If you’re an experienced baker – or even a novice one – you’ve most likely used vanilla extract.
Maybe you’ve even dabbled with almond extract.
Extracts offer a concentrated flavor so that you don’t have to use a large amount of ingredients that would either be expensive or would throw off your ratio of ingredients.
But what about almond essence?
Essences are artificial mock-ups of the ingredient they are made of; in other words, they are synthetic flavoring components.
Now that we have an understanding of the broad difference between extracts and essences, we’ll look more closely at almond essence.
What is Almond Essence?
Almond essence is a cheaper imitation version of almond extract.
Its artificiality makes it more affordable, though it also creates a fake almond taste.
If you don’t mind the less authentic taste, then almond essence is a cost-effective solution for baking almond treats.
Where is Almond Essence Used?
One can use almond essence in any recipe that calls for almond extract.
Cakes, cookies, cordials, and other desserts are all on the table in terms of utilizing almond essence.
The taste of the final product may differ depending on the quality of the essence and the difference in flavor between extracts and essences.
Almond Extract vs Almond Essence
Pure almond extract is made from the combination of almond oil and alcohol.
Almond essence, or flavoring, does not generally have alcohol. It has an artificial almond taste without the bitter taste of alcohol.
Almond essence does not utilize almond oil, either. It tastes like almonds due to the artificial flavoring and the chemical benzaldehyde.
Most almond extracts and essences do not taste like a true almond. They taste like almond flavoring, which has a more sweet taste.
Almond Essence For Baking
When baking, you can use almond essence in place of almond extract.
In recipes that call for almond extract, especially ones that call for a large amount of almond flavor, almond essence is a good alternative.
It’s relatively affordable and provides an almond flavor. If you enjoy the flavor of almond more than actual almonds, essence is the perfect product for you!
The Best Almond Essence Brands
McCormick Imitation Almond Flavor
Happy Home Natural Almond Flavoring
All three of the above brands are options for almond essences.
Depending on your budget and which stores you have access to, one of these options should work for your culinary needs.
Almond Essence Substitutes
If you cannot find almond essence, there’s always almond extract.
With almond based recipes, you can use almond paste.
If the almond flavor is not as important, vanilla extract could be useful, though you will not achieve the same flavor profile.
How to Properly Store Almond Essence
For longevity, store almond essence in a cool, dark place.
Almond essence generally comes in a dark bottle, which helps to avoid direct sunlight and heat.
Low humidity also helps preserve the flavor and composition of the liquid.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Is Almond Essence Made From Almonds?
Almond essence is not made directly from almonds. Essence or flavoring utilizes artificial flavors to achieve the taste of almond.
It does not technically contain any almond products.
Sweet Almond Oil vs Bitter Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is a carrier oil, which means it stays the same in form, whereas bitter almond oil is an essential oil, so it evaporates over time.
Sweet almond oil generally works best in skincare products while bitter almond oil works well in food products.
Almond extract, for example, contains bitter almond oil. Do not be fooled by the name – bitter almond oil is technically sweet in flavor.
If you want to bake almond treats for cheap, almond essence is the best ingredient to have in your kitchen.
It provides almond flavor without the actual ingredient, which may help if you have a nut allergy. (Always check the labeling to ensure that a product does not contain nuts!)
When choosing between extracts and essences, you have to remember that essences or flavorings will not provide a true-to-form flavor.
That is to say, almond essence will not taste exactly like an almond – it’s artificial almond.
Almond essence, though similar to almond extract, does not contain almond oil. If you prefer consuming fewer artificial ingredients, then extract is your best option.
If you do not have a preference ingredients-wise, almond essence is the winner.
And if you just do not care one way or another, either almond extract or flavoring works. Buy the one you find first! And let us know what you decide to make!
Hello Claire, I just made mandel bread with 8 ozs. almond paste, some 2 T amaretto, 2 T pure almond extract and 2 T vanilla and I can hardly get a taste of the almond! What am I doing wrong? Should I have used almond essence or artificial almond extract?
Hi there Iris, thanks for your question!
I’m not 100% sure because I’ve not made mandel bread, but I would say that you could experiment with almond essence as well. It’s possible that the vanilla extract overpowered the almond flavor as well.
If the recipe says to use those exact measurements and ingredients, then it may just be a less almond-y flavor. I would either try out a different recipe or potentially use less vanilla.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!