9 Best Peppermint Extract Substitutes

The best peppermint extract substitutes to use in baking recipes and desserts. From vanilla extract to spearmint, these are the best alternatives to use today.

Peppermint Extract Substitutes

Peppermint extract is made from peppermint stems and leaves and is a common ingredient in many desserts and baking recipes. It adds a minty flavor to cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats. It is a concentrated form of peppermint flavor, so use it sparingly.

Peppermint extract contains alcohol, peppermint oil, and water. The alcohol helps extract the flavor from the peppermint leaves, and the concentration of the oil gives peppermint extract its intense flavor. There are three varieties of peppermint extract: natural, artificial, and imitation. Both artificial and imitation products contain unnatural ingredients. 

Peppermint Extract in a Bottle

Peppermint extract is an excellent method for adding excellent peppermint taste to a recipe, so not having it can make achieving the same flavor difficult. Some substitutes require large amounts to achieve a similar result. 

There are other ways to impart mint flavor into your recipes. You can use several substitutes if you don’t have peppermint extract or find the taste too strong. 

The best substitutes for peppermint extract are creme de menthe, peppermint schnapps, peppermint oil, and spearmint extract. These ingredients will add sweetness and depth of minty flavor to your dish. They are well suited to baked goods and other appropriate peppermint extract recipes.

Some substitutes will give you a minty taste, but they can be sweeter, like candy canes and mint candy. Many people use these to top cookies, for example, because they contain too much sugar to use as an ingredient. 

Some substitutes are not very strong and may need a flavor boost depending on the recipe. Mint leaves, for example, are delicious, but they may need a bit of peppermint oil added for some dessert recipes.  

Creme de Menthe

A Bottle of Creme De Menthe

Creme de menthe is a mint-flavored liqueur used as a substitute for peppermint extract. It can be found in most liquor stores and has a strong mint flavor—many people like it as an after-dinner drink. 

This liqueur has a bad reputation for being cloyingly sweet and sitting around for years because no one wants to drink it. This presumption no longer needs to be the case because this drink is making a comeback, and there are some tremendous artisanal distilleries making creme de menthe. 

Using a good quality creme de menthe as a peppermint extract substitute is essential, as lower quality brands can have a bitter aftertaste. You’ll also want to be careful not to use too much, as creme de menthe is relatively strong. 

Creme de menthe has a similar flavor profile to peppermint extract but is not as concentrated. This liqueur is an ingredient in mint chocolate-chip ice cream, mint cocktails, and mint chocolate cookies. It pairs well with dark chocolate. 

Creme de menthe is versatile and works well in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milkshakes, and soda. Use twice the amount of creme de menthe as you would peppermint extract. 

Candy Canes

Candy Canes in a Glass

Candy canes work as a substitute for peppermint extract. They have a strong peppermint flavor and can be crushed and added to recipes. You may see candy canes hanging on Christmas trees. Candy canes contain sugar and corn syrup with peppermint flavor added during the cooling process. 

You can crush candy canes to add a mint flavor to the recipe without the alcohol content. Use one candy cane for each teaspoon of peppermint extract in the recipe. Due to the high sugar content, some say that candy canes crushed as a garnish work best, rather than part of the recipe itself. 

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract in a bottle

Vanilla extract is another good substitute for peppermint extract. Vanilla extract will add sweetness and depth of flavor to your dish without the minty taste. This substitute is usually used in baking but can also be used in savory dishes to add a sweet note. 

Vanilla extract is a common baking ingredient made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and combining the infused alcohol with water. The beans are aged for several months to generate flavor. Making vanilla extract can take up to a year, but food manufacturers have the equipment to accelerate the process. 

You can also use almond or mint extract if you do not have vanilla extract. Just be sure to use less, as these extracts are pretty potent. The vanilla extract works to flavor cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting vanilla extract for peppermint extract. 

Peppermint Bark

plate full of Peppermint Bark

Peppermint bark is another good substitute for peppermint extract and has a strong mint flavor. Peppermint bark is a candy made by layering thin sheets of chocolate with peppermint-flavored cream. 

The layers are cooled and cut into pieces, and peppermint bark also contains cocoa butter, which adds richness to any dish. This substitute is usually used for candy making but can also be a part of baking recipes. 

Mint Candy

a bowl of Mint Candy

Mint candy will not provide the same flavor as peppermint extract. But will add a minty sweetness. It is most commonly used in baking as it is generally too sweet to be used in savory dishes. Mint candy is inexpensive and found at most grocery stores. 

Mint candy is a combination of sugar and mint extract. This candy has a refreshing flavor. It is a popular choice for people looking for a sweet treat that is not too heavy or rich. Mint candy is available in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. This ingredient works as a decoration on cakes and other desserts. 

Peppermint Schnapps

a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps

Peppermint schnapps has a similar flavor profile to peppermint extract and functions as an ingredient in many of the same dishes. Peppermint schnapps is a type of distilled spirit flavored with mint leaves. 

This beverage is commonly used in mixed drinks and as a shot. It is often chilled before serving to bring out the bracing effects of the mint. Peppermint schnapps is an inexpensive way to add strong mint flavor to your recipes. 

Distilleries create peppermint schnapps by infusing mint leaves in vodka or another neutral spirit. The mint leaves give the schnapps its characteristic flavor and aroma. Peppermint schnapps is clear in color and has a high alcohol content, typically between 15 and 20 percent. 

Peppermint schnapps has a long history and initially existed for medicinal purposes. Still, many people today enjoy drinking peppermint schnapps during the holidays as it is a festive way to enjoy a minty drink. Many people describe the aftertaste as having a mouthwash quality.

You will see peppermint schnapps in cocktails such as the grasshopper and the candy cane. Use peppermint schnapps at a 2:1 ratio to what you would use with peppermint extract. 

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has a flavor profile similar to peppermint extract and can work in many dishes. However, employ it sparingly as it is powerful. The oil has more kick than peppermint extract, in fact. 

This ingredient is the raw oil from the stems and leaves of peppermint plants. You only need a few drops of peppermint oil to get the desired flavor, so start with a small amount and use more if needed. 

Peppermint oil is standard for mint chocolate-chip ice cream, mint cocktails, and mint chocolate cookies. But its fresh, minty aroma makes it popular in many different recipes. 

Spearmint Extract

Spearmint Extract

Spearmint extract is another good substitute for peppermint extract. It contains less menthol than peppermint, so it will not have as strong of a mint flavor. It has a similar flavor profile but is not as intense. 

Spearmint extract is a concentrated spearmint oil used as a flavoring or scent in various products. You can add it to food, beverages, cosmetics, and cleaning products. 

Spearmint extract is an extraction of the essential oil from the leaves and stems of the spearmint plant. The concentrated oil mixes with a carrier oil before being used in various products. Use the same amount of spearmint extract as you would peppermint extract. 

Mint Leaves

vowl of Mint Leaves

Mint leaves will not provide the same intensity of flavor as peppermint extract. But they will add the freshness and brightness that peppermint extract would typically offer. 

Mint leaves contain less menthol than peppermint extract, so they’re not as concentrated. Mint leaves are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can work in sweet and savory dishes. 

Use Mint leaves to make tea, add flavor to food, or chew and enjoy their refreshing taste. Mint leaves can also help create a refreshing drink. Muddle a few mint leaves in water or add them to your favorite juice or smoothie.

This ingredient has a fresh taste that pairs well with various other flavors, making it a perfect addition to cooked and raw dishes. Mint leaves also work well in pesto, sauces, marinades, and more.