Vanilla bean paste is an essential ingredient in most dessert recipes. It adds a subtle flavor that elevates the whole recipe. However, there can be times when you don’t have it handy. So, for that, I have made a list of the best vanilla bean substitutes.
Although vanilla bean paste is a very common ingredient in most kitchens where baking is a norm, we can’t deny the fact that it can be expensive. So, whether you run out of vanilla bean or want a budget-friendly alternative, this article has all the best substitutes.
I know at this point, you want me to get straight to the point and tell you what the substitutes are. The best vanilla bean paste substitutes are vanilla extract, vanilla essence, vanilla powder, vanilla bean, maple syrup, honey, and almond extract.
Now I know many of you may be confused after reading the list of substitutes. Since they all sound quite similar to each other, let me make this easier. I will give you a little information about vanilla bean paste just so that you can know what the ingredient actually is.
Quick Peek: Vanilla Bean Paste
You will find all vital information about vanilla bean paste in this section. You will get to understand how exactly it is made and what it is, what it tastes like, and its uses. I will also help you with the nutritional information about vanilla bean paste.
What Is Vanilla Bean Paste?
Vanilla bean paste is made from vanilla pods. Most of the vanilla pods available in the world are from Madagascar, Mexico, and Tahiti. Vanilla pods are blended into a thick paste along with vanilla extract to make vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla bean paste has now become a savior for most professional bakers as it is so much easier for them to use the paste rather than scraping beans. Vanilla bean paste is one of the most natural tasting vanilla flavorings other than whole vanilla pods.
Off lately, most vanilla bean pastes sold in the world are made from Madagascar vanilla pods. However, there are chances of finding the same made with Mexican or Tahiti vanilla beans at some places.
Describing Vanilla Bean Paste: Flavor And Texture
Vanilla bean paste, as the name suggests, has a thick and paste-like consistency. The thickness also comes from thickeners used to bind the paste. It is brown in color, as vanilla pods are also brown-black in color. The paste usually has little specks of vanilla pod in it.
The flavor of vanilla bean paste is as true to the flavor of vanilla as can be. The flavor is quite intense with a rich vanilla flavor. Moreover, unlike various other vanilla essence products, vanilla bean paste does not have a bitter aftertaste.
Uses Of Vanilla Bean Paste
As mentioned earlier, vanilla bean paste is a treasure for the baking community. It is the most natural and neutral-tasting flavoring added to baked goods. Moreover, as it has an intense flavor, adding a little vanilla bean paste to your recipe goes a long way!
Vanilla bean paste is added to most desserts to add to their flavor. Usually, when vanilla flavoring is not added to baked goods, they end up having a very neutral flavor, in some cases, almost egg-like flavor.
However, the addition of vanilla bean paste enhances flavors very well. You can add this paste to cakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream, puddings, pie fillings, mousse, and panna cotta, and the list may never end!
Vanilla Bean Paste On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Vanilla bean paste, being a flavoring agent, is used in minute quantities in most recipes. Hence, it does not impart any of its nutritional values to desserts. However, there have been certain studies that show the various health benefits of vanilla beans.
When we do talk about the nutritional values of vanilla bean paste, a teaspoon or 15 grams of it has 15 calories. Out of these calories, most are carbohydrates and sugar. Now, let me tell you some of the health benefits linked to it.
Vanilla bean paste is rich in vanillin, a compound with a lot of health benefits. Some of these include anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Certain studies have also shown that vanilla bean paste can reduce sugar consumption and is good for brain health.
Why Use A Substitute For Vanilla Bean Paste?
I know, I have been praising vanilla bean paste all along in this article. So, if it is such a great ingredient to work with, why would anyone bother looking for its substitute? Yes, I agree it is a great ingredient. However, there are a few reasons why you can use a substitute for it.
The biggest reason to use a vanilla bean paste substitute; it is very expensive! Vanilla bean paste has a very natural flavor as compared to other vanilla flavoring products. However, it is made from pure vanilla pods, which themselves are very expensive.
This results in a product that may not be affordable for everyone. If you are one of those people that finds vanilla bean paste a tad bit too expensive, there are various substitutes that you can use in its place which will give you a similar flavor and are more affordable.
Moreover, vanilla bean paste is not as commonly sold as other vanilla flavorings. Most commercial kitchens that use vanilla bean paste usually get it imported from certain places. So, there can be chances that you may not find it at your local supermarket.
In a situation like this, you can again use a substitute that is equally flavorful and more readily available than vanilla bean paste. Lastly, you might just be out of vanilla bean paste! Again, you can use a substitute that you might already have stocked in your pantry!
Now that I have given you so much information about vanilla bean paste, I do believe it is time to move on to the best substitutes you can use in its place. The next section has all the best substitutes you can use in place of vanilla bean paste.
7 Best Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes
In this section, you will find all the best substitutes that you can use in place of vanilla bean paste. You will get to understand how each substitute works in its place and the flavor profile they offer. Moreover, you will also get to know the ratio of substitution.
1. Vanilla Bean
Vanilla bean paste is made from vanilla beans. They have a flavor that matches that of vanilla bean paste exactly, and hence, vanilla beans make the best substitute for vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla bean pods are usually easily available at most places. They are just as expensive as vanilla bean paste, but they will give you the best flavor. You can scrape the beans and use them in any dessert recipe, whether hot or cold.
Another way of doing this is by making your own vanilla bean paste using vanilla bean pods. However, make sure you store them in the refrigerator as they can get moldy. For substitution, 1 vanilla bean pod will work for each teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
2. Vanilla Powder
Vanilla powder is made from vanilla beans and has no amount of liquid in it. It will give you a strong flavor on the vanilla bean, and as it contains no liquid, it will not change the consistency of your dessert, making it a great substitute.
Vanilla powder is again a version of vanilla in its purest form. However, a lot of manufacturers do sell vanilla powder mixed with sugar. So, that tends to give it a sweeter flavor than required.
To avoid this, you can easily make vanilla powder of your own by drying and grinding vanilla pods. This powder will work well in all dessert recipes, in place of vanilla bean paste. For substitution, follow a standard 1:1 ratio.
3. Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla flavoring sold worldwide. Depending on how it is made, it has a slightly thick texture and a concentrated flavor that works in place of vanilla bean paste.
Pure vanilla extract is made by softening vanilla pods with water and ethanol. This is then filtered, which produces a thick liquid. It is very easily available everywhere and is also a cheaper option compared to vanilla bean paste.
However, make sure you read the ingredients on the bottle carefully, as many manufacturers do not use vanilla pods and use artificial flavoring. It is very easy to tell the difference between the two as the one made artificially will be much sweeter.
4. Vanilla Essence
Vanilla essence is actually the name used for vanilla extract that is made artificially. Though this has a different flavor than pure vanilla extract, if you do not have other options, vanilla essence can work in place of vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla essence is also widely and easily available in most parts of the world. Other than that, it is even cheaper than vanilla extract. So, in case you really want to stick to a budget or have no other option available, you can use vanilla essence.
However, vanilla essence is best used in recipes where vanilla is not the main hero of the dish. This is because vanilla essence will not give you a strong flavor like other flavorings. However, you can still use it as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Honey is a natural ingredient with the same consistency as vanilla bean paste. Though it does not have the flavor of vanilla in it, you can use it as a substitute in recipes where the vanilla flavor is not the hero.
Honey can not only be used to add flavor to desserts but also acts as a natural sweetener. Many bakers prefer using honey over sugar in their recipes as a healthier alternative. However, honey will only work in recipes with other overpowering flavors.
Honey can be a good addition to desserts made with chocolate, as the chocolate flavor would anyway mask the flavor of vanilla bean paste. As honey has the same consistency as vanilla bean paste, you can follow a 1:1 ratio for substitution.
6. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup has a slightly different consistency than vanilla bean paste. However, maple syrup has some hints of vanilla flavor in it, which can work well as a substitute for vanilla bean paste in certain cases.
Maple syrup is another option that is similar to honey. Although it does have a slight hint of vanilla, maple syrup is best used in recipes where vanilla is not the dominant flavor. Maple syrup will provide you with a slightly similar flavor and will do the trick.
Maple syrup can be used in recipes like chocolate cakes, cookies, or any other dessert with more overpowering flavors. For substitution, you can follow a standard 1:1 ratio. However, you can always adjust the quantities in case you want a stronger flavor.
7. Almond Extract
The consistency of almond extract is quite similar to that of vanilla extract. Though the flavors don’t exactly match, the almond extract does have a strong flavor and can work as a vanilla bean paste substitute in certain recipes.
Almond extract has a very strong and concentrated flavor of almonds. However, the nutty aroma of the almond extract can be comparable to that of vanilla. Almond extract is a good option to use in recipes where you would want a strong flavor, but not necessarily vanilla.
As many bakers have almond extract stocked in their pantries, almond extract can be a go-to option when you are all out of other substitutes. However, it will give a dominant flavor of almonds, so you will have to be prepared for that.
Short Recap For Best Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes
That wasn’t a very extensive list of substitutes for vanilla bean paste, but still a decent enough list. I know that most of you by now have probably selected your favorite substitute. But for those who haven’t, let me make it easier by classifying it further.
Best Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor:
- Vanilla Bean
- Vanilla Extract
Best Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes That Have The Same Flavor And Are Not Expensive:
- Vanilla Essence
- Vanilla Powder
Substitutes You Should Consider Using Only If You Are Out Of All Other Options:
- Almond Extract
- Maple Syrup
How To Substitute Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes
- Vanilla Bean
- Vanilla Powder
- Vanilla Extract
- Vanilla Essence
- Maple Syrup
- Almond Extract
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Now that we have come to the end of this article, the bottom line is that vanilla bean paste is a great ingredient to use. However, it is difficult to mimic the exact flavor of vanilla using other ingredients.
There are very few ingredients that actually match the exact flavor of vanilla. So, some of the alternatives are just ingredients that you can use when you are in a pinch and have no other option.
Other than that, you can also try using strong and bitter flavored alcohol such as rum or bourbon. However, they will only enhance the flavor of your dessert but not give it the desired vanilla flavor. So, the best option is to stick to vanilla-based products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is vanilla bean paste the same as vanilla extract?
No, vanilla bean paste has a stronger flavor than vanilla extract.
Do you need to refrigerate vanilla bean paste?
No, vanilla bean paste does not have to be refrigerated.
Is there alcohol in vanilla bean paste?
Vanilla bean paste does have a very small amount of alcohol coming from the vanilla extract.
How much vanilla bean paste is equivalent to a vanilla pod?
A teaspoon of vanilla bean paste is equivalent to a single vanilla pod.
How long is vanilla bean paste good for after opening the bottle?
If stored in a cool and dark place, vanilla bean paste will stay good for upto three years.