Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes

There are many “staples” in baking – flour, sugar, baking powder, or soda – but another typical component that’s likely to show up in your ingredient list is vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is excellent for enhancing the overall flavor of your treat – what happens if you don’t have any on hand?

It’s surprisingly simple to substitute vanilla extract in a recipe. As long as it has a similar flavor, you can use it. Some of the top vanilla extract alternatives include vanilla bean paste, vanilla powder, vanilla sugar, or scraped vanilla bean. You can also opt for almond extract or pure maple syrup.

Do you need to swap for vanilla extract and fast? Then let me help you! My name’s Michelle, and I’ve spent the last ten years baking in my kitchen. I’ve used tons of replacements during my baking journey, and today, we’re talking about successful subs for vanilla extract.

Let’s discover the best vanilla extract substitutes!

Top 8 Vanilla Extract Substitutes

If you don’t have any vanilla extract on hand, don’t panic – there are many vanilla extract substitutes you can use. Just make sure you use the correct amount. You don’t want the intense flavor overpowering your goody!

1. Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla bean paste – frequently shortened to “vanilla paste” – is one of the best subs for vanilla extract. It has a similar flavor to vanilla extract, although some people describe it as slightly more intense.

Although vanilla bean paste is labeled “paste,” it’s not an overly thick ingredient. Yet, it’s a bit thicker than the liquid vanilla extract, so be prepared for a slight change in texture to your batter.

Using vanilla bean paste as an alternative to vanilla extract, use it in a 1:1 ratio. For instance, if your recipe calls for a teaspoon of vanilla extract, use a teaspoon of vanilla paste instead.

2. Vanilla Powder

Vanilla powder is another top-notch sub for a vanilla extract made from ground vanilla beans. It’s downright delicious and can be used in or on top of all of your favorite baked goods. Use it in a 1:1 ratio.

The perk of using vanilla powder over vanilla extract is that it’s white instead of brown. So, if you’re baking a light-colored treat – such as vanilla cake with vanilla frosting – you might consider using vanilla powder over vanilla extract anyhow.

Another perk is that vanilla powder won’t evaporate as the vanilla extract will. So, if you’re baking something under high heat for an extended period (we’re looking at you, rice pudding), consider using vanilla powder to retain the flavor. Yum.

3. Almond Extract

Now, as someone who adores almond-flavored treats, I don’t mind swapping vanilla extract for almond extract. However, you gotta be very careful with this sub. Almond extract can quickly become overbearing and almost bitter.

My suggestion? Use almond extract in a 1:2 ratio with vanilla extract. For instance, you’ll only use 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract for vanilla extract. Expect a hint of (delightful) nuttiness in the end.

4. Pure Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup (not imitation) is the perfect blend of caramel and vanilla flavors. As such, it’s unsurprising that pure maple syrup can be a fantastic replacement for vanilla extract in your recipe.

Now, you can use pure maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio with vanilla extract – if you’re not afraid of sweetness. If you’re concerned that your treat will be overly sweet, you can reduce it to a 1:2 ratio. 

5. Vanilla Liqueur

A vanilla liqueur is a lovely combination of spirits and vanilla flavoring. That said, yes, this substitute contains alcohol. So, if you’re swapping vanilla extract for a liqueur, think twice before serving the finished dessert to children, pregnant individuals, and anyone else that should avoid alcohol. 

When using vanilla liqueur instead of vanilla extract, you’ll need to up the amount a pinch for a 2:1 ratio. For instance, one tablespoon of vanilla extract will need two tablespoons of vanilla liqueur.

6. Vanilla-Flavored Milk

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of vanilla-flavored almond milk. It’s become a new regular in my household. Are you on the same boat, or do you have another vanilla-flavored milk, like soy or oat? You can use it in place of vanilla extract.

When using vanilla-flavored milk, swap extract for milk in a 1:1 ratio. Yes, the flavor will be a bit more subdued, but the treat will still be scrumptious.

7. Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar isn’t super duper popular in the states (don’t worry, though, I found some for you). However, it’s an excellent sub for vanilla extract. Why? Because, well, it’s a combo of vanilla beans and sugar. Does it get any better than that?

Now, if you decide to use vanilla sugar, you won’t replace the vanilla extract. Instead, you’ll omit the vanilla extract entirely and replace the white sugar with your tasty vanilla sugar. Trust me – your taste buds will thank you.

8. Scraped Vanilla Bean

Yes, you can buy the actual vanilla beans and use them in place of extract. The benefit here is that you get the purest form of vanilla – no additives involved. In the end, you get a pronounced vanilla flavor that is truly delectable. 

All you need to do is slice a vanilla bean vertically from top to bottom. Then, use a spoon, fork, knife, or another instrument to scrape the contents. A whole vanilla bean equates to around a tablespoon of vanilla extract, so adjust accordingly.


Wow! Who knew there were eight incredible substitutes for vanilla extract? If you don’t want to run off to bake that treat just yet, here are a couple of frequently asked questions that might intrigue you.

Can you skip vanilla extract in a recipe?

If you don’t have vanilla extract or any of the viable substitutions, you can honestly leave it out. As long as the vanilla extract isn’t the “star” of your baked good, you can leave it out without ruining your treat. (Trust me – I’ve done it before, and everyone still raved about the taste!)

What happens if I don’t add vanilla extract?

If you don’t add vanilla extract (or a good substitution), your flavors may be slightly altered. Remember – vanilla extract is used to enhance flavors (most of the time). Leaving it out may result in a somewhat less robust flavor, but it will still have a great overall taste.

Can I use honey instead of vanilla extract?

You can successfully use honey instead of vanilla extract in your recipe. You’ll need to use one tablespoon of honey for every teaspoon of vanilla extract. Honey will add a subtle floral sweetness to your baked dish. It will also enhance the overall texture, leaving you with a delightful goodie! 

You Don’t Need Vanilla Extract to Create a Successful Treat!

If you don’t have any vanilla extract on hand, don’t worry – there are so many wonderful alternatives, whether you opt for the robust flavor of vanilla bean paste or something more whimsical and light like vanilla-flavored milk.

Have you ever used a vanilla extract substitute? Which one is your favorite? Do you have one to add? Let’s hear it in the comment section below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Sonja

    Vanilla powder is the stuff from the vanilla beans and it’s black. I use it every day for something. But I buy a pack of 4 oz so I don’t have to scrape tons of beans but I just have it in a spice jar! I don’t like the flavor of extract and the other things, the pure vanilla is the best! So delicious! ????