Bottle of vanilla extract and pods on a wooden table. Bottle of vanilla extract and pods on a wooden table.

11 Fantastic Substitutes for Vanilla Extract!

There is always an ingredient that can turn things around with just an addition to the recipe, and it is the ingredient that can make all your favorite bakes and desserts so yummy. Yes, we are talking about “vanilla extract.”

Baking a cake gives you a particular joy filled with dopamine, and being able to bake a cake has a different level of pride. A sense of accomplishment and extreme satisfaction often accompanies this pride. Then comes eating your cake; the pleasure of eating your sweet baked cake can match no cake in your nearby bakery.

Midnight cravings can hit you anytime, and the best substitute to fill your tummy during this time is a muffin or a brownie.

1. Do substitutes for Vanilla Extract Work?

VANILLA EXTRACT SUBSTITUTE/ Vanilla extract Alternatives

Sure thing! If you don’t have vanilla extract, the good news is that various replacements might work depending on what you’re creating. You might need to make a substitution for vanilla extract if you’re seeking a non-alcoholic option or if you’ve run out. In any case, this guide will assist you in finding the ideal vanilla extract substitute for almost all of your baking and cooking needs.

2. Why Choose a Substitute for Vanilla Extract? 

There are a variety of reasons why people substitute vanilla extract. They could have run out of vanilla extract during baking or enjoyed experimenting with new components.

Some people prefer alcohol-free substances. Thus, vanilla extract, which includes alcohol, is not an option.

Bakers may also require a colorless vanilla extract substitute for light-colored cakes or frostings. While vanilla extract can turn light batters dark, vanilla powder has a more subtle effect.

With these, you can finish your sweet cravings and bake your cake. How cool is that?

These can be easily found at your home. Let’s investigate and help you with your cake without any further ado.

Imagine you went into the kitchen to bake your favorite cake, brownie, or muffin. It depends on you, though. Your favorite baked stuff is what you would like to imagine. I like baking cakes the most, so I would choose a cake.

So, you go out into the kitchen, and you take all the ingredients, such as cocoa powder, eggs, sugar, and flour, and head out to check for vanilla extract, but you don’t have any vanilla extract left on your shelf, and you can’t even head out to your nearest local store for it.

What could you do? Forget the idea of baking, maybe?

No! Fret not! We have your back; We have just the correct list to help you.

3. Here Are 11 Vanilla Extract Substitutes

3.1. Honey 

Honey is a perfect substitute for vanilla extract; it can be used instead of vanilla essence. Honey can be substituted for vanilla extract in any baking recipe with about the same proportions! If the recipe calls for one teaspoon of vanilla essence, substitute one teaspoon of honey. Because honey, unlike vanilla essence, has a natural sweetness, you may want to minimize the sugar level of the recipe. Hence, it is the best substitute for vanilla extract.

honey dipper and jar
Image Source: depositphotos

3.2. Citrus Zest

The Citrus zest of any citrus fruit, lime, lemon juice, or orange is also a suitable replacement for vanilla extract. The flavorful zest shall balance the flavors of the cake without making it taste sour. A pinch full of fruit zest shall do the trick. It is the best substitute for vanilla extract.

3.3. Rum/Bourbon/Brandy 

Vanilla extract contains a tiny amount of alcohol. Vanilla pods are soaked in alcohol for a long time to make vanilla extract. As a result, substituting alcohol for vanilla essence in cakes and muffins is acceptable. It is a great substitute for vanilla extract.

Follow a 1:1 ratio when substituting vanilla extract for alcohol. Even rum can be used in a ratio of 1:1. How cool is that? Cling to your glasses and get ready to bake your cake.

3.4. Cinnamon/Cardamom/Nutmeg 

In specific dessert recipes, the vanilla flavor isn’t necessary and is just used to mask or hide the scent of the egg. A pinch of spice will suffice for this in recipes. Cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, or nutmeg powder can be substituted. It is a perfect substitute for vanilla extract.

3.5. Coffee Powder or Espresso Powder

Coffee or Espresso powder can be used instead of vanilla extract in chocolate-flavored recipes such as chocolate cakes, chocolate muffins, etc. It is a good substitute for vanilla extract. Adding coffee to the chocolate increases the flavor and makes it even more delicious. You don’t need a tablespoon of coffee; just a sprinkle or two would suffice.

3.6. Maple Syrup 

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Image Source: Depositphotos

Because maple syrup has a flavor like vanilla extract, you can use maple syrup instead of vanilla extract. The ideal type of maple syrup is pure maple syrup; however, pancake syrup would suffice. Chore differences will be minor, although maple syrup contains more sugar than vanilla. You might want to cut back on sugar if your recipe calls for sugar. It is a great substitute for vanilla extract.

3.7. Almond Extract

Almond extract tastes like sweet almonds and is created from the almond oil. Because almond extract has a considerably stronger flavor than vanilla, use half as much when substituting. It is a great substitute for vanilla extract. Because your recipe will have a slight almond flavor, ensure the nutty flavor blends well with the completed result.

3.8. Other Extracts

Other flavors, such as orange, lemon, or peppermint, can be substituted for vanilla, but the final flavor will be drastically different. As a result, choose a flavor that complements the other ingredients. Because the substitutes aren’t as strong as almond extract, replace the vanilla with an equal amount of the substitute. They are a perfect substitute for vanilla extract.

3.9. Vanilla Almond Milk 

If you have any vanilla-flavored almond or soy milk on hand, you can use that instead of the vanilla. The vanilla flavor will come through, and the minimal milk will not affect the recipe. It is a great substitute for vanilla extract. Vanilla almond milk is something you should always have on hand, and it also works well as a vanilla extract substitute.

3.10. Vanilla Beans

Susbtitue for vanilla extract
Photo by Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash . Copyright 2021

Although not a common commodity in most kitchens, the seeds of vanilla beans can be used as a substitute for vanilla extract if you have one on hand. Scrape the seeds out of half a vanilla bean and use them to replace one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

3.11. Vanilla Powder 

Vanilla paste and powder are two items that are manufactured from vanilla extract and additional substances. The paste comprises vanilla beans, sugar, water, and a natural thickening.

It is a great substitute for vanilla extract. The extract is made of vanilla beans, sugar, water, and a natural thickener; the powder is made of dried vanilla extract blended with cornstarch and is alcohol-free. You can replace the vanilla extract with vanilla paste or powder equally.

3.11.1. Can I Make My Vanilla Extract?

Awesome! You can make your extract. Making your homemade vanilla extract is simple and only requires two items if you don’t want to use one of these vanilla extract replacements. It does; unfortunately, it takes time and patience. While you’re baking, you can’t make vanilla extract. The vanilla bean paste and alcohol require at least a month to blend.

4. Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe 

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Image Source: Depositphotos

It is a simple, step-by-step guide to making vanilla extract by yourself. You’ll only need two ingredients readily available at your local supermarket: vanilla beans and ordinary vodka!

Step 1: Split the vanilla bean pods lengthwise in half.

Step 2: Pour the alcohol over the vanilla beans into a container, making sure they are completely submerged.

Step 3: Cover the jar and shake it vigorously.

Step 4: Leave it to rest for at least one month (two months for a more robust flavor) in a cold, dark area, shaking occasionally.

Step 5: Once ready to pour the mix into containers, strain it through muslin.

5. How Important Is Vanilla Extract in A Recipe?

Vanilla extract flavors cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods. In terms of the structure of a baking recipe, vanilla extract is not required. However, omitting it from a dish will result in a different flavor.

5.1. Pure Vanilla vs. Imitation 

Synthetic vanilla extract is a flavoring that comes at a lower price than genuine vanilla extract yet tastes the same; it is fantastic. Natural vanilla extract offers a natural flavor and aroma compared to fake vanilla.

Fake vanilla is the least priced, but recipes occasionally call for twice as much to compensate for the decreased price.

Is there a difference in Imitation VS Real Vanilla Extract?

The retailers say synthetic vanilla includes vanillin and synthetic substances such as colorantssweeteners, and stabilizersPure vanilla extract is water, alcoholsugarsand the organic components of vanilla beans.

6. Can I Use Imitation Vanilla?

Imitation vanilla flavor, sometimes called “vanilla essence,” is substantially less expensive than pure vanilla extract. You might wonder if paying more for pure vanilla extract is worth it.

Most chefs believe that pure vanilla is the only way to go in recipes where vanilla is the primary flavor component, such as pound cake or ice cream.

Pure vanilla extracts contain hundreds of chemical constituents, such as vanillin, tannins, and polyphenols, which give it a rich, robust flavor profile.

Although much of the study on this area is older, pure vanilla is prized for its antioxidant content and potential therapeutic effects.

When vanilla is a secondary flavor component or imitation, vanilla is all that’s available. However, swapping it for pure extract at a 1:1 ratio would suffice.

7. What’s Our Suggestion for a Substitute for Vanilla Extract?

If you’re in a pinch, and if I were you, I would replace vanilla extract with honey any day without question, but there are a few things to bear in mind about how it may affect the final taste and texture of the dessert you’re making.

Honey contains no water or alcohol, whereas vanilla is a by-product of soaking vanilla beans in alcohol. Vanilla extract is flavored, and honey is sugar in a different form.

Using honey will impact both the flavor and texture of the finished product. Perhaps you should give it time and choose another alternative instead of substituting vanilla extract with honey. However, if you desperately need a vanilla substitute, this isn’t a complete no-no!

However, it will still taste delicious and be workable. I’d start with a dessert spoon of honey and add more to the taste (unless you have a solid/dark honey, the flavor won’t be as intense as the vanilla.)

In the end, honey is sweeter than vanilla extract, so if you’re going to use it instead of vanilla extract, you might want to reduce the sugar in the recipe.

7.1. Just Facts

Saffron Spice Threads Powder Vintage Dish
Image Source: depositphotos

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron for spices. This is due to the seed pods’ labor-intensive cultivation and processing.

Vanilla has a characteristic sweet aroma and is one of the most popular food flavorings. It comes from the seed pods of orchids belonging to the genus ‘Vanilla.’ It’s used in cooking, aromatherapy, and the creation of perfumes. Vanilla comes in various forms as a food flavor, including extract, paste, powder, and essence.

8. Summary

Pure vanilla extract adds a nuanced flavor to various foods and baked goods.

People may choose a substitute because of a variety of reasons. They might want a different option or enjoy an alcohol-free option.

It’s crucial to apply the proper substitution measurements and ensure the substitution is suitable for the recipe. People can play with various combinations and ratios, adjusting the amounts as necessary.

Try these alternatives and tell us in the comments below your favorite vanilla extract substitute!




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