Skip to Content

3 Best Rum Extract Substitute Options

There are a number of reasons you may be looking for rum extract substitutes. You might need the ingredient for cooking or baking, and it’s just not in your pantry. Or you may want to use it as a substitute for rum because of an alcohol allergy or making something kid-friendly.

Regardless of the reason, it’s good to know from the jump that rum extract is made directly from rum itself. So if you have it, straight rum is the perfect stand-in for the ingredient. Not considering the alcohol content, using rum as a replacement for rum extract brings us to the original source of the ingredient and its flavor profile, which much like maple extract, is very concentrated.

What Makes Up Rum Extract?

Rum extract is primarily a rum-based culinary ingredient. Rum is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting and then distilling sugarcane molasses or juice. Believed to have originated in Barbados in the 17th century,  it comes in white, golden, and dark colors, and Cachaca, Rhum Agricole, Jamaican, and spiced varieties. This pirate-associated liquor is a beloved ingredient in tropical cocktails. 

The concentrated rum flavoring of the extract is made from either natural rum liquor or artificial ingredients, and it will always say on the bottle which it is. Natural rum extract has a rich, complex flavor profile that’s a great way to add a splash of depth and excitement to your dishes. While the rum flavor is richly concentrated, there’s only a small amount of alcohol left from the rum liquor, which commercially has an alcohol content ranging from 35 – 54%.

While artificial rum extract is made from a combination of ingredients that mimic the taste of rum, it’s an alcohol-free flavor enhancer. Just be sure to check the label to confirm whether it’s non-alcoholic. This type of rum extract doesn’t have the same rich flavor as a pure rum extract, but it’s a suitable alternative.

You can find these extracts in grocery and baking supply stores. Look for brands that don’t have any artificial colorings or sweeteners like Cook’s brand. Rum extract has a long shelf-life, so you can stock it in your pantry to use when the need arises. Similarly, you can make your own rum extract at home. 

How to Use Rum Extract

Rum extract is used in cooking for a number of reasons. The primary purpose is to add flavor in place of rum. Although alcohol is frequently used in baked goods, imitation rum extract can be served to non-drinkers such as children, people with alcohol allergies, or those recovering from illness. 

The significant difference in liquid levels for replacing the rum with rum extract is important to consider. The finished texture of your baked goods might be affected by an overwhelming amount of liquid, so be careful. Rum extract can also be used to flavor icing, fillings, and frosting. 

In savory dishes, rum extract is primarily a medium for carrying flavor. Rum extract improves the flavor perception in your dish by bonding with other ingredients, like in marinades, sauces, or even stews. Cooks can utilize it in place of rum because it won’t disrupt the liquid balance of the recipe. 

Sauces and glazes only need a few drops to one teaspoon of rum extract to get the rich flavor, sometimes without any alcohol content. Rum extract can also be utilized when looking for a less expensive substitute for rum in drunken steaks, rum-spiced chicken, or rum-glazed pork chops.  

Rum is often used in mixed drinks and cocktails, and adding rum extract to mocktails in its place will boost their flavor. Look for a non-alcoholic rum extract for an alcohol-free rum flavoring in your eggnog recipe.

While you should use rum extract sparingly, it’s a fantastic addition to some of our favorite sweet confections:

rum raisin bundt cake

3 Best Rum Extract Substitutes

When it isn’t available in your home and a quick run to the shop isn’t an option, here are the best substitutes for rum extract. Remember that you can always just opt not to use the extract in your recipe if you don’t have any of these alternatives on hand. Keep in mind the concentrated flavor of a few drops of rum extract, which is vastly different from the liquor itself. 

Light Rum or Dark Rum

In order to keep as close to the recipe you’re following as possible, consider the function of each possible substitute for rum extract.

If it’s being used for flavor, the option with the closest flavor match is rum itself, and there are two kinds of rum – light rum and dark rum. To use this substitute, you can use a quarter of the amount of rum extract (alcoholic version) as the amount of rum called for in a recipe. 


Another type of liquor that will work as a replacement for rum extract is bourbon whiskey. Bourbon has a sweet flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel, similar to rum’s flavor notes. This barrel-aged American whiskey is distilled from a mash made from at least 51% corn. Its history dates back to the 18th century, and it can be hard to find outside of the US, but if you have it in your pantry then you’re golden.

Use 4 tablespoons of bourbon for every teaspoon of rum extract called for in a recipe. 

bourbon whiskey

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is a common flavoring with a slightly bittersweet taste and smell. Soaking vanilla beans in alcohol is what draws out the flavor to make the extract, so all-natural vanilla extracts contain some level of alcohol.

The Aztecs were credited as the first to use this flavoring in their cacao drinks, as the vanilla vine is native to modern-day Mexico. But these days it’s largely used to add flavor to baked goods – cookies, cakes, ice cream, brownies, and more.

As an alternative to rum extract, keep in mind that this will completely change the flavor of the recipe, eliminating the rum taste. No more than a 1:1 ratio should be used when swapping vanilla extract with rum extract. This is a good swap if you don’t like any alcohol or rum flavoring in your baked goods, but still, need a background note. 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.