5 Substitutes for Vanilla Beans

Preparing your favorite choco chip cookies or vanilla cupcakes but realize you don’t have the most important ingredient – vanilla beans? If you have ever used vanilla beans in your recipes, you’d know how important the exotic aroma and the taste are to the dishes they are used in. 

If you are out of vanilla beans, you don’t need to stop. We have brought you a list of some lifesaver substitutes of vanilla beans that you can use instead. If you have any one of these in your cupboard, you are good to go!


5 Best Substitutes For Vanilla Beans

1. Vanilla Extract

Easily the closest thing you can imagine to vanilla beans, this extract is readily available in all your nearby stores at an inexpensive cost. An alcoholic solution is steeped and macerated which results in oil extraction. The oil produces a flavor and aroma that has an uncanny similarity to vanilla beans. 

The extract has a dark hue and many people actually use the extract only to make custard and choc chip cookies. 

How to Substitute:

One vanilla bean is roughly equal to a teaspoon of vanilla extract. If you have a measuring cup, you can measure up to 5 ml of vanilla extract to equal one bean.

2. Vanilla Powder

Another popular ingredient likely to be available in your pantry is the powdered form of vanilla beans. The powder doesn’t contain alcohol and is a good substitute if you don’t want to add alcoholic products to your recipes.

Beans are pulverized and dried to make this powder. Some vanilla powder may have added sugar, so it is recommended to check the label before buying this powder if you are on a diet. Sugar helps make this powder more efficient.

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How to Substitute:

One bean of vanilla is roughly equal to 2 teaspoons of vanilla powder.

3. Vanilla Sugar

If you are a frequent baker, you must have vanilla sugar available in your kitchen. The good news is that it can also act as a substitute for vanilla beans. This ingredient is made with a combination of vanilla beans mixed with refined white sugar.

Dark vanilla beans are typically used to make vanilla sugar to give it an intense aroma. The granulated sugar pairs well with various sweet dishes like custards as well as beverages. If you are on a diet, you would want to use low amounts of this sugar.

How to Substitute:

One vanilla bean is roughly equal to 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar, so you can plan and add accordingly.

4. Vanilla Paste

This ingredient will impart almost an identical flavor to the beans, making it an excellent substitute. This paste is made by taking out grains from the vanilla fruit and then mixing them with inverted sugar, corn syrup, or other binders.

The paste has a very thick consistency and is quite intense in flavor, so it’s better to carefully measure it before adding. Again, it can also contain high amount of sugar, so that is another factor you should keep in mind. It is a great option to add in vanilla cakes.

How to Substitute:

About one and a half teaspoons of vanilla paste are equivalent to a vanilla bean, and it’s pretty easy to measure because of its thick consistency.

5. Almond Extract

Might seem like a surprise entry in this list but almond extract actually does a great job substituting vanilla beans. The flavor and aroma of this extract are pretty similar to that of a vanilla paste which makes it a great addition to your desserts and beverages.

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The nutty flavor of almonds also resembles vanilla beans although there are bound to be some differences. This substitute should only be used when you are out of options related to vanilla but does a fine job nonetheless. 

How to Substitute:

It can be used similarly to how you would use your regular vanilla extract. 1 teaspoon should be enough to substitute 1 vanilla bean.

These were some valuable vanilla bean substitutes you can find at home. These are readily available in most kitchens and having any one of these makes a good alternative to vanilla beans!

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