Vanilla paste is a mixture of whole vanilla beans, vanilla extract and sweeteners. It is basically used as a flavor for baked goods, ice-creams, cookies, cakes, desserts and many other dishes.
It has a mild, warm, kind of sweet, pleasant and very subtle flavor similar to marshmallow flavor. You may use vanilla extract or vanilla pods instead of it but there are also other great vanilla bean paste substitutes to try in your recipes when you run out of it.
Since vanilla bean paste is not cheap, many prefer using its substitutes. On the other hand, it has a great demand and sells up quickly.
1. Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is made of vanilla beans which are soaked in water and ethyl alcohol. Since it contains alcohol you may consider it for dishes that go well with it such as Western desserts, ice-creams, cakes, cupcakes, puddings, muffins and other bakeries.
It is quite affordable and you can purchase it from common stores and supermarkets.
2. Whole Vanilla Beans
If you have whole vanilla beans in hand, then you can use them instead of the paste too. You can make a powder from vanilla beans and then mix it with vanilla extract to get the honey-like texture. This will be a better alternative to vanilla bean paste.
Compared to the paste, this is a fresher version of vanilla to use in desserts. It comes with a stronger flavor and aroma. It also provides the same appealing look to the dish just like vanilla bean paste.
3. Vanilla Powder
As for vanilla powder it is produced by dried vanilla beans and cornstarch base. It is an alcohol-free product and is used in many dishes, mainly to add flavor.
Pure vanilla powder comes in brown color but you may also meet creamy or white colored vanilla powders, which are called vanilla sugar and mostly contain sugar. It offers a stronger aroma and you can choose it for recipes that require thicker consistency such as ice-creams or doughs.
4. Vanilla Ice-Cream
Well, vanilla ice-cream is something unexpected in this list but it does work instead of vanilla bean paste in several recipes. You can choose it for frozen desserts, ice-drinks and milkshakes.
You can also use it for refreshing sweet recipes as well as serve with waffles and cookies. Keep in mind that it also contains milk or cream, sweeteners and other ingredients that should be matched with your dish.
5. Almond Extract
Despite being a totally different product, almond extract is among the most popular alternatives of vanilla bean paste. It has an intense nutty flavor similar to vanilla bean paste and comes with a texture resembling vanilla extract.
Almond extract is a good ingredient in baking and cooking. It tastes semi-sweet with mild bitterness.
6. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is widely used in baking. It is the sap made of maple tree and looks like honey. Although vanilla bean paste is thicker in its texture than maple syrup, you can still use this substitute in baked goods such as cookies, waffles and buns.
It also adds a pleasant aroma and additional sweetness to the dish, so reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe.
Since honey offers the same consistency as vanilla bean paste, you can use them interchangeably in your sweet recipes. This substitute is great if you always have honey in your pantry.
If you don’t have allergies from honey, then this is a great alternative to choose for desserts. Don’t forget to use less sugar in the recipe as honey is super sweet. Use it in cakes, pancakes, cookies, waffles and other baked goods.
Cinnamon is a good choice especially for fruit and cream-based desserts, ice-drinks, ice-creams and of course baked goods.
It is as flavorful as vanilla bean paste and comes with a similar warm flavor. Cinnamon is basically closer to vanilla powder in its texture and look. In case, you don’t have any of the versions of vanilla, you can use cinnamon instead.
9. Brandy, Bourbon or Rum
There are many types of rums, brandy and bourbon and most of them are made from fruit mashes, aromatic herbs etc.
These are kind of interesting substitutes to vanilla bean paste and we offer them because they are all as aromatic as this paste. They also have a similar brownish color as vanilla bean paste.
You can use them in ice-creams, waffles, cookies, cakes and other bakeries. If you like to add vanilla bean paste to glazes and chocolate recipes, then these alcoholic drinks will be perfect substitutes.
FAQs on Vanilla Bean Paste
How long can I keep vanilla bean paste?
You can store vanilla bean paste for up to 3 years in a cool and dark place.
What is the best vanilla bean paste alternative?
Vanilla powder takes the first place when it comes to the choice of the best substitute. Although it doesn’t offer the same consistency, it is still recommended by the majority of bakers and cooks. The second place takes vanilla extract.
Vanilla paste vs Vanilla extract.
Vanilla bean paste has a stronger aroma than vanilla extract as it also contains the flecks from the pod. Compared to vanilla paste, vanilla extract doesn’t contain flecks of the vanilla bean seeds and it comes in a liquid form.
You can use vanilla extract in simple recipes such as chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cakes, sugar cookies, and cupcakes. As for vanilla bean paste, it works well with thicker consistencies like puddings, vanilla ice cream, and custard.
Is vanilla bean paste gluten free?
Yes, vanilla bean paste is naturally gluten-free as well as free of corn syrup. You can use it in diet-friendly recipes and in case you have allergies from gluten containing products.
How do I know if vanilla bean paste is pure?
There are 2 ways to discover whether the vanilla bean paste is pure or not: test the flavor and consistency. As mentioned above, vanilla bean paste has a stronger flavor than vanilla extract.
So, you can compare both and then decide. Second, vanilla bean paste comes with a thick consistency and contains specks from vanilla bean seeds which are quite visible in this dark-colored liquid.
Is there a homemade vanilla bean paste recipe?
Yes, check this guide if you want to make your own vanilla bean paste.
We have put together the most possible vanilla bean paste substitutes and if you decide to try one of them, then share your thoughts about your experiment.
Overall, there are awesome alternatives that contain vanillin and you can safely use them in dishes. As for other products, they also offer similar flavor or color and you can use them instead of vanilla paste in different recipes.