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The 13 Best Substitutes for Peppermint Extract

It is always great to have peppermint extract in your pantry to add an exciting flavor twist to cookies, cakes, and chocolate-based delights. However, in some cases, you may run out of it, or it may not be available in stores. In such situations, you might want to experiment with some similar options.

The best peppermint extract substitutes are mint leaves, peppermint oil, peppermint syrup, and peppermint schnapps. You can use other extracts, especially vanilla, to add flavor to the recipe. Finally, crashing some mint candy or candy cane is also a good idea to add a cooling flavor to your dish.

Keep reading to learn about the best peppermint extract alternatives you can use in anything—from ice cream to peppermint toffees! We will discuss the pros and cons of using certain ingredients. We will also consider the texture and flavor of your dessert and how it changes when using the real deal compared to the substitutes.

Bottles of mint essential oils or extract with peppermint leaves in front

1. Fresh Mint Leaves

Fresh mint is easy to find in your local stores. However, you pay a similar price for a potted mint plant, and you can use it again and again! It is straightforward to maintain, so you should always have it in your kitchen.

You can use mint leaves in sweet and savory combinations, such as in a delicious leg of lamb or those iconic Christmas candy canes. To substitute peppermint extract with this plant, you should get a bunch of mint leaves and follow these steps:

  1. Choose a canning jar with a sealable lid.
  2. Rinse your mint well. 
  3. Chop your mint into smaller sections, and then bruise the mint by using a pestle or a flat-bottomed item such as a glass or teacup.
  4. Pack the mint in the jar fairly firmly, leaving half an inch (1.2cm) space for your liquid.
  5. Choose any neutral grain alcohol, preferably vodka, and fill the jar to cover all the leaves.
  6. Leave the sealed jar in a dark, cool space for 1-2 months (depending on how strong you want your extract).
  7. Strain out the extract leaving the leaves behind. 
  8. Use as you would regular mint extract.

2. Basil

Bail is another fresh plant from the mint family that you can choose to replace peppermint extract. It tastes bittersweet and flowery with hints of eucalyptus. Unlike peppermint, it doesn’t produce a cooling but a mildly hot effect, but it works well as a peppermint replacement.

You can follow the same steps as the above mint extract recipe to make your mint extract substitute. 

You can always buy a basil plant and have an endless supply of this valuable ingredient. It goes well in most savory dishes, especially Mediterranean cuisine. However, basil is great for cakes or cookies, especially when combined with lemon.

3. Peppermint Oil

Just like peppermint extract, peppermint comes from the M. Piperita plant. However, peppermint oil is not always edible—so ensure you read the label carefully. It has a much stronger minty flavor than peppermint extract. You should use it in a 1:4 ratio, i. e., use a quarter of a teaspoon of oil to replace one teaspoon of extract. 

There are several health benefits to using peppermint oil in your meal preparation besides a delicious flavor. Studies show that mint offers curative effects for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In general, it improves the functioning of the digestive system. 

4. Peppermint Syrup

Peppermint syrup is not as concentrated as the extract or the oil because it is a water-based mixture. Although it is pretty thick, it is still in a liquid form. Its flavorful ingredient makes it the perfect addition to your dessert. Using peppermint syrup in your hot winter drinks is an excellent idea.

You would not miss out on the flavor if you add peppermint syrup, but it might change the consistency of your batter. You would need to use more than a drop so the liquids can properly flavor the solids in your recipe. In addition to reducing the liquid content from the original recipe, you should also reduce the amount of sugar. 

5. Peppermint Schnapps

Using flavored alcohol to replace another flavor-infused alcohol seems just about right. Peppermint schnapps contains peppermint extract mixed with water and sugar. 

It is less concentrated and contains less alcohol per volume than peppermint extract. 

The sweetness is not overwhelming. You should replace it in a 1:2 ratio, double the amount of schnapps to achieve the flavor from the extract. It would taste the best when mixed with hot chocolate.

Mint leaves in a glass of water or schnapps

6. Crème de Menthe

If you want a sweeter replacement option than schnapps, you can choose creme de menthe. It is less robust and contains less alcohol per volume. If you don’t mind its color, which can be either white or green, feel free to mix it in your cocktails. In addition to using it in drinks, you should add some when creating mint chocolate. 

The downside to using creme de menthe is that it requires a larger quantity to achieve the extract flavoring. You should adjust the amount of liquid in your drink or sweets recipe. Usually, no more than ¼ teaspoon is necessary for the extract. To replace this amount with creme de menthe, you should use four tablespoons.

7. Mint Candy

Mint candy includes the flavors of several mint leaves, one of which is peppermint. It is an excellent replacement for peppermint extract. It will add flavor to your drink if appropriately prepared. 

Before mixing it, crush it into tiny bits to make it easier to blend into your recipe. You can also buy crushed mints in the stores. Alternatively, melt mint candy using steam, the oven, or even a microwave.

It is a candy created using artificial coloring and flavoring, which contains lots of sugar. Therefore, when using it in your desserts, adjust the sugar amount in your recipe. Mint candy will add freshness and sweetness to your culinary creation. 

8. Candy Canes

The candy cane we crave during winter has a characteristic peppermint flavor and highly concentrated sugar. As the boiled sugar cools down, it is mixed with mint flavor and shaped like a crooked stick.

In our case, the shape is unimportant because you should make candy cane powder to extract its flavor. Crush it into tiny bits and mix it with dry ingredients. Treat it as you would use powdered sugar.

Another option is to mix it with vodka. In this case, you will get a sweet, minty liquid that you can add to your drink or batter. You can also make it liquid if you bake it at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) for at least 10 minutes. However, it would be best if you were quick when mixing it with the rest of your ingredients since it will harden up as it cools.

9. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is a must-have ingredient in every kitchen that appreciates a good dessert. It is easy to find and relatively inexpensive. You should be aware that the flavor result will not have the characteristic cool flavor, but in any case, you will make some delicious baked good or drink. 

You can never go wrong using vanilla extract. The most significant advantage to using vanilla extract is that It shares the peppermint extract texture and level of alcohol. 

On the downside, it is not as strong as peppermint extract. Therefore you should double the amount of vanilla extract in your recipe. Moreover, you will miss the spicy note of peppermint. Use vanilla extract if you don’t mind replacing the flavor to keep the exact consistency.

10. Herbal Mint Tea

You will find different types of mint used in herbal mint tea, which uses fresh leaves infused in hot water to extract its lovely fresh flavors. However, they do not use alcohol and oil in the extraction, resulting in a relatively mild mint flavor. 

Nevertheless, using herbal mint will still give you a decent amount of mint flavor. Moreover, adding tea to your recipe will affect the balance of ingredients. Reduce the ratio of other liquids to compensate for the use of mint tea.

11. Eucalyptus 

Although you might be more familiar with this pungent plane in its medicinal capacity—you can use it in flavoring your desserts and dishes. Some eucalyptus oil is edible, but the safest option is eucalyptus tea. You can buy it from the stores rather than prepare it yourself.

Peppermint and eucalyptus belong to the same family of flavors. Eucalyptus leaves a cooling effect in the mouth. It is more potent than peppermint, with sweet honey and pine notes. 

Replace a part of the liquid from your recipe with eucalyptus tea. Make sure to add honey or sugar to balance out the strong taste. You can create exciting cocktails or cookies with this unusual flavor.

12. Spearmint Extract

The two types of mint used in the culinary world are spearmint (Mentha spicata) and its hybrid form peppermint (M. Piperita). Although they belong to the same family of plants, they do not owe their flavor to the same chemical. Spearmint produces L-carvone instead of menthol like peppermint does.

You can purchase spearmint in extract form like peppermint, meaning the recipe’s texture will remain intact. Use the extracts in a 1:1 ratio. 

You should know that menthol tends to get lost in the cooking process. It gets destroyed by heat. Therefore, it is best used raw, or if you decide to cook it, add it by the end of the process.

13. Watermint

You will find the highest concentration of menthol in watermint or Mentha aquatica, a perennial from the Lamiaceae mint family. It makes the minty aroma quite powerful. If you choose watermint extract, feel free to add water to dilute the strong taste. 

You can use fresh watermint leaves to make ice cream, tea, and cocktails. It is always a good idea to mix it with chocolate with a hint of lemon juice. Watermint will complement the sweet and savory combinations of ingredients perfectly. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you gathered some knowledge about the properties of different peppermint extract replacements, you can go and make the sweet and cool dessert of choice. Any minty flavor or extract would work with some sugar and liquid-to-solids ratio adjustments.

However, you have plenty of options to explore with these mint extract substitutes—whether you are making a delicious cocktail or making candy for a Christmas celebration. After all, you may discover a new flavor in the process!

For more, don’t miss How to Prepare Mint for 3 Different Uses.