Out of vanilla? No problem! If you’re in need of a vanilla extract substitute, you’ve come to the right place.
Vanilla extract is great for adding warm flavor to your baked goods, but if you find yourself out of this classic pantry staple, there are a few options!
Before running out to the store, take a look at a few of our favorite vanilla substitute ideas. Hopefully one of these will work for your recipe!
NOTE: While these swaps will work in most cases, every recipe is different. Using a flavor other than vanilla extract may alter the taste of your recipe.
1. Vanilla Beans
1 large vanilla bean = about 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For recipes where vanilla is the star flavor (or if you want a rich, pure vanilla taste) using vanilla beans rather than vanilla extract will make a big difference. This is especially the case in recipes that don’t require baking, such as ice cream, whipped cream and frosting.
To replace the extract in your recipe with vanilla beans, use the following formula: 1 large bean (about 6 in.) is equal to about 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract. For smaller amounts, use 2 inches of vanilla bean per teaspoon of extract.
2. Vanilla Flavoring or Imitation Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla extract = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
If you’re out of pure vanilla extract but you have vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla extract on hand, you can easily use those in your recipes instead. Since vanilla flavoring and imitation vanilla extract aren’t as strong as pure vanilla extract, you’ll have to use more than stated in your recipe to get similar results, especially if you’re making no-bake recipes, such as buttercream or ice cream.
For baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and cupcakes, a simple 1:1 swap would work. The vanilla flavor is much harder to detect in a baked treat so using 1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract should give you the same results as 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
3. Vanilla Paste
1 teaspoon vanilla paste = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Also called vanilla bean paste, vanilla paste is a mix of vanilla extract, vanilla beans and sugar. It has a rich, warm vanilla flavor and even contains the distinctive black flecks of vanilla beans.
In most recipes, you can swap vanilla paste for extract at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Vanilla-Flavored Plant-Based Milk
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla-flavored milk = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla-flavored almond, soy, oat or any other nut milk can be used as a last-minute substitute for vanilla extract. Keep in mind that since plant-based milks are more mild than vanilla extract, the vanilla flavor may not be as strong in your recipes. To increase the vanilla flavor, try a 2:1 ratio of milk to extract.
5. Almond Extract
½ teaspoon almond extract = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In some cases, you can swap almond extract for vanilla. However, the nutty flavor of almond extract is stronger than its vanilla counterpart, so start small with ½ a teaspoon.
If you’re making cookies or vanilla cake, using both almond and vanilla extracts together adds amazing depth of flavor to your treats. If your recipe calls for 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, try 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract instead.
6. Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon maple syrup = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pure maple syrup has a rich, delicious flavor that both compliments and replaces the vanilla flavor in most baked recipes. It also has the added benefit of adding moisture to baked goods, so it’s a great alternative for cakes, pound cakes and muffins.
Keep in mind that it’s important to use pure maple syrup when replacing vanilla extract in a recipe. Like imitation vanilla, imitation syrup doesn’t have as strong of a taste as pure syrup does.
Since the flavor of maple syrup is slightly different than vanilla, start with a 1:1 swap. To up the maple flavor, try 2:1 instead.
1 tablespoon honey = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Like maple syrup, honey can add a bright, floral sweetness to your desserts. It would be great in a vanilla cake or pound cake!
To start, try swapping 1 tablespoon honey for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. If you really want to taste the honey in your recipe, try replacing some of the sugar in your recipe with honey as well.
8. Flavored Extracts
1/2 to 2 teaspoons flavored extract = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a pinch, you can swap other flavored extracts for vanilla. Butter extract, peppermint, rum, or any fruit-flavored extract can be used at a 1:1 ratio, depending on the recipe and how strong you want the flavor to be.
If the extract you’re using is already pretty strong, like peppermint or mint extract, try using ½ teaspoon for every teaspoon of vanilla. For more milder fruit extracts, a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio should work just fine.
2 teaspoons alcohol = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Spirits such as rum, vanilla liqueur, bourbon and brandy can provide the rich and warm flavors of vanilla extract; however, it goes without saying that this swap should be avoided if you don’t want to add alcohol to your desserts. While most of the alcohol will cook off when exposed to heat, no-bake dishes will retain some alcohol.
If the addition of alcohol is not an issue, this is an easy and delicious swap that will enhance the flavors of all kinds of desserts! Try coffee liqueur instead of vanilla in a rich chocolate cake or use bourbon in a butter cake to up that sweet caramel flavor.
10. Baking Spices
1/2 to 1 teaspoon baking spices = 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
If vanilla isn’t the star of your recipe, using complementary baking spices instead is a great way to add flavor to your dessert. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, or ginger are great for using instead of vanilla.
Depending on your recipe, this swap may need some testing. For stronger spices, like nutmeg or ginger, start with ½ teaspoon spices per 1 teaspoon vanilla. If you’re using more mild spices, like cinnamon or instant coffee (great for chocolate cakes!), a 1:1 ratio should work just fine.
So next time you’re out of vanilla, no need to run to the store! From flavored extract to liqueur, you can find a vanilla extract replacement that’s sure to work for you!