There’s actually quite nothing like the universal flavor of vanilla. But, sometimes, we will have to go for alternatives when this flavoring is not around. So, let’s check out some possible vanilla substitutes.

The vanilla we generally use for culinary purposes comes in several forms, and each of them can often be used mutually. In addition, some non-vanilla substitutes can come to your rescue, and they are:

  • Maple syrup
  • Almond extract/ essence
  • Coffee powder
  • Honey
  • Spices (cardamom/ cinnamon/ nutmeg)
  • Citrus zest
  • Alcoholic spirits.

So, read further to learn how each of these replacements will help you give a closer flavor to vanilla in your cooking and baking applications.

The Best Vanilla Substitutes

While the naturally cured bean is the primary form of this flavoring, vanilla bean paste, pure extract, imitation vanilla, vanilla powder, vanilla sugar, vanilla syrup, and vanilla salt follow it. 

Therefore, each form could be substituted in place of one another, either a particular recipe called vanilla as a primary or a secondary ingredient.

How To Use Vanilla - SpiceRally

But, If you wish to count on a non-vanilla substitute, you should not expect to have the exact same flavor and aroma you would usually get from vanilla. 

So, it is important to remember that these substitutes will not be suitable for recipes that call for vanilla as a primary ingredient or vanilla-centered dishes like vanilla custard, vanilla ice cream, vanilla cupcakes, etc.

This section will clearly explain how each vanilla form will replace one another and how non-vanilla substitutes will help you to save your dishes when the original flavoring is not around.

Vanilla Beans Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 vanilla pod:

  • 01 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Vanilla-flavored instant coffee powder/ espresso powder- You can use this option in place of vanilla, mostly in chocolate-based recipes like chocolate desserts, cookies, cakes, puddings, fudge, etc. Since a little from this option goes a long way in your dishes, you can count on a pinch and build up the taste as desired.
  • Almond extract- This usually has a more potent bitter-sweet taste than vanilla. But still, it could be a great option when you don’t have our topic leader in hand to be added to rich puddings, cakes, and other sweets or desserts.

Vanilla Bean Paste Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 Tbsp:

  • 01 pod of vanilla bean
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 01-02 tablespoons of imitation vanilla

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Honey- This readily available ingredient will provide a similar mellow flavor to vanilla. It has a characteristic sweet flavor, and the similar consistency to vanilla bean paste will complement cakes, cookies, puddings, and other baked goods or desserts. This healthy option is better started off with a small amount and then adjusted upon the taste.
  • Almond extract
  • Vanilla-flavored coffee powder/ espresso powder

Pure Vanilla Extract Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 Tbsp:

  • 01 pod of vanilla bean
  • 01 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder
  • 01-02 tablespoons of imitation vanilla

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Almond extract
  • Vanilla-flavored coffee powder/ espresso powder
  • Alcoholic spirits– In fact, vanilla extract usually includes 35% of alcohol so spirits like bourbon, rum, brandy, and other vanilla-flavored liquor can save most rich dishes when you run out of vanilla in your pantry. You can use these options in spiced cakes, rich puddings, chocolate-based cookies, brownies, and certain other baked goods.

Imitation Vanilla/ Vanilla Essence Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 Tbsp:

  • ½ – 01 pod of vanilla bean
  • ½ – 01 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Almond extract/ essence
  • Vanilla-flavored coffee powder/ espresso powder
  • Alcoholic spirits

Pure Vanilla Powder Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 Tbsp:

  • 01 pod of vanilla bean
  • 01 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 01-02 tablespoons of imitation vanilla

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Almond extract
  • Vanilla-flavored coffee powder/ espresso powder
  • Alcoholic spirits

Vanilla Syrup Substitutes

Primary replacements for 01 Tbsp:

  • 01 pod of vanilla bean
  • 01 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder
  • 01 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 01-02 tablespoons of imitation vanilla

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Maple Syrup- Amber-colored and thick male syrup usually have a rich taste with a nutty, roasted, caramel-like, and characteristic sweet note. It will mimic the mellow taste of vanilla with a similar sweet aroma complementing dishes like puddings, custards, confectionery, and certain beverages that originally called for vanilla. Start with half the amount you usually use vanilla, and adjust the flavor as you go.
  • Honey

Did you know that there are over one hundred different species of vanilla orchids, and only four of them are cultivated commercially? We have many more interesting facts about this universal flavoring lined up for you right in this article- check it out now!

Vanilla Sugar Substitutes

Primary replacements:

  • 01 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract/ imitation vanilla + 01 cup of granulated sugar
  • 01 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste + 01 cup of granulated sugar
  • 02 teaspoons of vanilla powder + 01 cup of granulated sugar
  • 01 pod of vanilla bean + 01 cup of granulated sugar
  • 01 tablespoon of vanilla syrup for 01 tablespoon of vanilla sugar

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Almond extract/ essence

Vanilla Salt Substitutes

Primary replacements:

  • 01-02 vanilla beans pods + ½ cup of salt
  • 02 tablespoons of pure vanilla powder + ½ cup of salt

Non-vanilla replacements:

  • Almond extract/essence

Note:

Replacing vanilla syrup, vanilla sugar and vanilla salt in place of vanilla beans, vanilla bean paste, extracts, and vanilla powder should be done sparingly since they could be overwhelmingly sweet or salty when added to certain recipes.

Other Non-Vanilla Substitutes That Could Be Used In Place Of All The Forms Of Vanilla

01- Spices (Cardamom/ Cinnamon/ Nutmeg)

Spotlight baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom can come to your rescue, complementing a wide variety of dishes when you don’t have vanilla in your pantry. These spices are so flavorful and aromatic at the same time, so that you won’t even feel the absence of vanilla in your dishes.

Ground cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg can be used in decadent desserts, cakes, breakfast meals, beverages, and certain Asian-inspired sweetmeats instead of our topic leader. 

Whole cinnamon sticks can even complement alcoholic drinks that call for vanilla as a secondary flavoring. You can start with a small amount and increase the amount as you develop the taste of the dish according to your preference.

02- Citrus Zest

You might think this is a crazy idea but believe us, friends, citrus zest could act as a wonderful substitute for vanilla if you don’t have it in hand! We do not quite recommend using citrus juice as it could completely change the taste of the dish. But the zest would just add a hint of floral, fruity note mimicking the flavor of vanilla.

So, go ahead and use the zest of fruits like lime, lemon, grapefruit, or orange in your cakes, puddings, and other egg-based baked goods if you particularly need to camouflage the unappealing eggy taste in them. Start moderately and improve the flavor as you go in order to see how they do their trick.

Final Thoughts With The Best Vanilla Substitutes…

While each form of vanilla can be used interchangeably in a wide variety of dishes, there are a few more non-vanilla alternatives, like maple syrup, almond extract/ essence/ spices, etc., that you could count on. However, you should be cautious when using flavored vanilla forms like vanilla sugar, salt, and syrup since they could overpower your recipes with excessive sweetness or saltiness.

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