How to Use Up a Heck of a Lot of Extracts

December  7, 2015

It's a tale as old as vanilla extract: You buy a bottle of it (or of almond, or anise, or any other kind of extract), it gets shuffled to the back of your pantry shelf, and then you buy another.

And before you know it, in a fervent pantry clean out session, you uncover an extract windfall. And then what do you do? Food52-er sweetlolo found herself in just such a scenario over on the Hotline.

Here are a couple of ideas for putting it all to good use:

  • QueenSashy and GarlicFiend like it in hot drinks—like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate (maybe even hot chocolate topped with extract-spiked whipped cream).
  • You can also add a couple of drops to your morning smoothie—or your 5 o'clock cocktail.
  • Coco et Cocoa recommends using it in nearly any baked good, from sugar cookies and pound cakes to chocolate cakes and pies. Cherry pie with almond extract is a particularly tasty (and classic) pairing. (She also recommends using it for Chinese almond tofu, a sweetened tofu dessert!)
  • Add a bit to a batch of jam, marmalade, or curd. Think lemon-vanilla curd, cherry-almond jam, or orange-vanilla marmalade.
  • ...Or stop a few steps short of jam and make an aromatic compote by stewing fruit with a splash of extract. Then serve it (warm!) over yogurt or ice cream.
Photo by James Ransom
  • Add a few drops of extract to pancakes, waffles, the custard for French toast, or even your weekday-morning oatmeal.
  • Or let it add extra nuance to rice (or bread) pudding!
  • Make your own marzipan, recommends Emily Love. And then gift it!
  • Amysarah and drbabs both recommend sharing the wealth, since just a little bit of extract goes a long way! Though if you're not in a rush to clear some pantry space, extracts will last quite a long time.

How would you use up an extract surplus? Share your ways in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Windischgirl
  • Andie Paysinger
    Andie Paysinger
  • Genevieve Mailloux
    Genevieve Mailloux
  • toweringinferno
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Windischgirl December 28, 2016
Add a bit when making homemade ice cream, or it could be swirled into softened store-bought ice cream. My family's favorite is mint-chocolate chip, which is an easy combo of a few drops of mint extract and a handful of mini chips.
For the savory side, my mom makes a sweet potato purée flavored with cinnamon and a splash of coconut extract.
Andie P. December 27, 2016
I have several of the highly concentrated extracts. A drop of the nutty flavors (butter pecan) in a small creamer with half and half, heated in the microwave is wonderful on hot cereal - oatmeal or ?
Genevieve M. December 9, 2015
I add vanilla extract to fruit salad with a bit of cinnamon. People go crazy when they taste it but not many can guess the flavor combination for some reason that I have failed to identify.
toweringinferno December 9, 2015
I have MASSIVE amounts of vanilla extract right now. Another nice way to use it up without "using it" is to add some to a low-simmering pot of water with other aromatics and make your home smell yummy! (Just don't leave it too long and let it boil dry...)