Caramel Extract Substitute: 5 Options to Consider

January 03, 2023
Last updated on January 31, 2023
Caramel Extract Substitute: 5 Options to Consider

Caramel extract, a coveted ingredient in baking, imparts a delightful, caramel-like taste to sweet treats and desserts. Yet, it can prove elusive or run out at the most inopportune moment. Moreover, for those who abstain from alcohol or follow a strict alcohol-free diet, discovering a suitable replacement for caramel extract can prove difficult.

Traditionally, caramel extract is derived from an alcoholic base, such as rum, brandy, or vodka, which can pose a hindrance to those who choose to exclude alcohol from their culinary creations. But, never fear! There exist several viable options that provide a similar taste profile, without the alcohol, enabling all to savor the rich, sweet and caramel-like flavor in their beloved dishes and desserts.

Whether you're searching for a non-alcoholic alternative for a specific recipe or simply want to avoid alcohol in your cooking, you have plenty of options. In this article, we delve into the top alcohol-free substitutes for caramel extract, so you can select the one that best suits your tastes and needs.

What's A Good Caramel Extract Substitute?

Here are several caramel extract substitute options that will add a rich, sweet and caramel-like flavor to your baking and cooking, sans alcohol:

1. Brown sugar

Brown sugar is a mixture of molasses and granulated sugar, and can be used to add a warm and caramel-like sweetness to your recipes. Keep in mind that brown sugar is slightly moister than granulated sugar, and will impact the final texture of your baked goods.

2. Caramel Sauce or Syrup

Caramel sauce or syrup is produced by heating sugar until it transforms into golden caramel, and then combined with cream, butter, and vanilla. The result is a smooth, sweet, and velvety sauce or syrup that can be used to top desserts or as a sweetener in cooking and baking.

3. Vanilla extract and brown sugar

Mixing a small amount of vanilla extract with brown sugar enhances the caramel-like flavor of the sugar. The vanilla will also impart a warm and comforting sweetness to your recipes, making it a great option for baking and cooking.

4. Molasses

Molasses, a byproduct of the sugar-making process, is created when sugar cane or sugar beets are processed into sugar. It's a thick, dark syrup with a distinct, slightly bitter flavor that can be used to add a rich, caramel-like sweetness to your recipes.

5. Maple syrup

Maple syrup, extracted from the sap of maple trees, has a natural sweetness and caramel-like flavor, making it an excellent alternative to caramel extract. It's perfect for sweetening desserts and adding a touch of sweetness to breakfast staples like pancakes and waffles.

Each of these substitutes boasts a unique flavor profile and can be utilized to infuse a touch of caramel-like sweetness to your baking and cooking. To determine the ideal caramel extract substitute, consider the recipe, desired flavor, and the desired final texture.

Non-Alcoholic Homemade Caramel Extract

A delectable caramel flavor in your baking creations without the addition of alcohol? It's possible! Here's a recipe for homemade caramel extract without the buzz:


  • 2 cups granulated sugar.
  • 1 cup water.
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.


  • Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  • Stir continuously over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Turn up the heat, let it boil without stirring for 10 minutes or until it turns light golden brown.
  • Carefully add vanilla extract, but be cautious as the mixture may bubble up.
  • Allow it to cool, pour into a bottle/jar with a tight-fitting lid, and store in a cool, dark place.
  • Use as desired in your culinary creations.

Please note, the shelf life of this extract may be shorter compared to its alcohol-based counterparts and the flavor might differ slightly, but it still provides a sweet and aromatic caramel-like taste to your dishes.


In conclusion, finding a caramel extract substitute can be challenging, especially for those who avoid alcohol. But with options like brown sugar, caramel sauce/syrup, vanilla and brown sugar mix, molasses, and maple syrup, there's a solution for everyone's taste buds. And for the adventurous, try making your own non-alcoholic extract with this simple recipe. No need to compromise on the sweet, rich caramel flavor in your cooking and baking anymore!

Profil Picture Iris Janine Freeman

Meet Iris Janine Freeman, a freelance copywriter and food blogger from the East Coast. When she's not busy crafting the perfect words for her clients, Iris can be found experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen or planning her next travel adventure.

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