I was in Ross for Less and saw (and bought) a bottle of lemon bakery emulsion because it just sounded good. Looking online it seems that it is a one for one replacement for extract, but I have not found a real difference online. I haven't had the chance to try it in anything yet.

What is the difference between bakery emulsion and a flavoring extract (there were other bakery emulsion flavors on the shelf, so it is not just lemon that comes this way)? Are there certain types of recipes that benefit from emulsion over extract, and why?

I've added a bounty for this question, but I need an answer based on experience. I know how to search the web.


A flavoring extract is flavoring disolved in alcohol, while a flavoring emulsion is flavoring suspended in water with an emulsifier. Citrus oils like lemon have a stronger flavor when placed in an emulsion than an extract, and that is why they often come that way. (source)

As far as uses go, bakery emulsions keep the incorporated flavors more stable while your mixture changes temperature, and they combine more easily with other emulsions (butter, sugar, egg for example) than extracts do. As this book indicates those characteristics make them especially useful for pastry cremes.


"Specially formulated for use in bakery products where exposure to heat during baking tends to flash-off flavors. The vegetable gums in the emulsion base helps to retain flavor during baking." (from: http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_FL0930). Whether this is at all valid, I can't say. I'm skeptical.


Read the ingredient list for all the flavourings & do a simple water test to be sure. My Irish Cream one has almond oil in it and would not blend with water. My Watkins Butter flavour has no oil listed in it but behaved like oil when added to water. It's a complicated & tricky business to get Royal Icing to actually taste good (my fave flavour for icing right now is Irish Cream) without destroying it's attributes in the process.


I have been using lemon bakery emulsion off and on for about 6 years as a substitute for vanilla in my sugar cookies and in a lemon glaze also for said cookies. I have also used it for cream cheese icing for lemon cake. Whether baked or not the flavor is very consistent and I usually double it for more pop in baked goods. Very easy and simple to use for a great lemon punch when paired with powder sugar for a glaze without adding any dyes.


Emulsions are oil-free and therefore can be used to flavor specialty royal icing, whereas extracts are oil based and therefore ruin total icing.

  • This answer does not pass my gut test. The definition of emulsion in physics requires the presence of two different types of liquid which don't normally mix. In the kitchen, the one liquid is practically always water-based, and the other one is practically always a fat. I would be surprised if this is an exception where the producers managed to find two different liquids which are a) edible, b) mutually unmixable, and 3) none of them is fat.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 5 '14 at 20:14

I do not know the difference. Emulsion is thicker and I prefer it to flavoring in my pound cakes. I use lemon emulsion over lemon flavoring.

  • I think that the "emulsion is thicker" and the anecdotal claim of it flavoring better are enough to qualify the post as "real answer" instead of deleting it. But it is not really useful, so -1.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 29 '14 at 18:30

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