I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of amaretto substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.
Almond syrup, almond extract, or hazelnut liqueur are easy substitutes for amaretto. Or you can use almond extract to make your own homemade amaretto. Avoiding nuts? Try chocolate liqueur instead. Lyre’s non-alcoholic amaretto is good for a booze-free substitute.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I brewed a pot of strong coffee to try out different amaretto substitutes (don’t worry, I had friends help me with this!)
Amaretto is an Italian liqueur made from apricot kernels. But it doesn’t taste like apricots! Instead it has a sweet, nutty flavor with vanilla undertones and a hint of bitterness – very similar to almonds.
Some people liken it to cherries too.
Getting an exact flavor match for this liqueur was challenging, but I managed to find a few substitutes that worked pretty well.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Almond syrup||Replace 1 tbsp of amaretto with ½ tbsp of amaretto syrup.||10/10|
|Almond extract||Replace 1 tbsp amaretto with ¼ to ½ tsp of almond extract.||10/10|
|Homemade amaretto||Replace amaretto with an equal amount of your homemade version.||9/10|
|Hazelnut liqueur||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Chocolate liqueur||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Lyre’s non-alcoholic amaretto||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Creme de noyaux||Replace with 1/2 the amount.||7/10|
Common uses of amaretto
Here are some popular ways to use amaretto and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For cocktails and other drinks: Try using amaretto syrup, almond extract, homemade amaretto, or hazelnut liqueur. Chocolate liqueur works for more dessert-like drinks. Try Lyre’s non-alcoholic version if you’re avoiding booze.
- For desserts and baked goods: Try using homemade amaretto, hazelnut, or chocolate liqueur. You can use amaretto syrup and almond extract, but you’ll need to compensate for the missing liquid volume.
- For sauces and syrups: Try using amaretto syrup, almond extract, homemade amaretto, or hazelnut liqueur.
Meet almong syrup, the non-alcoholic cousin of amaretto liqueur.
It has a similar almond-like, nutty flavor with one small difference.
You don’t get that subtle bitterness because of the absence of alcohol, so this syrup is sweeter and less complex tasting.
But once I’d mixed it with my coffee you couldn’t really tell the difference. I didn’t need much sugar though!
Psst… this is great in tea too.
How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp of amaretto with ½ tbsp of amaretto syrup.
Next in line is almond extract, an easy substitute you might already have to hand if you’re a keen baker!
Like amaretto, it’s made from the pits of stone fruits, which give the extract a familiar flavor.
But it’s super concentrated, so you only need a small amount and will lose some liquid in your recipe.
This didn’t matter much for my coffee. But if you’re using a decent amount of amaretto in the recipe, you’ll want to make up for the missing liquid with a splash of water (or whatever liquid you’re using in your dish).
Pro tip: this isn’t as sweet as amaretto so you might need to add some more sugar.
How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp amaretto with ¼ to ½ tsp of almond extract + 1 tbsp of water.
Looking for an easy alcoholic substitute? You can make your own homemade amaretto using a bottle of almond extract!
Mix the almond extract with white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
Then add water and vodka to make the base.
The result is a warm, sweet-but-bitter liquid that’s pretty close to authentic amaretto!
And of course it’s super easy to customize! Swap vodka for rum or play around with different extracts. I could see coconut extract working really well.
How to substitute: replace amaretto with an equal amount of your homemade version.
This is a slight departure from the flavor of amaretto, but it’s still a great substitute for adding a nuttty note to your dishes.
The hazelnut flavor is much more prominent, and there’s less bitterness on the tongue.
The alcohol content is around the same as amarettos, so it’s a prefect swap in cocktails!
Frangelico is a top-shelf hazelnut liqueur that’s delicious, but it’s pricey. Or brands like Bartenura or DeKuyper offer budget-friendly options
How to substitute: replace amaretto in a 1:1 ratio with hazelnut liqueur.
Some brands of amaretto (like Disarno) are nut-free, but why not try chocolate liqueur if you want to be safe?
And don’t confuse this with chocolate liquor – the spelling matters here!
Chocolate liqueur is a delightful elixir that melds the smoothness of whiskey with the irresistible decadence of chocolate.
I used Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur for the experiment, and it added a sweet, chocolatey boost to my coffee which was divine (but the exact flavor will vary by brand).
Pssst… and it tasted amazing on its own too.
How to substitute: replace amaretto in a 1:1 ratio with chocolate liqueur.
Lyre’s non-alcoholic amaretto
Here’s another alcohol-free alternative for amaretto lovers: Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Amaretto.
It delivers all the sweet, marzipan-like flavor notes you adore about amaretto, minus the burn and headache from the alcohol.
You can use this substitute anywhere you’d typically use amaretto, from baking to cocktail mixing.
Availability may be a bit spotty, but a well-stocked liquor store should carry it.
How to substitute: replace amaretto in a 1:1 ratio with Lyre’s non-alcoholic amaretto.
Creme de noyaux
Moving onto something a little different – Creme de Noyaux.
This is an almond-flavored liqueur like amaretto but has a more pronounced nutty flavor.
It also boasts creamier consistency because it’s a creme liqueur, which also means it has a lot more sugar.
My coffee was extra decadent!
Because of the added richness, I would use half the amount of this substitute to start with and then add more to taste.
How to substitute: replace amaretto in a 1:1 ratio with creme de noyaux.
Other options to consider
The list above are my top picks for amaretto substitutes, but here are some more alternatives you could try:
- Orgeat syrup – this syrup is actually made from almonds, which gives it a nutty flavor. But it also has floral, citrusy notes from the orange blossom water base. I wasn’t a big fan of the citrusy kick with my coffee, but I can see it working in cocktail.
- Macadamia nut liqueur – this isn’t an exact flavor match, but it’s buttery and nutty, with hints of vanilla. It’s less sweet, so it’s a good option if you find amaretto overly syrupy. The only downside? It’s pretty pricey.
- Coffee liqueur – this has a bitter-sweet flavor and will bring rich, toasty notes to your dish or cocktail. But the flavor is pretty far from amaretto so think about if it will fit into your recipe.
- Galliano vanilla – another alternative if you’re avoiding nuts. It has a sweet taste and spiced, herbal undertones that could make your food more interesting.
Substitutes to avoid
Some of my suggestions above are a departure from amaretto, but they still work well as a substitute.
But I thought other flavored liqueurs like cherry and apricot, were too fruity to replace amaretto.
And coconut liqueur’s prominent tropical flavor was too overpowering for me.
11 Best Amaretto Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 cups vodka
- 2 tbsp almond extract
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine the water and both sugars in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer. Stir occasionally until the sugars are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Add in the vodka, almond extract, and vanilla. Store in a sealed bottle.