or GMO-suspect ingredients, and Frontier Co-op now offers Non-GMO Project Verified Vanilla Extract.

Extracts can be extremely concentrated and powerful. The FDA designates that in order to be called an extract, the solution must contain at least 35 percent alcohol by volume and, as an example, the vanilla extractives must amount to at least 13.35 percent of the volume of a vanilla extract.

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Frontier Co-op Extracts

Flavor or Flavoring

A natural flavor (or simply "flavor") is usually a ready-to-use, standard dilution of a concentrated natural extract, blend of extracts, and/or essential oils in a carrier liquid. Sometimes, as in the case of coconut, flavorings incorporate additional actual material in their formulation as well as the extracted material. The base in which the flavor is diluted can include ethyl alcohol, glycerin, water, vegetable oil or combination thereof. Because of the dilution, natural flavors are generally less concentrated than pure extracts.

Frontier Co-op Flavors

Extract vs. Flavor

Both extracts and flavors 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. Additionally, flavors can have a cloudier, more opaque appearance. For this reason, extracts are best used whenever you want to keep the clarity of the result intact — such as in clear beverages or dairy products. Alcohol-based extracts dissolve into water-based applications, but separation may occur when extracts are added to an oil base.

Extracts and flavors can give a comparable strength of flavoring power if used according to the amounts listed for either ingredient that is called for in the recipe you are using. Just be certain that you don't use an extract when the recipe calls for a flavor and vice versa.

Artificial or Imitation Extracts and Flavors

Some products don’t yield their natural flavors to extraction, while other products can be very expensive to extract. In these cases cheaper, imitation flavors are artificially recreated instead by blending other natural and/or synthetic ingredients. For example, imitation vanilla extract is often created from the vanillin in wood pulp. Frontier Co-op does not carry any artificial or imitation extracts or flavors.

Frontier Co-op Extracts

Almond Extract

Almond extract’s flavor has a sweet, nutty essence. It's well-suited for baking, especially in pastries like croissants, turnovers, and cookies. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water, alcohol and glycerin base.

Chocolate Extract

Sweet chocolate extract enhances chocolate milkshakes, puddings, cheesecakes and whipped cream. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to 2 cups whipped cream for a chocolaty dessert topping. Comes in a water or dairy soluble agave syrup, alcohol and water base.

Vanille Extract flavor tip

Vanilla Extract

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. Comes in water or dairy soluble water and alcohol base.

Tahitian Vanilla Extract

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 fruitier and more floral aroma of Tahitian vanilla beans makes them very popular with European gourmet cooks. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water and alcohol base.

Indonesia Vanilla Extract

Indonesian vanilla beans are processed in such a way that their intense flavor holds up to cooking well. Use the extract in baked goods and hot cocoa. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water and alcohol base.

Papua New Guinea Vanilla Extract

Papua New Guinea vanilla is extremely sweet, floral and delicately nuanced. Use it in sauces, creams and custards. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water and alcohol base.

Uganda Vanilla Extract

Uganda Vanilla is sweet, rounded and full. It is versatile in a variety of cooking applications from baking to whipped cream and ice cream. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water and alcohol base.

Frontier Co-op Flavors

Almond Flavor

Almond flavor won’t evaporate as quickly as almond extract when heated. Add it to your favorite cookie, frosting and meringue recipes. For a special treat, add 1/2 teaspoon almond flavor to waffle, pancake or French toast batter. Also, try a dash in coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes. Comes in a water or dairy soluble water and glycerin base.

Anise Flavor

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. Comes in an oil soluble canola oil base.

Banana Flavor

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. Comes in an oil soluble canola oil base.

Butter Flavor

Butter flavor is a secret cooking weapon for many dieters. For butter flavor without all of 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. Comes in an oil soluble canola oil base.

Butterscotch Flavor flavor tip

Butterscotch Flavor

The taste of butterscotch is the result of a blend of butter and brown sugar. Its 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, cookies, icing, coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes. Comes in a water soluble glycerin base.

Cherry Flavor

Great in cola, soda water, fresh fruit smoothies and milkshakes. Add to whipped cream and icing, or try a drop or two in brandy for an inspired after-dinner drink. Comes in a water soluble glycerin, water and alcohol base.

Cinnamon Flavor

Cinnamon flavor is used when the powder would interfere with the moisture or clarity in recipes. To use, 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. Comes in an oil soluble sunflower seed oil base.

Coconut Flavor

Coconut flavor adds a tropical flair to frostings, pancake batter, syrups, cookies and candy. Also try a dash in your favorite milkshakes and smoothies. Comes in an oil soluble sunflower seed oil base.

Coffee Flavor

Using coffee flavor concentrate allows you to achieve strong coffee flavor without adding large amounts of liquid brewed coffee to your recipe. Try it in desserts like tiramisu, brownies, hot fudge, milkshakes, hot cocoa and homemade ice cream. Frontier Co-op Coffee Flavor contains 7mg caffeine per 1/8th teaspoon serving, while the average cup of coffee contains 90 to 150mg of caffeine per serving. Comes in a water soluble glycerin and water base.

Lemon Flavor

Lemon flavor adds 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. Comes in an oil soluble canola oil base.

Maple Flavor flavor tip

Maple Flavor

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. Comes in a water soluble glycerin and water base.

Mint Flavor

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. Comes in an oil soluble sunflower seed oil base.

Orange Flavor

Orange flavor gives a stronger taste to your recipes than orange juice. It’s useful when you want to add the citrus to your baking without squeezing the actual fruit. Use in cookies, muffins, breads, ice cream, puddings and icings. Comes in an oil soluble sunflower seed oil base.

Peppermint Flavor flavor tip

Peppermint 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. Comes in an oil soluble sunflower seed oil base.

Raspberry Flavor

For a tasty raspberry treat, add raspberry flavor to chocolate sauces and puddings, whipped cream and icings. Or add a few drops to vinaigrettes for a berry zest. For raspberry iced tea, add 1/2 teaspoon per pint of tea. Comes in a water soluble glycerin and water base.

Strawberry Flavor

Add berry-fresh flavor to smoothies and dressings for fruit salads. Also enhances frostings, whipped cream and angel food cakes. Comes in a water soluble glycerin and water base.

Vanilla Flavor

Natural vanilla flavor 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. Comes in a water soluble glycerin and water base.

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