Flavors, Extracts and Powders, Oh My!

In the food, beverage, baking and ice cream world, recipes often reign supreme. They’re carefully crafted, line-by-line guides to some of the most delectable products.

But what if a recipe could be better? What if it could make a good flavor become a standout flavor? What if you want to make a remix of a recipe? Or, what if you have a brilliant idea for a brand new, taste-bud dancing product?

Any avenue you’re currently staring down, you’re going to need the best ingredients, and you’re definitely going to need some keynote flavors to not only make your finished product come alive, but to also make those taste-testing customers raving fans.

When it comes to formulas and flavors, it all starts by knowing the difference between extracts, flavorings and powders. Once you know which one is best for your application – and which one will deliver the flavor potency you desire – you can begin to craft your masterpiece.

Flavors vs. Extracts vs. Powders

As you well know, there is no shortage of flavors to choose from – and flavor chemists continue to experiment and create one-of-a-kind flavors that allow for more unique products and flavor combinations.

So, why is it so important to know the difference between extract, flavoring and powder?

It all depends on the preferred:

Color. What do you need your finished product to look like? Do you need it clear or can it have color?
Taste. Do you want to give a flavor a starring role or a supporting one?
Application. Are you creating an oil-soluble application? A water-soluble application?
Heat stability. Will you be cooking, baking, or mixing at a high heat?
Cold temperatures. Are you making ice cream, beer or wine?

    Here are the primary differences between three of the main flavor methods:


    The Difference Between Flavors, Extracts and Powders

    Flavor Concentrates

    Great for: Baking, Beverages, Ice Cream, More

    Following the same process as a flavor extract, flavor concentrates take the oils a step further and mix with an emulsifier – a mixture of two or more liquids that are usually unmixable – like a gum acacia or gum arabic.

    The lemon oil droplets, for example, cling to the gum. When this happens, it’s very difficult to break the emulsion.

    Because of this, flavor concentrates can be stronger and hold flavor longer than an extract and are better at maintaining the character of the flavor. Flavors give drinks and food excellent, subtle flavor notes.

    Good to Know

    Flavor Concentrates:

    • Are slightly cloudy liquids
    • Are less highly concentrated
    • Are water or oil soluble -based
    • Have a high heat stability
    • Include no added sweeteners


    Great for: Candy, hard tack candy, brittle, gummies

    Extracts are made by pressing or extracting the flavor of the source ingredient into a liquid base. This base is usually alcohol.*

    Let’s take a lemon, for example. To get lemon extract, all the different oils from the lemon are pressed out – using the entire lemon and lemon peel.

    The purpose of placing the lemon oil in a liquid base for an extended period of time, like alcohol and water, is to get rid of the lemon’s sour essence (terpenes and waxes) and capture the fresh, clean citric flavor.

    Extracts are great for playing a supporting flavor role in your application, rather than standing out as the main flavor.

    Good to Know


    • Are highly concentrated
    • Are suspended in a water or alcohol base
    • Have a high heat stability

    *Flavors don’t have to be suspended in alcohol. In fact, water-soluble and oil-soluble base suspensions are more neutral, superior carriers to alcohol.

    They impart no added flavor and do not evaporate as rapidly when exposed to heat. This allows the flavor to taste better, smell better, and not "bake-out" – as a traditional alcohol-based extract does.

    Flavor Powders

    Great for: Baking, Beverages, Dry Food Applications

    Flavor powders are arguably the oldest flavoring agents. While many other flavoring methods have substituted for powders in today’s recipes and formulas, flavor powders are still great – and necessary – for a powder-heavy formulation that must produce a dry, finished product – such as certain baking applications, dry mixes and rubs, and beverage mixes, like protein powders, smoothies, shakes, and others.

    Flavor powders are excellent at quickly dissolving in water, making them the best choice for instant dry mixes.

    Good to Know

    Flavor Powders:

    • Have a high heat stability
    • Are highly concentrated
    • Are water-soluble
    • Include no added sweeteners

    Difference Between Extract and Flavoring by the Industry

    What industry do you hail from? Are you wondering if an extract, flavoring or powder is best for your application?

    We’re here to help. Find your industry and learn more about different flavoring methods for industry-specific applications.


    Flavor concentrates and powders are typically the most versatile methods of flavoring available to enhance your baked goods. This is due to the manner in which they are created, their high-heat stability and the way in which the flavor enriches and sustains the essence of whatever delectable baked treat you are producing.

    Learn more about our flavors for baking.



    Like baked goods, flavor powders and concentrates work very well with beverage creations. They allow you to impart specific flavor notes and profiles into whatever drink you are trying to fashion while maintaining the integrity and flavor profile of your liquid conception. The only type of beverages to avoid using concentrates or powders with are those clear options, which respond much better to extracts.

    Learn more about our flavors for beverages.


    Ice Cream

    As opposed to extracts which contain alcohol and don’t freeze very well, flavor concentrates are ideal for creating delicious ice creams. They enable you to impart any flavor profile you can imagine into your ice cream to create a truly unique and one-of-a-kind flavor experience.

    Learn more about our flavors for ice cream.



    Extracts are perfect for flavoring your confections and sweet treats. Their ability to stand up to high heat while maintaining the integrity and flavor profile of your candy creations allows you to achieve the specific taste you are aiming for without sacrificing any of the overall quality.

    Learn more about our flavors for confections.


    Enhancing the flavor of protein beverages, supplements, energy drinks and all other nutraceutical applications is key. This is best accomplished by implementing powder into the recipe in order to capture the essence of whichever flavor you choose to assimilate into the nutraceutical creation you are crafting.

    Learn more about our flavors for nutraceuticals.



    Incorporating flavor extract into your dairy creations is the best method of achieving the exact high-quality flavor profile you are striving toward. The water-soluble base suspensions are more neutral, allowing your dairy creations to both smell and taste better.

    Learn more about our flavors for dairy and milk-substitute products.


    Dressings, Sauces, Condiments

    Using a concentrate or extract to flavor your dressings and sauces is an excellent approach. This allows you to create a flavor profile that binds to the product, providing a distinct and unique taste in every bite.

    Learn more about our flavors for dressings, sauces and condiments.


    Olive Oil and Vinegar

    Extracts and concentrates are great for flavoring olive oils and vinegars. They allow you to maintain the integrity of the product while developing a distinct taste and flavor option.

    Learn more about our flavors for olive oil and vinegar.



    Powders are an ideal method of flavoring for popcorn. They enable you to coat the popcorn in whatever flavor you desire, enriching the taste and fully delivering your preferred flavor profile to each and every kernel.

    Learn more about our flavors for popcorn and snacks.


    Have additional questions? Let’s connect. As flavor chemists and flavor enthusiasts, we want to be certain you feel completely confident when flavoring your application.

    Get in touch with us today and we can help ensure you’re selecting the best flavoring method.

    Contact Us


    The Most Versatile Flavors Suitable for a Wide Range of Diets and Lifestyles

    Formulated to be stronger and more versatile than other flavoring methods, and suitable for almost any application – whether cooking, beverages, baking, or ice cream – Bickford Flavors can give your product the exact flavor consistency it needs.

    All-natural, certified Kosher, and backed by our very own 100-year-old formulas, we have more than 200 flavorings and extracts that align with special diets and lifestyles.

    Since we suspend our flavors in either a water-soluble or oil-soluble base, they taste better, smell better, and hold their flavor longer.

    We service:

    • Restaurants
    • Caterers
    • Gourmet retailers
    • Health food stores
    • Wholesalers
    • Many fine-food manufacturers
    • Recognized chefs & bakers
    • Beverage manufacturers
    • Special diet programs
    • Co-Packers

    Need a custom flavor? That’s where we excel! We work one-on-one with many clients to custom-make flavors that meet their individual needs. Through these partnerships, we are extremely fortunate to watch their businesses grow and be able to grow with them.

    Give our bottles of natural goodness a try for yourself and flavor the sweetness of life.

    Learn more about Bickford Flavors:

    Visit our FAQ page

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