5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Recipes

Easy 2 Ingredient Pandan Extract and Juice

20/10/2021

Pandan leaves and water are all that stand between you and fresh pandan extract with no nasties. Grab your blender and whip this up in two minutes!

Small white bowl with dark green pandan extract on a wooden board.

Why We Love This

After reading the ingredients list of the artificial pandan paste we’d been using (think lots of sugars, colour and stabilisers), we were determined to find fresh pandan in our area. While the commercial pandan paste is great when you can’t get fresh pandan, nothing beats the real deal.

It’s so quick, you can make fresh pandan extract right when you need it most.

We love to keep a few leaves in the freezer too – while they aren’t as potent as fresh, they’re still perfect for an emergency pandan based recipe!

Small bottle of fresh pandan extract.

What is Pandan Extract? 

Pandan extract is juice extracted and blended with water from pandan leaves (also known as screwpine or pandanus). It’s used in many Southeast Asian dishes; desserts in particular.

Usually deep green in colour, pandan has an aroma similar to vanilla essence, but a little more on the earthier side. The vibrant, bright green that you see in sweets like dadar gulung or klepon are usually from the more potent and dyed, commercially available pandan paste.

What You’ll Need

  • Pandan Leaves – Sometimes called the ‘Vanilla of the East’, pandan is a staple addition to both savoury and sweet cooking in many Indonesian and Southeast Asian dishes. The scent and aroma they infuse is amazing. If you can find pandan leaves fresh, get them. Otherwise, frozen is also fine. Check your local Asian grocery stores for them!
  • Water – Room temperature water works best. This is used to help draw out the pandan flavour and make it easier to extract in the blender.
Ingredients laid out to make pandan extract.

How to make Pandan Juice & Extract:

  1. Give your pandan leaves a really good wash under running water to remove any dirt. Cut off the ends / base of your leaves with scissors and discard. Cut remaining leaves into small 2 cm / 1 inch thick pieces directly into your blender.
  2. Pour in the water over the top and blend. Note: Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to add a little more water and spoon down the sides to get the leaves to blend well. It should look like a thick green paste once ready.
  3. Place a square piece of cheesecloth (or paper towel) over a bowl and spoon in your pandan leaf mixture. Wrap up and twist to hold it together with one hand. Using your free hand, grab the bundled pandan and squeeze out the juice. You may need to do this a few times to get out as much as possible.
  4. Use straight away if required in a recipe, or pour the pandan extract into a small sterilised jar and store in the fridge. This will settle overnight to make layers – pandan water on top and more concentrated pandan extract at the bottom. Should make approx. 170ml / 5.7oz. Use fresh pandan extract within 3 days. While this can be frozen, it’s not recommended as it will lose its potency very quick. If you must freeze it, use within the month and keep in a sealed, airtight container.

Pandan Extract vs Pandan Juice vs Pandan Water vs Pandan Paste – What’s the difference?

When you first blend the water and pandan leaves together, the liquid that you squeeze out is pandan extract, which is sometimes also referred to as pandan juice.

After allowing the extract to settle overnight, you’ll be left two layers of liquid – pandan water on top and concentrated pandan extract on the bottom. You can discard the pandan water to get to the extract, or use the pandan water to lightly flavour another dish. See the image below for reference.

Pandan paste is usually the commercial variety of pandan essence and is an artificial flavouring with added colour dye.

Jar showing the layers of pandan water and pandan extract concentrate.

How do I know which one to use and when?

For recipes that call for just a little pandan paste – usually baked goods, then it’s best to use the concentrated pandan extract at a 1:1 ratio to add the most potent flavour without the extra water content.

For recipes that use water as well like cooking rice or a sauce, it’s good to use the fresh pandan extract / pandan juice. We recommend a 3:1 ratio here. So if it calls for 1 tsp of pandan paste, use 3 tsp of fresh pandan extract.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Blend Again – You can repeat the blending step by adding more water to the pulp, but the extract will be weaker this time around. This is good for when you want to flavour rice etc, which requires extra water added anyway.
  • Need Concentrated Extract? Make the pandan extract the day before and let it settle!
  • Dark Mature Leaves – To pick the best leaves, you want mature dark green pandan leaves with as few blemishes as you can find. This will give you a stronger extract and more colour so you don’t need to add anything artificial.

FAQs

What can I substitute if I can’t find fresh or frozen pandan leaves?

You can use artificial pandan flavouring in the first instance, with Butterfly and Koepoe Koepoe being the two most popular brands. Other pandan substitutes include vanilla essence or hazelnut essence.

Can I use the pandan leaves for other purposes?

Of course! One of our favourites is using them to wrap chicken up in our Crispy Thai Pandan Chicken appetisers. You can also tie them up and pop into rice, curries, soups or sauces to infuse the flavour – then remove them and discard like you would with bay leaves or a cinnamon stick! Any leftover leaves you’re not sure you’ll use, pop them straight in an airtight container or bag in the freezer.

What are the best ways to use pandan essence?

Pandan essence is most popular in Southeast Asian desserts, think of it like using vanilla essence in Western and European baking dishes. Pandan just happens to come with a whole lot more colour, and a bit punchier flavour on your palate. Great dishes to try out your fresh pandan extract include dadar gulung, seri muka and serabi kuah.

What can I do with the leftover pandan leaf pulp?

One recipe that utilises the pulp is homemade Coco Pandan Syrup. You can also tie up the cheesecloth and pop the pulp in the rice cooker to flavour the rice. For non-recipe uses, use your pulp as fertiliser or in your compost.

Bowl of pandan extract with pandan leaves and pulp.

Use your fresh pandan extract in these recipes:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Bowl of dark green pandan essence.

Easy 2 Ingredient Pandan Extract and Juice

Pandan leaves and water are all that stand between you and fresh pandan extract with no nasties. Grab your blender and whip this up in two minutes!
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Basics, Condiment
Cuisine: Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean
Servings: 1 Jar
Calories: 14kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Give your pandan leaves a really good wash under running water to remove any dirt.
    5 pandan leaves
  • Cut off the ends / base of your leaves with scissors and discard. Cut remaining leaves into small 2 cm / 1 inch thick pieces directly into your blender. Pour in the water over the top and blend. Note: Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to add a little more water and spoon down the sides to get the leaves to blend well. It should look like a thick green paste once ready.
    6 tbsp water
  • Place a square piece of cheesecloth (or paper towel) over a bowl and spoon in your pandan leaf mixture. Wrap up and twist to hold it together with one hand. Using your free hand, grab the bundled pandan and squeeze out the juice. You may need to do this a few times to get out as much as possible.
  • Use straight away if required in a recipe, or pour the pandan extract into a small sterilised jar and store in the fridge. This will settle overnight to make layers – pandan water on top and more concentrated pandan extract at the bottom.
  • Should make approx. 170ml / 5.7oz. Use fresh pandan extract within 3 days. While this can be frozen, it's not recommended as it will lose its potency very quick. If you must freeze it, use within the month and keep in a sealed, airtight container.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • How to Use:
    For recipes that call for just a little pandan paste – usually baked goods, then it’s best to use the concentrated pandan extract at a 1:1 ratio to add the most potent flavour without the extra water content.
    For recipes that use water as well like cooking rice or a sauce, it’s good to use the fresh pandan extract / pandan juice. We recommend a 3:1 ratio here. So if it calls for 1 tsp of pandan paste, use 3 tsp of fresh pandan extract.
  • Blend Again – You can repeat the blending step by adding more water to the pulp, but the extract will be weaker this time around. This is good for when you want to flavour rice etc, which requires extra water added anyway.
  • Need Concentrated Extract? Make the pandan extract the day before and let it settle!
  • Dark Mature Leaves – To pick the best leaves, you want mature dark green pandan leaves with as few blemishes as you can find. This will give you a stronger extract and more colour so you don’t need to add anything artificial.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy 2 Ingredient Pandan Extract and Juice
Amount per Serving
Calories
14
% Daily Value*
Sodium
 
5
mg
0
%
Potassium
 
7
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Calcium
 
3
mg
0
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Easy 2 Ingredient Pandan Extract and Juice

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