12 Substitutes for Vanilla Extract You Can Use in Baking

Substitutes for Vanilla Extract
Photo by Chelsea Audibert

Vanilla extract, or vanilla essence as it’s called in the UK, is one of the essential ingredients in any baker’s arsenal.

This is because it adds that final touch of deliciousness to cakes, cookies, loaves of bread, and other baked goods. 

But what if you run out? What if your recipe only calls for a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but you only have half an ounce? This can happen if you’re baking from scratch instead of using a packaged mix.

Luckily, there are plenty of great substitutes for vanilla extract that can stand in! Here are substitutes for vanilla extract that you can use in your baking

1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the great substitutes for vanilla extract if you’re looking for something with a similar flavor profile.

While not as strong as other extracts, butter does have a subtle vanillin flavor that can be used in baked goods. It’s also a good option if you’re looking for something less expensive or more readily available. 

Just be sure to use unsweetened peanut butter so as not to alter the flavor of your recipe too much. Here are some tips for using peanut butter as a substitute for vanilla extract:

  • Start with half the peanut butter your recipe calls for in vanilla extract, and add more to taste.
  • Mix the peanut butter with flavors like chocolate, coffee, or spices to create a unique flavor profile.
  • Be careful not to overdo it on the peanut butter, or your baked goods will taste too heavy and greasy.

2. Chocolate Extract

The chocolate extract is a classic flavor that goes well with vanilla, so it makes sense to use it as a replacement. Adding chocolate will also give your desserts a richer flavor and darker color.

It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for vanilla extract in any recipe, and it will add a delicious chocolate flavor to your baked goods. 

To make a chocolate extract, combine 1 cup of water with cocoa powder and sugar. Heat the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then let it cool completely. Pour the mixture into a clean bottle and store it in the fridge. 

For a more robust flavor, increase the ratio of cocoa powder to sugar. You can also play around with adding other spices like cinnamon or cayenne pepper to create different flavors. 

3. Maple Extract

Add maple extract to sweeten desserts without adding extra calories or fat. Maple syrup may have more health benefits than regular table sugar because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols which protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes-related complications.

4. Coconut Extract

There are many reasons why you might want to try coconut extract as substitutes for vanilla extract. For one, it can impart a lovely tropical flavor to your baked goods. Additionally, it’s a good choice if you’re looking for an Extract that is gluten-free, vegan, and has no added sugar.  

5. Ginger Extract

Have you ever tried using ginger extract in your baking? If not, you should! It’s among the great substitutes for vanilla extract and can add a delicious, spicy flavor to your desserts. 

Here are seven reasons why you should give it a try;

  1. Ginger Extract is more affordable than Vanilla Extract.
  2. Ginger Extract’s taste is sweeter than Vanilla Extract’s taste.
  3. You can make recipes with Ginger Extract even if they don’t call for it.
  4. You can mix Ginger Extract with different spices like cinnamon or cardamom to change the dish’s flavor profile.
  5. A little bit goes a long way, so you don’t need much of it when cooking or baking (just 1/4 teaspoon per batch!).
  6. Ginger Extract is available at most grocery and specialty food stores, making it easier to find when shopping.
  7. Ginger Extract will last longer in your pantry compared to Vanilla Extract 
  8. The smell of ginger extract makes people feel more energized, while the smell of vanilla extract makes people feel calm.
  9. Using Ginger Extract will make dishes healthier because it has properties that fight cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and inflammation.
  10. There are plenty of benefits associated with using Ginger Extract over Vanilla Extract but be sure to keep this spice out of reach from small children.

6. Coffee Beans

If you have coffee beans on hand, you can grind them up and use them as a replacement for vanilla extract. Grind 2-3 tablespoons of beans and add them to your recipe. 

This substitution works best in chocolate recipes or recipes where coffee would complement the flavors.

If you don’t have any coffee beans, you can also try using instant coffee powder. Just instant coffee powder for every vanilla extract called for in the recipe.

Again, these substitutes for vanilla extract work best in chocolate recipes or recipes where coffee would complement the flavors.

7. Almond Extract

Almond extract is an excellent substitute for vanilla extract because it has a similar sweetness and flavor. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for an alcohol-free option.

To substitute almond extract for vanilla, use the same amount of almond extract as you would vanilla extract. If substituting almond extract for both extracts, add 1/4 teaspoon more almond extract than what the recipe calls for.

8. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is simply among the substitutes for vanilla extract because it has a similar flavor profile. It’s also an everyday pantry staple, so you will likely have it on hand. 

To substitute cinnamon for vanilla, use one teaspoon of ground cinnamon per one teaspoon of vanilla extract called for in the recipe. Remember that cinnamon is a more robust flavor than vanilla, so you may want to start with less and add more to the taste.

9. Allspice

Allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica plant, and it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Allspice can be used as a 1:1 replacement for vanilla extract in baking. 

Remember that allspice is a more robust flavor than vanilla, so you may want to use less of it. Pre-made allspice extracts can be found at World Market or Whole Foods stores.

10. Nutmeg and Mace

If you’re looking for a spice similar to vanilla in flavor, try nutmeg or mace. Both herbs are derived from the same plant and share many of the same flavor compounds.

Mace is a bit more intense than nutmeg, so start with a small amount and adjust to taste. You can use either spice interchangeably in recipes calling for vanilla extract, and try using it sparingly until you know how much you like it! Nutmeg works as a stand-in for custard-based desserts, such as creme brulee.

11. Molasses

Molasses are great substitutes for vanilla extract because it has a similar sweetness and depth of flavor. Plus, it’s easy to find and relatively inexpensive. 

To substitute molasses for vanilla extract, use 1/2 cup molasses for every one teaspoon of vanilla extract called for in your recipe. Remember that molasses is also a bit darker in color than vanilla, so your baked goods may have a slightly different hue.

12. Bourbon

You can use bourbon as a substitute for vanilla extract in your baking. It will add a depth of flavor to your desserts that you may not have had before.

You can find bourbon at most liquor stores. Some great brands are Pappy Van Winkle, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve. A few drops of bourbon will give your desserts a distinct flavor without being overwhelming.

Conclusively, There are a variety of substitutes for vanilla extract that can be used, depending on what you have on hand and what flavor you are looking for.

Some common substitutes include almond extract, coffee grounds, ginger paste, maple syrup, vinegar, and molasses. If you want to learn how to make some yourself check for some simple recipes.

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