Banana extract is a powerful, calorie-free addition to the kitchen and adds a delicious boost to many recipes.
Although banana extract isn’t an ingredient that you can find in most supermarkets or grocery stores, it’s found in specialty stores and online.
You can use banana extract to flavor cakes, frostings, desserts, ice cream, smoothies and milkshakes.
But if you’re out of banana extract or on a limited budget, there are alternatives to purchase or even make at home.
Here is a guide to the best substitutes for banana extract.
What is Banana Extract?
Banana Extract is a type of flavoring agent which can be added to a variety of dishes and desserts.
It may come in either liquid or powder form, and can provide a delicious, fruit-like flavor without having to use fresh bananas.
Using this extract if far easier than having to pre-prepare the bananas for baking – for example, you don’t have to peel them or mash them into creamy goodness.
In addition, it is a cost-effective way to add the great taste of real bananas to your favorite recipes.
Many store bought frostings and ice creams already contain banana extract as an additive – making it easy for anyone who loves banana flavored treats.
How to Use Banana Extract?
Banana extract has a strong, sweet and flavorful taste, making it the perfect choice to add to cakes, cookies and other desserts.
This extract can also be used in savory dishes as an enhancer of flavor.
When baking or cooking with banana extract, it is important to remember that a little goes a long way—so start small.
In terms of using banana extract for baking and cooking, there are a few key steps you can take to ensure the best results.
First, be sure that the banana extract you’re using is pure and of high quality.
To help bring out and maintain the flavor of this extract at its fullest potential, add it near the end of your recipe — near or after the stage when liquids will no longer be evaporated or exposed to heat for too long.
Adding banana extract at this point will help efficiently bring out its unique taste without being lost during baking/cooking processes.
The amount needed can vary depending on individual tastes — so you may need more (or less) than what’s listed on your recipe.
Though banana extract is not essential for every dish or recipe — especially if you’re looking for a subtler flavor — it definitely adds extra flair that might otherwise not exist in some dishes/recipes such as smoothies or light sauces.
If you’re looking for a substitute because you don’t have any banana extract on hand, there are plenty options available; some great substitutes include mashed bananas (this may change your recipe’s texture), vanilla extract, lemon juice + zest (for sweet-tangy notes) or cinnamon + nutmeg (if you’re looking for warmth).
Of course with each substitute comes different results; explore each before deciding which one works best for your particular dish/recipe.
5 BEST Banana Extract Substitutes to Consider
If you are in a pinch and don’t have any banana extract for your recipe, don’t despair.
There are several different ways to add a banana-like flavor to your dish.
Here is a list of the five best substitutes for banana extract.
1 – Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is a great substitute for banana extract in baking because it contributes the same sweet, unmistakable flavor without the tell-tale banana taste.
While both are made from natural ingredients, vanilla extract is produced using either dried/evaporated vanilla beans or a blend of synthetic and natural chemical compounds.
If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily make your own.
All you need is a bit of vodka and some fresh Grade A or Grade B vanilla beans.
This will give your recipe the same sweetness as banana extract without overpowering the other flavors in your dish.
Keep in mind that this substitution will also add a hint of vanilla to the finished product so it’s best to use it carefully and sparingly if you don’t want this taste dominating your meal.
2 – Banana Syrup
If you’re looking for a sweet, banana-like flavor but don’t want to use banana extract, consider using banana syrup instead.
It is a completely natural product, made from bananas and other natural ingredients such as honey, cinnamon and vanilla.
It makes an excellent topping for ice cream or desserts and can provide your recipes with the same flavorful punch that traditional banana extract can.
There are a variety of different brands available so you can experiment to find the one that is best for you.
3 – Mashed Bananas
As you might have guessed, one of the best substitutes for banana extract is mashed bananas.
Using this method will add a real banana flavor to your recipe without adding any alcohol or artificial flavoring.
Depending on the type of recipe you are making, you might need to adjust the sweetness levels or other flavors in your recipe.
When using mashed bananas as a substitute for extract, it’s important to adjust for moisture and sweetness levels in your recipe accordingly.
If your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of banana extract, replacing it with the same amount of mashed bananas is not recommended as mashed bananas contain additional liquid and sugars that could affect the flavor of your dish.
Instead, use approximately 4 tablespoons (or approximately ¼ cup) of mashed banana to replace 1 teaspoon of extract.
This substitution should provide your recipe with a great sweet banana flavor without altering any other ingredients too drastically.
4 – Coconut Extract
Coconut extract is a popular substitute for banana extract as it has a similar flavor profile and texture.
However, because coconut extract can be overpowering, it’s best to use only half the amount called for in any recipe that calls for banana extract.
Additionally, make sure to buy pure coconut extract, as opposed to imitation coconut flavoring which typically contains artificial ingredients and doesn’t have the same flavor profile.
When using coconut extract as a substitute for banana extract, you may also want to add a dollop of lemon or lime juice to help balance out the sweetness and tropical feel of the banana.
5 – Banana Powder
Banana powder is a shelf-stable product made from freeze drying ripe bananas to preserve their natural flavor, color, and aroma.
It can be reconstituted in hot or cold liquids to add a sweet banana flavor to your favorite recipes.
When you need a banana essence but don’t have extract on hand, try using powdered banana for a bold taste without the strong alcohol notes associated with an extract.
It’s oh, so sweet and pairs nicely with other flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
While this is an easy-to-find alternative in most grocery stores or health food stores, it should be noted that this substitution will result in slightly different texture than using the extract.
The sweetness of the dried fruit may require some additional sugar if you’re making baked goods for added sweetness; however, it can be used as a one-to-one replacement for extract in things like smoothie bowls and oatmeal cups.
This also pairs well with dairy like yogurt and milk when used as a topping on oatmeal bowls or pancakes as an alternative banana syrup.
In conclusion, there are several potential solutions for achieving the flavor of banana extract in your baked goods.
Depending on the type and desired outcome of the final product, you may opt to use mashed bananas, pureed store-bought banana, banana flavoring oil or paste along with an amount of additional sugar, mashed cooked plantains, artificial or natural flavoring emulations and even banana infused milk.
The main challenge lies in replicating a flavor that is engineered over so many years.
Each substitute solution will bring its own unique contribution to your final product.
Experimentation could help uncover which solution offers the closest match and allows you to explore within existing ingredients to reach a satisfactory end result.
Ultimately, using fresh ingredients and artificial or natural solutions can be an easy and efficient way for anyone to add some delicious sweet banana flavor with minimal effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is banana extract?
A1: Banana extract is an artificial flavoring made from a concentrated solution of banana flavorings.
It is commonly used in baking and other recipes to add a banana flavor without the texture of fresh bananas.
What are the 5 best substitutes for banana extract?
A2: The 5 best substitutes for banana extract are vanilla extract, maple syrup, rum extract, honey, and banana yogurt.
How do I use banana extract in baking?
A3: Banana extract can be used in baking as a substitute for fresh bananas in recipes.
It can be added to cakes, muffins, breads and other desserts to give them a sweet banana flavor.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!