What can I substitute for vanilla extract?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for vanilla extract” with an in-depth analysis of the vanilla extract and its possible substitutes. 

What can I substitute for vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract can be best substituted with vanilla beans, flavoured extracts, herbs and spices, fruit zest, maple syrup, honey and liquor.

There could be so many reasons for substitution for vanilla extract, for instance, if you run out of vanilla extract in your kitchen. High prices or some environmental factors could also be the reason for replacing vanilla extract. 

Vanilla extract adds flavour to the recipes so if you skip it in your recipe this might not affect the appearance of your product, but it will surely affect the flavour. Mostly vanilla extract is used to add flavour in cookies, cakes, muffins, and some other recipes. 

But there are so many replacements for a vanilla extract that add some flavour to your dishes as vanilla extract does.

Few substrates are discussed below briefly:

Vanilla beans:

Vanilla beans can be used as a substitute for vanilla extract. These beans are soaked in water and alcohol to get the same flavour as vanilla extract. 

So, the question arises: how to use vanilla beans as a replacement? Here’s the solution, you should cut the bean in two halves carefully and then remove the inner soft part and discard the outer shell. These inner seeds are used as a substitute for vanilla extract.

Seeds of one vanilla bean could be replaced with one tablespoon of vanilla extract.

Flavoured extracts:

There are numerous flavoured extracts you could use as a substitute for vanilla extract.

  1. Almond extracts
  2. Orange extracts
  3. Peppermint extracts
  4. Coffee extracts

Almond extracts are mostly used as a replacement for vanilla extract. Using almond extract in your dishes could regulate blood sugar and help lower cholesterol levels. Those who are on diet could use almond extracts in their diet because it helps in losing weight (having a sweet taste).  

Just like almond extracts, other extracts like orange, peppermint, and coffee extracts are also helpful and can be used in place of vanilla extract according to need. You should use a very less quantity of these extracts to avoid a drastic twist in the flavour of your dish.

Herbs and spices:

Herbs and spices can also be used as a substitute for vanilla extract. It adds flavour to your dishes. Chai spice is also a substitute for vanilla extract, 1-2 tablespoons of chai spice add flavour to cookies and pound cakes.

Lavender is a dried herb; it is also a replacement for vanilla extract. Lavender flowers can be used for garnishing on salad and desserts as well. Lavender has lots of health benefits like it helps in digestion, relieving headaches, treating stomach issues, etc.

Fruit zest:

Fruit zest or juice of citrus fruits can also be used as a substitute for vanilla extract. As they have citrus flavour in them so if you should be careful while adding fruit zest to your recipe. You can add 1-2 tablespoons to add flavour to your baking products, salad, or sauces.

If you don’t have any issue with the acidic juice in your dish, then you must use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

Maple syrup:

Maple syrup can be used as a replacement for vanilla extract. Because it adds flavour and sweetness to your recipe the same as vanilla extract does. If you are using maple syrup as a replacement, then make sure to use it in less amount so that the taste of your dish is not affected.

Maple syrup is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium zinc, and manganese. These minerals help maintain our body health. These minerals maintain red blood cells and make our immune system strong.


Honey is one of the liquid sweeteners that can easily be changed with vanilla extract in a ratio of 1:1. Honey is lighter than vanilla extract, so it will add taste to your dish. You may also lessen the amount of sugar in your dish to redress. There is also the possibility that added sugar could change the final taste of the dish.  


We can also use another type of alcohol (liquor) in place of vanilla extract because 35% alcohol is present in it. It has some drawbacks also such as it won’t give the same taste as vanilla extract gives. Other liquors will add more different types of flavours to dishes.

Following are the options are given below:

  1. Brandy
  2. Bourbon
  3. Run

These all have almost the same formation as the vanilla extract has.

Other FAQs about Vanilla Extract that you may be interested in.

Why is vanilla extract so expensive?

Can I put vanilla extract in my diffuser?


In this short article, few substitutes for vanilla extracts have been discussed. They give the same aroma and flavour to the desired dish. These substitutes not only make the dish yummy but also are very beneficial for our health.

Ingredients used in these substitutes help us live a healthy life, so these substitutes are the best option to use if someone is not having vanilla extract.