Are you out of vanilla extract but still want to make delicious cookies? Don’t worry.
You can still make your favorite cookies with these 5 substitutes that you may already have in your pantry.
You won’t be compromising on the taste or texture, so get baking now.
Can You Use Vanilla Extract in Cookies?
Vanilla extract is an essential part of many baked recipes, and is a key ingredient in making cookies.
The flavor of vanilla that comes from the extract cannot be replicated by any other ingredient; it adds both flavor and aroma to a variety of recipes.
While you can use vanilla extract in cookies, there are also other substitutes you can use to bring out the best possible flavors in your cookie recipe.
When substituting for pure vanilla extract, most recipes typically use either artificial vanilla extract or imitation vanilla flavoring.
While some recipes call for using one tablespoon of artificial or imitation flavoring for each teaspoon of vanilla extract called for in the original recipe, this ratio will depend on each individual recipe.
Artificial and imitation blends can provide subtle variations of flavor that may benefit certain desserts more than others — such as adding a touch more sweetness or floral tones.
5 Best Vanilla Extract Substitutes in Cookies
With the rising cost of vanilla extract in recent years, many people have been looking for inexpensive alternatives that are capable of delivering the same results.
Here are five of the best substitutes for vanilla extract in cookies:
1 – Vanilla Beans
Vanilla beans have become increasingly popular as a substitute for extract, with some home bakers going as far as growing their own vanilla orchids to make beans.
Vanilla beans are ideal if you’re making pastry cream, in creme brulee, or if you’re baking cakes or cupcakes.
To substitute vanilla extract with beans, use one whole bean to replace every teaspoon of extract.
The seeds can also be scraped from the bean and added directly to the batter.
2 – Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla bean paste is made by combining vanilla extract with the pulp of real vanilla beans, providing strong vanilla flavoring with a richer and deeper taste than regular extract.
As a bonus, it contains small flecks of real vanilla bean seed, adding to the appearance and texture of your dish.
In general, one tablespoon of paste can be used for each tablespoon of extract called for in the recipe.
This is due to the fact that paste has less water content than extract and a much more powerful flavor.
Be careful when using this product though – it’s really potent.
You only need to use half as much as your recipe recommends.
3 – Vanilla Powder
Vanilla powder is a great alternative to vanilla extract for baked goods.
It has a more intense flavor than extract due to its higher concentration of vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its flavor.
Unlike extracts, which are full of liquid, vanilla powder is made up of ground and dried vanilla beans–so you get the purest form of vanillin without any alcohol or sugar.
Most commonly found in specialty stores, it can also be easily purchased online.
Since it’s so concentrated, you will usually only need to use half or a quarter of what the recipe calls for.
Be sure to store your jar in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to help preserve its flavor and maximize shelf life.
4 – Vanilla Essense
Vanilla essence is a flavored liquid that is made from artificial ingredients like vanillin and propylene glycol, to give it a flavor similar to vanilla extract.
For many home cooks, this can be a great option since it’s much more affordable and has a longer shelf life than pure vanilla extract.
Although the taste won’t be as strong as pure extract, it is still highly versatile and can be used in cookies, cakes, ice cream and other recipes for added sweetness and complexity.
Be sure to read the label carefully; some brands of vanilla essence have added sugar or other ingredients that may change the texture or flavor of your baked goods.
5 – Alternative Flavored Extract
If you don’t have any vanilla extract or want to change things up a bit, it’s easy to use alternative flavored extracts in baking and cooking.
Here are five of the most popular flavors, though you could certainly get creative with more.
All of these can work as a substitute for one teaspoon of vanilla extract unless otherwise stated:
- Almond Extract: This is made using bitter almonds and tastes slightly sweet with hints of marzipan. You only need 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract for the same strength as 1 teaspoon of vanilla; too much can overpower your baked goods so be careful not to add too much.
- Lemon Extract: A lemon flavor works especially well in recipes that already call for citrus flavor, such as certain types of cookies and cakes. If however you do use this instead of vanilla extract, reduce the amount to 3/4 teaspoon per one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Orange Extract: This adds a strong citrus flavor that’s great in orange-flavored treats such as quick breads and muffins. As with Lemon Extract, use 3/4 teaspoon instead of one full teaspoon when substituting it for Vanilla Extract.
- Peppermint Extract: This gives a cool, refreshing peppermint flavor that goes especially well with chocolate desserts such as brownies or cakes decorated with chocolate buttercream frosting. When using Peppermint Extract instead of Vanilla, use half a teaspoon less than what is called for in the recipe; too much will overpower your end result.
- Rum Extract: Not so much an alternative flavored extract but rather a way to enhance other flavors like raspberry or caramel in your recipes (think rum & raisin ice cream). Whenever substituting Rum Flavored Extract for Vanilla Flavored Extract, reduce the quantity by a full 1/4 teasoon – if it’s not statesed explicitly in your recipe instructions this should adequately compensate for differences in intensity between both ingredients and ensure desired results from cooking or baking expeditions.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that when using a substitute for vanilla extract in cookies, the amount and type of replacement often has to be adjusted depending on each recipe.
Finding the right substitution can vary among different cookie recipes depending on the desired final product.
No matter what you choose for your cookie recipe, it is essential to sample your concoctions prior to baking so that any additional ingredients can be added to achieve your desired results.
With these five potential alternatives for vanilla extract and a little bit of creativity and experimentation, your next batch of cookies could be your tastiest yet.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!