Extracts vs. Flavorings

Can you explain what the difference is between extracts and flavoring? I want to make mint chocolate chip ice cream, which I tried to last night. I used peppermint flavoring and it was terrible. Do I use peppermint EXTRACT or MINT flavoring, which I noticed is different than peppermint flavoring. What types of foods do you use flavorings in? and extracts?

  • Posted by: hcurran
  • September 22, 2011


Pastry N. September 22, 2011
I would agree on using extracts 90% of the time. Extracts are better almost always and are CERTAINLY better in baked goods. Cooking with them is closest to the real thing as they are either direct extractions of the spice/herb involved or exact chemical copies of the flavor compound. When you bake with them, the result is the same as if you had the spice itself.
With flavorings, they are often less concentrated and not nearly as pure. They will work with limited success in lightly heated foods but with too much heat they can destabilize and become bitter or just not right! They will work with more success in cold foods like custards and drinks but try them first to see how they work with you own tastes.

All that said, I will always promote extracts over flavorings in my recipes, just for the "better safe than sorry" factor. Hope this helps a bit!
amysarah September 22, 2011
'Pure' extract is usually a reduced form of the thing itself. 'Flavoring' can be an artificial approximation thereof. They can be worlds apart.

This is one of those things where the extra expense is well worth it.
boulangere September 22, 2011
Yes, go for the extract. It's going to be more concentrated and more genuine. Sounds delicious, by the way.
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