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The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies

Breaking out a batch of vanilla cookies for a special occasion is always a great way to please guests, but what is a baker to do when they are out of the secret ingredient?

Vanilla extract is the key flavor that sets these little baked treats apart from the rest, but what if you just don’t have any?

Thankfully, there are plenty of substitutes available that can get your cookies tasting just as good.

Read on to learn specifically how to use vanilla extract as well as five of the best substitutes for it in your cookie recipes.

Can You Use Vanilla Extract in Cookies?

Vanilla extract may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when baking cookies, but it can actually be used to make delicious treats.

Vanilla is incredibly versatile, and its sweet, subtle flavor pairs perfectly with a variety of ingredients like chocolate chips or nuts.

A small amount of vanilla extract adds a unique flavor and helps deepen the sweetness of chocolatey recipes, creating a truly satisfying bite.

Using vanilla extract can also help tie together other flavors in a recipe, allowing all of the components to shine through.

When adding vanilla, start small, as a little goes a long way; begin by adding just one teaspoon and increase from there.

Incorporating just a hint of vanilla will take your cookies from ordinary to extraordinary.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies

If you’re looking for an alternative to vanilla extract as an ingredient in cookies, there are several options.

Here are five of the best substitutes you can use:

1 – Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are a staple in any baker’s pantry as they offer intense flavor and aroma that cannot be replicated.

Not only can they be used in recipes, but vanilla beans also make an attractive addition to gourmet food gifts.

The beans are harvested from the Vanilla planifolia vine, which is native to Mexico and surrounding regions; the plump, black pods are then cured gently in sun-dried piles before sorting and grading take place.

When making sweets such as cookies, instead of leaving out the extract, you may want to try substituting it with vanilla beans, simply split the pod in half lengthwise and scrape out the sticky paste inside with a paring knife into your recipe for a more natural yet unmistakable flavor.

2 – Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla bean paste is a thick, concentrated paste made from the seeds of vanilla beans.

It’s an all-natural product with an intense vanilla flavor and aroma that works well in many baked goods or other recipes.

This delicious paste adds complexity to dishes like crème brûlée or parfaits and can even be used as a natural sweetener in smoothies or coffee drinks.

For those looking for a great substitution for vanilla extract in their favorite cookie recipes, vanilla bean paste is easy to work with and has a much richer flavor than extract.

Simply reduce the amount of liquid called for by one teaspoon and add one tablespoon of Vanilla bean paste – great results are guaranteed.

3 – Vanilla Powder

Vanilla powder is a great, versatile ingredient for any home baker.

It’s made up of ground and dehydrated vanilla beans, allowing cooks to get the intense vanilla flavor that comes from the bean without having to deal with the mess of liquid extract or capsules.

With its fine texture, it dispenses easily and quickly into any cookie batter or other recipe.

Another benefit is that it has a long shelf life when stored in a cool, dark cupboard – much longer than an open bottle of extract – so you need not worry about wasting expensive vanilla.

If you’re looking to substitute it for vanilla extract in cookies or other recipes, just use one teaspoon of vanilla powder for every tablespoon of extract called for.

4 – Vanilla Essense

Vanilla essence is a flavorful, sweet extract that is often used in baking recipes to add the signature taste of vanilla.

It is derived from real vanilla beans and can provide an intense note of sweetness to any dish.

Because it usually contains artificial coloring agents and flavoring ingredients, this flavor enhancer isn’t considered to be as pure as a vanilla extract but instead acts as a convenient substitute that still packs a punch when it comes to flavor.

Many bakers even prefer using vanilla essence over vanilla extract when making cookies since the extra kick of sweetness helps bring out the other flavors in the recipe more prominently.

To substitute vanilla essence for extract in cookies, simply use three times more essence than what would have been used for extract, stirring until evenly distributed.

5 – Alternative Flavored Extract

Experimenting with alternative flavored extracts can liven up your baking.

Not just content with standard vanilla and almond extract, there are a number of unique flavors available such as lemon, peppermint, coconut, and orange extract.

Each flavored extract adds its own flavor preference to a recipe’s texture, aroma, and taste.

Bakers can substitute alternative extracts in cookies the same way they substitute vanilla extract.

Keep in mind that the strength of each ingredient varies, so you may need more or less of an alternative extract to achieve the desired result.

Have fun experimenting with all kinds of combinations to create unique and delicious cookies.


In conclusion, when it comes to substituting vanilla extract in cookies, the options are endless.

From natural alternatives such as vanilla beans, bean paste, and powder to artificial flavors like vanilla essence or alternative flavored extracts, there’s something for everyone’s taste and preference.

The key is to experiment with different combinations and find out what works best for you.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Vanilla Beans
  • Vanilla Bean Paste
  • Vanilla Powder
  • Vanilla Essense
  • Alternative Flavored Extract


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

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