What is Peppermint Extract?
Peppermint extract is a mixture of peppermint oil and alcohol, most typically. Sometimes the peppermint oil is mixed with glycerin or sunflower oil to make an alcohol-free extract. The extract is made by soaking peppermint leaves in alcohol, so the leaves release the flavorful peppermint oil. Peppermint extract is fairly easy to make yourself, it just takes some time. The best peppermint extract substitute is peppermint oil, but it’s probably more likely that you have some peppermint candies or syrup on hand. Read below for even more options.
To make your own Peppermint Extract, you’ll need around 1 cup peppermint leaves,1 bottle of vodka, and a glass mason jar:
- Place the washed, fresh peppermint leaves in a glass mason jar. Fill it with the vodka to the top.
- Put the lid on the jar, and gently swish the mixture.
- Place the mixture in a cool, dark place, away from temperature fluctuations.
- Gently swish your mixture once a day for 4 weeks.
- The extract should be ready once the smell of peppermint is stronger than the smell of alcohol. When this happens, remove and dispose of the leaves, and you’re left with peppermint extract!
Peppermint Oil vs Extract
Peppermint oil is just a more concentrated version of peppermint extract. It is only the oil from the plant leaves, extracted through a steam distillation process. The extract is the fragrant and flavorful plant oils mixed with alcohol. You must be careful with any essential oil, as they are very strong, and never consume any essential oil that is not marked as food-grade or edible. In particular, peppermint oil can burn your skin and be very irritating internally if you use too much.
Peppermint Extract Substitutes
1. Peppermint Oil
A culinary-grade peppermint oil is a great peppermint extract substitute because it is just a more concentrated version of the extract. You must be careful to only use a peppermint oil that is food-grade and not an aromatherapy-grade essential oil. This is a very concentrated and strong oil so a little goes a long way. To substitute accurately, use 1/4 teaspoon of food-grade peppermint oil for every 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. Be careful with consuming peppermint oil, as it is known to be toxic in large amounts.
2. Peppermint Candy
Peppermint candy can be a great peppermint extract substitute. You can use crushed pieces of candy or melt the candy into a kind of syrup. It’s obviously not a liquid like peppermint extract is, but the candy can add sufficient peppermint flavor, and a little crunch.
3. Peppermint Syrup
Peppermint syrup is usually used for peppermint flavored coffee drinks, but it can work in any recipe as a peppermint extract substitute in a pinch. Just be aware of how sweet the syrup is so you know how it will alter your creation.
4. Peppermint Schnapps
Peppermint schnapps is a clear, distilled spirit that tastes just like a liquified candy cane. It’s very strong, so use with some caution. Another mint-flavored alcohol is white Creme de Menthe, which is smoother, and could also work as a peppermint extract substitute in a bind.
5. Other types of mint extracts
There are many options to substitute peppermint extract. Peppermint has such a strong taste, that luckily you only need a little of whichever substitute to give it that distinct sweet and cooling flavor. Also, try making your own extract! It’s a fun, fairly low-effort project that will leave you with the best, freshest peppermint extract that you can use for a long time.