9 Delicious Substitutes for Vanilla Beans

Substitutes for Vanilla Beans

There’s no denying that vanilla beans are delicious and can make your desserts taste phenomenal. They are also quite expensive, so it cannot be easy to justify buying them if you don’t use them often enough to justify the cost. 

That’s why we’ve put together this list of delicious substitutes for vanilla beans. So you can still enjoy your favorite recipes without breaking the bank!

What Are Vanilla Beans?

Vanilla beans are the fruit of an exotic orchid native to Mexico. The word vanilla, derived from the Spanish word vaina, means little pod. Each vanilla bean pod contains about 2-3% vanillin, which is the compound that gives vanilla its characteristic flavor.

In addition to vanillin, vanilla beans contain over 250 other compounds that contribute to their flavor. Other flavorful substances include guaiacol and eugenol, both found in cloves.

Uses of Vanilla Bean Paste

  1. It can be used as a flavoring agent in various food items like cakes, pastries, cookies, etc.
  2. It is also a key ingredient in many ice creams, yogurts, and other dairy products.
  3. Vanilla bean paste can also make vanilla-flavored syrups and sauces.
  4. It can be added to smoothies and milkshakes to enhance flavor.
  5. You can even use it to make homemade vanilla extract.
  6. This paste can also be used in savory dishes to add a touch of sweetness and flavor.
  7. Last but not least, vanilla bean paste makes an excellent gift for all the foodies in your life!

Substitutes of vanilla bean

1. Ground Vanilla

One of the most common substitutes for vanilla beans is ground vanilla. This can be used in any recipe that calls for vanilla beans, and it’s a great way to get that rich flavor without having to go out and buy expensive beans.

Grind up some dried vanilla pods in a coffee grinder or food processor, and voila! You’ve got ground vanilla. You can also use vanilla extract instead of ground vanilla if you prefer a different texture.

Extracts come in several varieties: imitation, real-fruit, alcohol-based, water-based (often called pure extracts), glycerin-based, or corn syrup based. They are all capable of making deliciously flavored dishes so pick whichever one you like best!

2. Pure Vanilla Extract

The rich flavor of pure vanilla extract comes from the hundreds of tiny seeds found inside a vanilla bean. If you don’t have any vanilla beans on hand, fear not!  

3. Maple Syrup   

Maple syrup is a delicious natural sweetener that can be used in place of vanilla beans. It has a flavor profile similar to vanilla but a slightly sweeter taste. 

Maple syrup is also less expensive than vanilla beans, making it an excellent option for those on a budget. If you’re looking for substitutes for vanilla beans in your baking or cooking, give maple syrup a try!

4. Raw Sugar  

Raw sugar is among the great substitutes for vanilla beans because it has a similar flavor profile and can be used in many ways. Plus, natural sugar is less expensive than vanilla beans, so it’s a great way to save money. 

To substitute raw sugar for vanilla beans, use one cup of raw sugar for every two vanilla beans called for in your recipe.

Remember that raw sugar will not dissolve as quickly as vanilla beans, so you may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.  

5. Rum Extract  

Try using rum extract if you’re looking for substitutes for vanilla beans that will give your baked goods a rum flavor. Add a few drops to your recipe in place of the vanilla beans.

You can also use bourbon, scotch, or whiskey instead of vanilla beans to give your desserts a richer flavor. Just substitute the same amount of extract for the beans called for in your recipe. Rum isn’t the only alcohol used as a vanilla bean substitute. 

Brandy, cognac, and even wine can add depth of flavor to cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Remember to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by three tablespoons (or half a cup) when substituting.

6. Honey 

When finding substitutes for vanilla beans, honey is a great option. It has a similar sweetness and can be used in many ways. Plus, it’s easy to find and usually less expensive than vanilla beans. Don’t have time or energy to make your nut milk? Try one of these substitutes: Coconut, Hemp seed, and oat. 

7. Cinnamon Powder   

Cinnamon powder is among the great substitutes for vanilla beans. It has a warm, sweet flavor that can be used in baking or hot drinks.

If you’re looking for a more intense flavor, try using cinnamon sticks instead of powder. Just grind them up in a coffee grinder or blender before using.  

8. Fruit Zest  

You can use fruit zest as one of the substitutes for vanilla beans in many recipes. Zest is the colorful outer part of citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits peel. It’s packed with flavor and is a great way to add a little extra zing to your baking. 

Here are some other fruit zests that can be used as substitutes for vanilla beans 

  • Cinnamon sticks: Add a cinnamon stick to baked goods such as muffins or loaves of bread. 
  • Nutmeg: Use nutmeg in spice cakes, pies, or biscuits. Nutmeg will give the food you’re cooking a richer and earthy taste. 
  • Lemon juice: Add lemon juice to frostings and whipped cream for an additional tangy flavor boost. 
  • Ginger root: Ginger has a spicy, peppery flavor that makes it perfect for gingerbread, ginger cookies, and even curry dishes. 
  • Fennel seeds: Fennel seeds have a licorice-like aroma, making them perfect for cookies, candy, and rye loaves of bread.

9. Almond Extract  

Almond extract is among the popular substitutes for vanilla beans. It has a similar flavor profile to vanilla but is more potent. Almond extract is also less expensive than vanilla beans.

To substitute almond extract for vanilla beans, use one teaspoon of almond extract for every vanilla bean. When cooking, add the almond extract at the beginning of the recipe and bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer before adding any other ingredients. In baking recipes that call for vanilla beans, omit the bean and add 1/2 tsp. of almond extract per 1 tbsp. Ground or pureed almonds are called for in the recipe.


While vanilla beans are the traditional flavoring agent in many desserts, they can be challenging to find and expensive. Luckily, plenty of delicious substitutes for vanilla beans can be used in their place. 

From fruits to spices, there are plenty of options to choose from. So next time your recipe calls for vanilla beans, don’t panic – reach for one of these great substitutes!

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