What are substitutes for vanilla extract?

substitutes for vanilla extract
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Vanilla extract is a widely used flavour in sweets and baked products. People can use a variety of alternatives in a pinch, but some are more suited to particular recipes than others.

The pods of the tropical vanilla orchid Vanilla planifolia are used to make pure vanilla extract. The pods contain microscopic black seeds high in vanillin, which gives the liquid flavoring its deep, rich flavor.

Vanilla extract is used in a lot of baked items and sweet recipes. A modest quantity imparts a strong, fragrant flavor that complements other flavor.

There are a variety of reasons why someone would need a vanilla extract alternative. They may have ran out, want a different flavor, or prefer an alcohol-free choice. Vanilla extract must contain at least 35 percent alcohol, and the flavor can only originate from vanilla beans, according to FDA standards.

Continue reading to discover about vanilla extract substitutes, when to use them, and frequent reasons for doing so.

Substitutes for vanilla

substitutes for vanilla extract
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Vanilla extract can be replaced in a variety of ways. While certain substitutions may work well in some recipes, others may work better in others.

Because vanilla extract and its replacements have such a strong taste, be careful to apply the proper substitution ratio. It’s important to remember that concentration levels might vary, especially among handmade items.

1. Vanilla paste

Vanilla paste, also known as vanilla bean paste, is made from a combination of vanilla extract, vanilla beans, and sugar. It has a strong vanilla flavor and a silky texture, as well as the unique black flecks of vanilla beans.

The consistency of vanilla paste, despite its name, is not as thick as one might think. It’s a syrup-like substance.

Vanilla paste can be used in place of extract in a 1-1 ratio, according to the manufacturers.

2. Vanilla powder

Vanilla powder is created from ground vanilla beans and is fine and light in color. It’s popular in light cakes and frostings since it doesn’t turn them brown like extract does.

Vanilla powder has a higher concentration of flavor. High temperatures can cause vanilla essence to evaporate, resulting in a tasteless baked dish. High heat has no effect on vanilla powder.

Vanilla powder may be baked with, added to cereal or oatmeal, blended into coffee or hot chocolate, or sprinkled on oats.

When replacing powder for extract, vanilla powder producers recommend a 1-1 ratio.

3. Vanilla sugar

Vanilla sugar is a kind of sugar that has been infused with vanilla beans. While it is difficult to come by in the United States, it is widely used in Europe.

Vanilla sugar can be substituted for ordinary sugar in baking. It may also be used to top freshly baked pies, pastries, and cakes.

In a recipe, use vanilla sugar instead of ordinary sugar and leave out the vanilla essence.

4. Almond extract

Almond extract has a stronger nutty flavor than vanilla, which works well in some recipes. Using too much, however, might result in an unpleasant flavor.

Almond extract is widely used in French toast, pound cakes, and cookies.

People should use almond extract sparingly due to its strong flavor.

5. Maple syrup

Pure maple syrup has a deep, sweet taste profile, making it a great substitute for vanilla extract. It can also help baked foods retain moisture and bind together.

If you’re going to use maple syrup, be sure it’s real maple syrup, not fake. People should add it to taste because the flavor is somewhat different from vanilla extract.

6. Honey

Honey gives desserts a bright, flowery sweetness. It can improve the texture of baked items in the same way maple syrup can.

1 tablespoon honey can be substituted for 1 teaspoon (tsp) vanilla essence.

7. Bourbon, brandy, rum, or vanilla liqueur

Spirits like bourbon, brandy, rum, and vanilla liqueur can imitate vanilla extract’s rich, caramelly flavor.

1 tsp vanilla extract can be replaced with 2 tsp alcohol.

When using them in recipes for children, pregnant people, or those who do not drink alcohol, caution should be exercised. While most alcohol evaporates when exposed to heat, some can be retained in no-bake or barely baked dishes.

8. Vanilla flavored plant-based milk

Vanilla-flavored almond, oat, or soy milk can easily replace vanilla extract, though the flavor will be more subtle.

For 1 tsp vanilla extract, use 1 tsp milk.

Why substitute?

For a variety of reasons, people replace vanilla extract. It may be because they ran out of vanilla extract in the middle of baking, or that people simply love experimenting with new components.

Some people prefer alcohol-free substances, thus vanilla extract, which contains at least 35 percent alcohol, is avoided.

When producing light-colored cakes or frostings, bakers may select a colorless vanilla extract substitute. While vanilla extract may turn pale batters dark, alternatives such as vanilla powder have a more subtle impact.

Pure vanilla vs. imitation

Imitation vanilla extract is a flavoring that is less costly than genuine vanilla extract but still tastes great. Pure vanilla extract offers a stronger flavor and scent than imitation vanilla.

Although imitation vanilla is less expensive, recipes sometimes ask for twice as much to compensate for its lower flavor character.

Imitation vanilla, according to the producers, contains vanillin as well as synthetic chemicals such as artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Water, alcohol, sugar, and vanilla bean extractives make up pure vanilla extract.


Pure vanilla extract adds a nuanced taste to a wide range of dishes and baked products.

People may choose a substitute because they are out of vanilla extract, like the flavor and texture of a different choice, or want an alcohol-free option.

It’s important to apply the proper substitute measurements and make sure the substitution is suitable for the recipe. People may play  with various combinations and ratios, adjusting the quantities as necessary.


  • https://www.mccormick.com/spices-and-flavors/extracts-and-food-colors/extracts/bakers-imitation-vanilla
  • https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8-substitutes-for-vanilla-extract
  • https://nielsenmassey.com/products/pure-vanilla-bean-paste/
  • https://nielsenmassey.com/products/pure-vanilla-extract/
  • https://nielsenmassey.com/products/pure-vanilla-powder/https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335038491_Vanilla-Natural_Vs_Artificial_A_Review