This homemade black walnut extract will elevate your baking with deep walnut flavor. See how to make this old-fashioned flavoring from foraged black walnuts.
There was a time when a bottle of black walnut flavored extract was a common ingredient in the spice cabinet. It has fallen out of favor over the years and has been discontinued by the major brands. It is difficult to find a pure black walnut extract without added ingredients and artificial flavors in the grocery store or online.
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You can make your own homemade baking extracts by extracting and infusing the flavor in alcohol. Vanilla extract is the most used extract in the kitchen, and we showed you how to make your own with only two ingredients: See Homemade Vanilla Extract.
Since we had an abundance of black walnuts from last year, I thought I’d make black walnut extract for holiday baking and gift giving. Black walnut extract is excellent for times when you want a boost of deep, earthy walnut flavor in baked goods.
Ingredients for Making Black Walnut Extract
This recipe for black walnut extract uses just three ingredients:
Black walnuts come from a type of walnut tree (Juglans nigra) that is native to many parts of the US and Canada. The flavor of black walnuts is much more intense than its cousin, the English walnut. Black walnuts have an earthy, deep walnut flavor that stands out in many old-fashioned recipes.
If you don’t have a black walnut tree nearby, you can purchase shelled black walnuts online.
Just plain old cheap vodka is ideal for making baking extracts because it has a neutral taste that won’t interfere with the flavor of the infusing ingredient. The alcohol prevents bacteria from growing making the extract shelf stable for years. Select a clear vodka that is at least 80 proof (40% ABV) with no added flavorings.
In this recipe, adding a little bourbon whiskey to the infusion gives it an extra boost of oaky flavor that complements the deep nutty black walnut taste.
The liquor in extracts cooks off when baked, but if you are adding the baking extract to coffee or tea, you may want an alcohol-free version. You can substitute the alcohol with a food grade vegetable glycerin with good results.
How to Make Black Walnut Extract for Baking
Step 1: Gather your ingredients and equipment
Step 2: Toast the black walnuts
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the black walnuts and stir frequently until the walnuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add the ingredients to a jar
Add the toasted black walnuts to a clean quart sized jar. Add the vodka and bourbon. Cover tightly and give the jar a shake to combine the ingredients.
Step 4: Extract the black walnut flavor
Label and date the jar, and place in a cool, dark location for at least 2 months to extract the flavor of the black walnuts. Shake the jar occasionally during this time.
Step 5: Strain the black walnut extract
After 2 months, strain out the walnuts from the liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Discard the walnuts or use immediately in a baked goods recipe. The walnuts will be soft but intensely flavored with bourbon. Strain the liquid again through a coffee filter for a clearer extract.
Step 6: Store the black walnut extract
Pour the strained extract into a clean jar or bottle and store in a cool, dark location. Extracts don’t spoil, but the flavor diminishes over time.
Use black walnut extract in baking recipes where you want a deep walnut flavor. Simply substitute the vanilla extract with walnut extract for a nutty twist.
Homemade extracts make great gifts, too! I love these mini vintage milk bottles.
Homemade Black Walnut Extract for Baking
- 1/2 cup shelled black walnuts
- 1/2 cup vodka (80 proof minimum)
- 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the black walnuts and toast until the walnuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
- Place the toasted black walnuts in a clean jar.
- Pour the vodka and bourbon into the jar. Cover and give the jar a good shake to mix.
- Label and date the jar. Place it in a dark, cool location for at least 2 months. Shake the jar occasionally during this time.
- After 2 months, strain out the walnuts from the liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Pour the extract into a clean jar. Discard the walnuts or use immediately in baked goods.
- Use the homemade black walnut extract in your favorite recipes to add a deep, toasted walnut flavor. Yields about 3/4 cup.