13 Best Caramel Extract Substitutes That You Need To Try

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Caramel extract is a great addition to any pantry, as it allows you to make butterscotch cookies, chocolate chips, cinnamon buns, sweet puddings, and a variety of other delicious treats and baked products.

Caramel Extract

Despite how important caramel is in the kitchen, many individuals still have trouble finding caramel extract in their local stores. Don’t worry if you can’t find caramel extract in your grocery shop. There are some easy caramel extract substitutes that will give you a similar flavourful result.

Wondering what are the best caramel extract substitutes? Some of the best caramel extract substitutes are caramel syrup, caramel liqueur, caramel sauce, vanilla extract, butter extract and caramel flavoring.

Let us get into the syrupy world of caramel extract before we deal with its best substitutes.

Quick Peek: Caramel Extract

Caramel Extract

The following sections tell you what caramel extract is, its flavor, texture, uses, and health benefits.

What Is Caramel Extract?

Food extracts are essential in a wide range of baked goods and sweets. Flavourful food extracts are responsible for the deep-rooted flavors and tastes we have learned to enjoy. There are flavors ranging from choco-chips to tootie-frootie and vanilla, yet caramel always stays a classic.

Caramel extract is basically one part sugar and one part water. A considerable quantity of caramel is steeped in a powerful solvent such as alcohol, ethanol, even water, and oil.

Describing Caramel Extract: Flavor and Texture

Caramel extract has a fruity, nutty flavor which renders sweetness to anything that is added. It is intensely sweet with a burnt sugar flavor. You can also easily taste subtle hints of vanilla and cream. 

When it comes to the color of caramel extract, you know it already. It is dark brown in color and has a thin, watery consistency that makes it easy to blend well with other ingredients in your recipe.

Uses of Caramel Extract

Caramel extract is a must-have pantry item for a variety of goods. It can be whisked into butterscotch pudding, cinnamon rolls, cookies, etc.  It is used to add a mouthwatering sweet flavor to cakes, bread, desserts, frostings, buttercream, and ice cream. 

Some of the famous recipes which include caramel extract are butterbeer, apple cinnamon pop tarts with caramel icing, caramel crema with white chocolate crunch shaved ice, and snickers protein smoothie.

Caramel Extract on The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Caramel extract is not just about sweetness. It comes with many health benefits as well. It contains antioxidants that prevent the risks of aging, cancer, and other types of illnesses.

Caramel extract is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is especially rich in calcium, folate, and Vitamin B12. It helps in maintaining good teeth and is helpful in bone development. It also helps in the protection of arteries. 

Why Should We Substitute For Caramel Extract?

Caramel extract has a high-calorie content making it a tad unhealthy – calorie-rich content in your food can potentially increase your cravings and make you reach out for unhealthy foods.

Caramel extract is mostly not in stock online or in traditional stores because of its vast usage. Its non-availability is the biggest cause of concern behind finding suitable substitutes for it.

Also, caramel extract is made using alcohol. So if your recipes demand not even a pint of alcohol, you might want to try other ingredients which work best as caramel extract substitutes. 

So, shall we now look into the best caramel extract substitutes?

13 Best Caramel Extract Substitutes

Now, let’s see what can we use instead of caramel extract in our recipes. The thirteen best caramel extract substitutes are as follows:

1. Caramel Syrup 

Caramel Syrup

Caramel syrup is the perfect caramel extract substitute. It is a syrup made using sugar, water, vanilla extract, and salt. Both raw and white granulated sugars can be used to prepare caramel syrup. Raw sugar gives you a rich brown color with an intense flavor, while white sugar gives you a mild flavor and a golden-colored syrup.

Caramel syrup is a very readily available substitute for caramel extract. You can easily spot it on top of ice creams and in coffee drinks. It’s just like caramel extract in terms of taste but is just a little thicker in consistency.

As the base of both the extract and syrup is caramel, there is a lot of common ground. A small difference between the two is that caramel syrup is sweeter than caramel extract.

However, carefully use it while baking, as the overuse of syrup can lead to imbalance and ruin the texture of whatever you are baking. Here’s one way how you can use caramel syrup in a recipe.

Caramel syrup is the ideal substitute for caramel extract due to the similarities in flavor and aroma. Its texture and intense sweetness shouldn’t be a big cause of concern if you mellow it.

2. Caramel Liqueur

Caramel Liqueur

Caramel liqueur is made by boiling sweetened condensed milk until it caramelizes. After that, usually, rum is whisked into it with a slight addition of cocoa powder. Blending these three simple ingredients gives you the creamy, tasty caramel liqueur that is a good substitute for caramel extract.

The presence of alcohol is why liqueur made number two on our list. The high concentration of alcohol makes the taste very similar to that of extracts.

Caramel liqueur can be used in the same quantity as caramel extract, thereby making it a good alternative to caramel extract. This is because most of it can be cooked away, making it taste highly similar to caramel extract.

The only downside is that caramel liqueur might not be easily available like the other caramel extract substitutes. 

3. Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce is made by blending caramelized sugar with cream. Some of the additional ingredients can be butter, fruit purees, liquors, or vanilla.

Caramel sauce closely resembles caramel syrup, except in the case of its consistency – caramel sauce is a bit thicker than caramel syrup. It has a rich sweet flavor and a smooth and velvety texture with the addition of butter. 

Caramel sauce can be a caramel extract good substitute, considering the similarities in flavor. If you are bothered with its thick consistency, you can always add water while choosing to replace caramel extract or if your recipe demands the same.

4. Vanilla Extract 

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Every classic cake recipe has vanilla extract listed in it. Almost every grocery store has this baking essential in stock, despite how demanding it is. It is generally affordable.

Having a very intense taste, most items require less vanilla extract compared to caramel extract. A teaspoon or two is enough for most recipes. Want to know all about vanilla essence? I have it all here with me.

Vanilla extract is a considerable substitute for caramel extract due to the fruity flavor it has. Although it might not be caramel-based, you are sure to enjoy its goodness and sweetness if added in high quantities while replacing caramel extract.

5. Butter Extract 

Butter Extract In a Bowl

This must be the healthiest caramel extract substitute on all of our lists as this is gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. It is not made up of any animal product and simply mimics the flavor of butter. It is absolutely vegan too! Can there be anything more perfect in all aspects?

When used as a substitute, the creaminess takes over the sweetness. It does not contain any sugar, so if needed, sugar can be added. Don’t have butter extract. Well, we have substitutes for it as well.

If you don’t mind a slight reduction in the sweetness and can bear with the yummy creamy flavor, butter extract works as a fine replacement for caramel extract.

6. Caramel Flavoring

Caramel flavor is a variety of flavoring agents made using natural ingredients such as water, sugar, natural flavors, and salt. It has a concentrated caramel flavor – concentrated more than pure caramel, I should say!

The intensity of sweetness in caramel flavoring can be reduced if sparing quantities are used to replace caramel extract in your recipes, making caramel flavoring a considerable alternative to caramel extract.

You have to be mindful of the brands of caramel flavoring you choose. For a perfect caramel flavor, always opt to choose flavorings that are devoid of sweeteners, preservatives, or any other colors.

7. Pure Caramel

You can always consider going for caramel as a substitute for caramel extract. It is easily available from grocery stores, or if you have the patience, you can easily prepare caramel at home.

You simply need to boil sugar over medium heat, and adding butter is recommended if you wish for a creamy texture. Add either water or whipping cream to the melted sugar and mix well. You can also add kosher salt, rum, or vanilla extract based on your flavor preferences.

After a few minutes, your own homemade caramel is ready for use. You can use caramel in lieu of caramel extract, adjusting the amount based on the intended flavor.

8. Butterscotch Candy

Butterscotch Candy

Caramel and butterscotch are two distinct flavors. Despite that, many people confuse the two due to the rich sweetness and toasted flavor. If you don’t have any other options, melt some butterscotch candy and replace the caramel essence with it.

It’s hard to believe, but butterscotch mimics the caramel flavor very well, making it a good substitute for caramel extract. Here’s how you can make some delicious butterscotch candy at home.

9. Caramel Candy

Caramel Candies

Caramel candy is an excellent caramel extract substitute. But it requires some preparation before it can be used to flavor baked products or desserts.

There are two techniques to work with caramel candy directly as an alternative to extracting. I will show you how to produce your own caramel extract soon, but if you’re in a hurry, melting them will suffice.

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. Because syrup quickly recrystallizes back to solid candy, you’ll need to use it immediately in your desserts or other recipes.

10. Almond Extract

Almond Extract

Almond extract is a great substitute for caramel extract, but keep in mind that it has a strong almond flavor. Many people prefer almond extract to caramel because it is strong, sweet, and has the distinct flavor of almonds.

Remember that your dessert will be imbued with the flavor of almonds, which will replace the toasty flavor of caramel, but only in sweetness.

11. Caramel Fudge

caramel fudge

Fudge works well as a caramel extract substitute, whether crushed or melted. It’s considerably sweeter, and if you use too much, it’ll give your dish a grainy, granulated texture.

By pouring your fudge into a pot with a little water, you may transform it into a sauce. In general, this makes it much easier to measure, pour, blend in, and work with. Don’t have caramel fudge? Well, I have something better! Try the Harry Potter Butterbeer Fudge (it’s half caramel).

12. Golden Syrup

Golden syrup is a kind of sugar syrup made by refining sugarcane or sugar beet juice into sugar. In simple words, you obtain this syrup by treating sugar with an acid (mostly lemon juice.)

Golden syrup is thickly amber-colored with a distinctive buttery, caramel-like flavor. It has a consistency and color which is similar to that of honey though it is nothing like honey.

If you don’t mind those subtle acidic notes, golden syrup can work as a considerable substitute for caramel extract. The sweetness is guaranteed with golden syrup in desserts, cookies, puddings, biscuits, and toffees. 

13. DIY Caramel Extract

If you are an avid user of caramel extract, you may easily run out of it. It is then not an enjoyable task to bother with its substitutes often. Why not prepare caramel extract at your own ease, comfort with the intended flavor?

Caramel extract, when homemade, may fall short of flavor or consistency. But it can work as a fine alternative for store-bought caramel extract. 

What To Look Out For

Caramel extract, in spite of having very basic ingredients, is somewhat challenging to be made at home. It needs steeping time, special instruments, and precise instructions are to be followed while making it.

But fret not, as there are many substitutes for caramel extract that give out the same taste and results. I have chosen and listed the best ones for you!

Substitutes For Caramel ExtractRecommended Brands 
Caramel Syrup Hershey’s, Fontana
Caramel LiqueurEffen Salted Caramel
Vanilla ExtractPenzeys Single Strength Vanilla
Butter Extract McCormick Butter Extract
Butterscotch Candy Werther’s Original, London Dairy
Caramel Candy Werther’s Original Soft Caramel Candy
Almond ExtractOssoro
Caramel Fudge Veeba

How To Substitute Caramel Extract In Your Food

Caramel Extract

Caramel Extract Substitutes

Wondering what are the best caramel extract substitutes? Some of the best caramel extract substitutes are caramel syrup, caramel liqueur, caramel sauce, vanilla extract, butter extract and caramel flavoring.
5 from 1 vote


  • Caramel Syrup 
  • Caramel Liqueur
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Vanilla Extract 
  • Butter Extract 
  • Caramel Flavoring
  • Pure Caramel
  • Butterscotch Candy
  • Caramel Candy
  • Almond Extract
  • Caramel Fudge
  • Golden Syrup
  • DIY Caramel Extract


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
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Caramel extract is richly sweet and flavourful. It adds a distinct flavor to your baked dishes and desserts. But as discussed, it might not be readily available and also takes a very long time to be made at home. 

There is no ideal substitute for caramel’s particular flavor, but each of the above-mentioned alternatives will come close. Which one is your personal favorite? Tell me in the comments below. I’ll see you next time with another great article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is caramel extract made of?

Caramel extract is made of water, propylene glycol, caramel color, alcohol, natural and artificial flavors.

Can I use caramel extract instead of vanilla?

Caramel extract can be used instead of vanilla due to its rich, sweet flavor that is akin to vanilla. 

What is the flavor of caramel extract?

Caramel extract has a sweet, fruity, burnt sugar flavor with subtle hints of vanilla. 

How to make caramel extract at home?

Caramel extract can be easily made at home by boiling caramel candies to extract caramel or by using pure caramel. Simply add alcohol to your version of caramel and let it rest for about three months. After which, strain the mixture using a cheesecloth or strainer and your caramel extract is ready for use.

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