Looking For A Vanilla Extract Substitute? Try These 9 Options

Have you run out of vanilla in the midst of your cooking? Don’t worry!  There are a few other good ingredients that make a wonderful substitute for vanilla extract without compromising flavor and aroma.

By the way, vanilla extract is a quintessential ingredient in baking that brings in a touch of flavor and sweetness.  Vanilla flavoring is available as extract, essence, paste, and powder.

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

The best swap for store-bought vanilla is a homemade vanilla extract. To make it at home, you just need vanilla beans and vodka. Unfortunately, this won’t help you in immediate use as this mixture has to be seasoned for at least 8 weeks before use, the longer the better.

Also, think of making a non-alcoholic vanilla extract, but requires several months of seasoning before you can use it.

Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes

In case you don’t want to use vanilla extract because of its high cost, color, or alcohol content, choose one of the ingredients listed here as vanilla extract replacement instead. Most of the swaps I have got here are easy to prepare and cost-effective as well.

I’m sure, you have more than one of these substitutes in your kitchen cabinet already, choose the one that has the best flavor profile suitable to your recipe. Here are the stand-in ingredients to consider:

1. Maple Syrup

In order preference, the first and best vanilla substitute is maple syrup. Its aroma and flavor very well reproduce the delicate, sweet flavor of vanilla. Always go for the pure maple syrup or else at least use the pancake syrup.

Use maple syrup in a 1:1 for replacing vanilla in your recipe. Note, maple syrup is highly sweeter than vanilla, so while using maple syrup, reduce or use no sugar in the recipe.

2. Almond Extract

Almond extract, a cheaper alternative to vanilla, renders a flavor profile similar to vanilla when used in a balanced amount. Almond extract has strong nutty flavors, for this reason, use it in half the amount of vanilla required for your dish.

3. Bourbon

Bourbon, a type of aged American whiskey, is popularly used in baking. This whisky aged in oak gives a smoky caramel and vanilla flavor. Like vanilla, it improves the texture and moisture of some dishes. You can substitute vanilla with bourbon in baked goods like pecan pie, gingerbread, rich chocolate cake, brownies, or cookies.

4. Vanilla Almond Milk

Vanilla almond milk is lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla. When you don’t have vanilla extract at hand, this vanilla-flavored almond milk is an effective substitute to use. Similarly, you can use any plant or nut-based milk like soy milk flavored with vanilla in place of pure vanilla essence.

5. Vanilla Powder

Vanilla powder is made by crushing vanilla beans until it’s powder-like. This powder is often used for flavoring beverages, cookies, and chocolates. In a pinch, you can use vanilla powder in place of vanilla extract in baking which gives the same result.

6. Vanilla Ice Cream

A quality vanilla ice cream contains vanilla extract. While you are making frozen desserts, floats, or milkshakes, you can very well use vanilla ice cream instead of vanilla extract.

7. Chocolate

The chocolate flavor is equally satisfying and delicious as vanilla. When you have nothing on hand that has vanilla flavor, the next best option is to use chocolate in place of vanilla. Just like vanilla, chocolate works well with most baked goods.

8. Citrus Zest

Any citrusy zest like lime, lemon, or orange is a flavorful substitution for vanilla flavor. Lemon or orange zest with its citrusy flavor adds a lively and refreshing flavor to your dishes, something truly comparable to vanilla. Also, it’s convenient to blend zest into the dough for making baked goods without turning them watery or jelly.

9. Use Other Spices

The flavor of vanilla spice could be one of your favorite flavors in cake or ice cream. However, there are other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, or nutmeg that can add equally refreshing flavor to your dishes.

When you don’t have vanilla, just try adding cinnamon essence to your drinks like cappuccinos, tea, or yogurt. Certainly, you would begin to love them like vanilla.  Cloves or nutmegs also have wonderful flavors equally relishing and refreshing as vanilla. Importantly, trying something different in place of regular vanilla may be a more satisfying choice as well.

Note, most of these spices have stronger flavor and aroma, so use them in less quantity than vanilla.

Leave It Out

Vanilla extract is not necessary in terms of the structure of a baking recipe. Suppose, you don’t have any of the alternatives to vanilla on hand, you can conveniently forget about using vanilla extract and proceed with your recipe. If vanilla isn’t a core ingredient in your recipe, there won’t be any noticeable difference to the final product.

The Bottom Line

Choose any of these substitutes for a vanilla extract that proves best for a particular recipe. To know which substitute is best for you, some of them need to be tested or consult other chefs to identify the right alternative.

Maple syrup and almond extract are the most preferred substitutes for vanilla.

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