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Baking Hacks: 5 Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies

Vanilla extract flew the coop, huh? No stress. Cookies still gotta happen.

We’ve all been there, staring at an empty bottle while our baking spirit sinks.

Lucky for you, we’ve got a treasure trove of tricks up our sleeves. Think outside the bottle!

This article’s about turning oh-no into oh-wow with stuff you’ve probably got chilling in your kitchen right now.

Ready to rescue those cookies and maybe even find a new fav flavor?

Keep reading, because we’re about to spill the beans – or, well, the substitutes.

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.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies

Need to make cookies but don't have vanilla extract? No problem! Check out our list of the 5 best substitutes that will add depth and sweetness to your cookies without vanilla extract.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


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


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Vanilla Extract in Cookies
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