The Best Chocolate Extract Substitute (And How to Make It)

If you cannot find any pure chocolate extract and your recipe calls for it, the primary substitute is vanilla extract. The other alternative is to leave out the extract and rely on the other chocolate ingredients to add a rich chocolate flavor to what you are making.

Anne-James'-Homemade-Vodka-Vanilla-Extract
Some of my homemade vanilla extract is an excellent substitute

What Exactly Is Chocolate Extract?

Chocolate extract is made in the same manner as the other extracts, which is by soaking cocoa beans in alcohol, usually vodka, for at least 3 months to extract the flavor from the cocoa beans. This creates a highly concentrated liquid, or extract.

It is often used to enhance the flavor of recipes that contain other chocolate ingredients, such as cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and chocolate baking squares.

Can I Make My Own Homemade Chocolate Extract?

Homemade chocolate extract is relatively easy to make at home. If you have previously made any kind of homemade extracts, then the chocolate version is made the same way, with no more difficulty than the others. In fact, it is so easy that you may never buy chocolate or any other extract again. 

Start by acquiring some cocoa nibs like these from Amazon, a bottle of your favorite vodka, and a few 8-ounce canning jars or small bottles, similar to these. Once you have these 3 items, you are ready to make chocolate extract.

How to Make Homemade Chocolate Extract

  1. Wash the jars or bottles with hot, soapy water and sterilize them. Even though the jars do not have to be canned and sealed, I always sterilize any container that is to be used to store any kind of food or food products.
  2. Measure ½ cup of crushed cocoa nibs for each 8-ounce jar or bottle and add them to the containers.
  3. Fill the containers with vodka– It is not necessary to use the best and most expensive brand of vodka. Any brand will work.
  4. Secure the lids on the containers and shake the contents well. Use a plastic lid if possible, but if using a metal lid, place a sheet of parchment paper between the lid and the top of the jar to prevent corrosion.
  5. Cool the jars- Set the jars aside in a cool, dry area away from any heat or light source for 3 to 6 months or until it reaches a deep, rich color.
  6. Shake occasionally- Gently shake the containers about once a week.
  7. The extract should be ready in 3 months, but it could take up to 6 months to achieve the depth of flavor you prefer.
  8. Strain- Once the extract is ready to use, strain it through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove the pieces of chocolate nibs. It is now ready to use.
  9. Fat Removal (Optional)- If you would like to remove any fat from the chocolate extract, simply pour the extract into a lidded container and set it in the freezer overnight to allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim the fat off and pour the extract back into the bottles or jars. You now have a fat-free version that is ready to use.
  10. Label the containers with the kind of extract and the date it was made before storing.

To see how easy this process is, take a look at my video on making homemade vanilla extract. The basic instructions are the same for all of the different extracts. The only difference is in how you prepare the cocoa nibs, the lemon peel, or the vanilla beans, depending on the type of extract you are making.

Plus, for those special treats, you could try your hand at combining chocolate with some of the other extract flavors and making your own chocolate peppermint, chocolate hazelnut, or even butter chocolate (or chocolate butter, depending on which sounds better to you).

Homemade extracts make excellent gift ideas for the gourmet cooks in your life.

Can I Make Chocolate Extract Without Alcohol?

Yes, making chocolate extract without alcohol is easy as can be. Just mix 3 parts of food-grade liquid glycerin and 1 part of water and use that mixture instead of alcohol for an alcohol-free version of chocolate extract.

Pro Tip: To make any kind of homemade extract that is alcohol-free, simply mix 3 parts of food-grade liquid glycerin and 1 part of water and use that mixture instead of alcohol.

Why Should I Make My Own Homemade Extracts?

There are actually several reasons to make your own homemade extracts.

  1. Homemade extracts are all-natural and gluten-free.
  2. They taste better than commercially-produced extracts.
  3. They make excellent homemade gift items.
  4. You control the ingredients that go into the extracts.
Anne-James'-Homemade-Lemon-Extract-Vertical
My homemade lemon extract

Is It Necessary to Can Homemade Extracts?

It is not necessary to can homemade extracts and have the lids sealed to keep them from spoiling. They will remain shelf stable for several years because the alcohol that is used in making the extracts will act as a preservative.

What Is The Shelf Life of Homemade Extracts?

Homemade extracts will last indefinitely, but for the maximum flavor and aroma, they should be used within 5 years. Be sure to label all homemade extracts, as with all homemade foods, with the kind of extract and the date that it was made.

What Is The Best Way To Store Homemade Extracts?

Homemade extracts are best and stay good longer when stored in a cool, dry area that is away from any heat or light source. This means that it should not be stored in the cabinet next to the stove, even though that is the most convenient place for all your spices. They should all be stored in an area that is free from drastic temperature changes.

How Can I Use Chocolate Extract?

There are a number of ways that chocolate extract can be used to gain a chocolate flavor boost. They include the following:

  1. Use it instead of vanilla extract in recipes that call for vanilla extract for chocolate desserts, and recipes that include some other form of chocolate as an ingredient, such as cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, or chocolate baking squares. These recipes include cakes, cookies, hot chocolate, ice cream, pies, and puddings.
  2. Go half-and-half- instead of completely replacing vanilla extract with chocolate extract, you could “share the wealth,” so to speak, and only replace half of the amount of vanilla extract called for in the recipe. So, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, use only 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and add 1 teaspoon of chocolate extract.  This will create a huge flavor boost!
  3. Add a small amount to a recipe to provide just a hint of chocolate. Those recipes include pancakes, waffles, sweet breads like banana or pumpkin bread, and maybe even a vanilla pudding. Try adding just a few drops of chocolate extract to your coffee for an excellent homemade mocha treat.
  4. Milkshakes- Adding a few drops of chocolate extract to your milkshake will give it a burst of chocolate flavor. 
  5. Whipped topping with a small amount of chocolate extract mixed in is sure to be a big hit.

Final Thoughts

Pure chocolate extract is one of those rare flavorings that are somewhat hard to find and is primarily used in baking and in making ice cream to enhance the flavor of what you are making, even though there are other chocolate ingredients in the recipe. Rarely is it used as the only chocolate ingredient.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, check out the 5 Best Chocolates for Melting (And How to Use Them).

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or survivalfreedom.com.

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