The Most Important Rule For Swapping Almond And Vanilla Extracts

If you tend to bake frequently, vanilla extract is likely a staple in your pantry. Pure vanilla extract — which is often better than imitation vanilla – offers a sweet boost to all kinds of recipes, from sugar cookies to loaf cakes. If you've run out of the common ingredient, however, there's no need to run to the grocery store. Rather, you can easily swap your vanilla for almond extract — a bottle that parallels the former in flavor. However, there's a catch; to successfully substitute the two, you'll want to change your ratios. Use half the amount of almond extract when replacing vanilla.

Indeed, less goes a long way in utilizing vanilla extract's almond-based cousin. This rule is because the latter extract comes far stronger than the more subdued vanilla. So, for every teaspoon of vanilla a recipe calls for, use just half a teaspoon of almond extract. By that same logic, you should double your amount of vanilla whenever you need a substitute for almond extract. Keeping this rule in mind is crucial, as you can easily overpower — or underwhelm — your baked goods. As for when to make these substitutions? It all depends on the recipe at hand. 

Use almond extract for a nuttier vanilla replacement

Almonds may have a fairly mild flavor, but almond extract tends to pack a punch. Indeed, the nut-based liquid is potent and intense, so you'll want to be careful not only with how much you add, but also with when you choose to add it. Recipes that call for vanilla extract vary, and while you can interchange almond and vanilla flavors, you run the risk of altering the flavor of your recipes. As such, it's best to use a little less almond extract — and be a little more selective in when you're making your substitutions.

Fortunately, almond extract works all kinds of wonders in many recipes that originally call for vanilla. Specifically, it functions best in foods that could benefit from added nuttiness like your favorite cookies and cakes. However, you may want to avoid making the substitution — even when halved  — in recipes that are ultra-dependent on the flavor of vanilla. Recipes for ice cream or vanilla frosting may not work as well with almond extract. By that same token, foods that are all about almonds can easily include vanilla, but will, of course, lose their intended almond flavor.

When swapping, experimentation is a must. If you can't choose between almond and vanilla, however, why not add both? That way, you'll taste complementary — and delicious — flavors that pair perfectly in your next batch of sugar cookies.