Almond Extract: The Surprising Truth Behind Its Flavor

Keywords: almond extract, almonds, stone fruits, benzaldehyde, flavor, baking

Almond extract is a popular ingredient in baking, known for its distinctive nutty flavor. However, many people are surprised to learn that most commercially available almond extract is not actually made from almonds. This article delves into the surprising truth behind almond extract, exploring its origins, flavor profile, and uses.

What is Almond Extract?

Almond extract is a concentrated liquid flavoring typically used in baking. It is made from bitter almond oil, alcohol, and water. The bitter almond oil is extracted from the pits of almonds or other stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, and plums.

The Surprising Truth:

While the name suggests otherwise, most commercially available almond extract is not actually made from almonds. This is because the pits of almonds contain a substance called amygdalin, which can release cyanide when consumed. To avoid this risk, manufacturers typically use the pits of other stone fruits, which contain the same flavor-imparting compound, benzaldehyde, but without the harmful amygdalin.

Flavor Profile:

Almond extract has a strong, slightly fruity flavor that is reminiscent of almonds. It is often used in baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and pastries to enhance their flavor and aroma.

Uses in Baking:

Almond extract is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various baking applications. Here are some common uses:

  • Cookies: Almond extract is a popular addition to cookies, particularly those made with almond flour or marzipan.
  • Cakes: A small amount of almond extract can enhance the flavor of cakes, especially those with fruit flavors like cherry or apricot.
  • Pastries: Almond extract can add a subtle almond flavor to pastries such as croissants, danishes, and puff pastry.
  • Frosting and glazes: Almond extract can be used to flavor frostings and glazes for cakes and cupcakes.


If you don’t have almond extract on hand, you can substitute it with other ingredients, such as:

  • Vanilla extract: Use two parts vanilla extract for one part almond extract.
  • Almond-flavored liqueur: Use four to eight parts almond-flavored liqueur for one part almond extract. Be mindful of the increased liquid volume in your recipe.
  • Amaretto: This almond-flavored liqueur can be used as a substitute for almond extract in a 1:1 ratio.

Making Your Own Almond Extract:

If you want to try your hand at making your own almond extract, you can use the pits of almonds or other stone fruits. Here’s a simple recipe:


  • 30 apricot pits (or almond pits)
  • 2 cups vodka


  1. Crack open the apricot pits (or almond pits) to remove the kernels.
  2. Place the kernels in a mason jar and pour the vodka over them.
  3. Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
  4. Shake the jar occasionally.
  5. After 3 months, strain the extract through a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
  6. Store the extract in a cool, dark place.

Almond extract is a versatile ingredient that can add a distinctive almond flavor to baked goods. While most commercially available almond extract is not made from almonds, it still provides the desired flavor profile. Whether you use store-bought or homemade almond extract, a little goes a long way in enhancing the flavor of your favorite desserts.

How to Use Homemade Almond Extract

Theres so many things you can make with this. Classic desserts and drinks include baked goods, fruit- or dairy-based desserts. Here are some examples of what you could create with it.

how is almond extract made

  • Use it to make homemade amaretto ice cream.
  • Pour a little bit into any fruit coulis or sauce.
  • Anything cream based, like amaretto ice cream and panna cotta.
  • Incorporate into fruit preserves such as freezer jams, fruit butters, jellies, and jams.
  • Drinks, especially ones with cherry flavors or dairy based drinks.
  • Add a splash to warm homemade nut milk.
  • Adding it as a flavoring to compound gins and liqueurs is one of my favorite applications. When creating a beverage such as nocino or cassis, you have the option to add some seeds or add a final splash just before bottling.

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

How to Make Almond Extract

I’m using wild plums, but cherry, peach, or apricot pits would also work well. Follow my friend Ellen Zachos’ advice and freeze the pits until you need them. Her almond joy cocktail sounds great too!.

Some recipes call for blanched or chopped almonds, but those methods are ineffective. This sounds like a mixture of bitter and sweet almonds. Traditionally bitter almonds are used to make almond extract. However, because they can be dangerous if misused, they are currently prohibited in Europe and the United States.

Almond extract is super easy to make at home. The first step is drying the stone fruit pits. The s below describe the process.

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

After the pits have dried and cracked, you should take out as many pieces of shell as possible. It doesnt have to be perfect.

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

Strain the mixture and add sugar to taste after it has macerated for at least a month. To maintain its pale hue, you can use either simple syrup or maple syrup.

how is almond extract made

how is almond extract made

In order to make my Siberian Bird Cherry Cake, I have also extracted cherry pits by simply crushing the shell and seed together after sifting.

how is almond extract made

Occasionally, vanilla beans are added. However, a nice vanilla substitute would be a few dried or fresh sweet scented garlium (Galium triflofum) leaves.

how is almond extract made

Homemade Almond Extract – Results!


Is almond extract actually made from almonds?

“Pure” extract is made with bitter almonds, whereas “natural” extract contains cassia bark essence. “Imitation” extract contains synthetic chemicals that mimic the almond flavor. Use almond extract in your baking or whip it into toppings and fillings.

Why does almond extract not taste like almonds?

Almond extract, used in baked goods and desserts, tastes nothing like almonds. That’s because it is made with bitter almond oil and ethyl alcohol. Whole bitter almonds are technically inedible, but their oil has a strong, sweet flavor.

Is almond extract made from peach pits?

Seeds from drupes like peaches and apricots are used to make almond extract because they’re a cheap byproduct of ubiquitous fruits that are often broken down and processed for other types of food, like peach yogurt or apricot jam.

How is almond extract made?

Almond extract can be produced in two ways. Pure almond extract involves cold pressing the almonds and combining them with alcohol and water. Imitation almond extract is created using synthetic materials to mimic the flavor of the extracts from almonds or stone fruits.

What can be made with raw almonds?

You can grind them to make a flour that goes great with fruits and yogurt, use them in place of nuts to make pesto, make a mousse or pate, add to your granola, and even make sauce or almond milk.

Where did almond extract come from?

Almond extract — the natural version — comes from almonds, which are native to the Middle East. Historians believe that almond trees were among the first domesticated fruit trees. From the Middle East, almonds would eventually reach Greece and then Rome. Almonds were traded throughout the first millennium into the Middle Ages.

What is pure almond extract?

Pure almond extract consists of bitter almond oil, alcohol, and water. The almond oil is the source of the flavor, which comes from a compound in the oil called benzaldehyde. You can find benzaldehyde in the pits of other fruits, which is why they are sometimes used to make almond extract.

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