7 Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes You Can Try!

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We just need a pinch of vanilla extract, but we need it! That’s the influence that vanilla extract can have on our food. Most of our baked recipes call for a teaspoon of vanilla extract; when we are out of it, we need to find a good vanilla extract substitute.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract can be used in multiple cuisines. It brings a mouth-watering flavor and aroma to the food. But what should you do if you don’t have any vanilla extract with you? Think no more; you can always try on a good vanilla extract substitute at such times.

At this point, you should consider all the possible vanilla extract substitutes. Well, I have already found that for you. Vanilla powder, maple syrup, coffee powder, vanilla rum, almond extract, and honey are some of the best vanilla extract substitutes.

Before getting to know more about vanilla extract substitutes, let’s get to know vanilla extract. A good understanding of vanilla extract will help you choose the most suitable substitute for your recipe.

Quick Peek: Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

Let’s get to know vanilla extract a little deeper in this section. We will discuss its texture, flavor, nutritional benefits, and much more.

What Is Vanilla Extract?

All of us must have used vanilla extract at least once! Vanilla extract is made by a straightforward process of soaking vanilla beans in water and ethyl alcohol. It would have a dark brownish-black color to it. The vanillin present in this mixture is responsible for the intense vanilla flavor.

Vanilla belongs to the family of Vanilla planifolia. It is grown in a plant similar to an orchid. However, the flower of this plant doesn’t have any smell. Currently, Madagascar produces 80% of the world’s vanilla.

Vanilla extract is often made from aged vanilla beans. These are soaked in water and ethyl alcohol for a period of 12 months. This helps the mixture to extract maximum vanillin, and thereby the mixture would have a strong vanilla flavor. 

Once the extract is ready, the vanilla beans are removed from the mixture, and the vanilla extract is ready to use. Now that there are vanilla extract manufacturers, they use the latest technology to make this extract, and it won’t take such a long time to make it.

Describing Vanilla Extract: Flavor And Texture

Vanilla extract has a liquidy texture to it. It has a dark brownish-black color and often comes in small bottles. The flavor and aroma of vanilla extract are very intense. It is slightly sweet in nature and has a strong, alluring vanilla fragrance.

More than the taste, vanilla extract is known for the smell that it brings to the food. It is strong and pleasantly sweet. Only a teaspoon imparts a vanilla flavor to the whole dessert. The dish’s taste won’t be much affected by adding vanilla extract.

However, if you do not use vanilla extract in your dessert, you will definitely feel its smell and flavor missing. The smell of vanilla extract more than its taste makes our dish more flavorful.

Uses Of Vanilla Extract

We all love a drop or two of vanilla extract in our food. But that’s just one use of the vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is a magic ingredient, and it has multiple uses to it. In this section, let’s explore some of the less-known uses of vanilla extract.

There is no way anyone would hate the smell of vanilla; imagine your room smelling like vanilla. Yes, vanilla extract can be used for making excellent homemade room fresheners. All you need is some vanilla extract, baking powder, and water. Mix it all and spray it!

Vanilla extract does not just make your cake smell good; it can also make your health look shiny. Add a few drops of vanilla extract to any carrier oil, and then you can apply it to your hair. Give it some time, and wash it off with some shampoo! 

Due to its antibacterial properties, it will also help to remove any fungal infections to an extent. Thus if you have any skin issues due to bacterial causes, you can add a drop or two of vanilla extract to any carrier oil and use it on the affected skin.

Cocktails are good, but if you want to taste them great, add some vanilla extract. Add some vanilla extract to any of your homemade cocktails and see how it enhances the flavor. The vanilla extract works particularly well with hot beverages.

Vanilla Extract On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Vanilla extract has many health benefits of its own. However, we only get a few health benefits from the vanilla extract in our food as we only use a very minimal quantity. But there are many ways in which we could use this ingredient to get some health benefits.

Has Antibacterial Properties: Vanilla extract is antibacterial in nature. Thus, applying vanilla extract directly or mixing it with some carrier oils will help fight bacterial infections on the skin and hair.

Promotes Brain Health: Many compounds in vanilla extract, including vanillin, are said to be beneficial to the brain. Vanilla extract is said to have a neuroprotective nature. However, studies are yet happening to prove this claim.

Reduce Sugar Intake: If you struggle to reduce your daily sugar intake, try adding some vanilla extract to your food. The flavor and aroma of vanilla extract will not make you miss the sugar.

Why Use A Substitute For Vanilla Extract?

Many of you might feel it’s unnecessary to use a substitute for vanilla essence as it’s a very versatile ingredient. However, I have some compelling reasons to give you regarding why you should know about some vanilla extract substitutes.

First, you or any of your dear ones could be allergic to vanilla beans. You don’t want to make a wholesome dessert and make them drool! Do you? (I mean, you can). Knowing about a good vanilla extract substitute will help to resolve such situations.

Vanilla extract is used worldwide and isn’t hard to find. However, if you cannot find a bottle of vanilla extract and need to try a recipe, try a vanilla extract substitute. It will save you a lot of time and money.

If you aren’t someone who regularly bakes, you might not check the expiry date of vanilla extract. Thus if you only have an expired vanilla extract lying on your fridge and you need to try a recipe, use a vanilla extract substitute.

I hope I have given you enough reasons why to try a vanilla extract substitute. So, without taking much of your time, let’s look into some of the most suitable vanilla extract substitutes.

7 Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes

The top vanilla extract substitutes are presented in this section. Give it a thorough read and find one according to your recipe.

1. Vanilla Paste

Vanilla Paste

Vanilla paste imparts a flavor similar to vanilla extract and can be used as an excellent vanilla extract substitute. It has a dark texture and can be used in all dishes, similar to vanilla extract.

Vanilla paste is a mixture of vanilla bean, sugar, and vanilla extract. Even though we expect a thick paste consistency, the vanilla paste has a syrup-like consistency. It has an intense flavor and can be used in the 1:1 ratio while used as a vanilla extract substitute.

2. Vanilla Powder

Vanilla Powder

Vanilla powder is a fine powder made from vanilla beans. It has a light texture and very well brings the vanilla flavor to almost all recipes. Thus, if you are out of vanilla extract, try vanilla powder as a vanilla extract substitute.

The vanilla powder can be used in almost all recipes that call for vanilla extract. It is so light in color and brings an intense flavor to your recipe. If you don’t like the brown tinge vanilla extract brings to your recipe, you must try the vanilla powder.

Moreover, vanilla extract tends to get evaporated in extreme heat, and thereby it might lose some of its flavors. However, vanilla powder is unaffected by heat and will bring all the vanilla flavor needed to your food.

Add it to your cake’s batter or coffee and enjoy its vanilla flavor. While using vanilla powder as a vanilla extract substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.

3. Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Sugar

If you’re making any desserts, vanilla sugar is something you can rely on as a substitute for vanilla extract. It is sugar mixed with vanilla flavor and brings in the sweetness along with the vanilla flavor to your recipe.

You can add it directly to the batter or sprinkle it as topping off on all your dessert. However, this ingredient is hard to find in many places. While using vanilla sugar as a vanilla extract substitute, follow the 2:1 ratio. That is 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar for 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

4. Almond Extract

Almond Extract

Almond extract has a nutty taste and fragrance to it, similar to vanilla extract, and thus almond extract can be used as a vanilla extract substitute. Almond extract is one of the most common vanilla extract substitutes.

Almond extract has a higher nutty fragrance than that vanilla extract. Thus just use it sparingly in your recipes. Also, almond extract is a little bitter; thus, adding too much almond extract could impart a bitter flavor to your recipe.

5. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup has a very sweet flavor to it, along with an alluring aroma. If you are looking for a sweet vanilla extract substitute, try your hands at maple syrup. It is sweet, easy to obtain, and aromatic.

Maple syrup brings so much flavor to the recipe. It is sweet and locks in so much moisture. Thus maple syrup works as a binding agent in baking. It can be used as a vanilla extract substitute in almost all recipes.

6. Bourbon/ Vanilla Liqueur

Vanilla Liquor

Bourbon and vanilla liqueur are two excellent vanilla extract substitutes in liquid form. Both these liquors, very well mimic the caramelized vanilla flavor similar to the vanilla extract.

However, try to use it in moderation when used as vanilla extract. Both bourbon and vanilla liqueur contains alcohol in it. Thus, if you are planning to serve this dessert to kids or pregnant ladies, avoid using these as vanilla extract substitutes.

7. Plant-Based Milk

Plant Based MIlk

All plant-based milk has a subtle vanilla aroma to it. Thus if you have almond milk or soya milk at home, you can use it as a vanilla extract substitute. This can be used in almost all dishes that use vanilla extract.

However, the flavor of this plant-based milk is comparatively very subtle when compared to that of vanilla extract. While using plant-based milk as a vanilla extract substitute, follow the 1:1 ratio.

Short Recap Of Vanilla Extract Substitutes

Not a very long list of substitutes for vanilla extract, but still a decent enough list that will work in all recipes. So, I am sure you must have gone through them all by now. But I will break it down for you to make it easier to pick your substitute. 

Most Suited Vanilla Extract Substitutes

  1. Vanilla Paste 
  2. Vanilla Powder

Most Easily Available Vanilla Extract

  1. Maple Syrup
  2. Honey

Vanilla Extract Substitutes To Consider Last

  1. Almond Extract
  2. Plant-based Milk

How To Use Vanilla Extract Substitutes In A Recipe

Vanilla Extract

7 Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes You Can Try!

Vanilla extract can be used in multiple cuisines. It brings a mouth-watering flavour and aroma to the food. But what should you do if you don't have any vanilla extract with you? Think no more; you can always try on a good vanilla extract substitute at such times.
5 from 2 votes


  • Plant-Based Milk
  • Bourbon / Vanilla Liqueur
  • Maple Syrup
  • Almond Extract
  • Vanilla Sugar
  • Vanilla Powder
  • Vanilla Paste


  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Final Thoughts 

With its sweet and subtle vanilla flavor, vanilla extract brings so much flavor and an alluring aroma to the recipe. Just a drop or two teaspoons of vanilla extract can change the whole flavor of the dish.

However, if you are out of vanilla extract, use a good vanilla extract substitute. Hence, we really hope that whatever you choose from the list works well for your recipe. If you succeed or have a better alternative for tomato ketchup, do let us know in the comment section below! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use to replace vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract can replace vanilla paste, vanilla powder, and almond extract.

Can you skip vanilla extract in a recipe?

Yes. You can easily skip vanilla extract in a recipe. However, it will affect the flavor of your recipe.

Is there a substitute for vanilla extract in baking?

Yes. Maple syrup and honey are some of the idle vanilla extract substitutes you can use in baking.

Can I use sugar instead of vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract brings in the aroma along with a subtle sweetness. However, sugar only brings in sweetness.

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