Do you ever run out of vanilla extract? Or maybe you’ve noticed the super high vanilla extract prices lately and looking for some vanilla extract alternatives. We are sharing 17+ of the BEST vanilla extract substitutes!
Have you noticed the crazy high prices of vanilla extract lately? I have! I try to use it sparingly and sometimes I just run out and need some options. I’m sharing 17+ of some of the best vanilla extract substitutes.
Vanilla prices have been so high lately! I’ve started making my own (more on that below…) but sometimes I just need a quick substitution so I did some research and added some of my own ideas.
Because of apparently natural disasters and shortage of vanilla beans, vanilla is expensive right now. I don’t know for sure, but I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Depending on what you’re making, you can generally just omit the vanilla extract if the recipe just calls for just a little bit. That’s also assuming the vanilla is not the “star” ingredient or flavoring.
If you’re making a big chocolate cake (like my decadent Brownie Cake) and the recipe calls for a small amount of vanilla extract, like a teaspoon, I don’t think most people would notice the difference. If however, you’re making something like vanilla ice cream, you may NOT want to omit the vanilla flavor.
Some of these vanilla substitutions are not necessarily vanilla flavored but are great alternatives. Depending on the recipe, some of these suggestions would be better than others for baking, cooking, drinks, etc. so keep that in mind that they may not all work for any given recipe.
VANILLA EXTRACT SUBSTITUTES
1. MAPLE SYRUP
Quick, easy, and inexpensive substitute for vanilla extract in most cases. Most people also have maple syrup in their home so it’s an easy solution a lot of the time.
Vanilla prices may be high, but check out other extracts such as almond (one of my favorites!), rum, root beer, strawberry, or many others. Some flavors can be more inexpensive than vanilla. Or maybe you have some extracts hidden in your cupboards from recipes years ago. Maybe that’s just me? Some extracts may have a stronger flavor than others, so start with just a little and add more if needed.
To give your recipe a little flavor try different spices such as ground cinnamon or nutmeg, or spice blends such as apple pie or pumpkin pie spice.
4. IMITATION VANILLA FLAVORING
If you’re really going for that vanilla flavor and can’t afford the real stuff right now, imitation vanilla flavorings near the extracts are a cheaper alternative. Some people don’t like the taste of the imitation or don’t like the ingredients, so be sure to check before using.
5. VANILLA BEANS
If money is not an issue and you’re looking for a really strong vanilla flavor, vanilla beans are the way to go! They’re also a great option if you want to make your own vanilla extract (see below). Easy to make (if you don’t mind waiting a month or two) and generally less expensive than store-bought vanilla extract.
6. VANILLA SUGAR, PASTE OR POWDER
Again, if you’re really going for that vanilla flavor check out some alternatives such as vanilla sugar, vanilla paste, or vanilla powder. Not always less expensive (if at all…), but can come in handy and a little can go a long way.
7. LIQUOR OR LIQUEUR
My favorite vanilla substitute is using such things as rum, brandy, or bourbon. Or even flavored alcohol like vanilla vodka is a great inexpensive option and great for cocktails too. That’s a bonus! There are so many options and fun flavors of alcohol and you may already have some in your home.
8. ICE CREAM
Melted vanilla ice cream, or really any flavor would work in a variety of recipes to give a little extra flavor.
A little brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, or whatever you have can add a lot of flavor to recipes! A great addition to chocolate recipes too.
11. FLAVORED MILK
Vanilla (or other flavored…) milk, almond milk, or milk substitutes can give a nice flavor for some recipes.
Not necessarily a great option for all recipes, but honey has a distinct flavor that can brighten up a lot of dishes. Pair it with some spices or citrus as well.
13. FLAVORED OILS
Flavored oils for baking and food come in a wide range of flavors. Generally, a small amount goes a very long way. They come in great flavors such as apple, banana cream, champagne, bubble gum, and more!
14. FRUIT JUICE & ZEST
Fruit juice or citrus zest can brighten up a lot of baked goods. You can even boil down the fruit juice to compact the flavor even more. Fresh zest such as orange, lime, and lemon are also great additions.
If you like tea, it can add a unique addition to your dish. Chai tea would be a great alternative to vanilla as would many other flavors.
16. FIORI DI SICILIA
Not always easy to find (and not necessarily cheap…), this extract is full of citrus, vanilla, and floral flavoring. A great vanilla alternative to try! This would be great for all my cannoli recipes such as my popular Cannoli Cake and Cannoli Cookies.
Maybe a little cream soda, root beer, or cola would be a good substitute. Give it a try!
Would love to hear what you like to use as a vanilla extract substitute in the comments below!
You can also try making your own vanilla extract to save yourself a little. Easy to do, but not so quick since you have to wait. Ha ha!
HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT
If you’re looking for how to make homemade vanilla extract it’s easy to do!
- glass jar with lid (mason jars works great)
- vodka (or other alcohol such as rum)
- vanilla beans
There are many variations on how to make homemade vanilla. I generally take about 7 vanilla beans or so, chop them into 1 to 2-inch pieces, and place in the jar. Cover with 1 cup of vodka making sure the beans are fully submerged. Cover the jar and place in a dark place. Shake the jar every day or two and wait at least a month or two before using.
If you’re trying to save money, you could try using fewer vanilla beans or letting the beans soak in the vodka longer. If you’re looking for a really strong vanilla extract, you could also use a lot more beans.