I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different rum extract substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding rum extract is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best rum extract substitute is rum. Replace the rum extract with 3 tablespoons of rum, reducing another liquid in the recipe if needed. You can also substitute it with other extracts like vanilla, almond, or coconut. Drinks like bourbon can also work. And orange extract is nice if the dish if chocolate based.
I whipped up a basic cheesecake to test out nine different rum extract substitutes.
Rum extract imparts a rich, warm, and slightly sweet flavor to dishes. I was looking for a substitute that offered a similar depth of flavor and resulted in a delicious cheesecake!
Here’s what I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitute||How to substitute||Verdict|
|Rum||Replace 1 part rum extract with 3 parts rum||10/10|
|Vanilla extract||Replace rum extract in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Brandy extract||Replace rum extract in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Almond extract||Replace rum extract in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Coconut extract||Replace rum extract in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Bourbon||Replace 1 part rum extract with 2 parts bourbon||8/10|
|Cognac||Replace 1 part rum extract with 2 parts cognac||8/10|
|Orange extract||Replace rum extract in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Kahlua||Replace 1 part rum extract with 2 parts kahlua||8/10|
Common dishes that use rum extract and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for rum extract and the best substitutes for those situations:
- In cakes and desserts: rum, vanilla extract, orange extract (for chocolate)
- In ice cream: rum, brandy extract, almond extract
- In drinks like egg nog: rum, bourbon, kahlua
- In meat marinades: rum, bourbon, almond extract, kahlua
Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one. And in this case, that means using actual rum as a substitute for rum extract.
You might be concerned about your recipe getting too runny because you’re going to be adding more liquid. But the amount of liquid we’re talking about is unlikely to make a difference.
And you can always compensate by adding a 1-2 teaspoons less of another liquid ingredient in the recipe.
Pro tip: dark rum is best because it’s more flavorful. If you have white rum, you’ll need to add slightly more.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe with real rum, starting with a 3:1 ratio (3 parts rum for every 1 part rum extract), and adjust to taste.
Next up on our list of rum extract alternatives is the ever-popular and versatile vanilla extract.
It’s the baking world’s little black dress, and in a pinch, it can step in for rum extract quite nicely.
While it doesn’t quite capture the unique depth of rum, vanilla extract brings its own warm, sweet, and aromatic flavor profile that works well in a variety of recipes.
I’ve tried this substitute in a chocolate mousse and the results were delicious.
So next time you find yourself without rum extract, don’t hesitate to reach for that trusty bottle of vanilla.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with vanilla extract.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more complexity to fill the void left by rum extract, consider brandy extract as your go-to substitution.
Brandy extract brings a rich, fruity, and slightly boozy essence to recipes, making it a delightful alternative.
I once used brandy extract in a batch of homemade eggnog when my rum extract supply had run dry, and the final product was met with rave reviews from friends and family. In fact, some even preferred the brandy version!
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with brandy extract.
Almond extract might just save the day!
As a self-proclaimed flavor chameleon, almond extract is one of my favorite flavor boosters.
With its nutty, sweet, and slightly bitter undertones, it works surprisingly well in recipes that call for rum extract because it brings the same warmth.
This sub works well in savory stuff too. Almond extract is delicous in dishes like Caribbean-inspired marinades or even a spiced rum glaze for a roast.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with almond extract.
Rum always reminds me of being on a tropical island. So if you’re looking to replicate those tropical vibes, coconut is the perfect flavor.
Coconut and rum don’t taste the same, but the smooth, creamy flavor profile of coconut complements rum wonderfully. And therefore tastes great in most recipes you would use rum in.
How do coconut truffles sound to you? Because they sound amazing to me!
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with coconut extract.
Next we have bourbon – the dark and mysterious cousin of rum.
In terms of flavor, bourbon and rum are both rich and warm, but bourbon has caramel and vanilla undertones. While rum has more of a sweet-but-spicy note.
Bourbon a particularly suitable for baked goods like cakes, bread puddings, or even a bourbon-spiked banana bread.
Psst… go slowly when you’re adding the bourbon and taste as you go because the strong flavor can easily overwhelm a dish.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe with bourbon, using a 1:2 ratio (for every 1 part rum extract, use 2 parts bourbon). Adjust to taste.
Cognac isn’t the most cost-effective substitute for rum extract, but it’s a great choice if you happen to have some on hand.
The flavor of cognac is a bit more refined and less sweet than rum, and it carries delicate notes of fruit, spice, and oak.
It will add a unique twist to your dish that will have everyone asking for the recipe!
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe with cognac, using a 1:2 ratio (for every 1 part rum extract, use 2 parts cognac). Adjust to taste.
For a fresh and zesty alternative to rum extract, orange extract is a surprisingly good substitute.
Especially in recipes that include chocolate, because the fruity citrus notes of orange complement the rich bitterness of cocoa. You can mix in some cinnamon too to bring a touch of warmth.
You can also try orange liqueurs, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, or even some humble orange zest can do the trick.
Pro tip: if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at making your own orange extract by soaking oranges in vodka.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with orange extract or orange liqueur, or use 1 tablespoon of orange zest for every teaspoon of rum extract.
Kahlua is a delightful rum-based coffee liqueur so it shares the same base flavors (with a big hit of coffee thrown in).
If you like coffee, this is going to be an excellent substitute for rum extract. And if this suggestion excites you but you don’t have any kahlua, consider adding a splash of coffee to your recipe.
Kahula or coffee is another option that will also work well in savory dishes – it’s delicious with grilled meats.
How to substitute: replace rum extract in your recipe with kahlua, using a 1:2 ratio (for every 1 part rum extract, use 2 parts kahlua). Adjust to taste.
Best Rum Extract Substitutes [tried and tested]
- 3 tsp Rum
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Brandy extract
- 1 tsp Almond extract
- 1 tsp Coconut extract
- 2 tsp Bourbon
- 2 tsp Cognac
- 1 tsp Orange extract
- 2 tsp Kahlua
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen rum extract substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.