It’s almost the end of summer, which means the holiday baking and party season is just around the corner! But what happens when you want to shake it up with some new recipes, but don’t have all the ingredients?
Whether you’re on a tight budget, have certain food allergies, or just don’t feel like leaving the house today — you can almost always find a substitute that works in a pinch.
However, there are some ingredients, like fruit extracts, that can be a little bit trickier to swap out.
So, what are some substitutes for strawberry extract? Strawberry syrup, jam, liqueur, or Jell-O mix are great options for keeping that strawberry flavor. Other extracts like vanilla, almond, raspberry, cherry, or lemon work well too, especially if you have a strawberry allergy.
Continue reading to learn more about strawberry extract, how it’s made, and how to use its substitutes!
What Is Strawberry Extract?
Many people opt for fresh strawberries when they want to capture that flavor in their kitchen creations.
When strawberries are out of season or otherwise unavailable, strawberry extract is one way to cut down on prep time while still delivering authentic and all-natural flavor.
Strawberry extract is a popular ingredient in a variety of recipes, including beverages, baked goods, candy, and ice cream.
Because extracts are highly concentrated, only a small amount is needed. For example, if you are making a simple buttercream icing, you would likely use about half a teaspoon, depending on the recipe.
How Is Strawberry Extract Made?
Strawberry extract can be made with alcohol by caramelizing fresh strawberries with sugar and an alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, or rum.
The mixture is then left to ferment in a glass jar for 8 weeks until it is ready to be strained and stored for future use. This version of strawberry extract can be preserved for a few months, or if it’s store-bought, it could last for a few years.
Alternatively, strawberry extract can be made using water instead of alcohol to caramelize, then strain, and the process only takes about 10 minutes. However, this version has a far shorter shelf-life and should be used fairly quickly.
Substitutes For Strawberry Extract
There are a number of reasons why you might want to swap out strawberry extract for another ingredient, such as:
- Product shortages
- Limited choices at the grocery store
- Food allergies or other dietary restrictions
- Tight budget
- Time constraints
Whatever your dilemma may be, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with some similar ingredients you can use instead!
1. Strawberry (Or Other Fruit) Syrup
This is a great option to start with because there are so many types of syrup and you can generally go with any kind of fruity syrup you have in the kitchen.
One drawback to syrup is that store-bought versions can contain artificial ingredients like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other preservatives or chemicals.
If you are a more health-conscious foodie, this product would bring the flavor, but it is always important to check the ingredients to see if the product fits your needs.
When substituting with this ingredient, keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of sugar called for in the recipe, as syrup will already contain quite a bit. Taste the syrup first to determine its flavor concentration before adding.
2. Strawberry Jam
Jam is another grocery staple you may have laying around the house that can be used in place of strawberry extract. It is made similarly to strawberry extract, achieving the concentrated and natural flavor you desire.
Of course, given its consistency, strawberry jam may be best suited as a substitute for extract in baked goods, while adding more texture and gorgeous color throughout.
For best results, use a small amount so that your dish does not end up too sweet or risk being baked improperly. If your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of extract, try using one tablespoon of jam.
3. Strawberry (Or Other Fruit) Liqueur
This is a bit of a bold choice for a substitute, but we added it to this list in the event that someone out there has it in their kitchen.
Liqueur can be expensive and often only seasonally available. On the upside, the payoff of using liqueur in baking can be worth a try!
As with any other substituted ingredient, taste it first before adding it to your recipe, then start with 1 tablespoon.
4. Strawberry (Or Other Flavor) Jell-O Mix
Jell-O is an absolute classic, beloved by toddlers, hospitals, and broke college kids alike. It is relatively cheap, widely available, and highly versatile!
Gelatin can act as a thickening agent, so make sure you check the other ingredients in the recipe to see if any of them react differently to gelatin.
The flavor crystals in the dry mix go well in both beverages and cakes and other baked goods, and we’ve even seen it used to flavor mochi!
Besides just using it as a substitute in a baking batter or base cocktail recipe, you could also try dusting it on top of the final product for added flavor or garnishing the rim of a beverage glass.
Try using a 1:1 ratio to start, then add more of the dry mix in for flavor as needed.
5. Vanilla Extract
One reason vanilla extract is a good substitute for strawberry extract is that it may be quite easier to find in stores, due to its popularity in baking recipes.
Vanilla extract varies in size, price, and concentration level. Depending on your dietary preferences and budget, a lower-cost option would be “imitation” vanilla extract, made of synthetic chemicals to mimic the flavor.
6. Almond Extract
This ingredient, when used correctly, can be another solid substitute for strawberry extract. Similar to its vanilla cousin, it is also popular in baking recipes and therefore generally available in stores.
The main difference is that almond extract is distilled from almond oil, resulting in a very strong yet sweet flavor, paired best with flavors like coffee, vanilla, cherry, or chocolate.
Use sparingly, and start with half a teaspoon. Too much almond extract will be extremely noticeable upon tasting your finished product, and may ruin your dish.
If you accidentally use too much almond extract, you can try counteracting it by adding some type of acidic ingredient, such as a little bit of lemon or lime juice, wine, or vinegar.
7. Raspberry Extract
If you don’t have strawberry extract, but you do have the raspberry kind, you are in luck!
Not only will you still get a berry flavor with this substitute, but natural raspberry extract also contains benefits like ketones which help regulate metabolism and balance blood sugar.
Speaking of sugar — raspberries can often be tarter or occasionally sweeter than strawberries, so make sure you adjust the sugar levels in your recipe as needed.
As a general note, raspberry extract tends to be more potent than strawberry extract, so you may need a smaller amount than the recipe calls for. Try starting with half a teaspoon.
8. Cherry Extract
Cherry extract is interchangeable with strawberry extract, making it a perfect substitute since you can just use the amount called for in the recipe.
Cherries also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances, so you can feel like you’re doing your body a favor when swapping it into your dish.
Not only is cherry extract tasty in baked goods and beverages, but you can even use it in marinades and barbecue sauces for a slight twist on the savory side.
9. Lemon Zest
Not only does lemon generally work well on its own, but it also enhances other flavor profiles within your dish. You can use the entire fruit, peel and all!
Zesting a lemon is an easy and affordable way to add flavor to any dish. As always when using produce, wash and pat dry the lemon first. If you plan to use the juice too, use the grater first and then juice the lemon.
A medium-sized lemon will yield 1 tablespoon of zest, so you really don’t need to spend too much money or energy to get the amount you need for your recipe.
When using zest, start by folding 1 to 2 tablespoons into your batter or mixture.
Now that we’ve learned all about strawberry extract and some of its top substitutes, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.
What other fruits are in the strawberry family?
If you have ever wondered what fruits are related to strawberries, or you’re allergic to strawberries and want to know what else you may need to watch out for, here’s the scoop.
How do you make your own strawberry extract?
Check out this short video from Pretty Little Vibes on YouTube to learn how to make strawberry extract at home either with or without alcohol!