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How To Find A Vanilla Extract Substitute – What Are 7 Foods That Work?

Vanilla extract can be added to countless foods to give them an immense sense of flavor that is just so tasty!

However, the trouble with vanilla extract being so good, is that you’ll very often find yourself quickly running out of it!

This can be so annoying when you need it right away but you aren’t able to get to your local grocery store right away. 

But what can you actually do when you run out of vanilla extract? Are there any other products you can use instead while still getting that amazing flavor? 

How To Find A Vanilla Extract Substitute - What Are 7 Foods That Work?

If you’re desperately hunting around in your kitchen for a suitable alternative, then you have come to the perfect place, because today we are going to take a look at 7 of the best options when you run out of vanilla extract!

Make sure to read on down below, because some of the substitutes on our list just might surprise you!

1. Maple Syrup

That’s right! You can easily use maple syrup as a substitute for vanilla extract, and this is partly thanks to how similar the tastes of maple syrup and vanilla extract actually are.

Maple syrup has a very similar aroma to vanilla extract as well, so it can also make foods you use it in smell just like you want them to. 

However, you should note that using maple syrup as a replacement for vanilla extract can cause the calorie count of the resulting dish to be slightly higher, thanks to the fact that maple syrup has a higher calorie count.

However, if you are only replacing a few tablespoons of vanilla extract, the difference will be very negligible. 

How To Substitute

In order to use maple syrup as a substitute for vanilla extract, it is quite easy.

All you need to do is add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup for every 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract that you would have ordinarily used. 

This makes it very easy to use maple syrup as a substitute, as the conversions are fairly direct.

However, if you are worried that using maple syrup will directly impact your calorie count, especially in a recipe that requires multiple tablespoons of vanilla extract, then you can also do slightly fewer tablespoons of maple syrup to keep the calories down.

2. Almond Extract

Almond extract actually has a relatively similar sweet taste to vanilla extract, and can easily be used as a substitute.

Both extracts are known for being quite creamy in their taste, and this means that almond extract can very easily masquerade as vanilla.

The inclusion of the slightly nutty notes of the almond extract can also add a little extra exciting kick to any recipe.

You can also use other extracts as a substitute, such as orange extracts, as most of them have a very similar-tasting sweetness to them.

How To Find A Vanilla Extract Substitute - What Are 7 Foods That Work?

However, easily the best extract to use is almond, as it is not overpowering, and has the creaminess that would be missing from other extracts.

How To Substitute

Luckily, substituting almond extract in place of vanilla extract is very easy, and can be done at a 1:1 ratio.

So for every tablespoon of vanilla extract that you may use, you can add 1 tablespoon of almond extract. Nice and simple.

However, if you are worried about the flavor of the almond extract being a little too distracting or overpowering, you can easily add a little bit less, to significantly cut down on the almond taste while still keeping the sweetness you are looking for!

3. Vanilla Milks

Various milk and milk substitutes, such as soya milk and almond milk actually come in vanilla-flavored variations, making them perfect for use as a substitute for vanilla extract. 

Using milk in recipes for baked goods such as cakes is actually incredibly beneficial because it can help to make the end result a little more moist and decadent, giving it a slight creaminess that may be lacking without milk. 

Using vanilla-flavored almond milk is a perfect option because almond products can very often be substituted for vanilla extract, due to the fact that almond and vanilla have very similar taste profiles and a similar creaminess.

How To Substitute

If you are planning to use vanilla-flavored milk in place of vanilla extract in your recipes, you should make sure to add as much milk as you would extract.

So, once again, if you were to use 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, then you should make sure to use 1 tablespoon of vanilla-flavored milk.

This makes milk a great substitute, as you will likely already have them at hand within your kitchen, in the case that you run out of vanilla extract!

4. Honey

This sweet and natural foodstuff makes for a perfect emergency substitute should you ever find yourself running out of vanilla extract.

Similar to vanilla extract, honey has a great sense of sweetness that will delight your taste buds, and will make any sweet dish taste so decadent. 

However, adding honey to a dish instead of vanilla extract comes with a few slight challenges.

Firstly, it can slightly alter the texture of your resulting dish if used improperly.

The thickness of honey can slightly alter the texture of baked goods and other dishes, while the extra sugar content that is found in honey can also cause textural changes in various dishes.

Honey is also slightly sweeter than vanilla extract, meaning it can become overpowering if you add a little bit too much.

How To Substitute

If you want to use honey as a substitute in a perfect way, then you will want to make sure to add the right amount.

Generally, you can add honey in a 1:1 ratio, every tablespoon of honey is equal to a tablespoon of vanilla extract.

However, you may want to slightly reduce the amount that you add to your dish, as the massive amount of sugar, and the sweetness could alter the taste and texture of your finished dish.

5. Liquor 

There are many liquors out there that make use of vanilla to create their unique flavors.

Thus, you can easily use some liquors as a perfect substitute for vanilla extract.

How To Find A Vanilla Extract Substitute - What Are 7 Foods That Work?

To make matters even better, vanilla extract and many popular liquors actually have very similar textures and compositions, so they won’t affect the final texture of any of the recipes you use it in.

Using liquor in place of vanilla extract can also inject a bit of fun into a dish, by giving it a mature kick that can help to make any recipe a little more adult, and make it perfect for all kinds of fun parties! 

Some liquors we recommend using include brandy, rum, and bourbon.

Each of these offers a very different flavor profile and will help to make your dish more unique as a result, while still tasting close enough to vanilla to make for the perfect substitute.

How To Substitute

In order to substitute liquor for vanilla extract, you can simply use a 1:1 ratio, or add a little bit more or less, as you see fit.

Don’t want to make your dessert too strong? Add a little less liquor than you would vanilla extract.

Want to make it a little stronger? Add more liquor than you ordinarily would vanilla extract.

One of the best things about substituting with liquor is that it is so flexible and you do not have to worry about being exact with your ratios!

6. Imitation Vanilla (Vanilla Essence)

Vanilla extract is incredibly expensive, so there may be times when you are looking around for substitutes because you don’t want to spend such exorbitant prices.

Luckily, there is a perfect and long-lasting substitute just for you in the form of vanilla essence. 

The reason why most recipes recommend using vanilla extract is that it is purer, having been extracted directly from the vanilla pods, hence its name.

On the other hand, vanilla essence is designed to imitate the flavor of vanilla. 

However, the actual difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence is quite small, you would barely be able to tell that you had swapped one for another if you were not told.

This means that you can easily use vanilla essence as a substitute and you will still end up with a perfect end result. 

How To Substitute

If you want to substitute vanilla essence for vanilla extract, all you need to do is make use of the 1:1 ratio!

Because both vanilla extract and vanilla essence taste so similar, you can easily use vanilla essence in exactly the same way that you would use vanilla extract, but at a tiny fraction of the usual cost.

This makes it perfect for anyone that is making sweet treats on a budget!

How To Find A Vanilla Extract Substitute - What Are 7 Foods That Work?

7. Herbs And Spices

If you don’t necessarily want to directly replicate the flavor of vanilla extract, but instead replace it with something that is very similar, then you may benefit from using various herbs and spices. 

Spices such as cinnamon and chai spice can add immense depth to any dish, and will elevate any dessert to sweet perfection!

Adding cinnamon to a dish, such as a set of cookies can help to imbue them with a sense of warmth and a slight sweetness.

If you were planning on using vanilla extract as the main source of sweetness in a recipe, then using cinnamon can be a great way to still give your recipe some sweetness but in a totally different way!

Lavender is a herb that can also be used in place of vanilla extract because it has very floral notes that will quickly spread across the palette in much the same way as vanilla extract does.

How To Substitute

How you substitute can often depend on how much flavor you want.

If you are using chai in place of vanilla extract, for example, you could easily use 1 tablespoon of chai in place of 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. 

However, for very strong herbs or spices, you may want to slightly alter the 1:1 ratio to ensure that the flavor is not too strong or too weak!

Why Is Vanilla So Expensive?

The reason why vanilla is so massively expensive is because of how difficult it can be to find.

Much of the entire world’s vanilla is actually harvested from Madagascar alone, from the small pods of a local orchid tree.

This means that much of the world’s vanilla is coming from just one place, so manufacturers must factor scarcity into the price of the final product, as well as shipping and production costs to extract the vanilla flavor from the pods before then transporting that extract across the world.

This is why so many resort to buying vanilla essence, as though it contains very little vanilla, it tastes so much like it and doesn’t break the bank.

Jess Smith

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