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The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract

Do you wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to vanilla extract? Well, let’s delve into what this extract is and how it can be used.

Vanilla extract adds depth and complexity of flavor to baked goods, desserts, and more.

However, sometimes it may not be available, or you might want to add something a bit different to your recipe.

In that case, there are five top alternatives that can be used as substitutes for vanilla extract: almond extract, honey, maple syrup, rum extract, and coconut extract.

With these substitutes in hand, you will be able to use them by replacing the same amount per teaspoon for vanilla – making baking even easier.

What’s Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is a potent, flavorful ingredient derived from the vanilla bean.

It has been used for centuries in various cultures, such as the Aztecs, who reputedly used it to flavor their cocoa beverages.

Vanilla extract is an intensely aromatic and sweet substance reminiscent of its namesake: the vanilla orchid flower.

Although many confuse it with artificial flavoring or artificial vanillin, the true pure vanilla extract contains premium vanilla beans whose flavor profile ranges from woody to smoky and fragrant notes of licorice and caramel.

It’s also commonly used in ice cream and chocolate chip recipes.

For drinks, it’s an excellent topping for hot cocoa or coffee.

Essentially, if you’re looking for a unique flavor boost to any dish or beverage, either sweet or savory, consider adding vanilla extract.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract

If you’re looking for a substitute for vanilla extract, there are several options that can be just as flavorful and provide the same benefits.

Here are five of the best substitutes for vanilla extract:

1 – Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are an exquisite culinary treat with a powerful yet subtle taste.

When exploring the sense of smell, nothing quite compares to the complexity of a fresh vanilla bean.

When taken in small doses, the sweetness is unmistakable, combining both warm and creamy flavors perfectly.

But a few extra specks can escalate it from a mere accompaniment to becoming a dominant flavor in many dishes; their smooth texture is eerily similar to a liquid consistency.

The key to using it without overpowering your cuisine is moderation: something chefs have utilized for centuries when crafting deliciously innovative menus.

As an alternative to vanilla extract, this ingredient works wonders when combined with several other spices and extracts.

An experienced hand gives the right measure, and moments of pure heaven don’t require much else afterward.

2 – Imitation Vanilla Flavor

Imitation Vanilla Flavor is a great substitute for anyone who is looking to reduce their grocery costs but still enjoys the sweetness of real vanilla.

This artificial vanilla flavoring tastes almost identical to true vanilla extract and has a slightly stronger scent.

It has a smooth, mellow flavor that transmits easily into any type of recipe, making it a good choice for baking or even beverages.

If you need an alternative to using real vanilla extract, imitation vanilla flavor is a good option as it can easily be substituted cup-for-cup without compromising taste or texture.

3 – Rum

Rum is considered to be one of the most intensely flavorful liquors.

Its distinct, complex taste is often described as having hints of butter, honey, and fruit flavors.

Its strong flavor lasts quite a while in any dish you may choose to use it in.

If you’re out of vanilla extract but have rum on hand, it can easily be substituted to give an extra punch of flavor to baked goods or custards alike.

However, bear in mind that the rum’s intensity will need some adjustment when making the substitution; typically, rum needs to be cut with water, juice, or milk when replacing vanilla extract so as not to overwhelm other flavors and strong odors.

4 – Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a classic sweetener used to flavor many desserts and savory dishes.

For those lucky enough to have tasted it, its deep, rich flavor is unmistakable.

Maple syrup has a sweetness that is less concentrated than sugar, with naturally stunning undertones of vanilla and caramel.

When baking, you can use maple syrup as a substitute for vanilla extract; simply mix a teaspoon of syrup with a half cup of water, then proceed to use it in your recipe as you would use the extract.

Quality matters when using it in baking, so make sure you check the label for grade A or B pure organic types for the best results.

5 – Almond Extract

Almond extract is one of the most popularly used flavorings in the baking and cooking world.

It has a sweet scent, with notes of marzipan, and a subtly bitter taste that intensifies when added to dishes or baked goods.

If you don’t have vanilla extract at home, almond extract can be a great addition – it’ll give your recipes an extra layer of flavor and complexity that regular vanilla extract just doesn’t provide.

Bear in mind, however, to always review the recipe prior to adding almond extract, as it could end up being too fragrant and overpowering in certain dishes.


In conclusion, vanilla extract is a great ingredient that can add flavor and sweetness to a wide variety of dishes.

When it’s not available, the five substitutes discussed above are excellent options that can provide similar results without compromising on taste or texture.

Whether you opt for imitation vanilla flavor, rum, maple syrup, or almond extract – each one will bring its own unique flavor to the table.

So, next time you’re looking for an alternative to vanilla extract in your recipes, don’t hesitate to try out one of these five delicious substitutes.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Vanilla Extract

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


  • Vanilla Beans
  • Imitation Vanilla Flavor
  • Rum
  • Maple Syrup
  • Almond 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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