Pure Perfection: Reviewing the Best Vanilla Extract for All Your Baking Needs

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What is Vanilla Extract? 

Real, pure vanilla extract comes from vanilla seed pods. However, sometimes it can be challenging to select the best vanilla extract in the market. You can get the extract under different brands, strengths, flavors, and prices.

To make your selection easy, we shall guide you on what to look for in good vanilla extract. We shall also provide some of the best vanilla extracts you can find on the market.

Let’s get started.

Bottle with aromatic vanilla extract

What is it Used for?

Vanilla extract comes in handy when you are preparing any recipe. You can use it in your homemade chocolate cookies. You can also prepare your buttercream frosting using it and apply it to your favorite cakes. 

You can also use vanilla to add flavor to soups, seafood, and meat. In other words, in is ideal for culinary purposes.

If unsure how much you can use, one tablespoon vanilla extract = one whole vanilla bean = one tablespoon vanilla bean paste = one tablespoon vanilla powder.

Types of Vanilla Products

Vanilla Beans

You should purchase vanilla beans that look a little pudgy with an oil gloss. Even though you can’t touch the beans when buying them, they are sticky. They also have a bark and vanilla smell. 

If the beans are too old, they can be pretty dry. Also, they can shred or crumble when you cut them, making it hard to remove their seeds for cooking. However, they are equally good because you can rehydrate them using water and alcohol infusion and use them to make vanilla flavors or homemade vanilla sugar. 

How do you prepare vanilla beans? You should split and scrape the beans from their pods into your recipe mix. You can also infuse them in a liquid recipe. Notably, infusing the beans together with their pods creates additional flavor. However, you should remove the pods after completing your recipe preparation. 

Because vanilla beans are sticky, they are not ideal for baked goods. Why is it so? The beans are sticky, and it is difficult to incorporate them thoroughly into the dough. So, vanilla extract is the best option for baked recipes. 

Pure Vanilla Extract

One of the most versatile vanilla products is pure vanilla extract. It comes from the infusion of vanilla beans in water with over 35% alcohol. You can make this extract by either cold extraction or gently heating the water and alcohol mixture. 

Notably, the cold extraction process is longer and more expensive than the heating method. However, it results in the extraction of more vanilla flavors. Did you know that vanilla beans have over 300 flavor compounds? If you didn’t, now you know. 

The cold extraction vanilla is ideal for cold food applications to preserve the extra flavors. If you heat it over 220 degrees Fahrenheit (104.4 degrees Celsius), several additional flavors get cooked off. 

Whenever you cook vanilla, the alcohol tends to evaporate. However, you can get alcohol-free vanilla on the market. How is it made? The vanilla extraction process uses glycerin instead of alcohol. The quality of the outcome depends on the origin of the beans rather than alcohol or glycerin. Also, alcohol-free vanilla is pricier than its alcohol-based counterpart. 

Glassware with vanilla extract

Imitation Vanilla Extract

Imitation vanilla extract comes from synthetically-produced vanillin chemicals rather than vanilla beans. However, the chemical structure of the vanillin chemical is similar to the vanillin compound in vanilla beans. But, the chemical lacks hundreds of flavor compounds that vanilla beans contain. 

The imitation vanilla compound is clear. Sometimes, it includes a caramel color to resemble the pure extract. 

Given that the cost of imitation vanilla is low, it is ideal for large projects and recipes that disregard the quality of vanilla. 

Some users of imitation vanilla claim it has a slightly artificial or chemical aftertaste. So, it befits products that get fully cooked to lower the levels of the aftertaste. 

Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla bean paste is thick. It comes from a combination of vanilla extract and vanilla seeds. If you want vanilla extract and a visual appeal of vanilla seeds on your recipe outcomes, vanilla bean paste is the best option. Notably, adding sugar and gum to your vanilla paste makes it thicker, even though its flavor is not intense. 

You can use vanilla bean paste to prepare your hot or cold recipes. However, it is typically pricier than vanilla extract. 

Vanilla Bean Powder

Vanilla bean powder is dry, alcohol-free, and color-neutral. It comes from spraying pure vanilla extract on maltodextrin from corn, which dries the extract upon contact. 

How do you use vanilla bean powder? You can dissolve it in liquids. Alternatively, use it in tea blends, dry spice rubs, or regular baking recipes. You can opt for white-hued vanilla powder if you do not want brown vanilla flavoring. 

Our Best Vanilla Extract Brand

Even though we will review the best pure vanilla extracts, Sonoma Syrup Co Organic Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush", 8 oz stands out. It comes from blending Madagascan Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans. So, it brings together vanilla flavor from two high-quality vanilla beans. 

This product is also versatile. You can use it on any recipe. Additionally, its makers use the cold extraction process that retains most of the flavor compounds that vanilla beans contain. 

Other Vanilla Extract Favorites

  1. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, 8 Ounces (Best Madagascar vanilla extract)
  2. Everyday Vanilla With Pure Vanilla Extract and Other Natural Flavors - Heilala Vanilla, Gourmet Vanilla Extract Madagascar Bourbon Variety, Sustainably and Ethically Sourced Vanilla Beans Hand-Picked from the Kingdom of Tonga, Value Size - 16.9 fl oz (Best quality vanilla extract)
  3. No products found. (Best baking vanilla extract)
  4. Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Pure Gourmet Mexican Vanilla Extract, Small, 3.3 Ounces (Best pure vanilla extract)
  5. Sonoma Syrup Co Organic Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush", 8 oz (Best blend vanilla extract)
  6. Vanilla Double Strength By Penzeys Spices 4 fl oz (Pack of 1) (Best vanilla extract for baking)
  7. Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring (non-alcoholic), Certified Organic | 4 Ounces (Best non-alcoholic vanilla extract)
  8. Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary) (Best clear vanilla extract)
  9. Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract (Best vanilla extract for baking and cooking)
  10. Madagascar Vanilla Extract (Double-Fold) - 8 fl oz (Best vanilla extract for desserts)
  11. Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla, with Pure Vanilla Extract, 11 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) - Packaging May Vary (Best vanilla extract for baking)
  12. Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract for Baking - Heilala Vanilla, Award-Winning Pure Vanilla Extract Madagascar Bourbon Variety, Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract, Sustainably and Ethically Sourced Vanilla, Hand-Picked From the Kingdom of Tonga - 1.69 fl oz (Best alcohol-free vanilla extract)
  13. Rodelle Organics Baker's Extract 16oz (Best alternative vanilla extract)
Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for Baking and Cooking, 8 Ounce Bottle
Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract | Made from All Natural Bourbon Vanilla Beans | For Baking, Desserts, Home Cooking and Chefs (4 fl oz)
Product name
Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for Baking and Cooking, 8 Ounce Bottle
Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract | Made from All Natural Bourbon Vanilla Beans | For Baking, Desserts, Home Cooking and Chefs (4 fl oz)
Price
$9.99
$34.98
$24.98
Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)
Product name
Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)
Price
$9.99
Buy Now
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for Baking and Cooking, 8 Ounce Bottle
Product name
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for Baking and Cooking, 8 Ounce Bottle
Price
$34.98
Buy Now
Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract | Made from All Natural Bourbon Vanilla Beans | For Baking, Desserts, Home Cooking and Chefs (4 fl oz)
Product name
Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract | Made from All Natural Bourbon Vanilla Beans | For Baking, Desserts, Home Cooking and Chefs (4 fl oz)
Price
$24.98
Buy Now

Reviewing the Best Store-Bought Vanilla Extract

Sonoma Syrup Co Organic Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush", 8 oz: Best Blend Vanilla Extract

Amazon’s Choice in Natural Extracts by Sonoma Syrup Co

About the Product

Sonoma Syrup Co Organic Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” comes from blending Madagascar and Tahitian beans. It also features crushed vanilla seeds to visually appeal to your recipe outcomes. So, it boasts of being an American artisan vanilla extract. 

You can use this product for all culinary and baking purposes, whether the recipes are cold or hot. Its flavor is floral, sweet, aromatic, and robust. 

The vanilla beans that make this product are vine-ripened and naturally cured. Afterward, its makers use cold extraction to preserve most flavor compounds. They also add cane-sugar alcohol, which is organically certified. In return, the end product features highly desirable taste notes with a rich vanilla flavor. 

This vanilla product is also all-natural, gluten-free, sugar-free, and GMO-free.

  • Brand: Sonoma Syrup Co
  • Recommended uses: All culinary and baking purposes
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free, GMO-free, sugar-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon, Tahitian
  • Extract type: Blend vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 8 fluid ounces (236 milliliters)
  • Diet type: USDA organic, Kosher

What We Like

  • It is a blend of two high-quality bean types with a unique flavor, unlike some extracts that feature only one vanilla bean type. 
  • It is versatile. So you can use it to prepare several recipes. 

What We Don’t Like

  • It comes in small batches, making its use in the preparation of large culinary and baking projects expensive.

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, 8 Ounces: Best Madagascar Vanilla Extract

About the Product

If you are looking for an all-purpose vanilla extract, Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract is the best option. It comes from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans with a full, creamy, sweet, and mellow profile. Their flavor also has a velvety after-tone. Also, the beans are hand-picked and hand-cured. 

This vanilla extract is GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and all-natural. It’s also kosher-certified. Its ingredients include water, sugar, alcohol (35%), and vanilla bean extractives. The sugar content is low, and it aids in the distribution of the vanilla evenly within the liquid for a rich and consistent flavor. 

These measurements come in handy when your recipe indicates the measure of other vanilla products instead of vanilla extract. 

This vanilla extract also comes in a dark bottle that preserves its quality. 

What makes it pure? It comes from a mixture of 13.35 ounces (378.5 grams) of vanilla beans per gallon (3.79 liters) of water and alcohol. This ratio is an FDA requirement for an extract to become pure.

How is it made? The makers of this vanilla extract use cold extraction. This process preserves its flavor compounds, giving it a natural taste. Also, the water used to make this product comes from Lake Michigan. It goes through an ozone system that makes it pure and clean. 

If you want the best results, add this product towards the end of preparing your recipe. When baking, cream it with butter. Also, store it in an airtight container at room temperature. Additionally, avoid subjecting it to direct sunlight and freezing temperature. In return, it stays with a preserved quality and flavors for a long time.

  • Brand: Nielsen-Massey
  • Recommended uses: All-purpose
  • Specialty: Keto friendly
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO
  • Bean type: Madagascan Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 2, 4, 8, 32, and 128 fluid ounces (59.1, 147.9, 236.6, 946.4, and 3,785.4 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher

What We Like

  • This extract comes from high-quality Madagascan Bourbon vanilla beans that produce intense and bold flavors. 
  • You can use it for any recipe.

What We Don’t Like

  • It is somehow pricier than most other vanilla extracts.

Everyday Vanilla With Pure Vanilla Extract and Other Natural Flavors - Heilala Vanilla, Gourmet Vanilla Extract Madagascar Bourbon Variety, Sustainably and Ethically Sourced Vanilla Beans Hand-Picked from the Kingdom of Tonga, Value Size - 16.9 fl oz: Best Quality Vanilla Extract

About the Product

Everyday Vanilla With Pure Vanilla Extract and Other Natural Flavors comes from Madagascar Bourbon beans. The cold extraction process of producing it preserves most of vanilla beans’ over 200 flavor compounds. 

This pure vanilla extract adds a creamy, sweet flavor and aroma to your recipes. It is also an all-purpose artisan vanilla that comes in small batches. So, you can use it for all your baking recipes to get outcomes with a natural, premium vanilla flavor. Also, it comes in handy when making ice cream and other frost creations and desserts. 

The vanilla beans that make this product are from the kingdom of Tonga. Also, their sourcing process is ethical and sustainable. In other words, its makers always partner with families that farm the vanilla beans to improve their well-being. After the bean-picking exercise, the beans dry under the Polynesian sun.

If you are looking for a vanilla extract with superb quality, get this extract with a three-year shelf life. The vanilla pods that make this product are hand-picked to give the extract a concentrated vanilla aroma and flavor. 

Even though you can use it for all baking projects, a gourmet baker can benefit more from using it. The ingredients that this product contains are vanilla bean extractives, sugar, and natural vanilla flavor. 

  • Brand: Heilala
  • Recommended uses: All-purpose
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free, grain-free, corn-free
  • Bean type: Madagascan Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 4.22 and 16.9 fluid ounces (124.8 and 499.8 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher, vegetarian

What We Like

  • It is an all-purpose vanilla extract you can use for any recipe.
  • It comes from high-quality Madagascan Bourbon vanilla beans that produce intense and bold flavors.
  • It has a long shelf-life, meaning you can use it for a long time. 

What We Don’t Like

  • It comes in small batches. So, it can be expensive to use it for large cooking projects.

No products found.: Best Baking Vanilla Extract

Amazon’s Choice in Natural Extracts by McCormick

No products found.

About the Product

McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract comes from ethically-sourced Madagascar vanilla beans. This product prides itself on high-quality flavor and aroma. It also does not contain corn syrup, gluten, and GMO ingredients. 

Made with a baker in mind, you can use it in your cakes, pies, and cookies, among other baked products. 

This product has a robust and floral-like flavor with tones of rum, Bourbon, and dried fruits. Also, its package features a spout that prevents spillage and unnecessary mess. 

  • Brand: McCormick
  • Recommended uses: Baking, balancing seafood and meat dishes
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: No corn syrup, non-GMO, and gluten-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar vanilla beans
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 1 (12-pack), 2 (1-pack), 2 (2-pack), 4 (1-pack), 8 (1-pack), 8 (2-pack), 16 (1-pack) fluid ounces | 29.6 (12-pack), 59.1 (1-pack), 59.1 (2-pack), 118.3 (1-pack), 236.6 (1-pack), 236.6 (2-pack), 473.2 (1-pack) milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher, vegetarian

What We Like

  • It comes in various sizes to match your baking needs.
  • Its package has a spout that allows you to use it precisely.
  • It has a rum tone making it stand out from the rest. 

What We Don’t Like

  • You can’t use it in most recipes that do not require baking.

Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Pure Gourmet Mexican Vanilla Extract, Small, 3.3 Ounces: Best Pure Vanilla Extract

About the Product

Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Pure Gourmet Mexican Vanilla Extract gives a flavorful and bold flavor to your recipes. It comes from Mexican vanilla beans infused in purified water and 35% alcohol. 

This product is gluten-free. Also, it does not contain coumarin, additives, preservatives, and corn syrup. 

The makers of this product are consumer-centric. They encourage you to contact them if you are unsatisfied with this vanilla extract. 

Which is its country of origin? Its makers import the vanilla extract from a single source in Mexico and bottle it in the USA. The vanilla beans used to make the extract from the source are hand-cultivated Planifolia vanilla beans. 

  • Brand: Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co.
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free, no coumarin, no additives, no preservatives, and no corn syrup
  • Bean type: Mexican vanilla beans
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 3.3, 8.4, 16.7, and 64 fluid ounces (97.6, 248.4, 493.9, and 1,892.7 milliliters)

What We Like

  • The makers are consumer-centric, and they care about the satisfaction of their product users. 
  • The product comes from Planifolia vanilla plants, which are rare because of overexploitation and habitat reduction. So, it seems to have a unique flavor. 

What We Don’t Like

  • The product is not recipe- and diet-specific.

Vanilla Double Strength By Penzeys Spices 4 fl oz (Pack of 1): Best Vanilla Extract for Baking

About the Product

Vanilla Double Strength extract comes from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. Also, the beans are double the ones that make single-strength extracts. So, it is a double-fold vanilla extract.

The makers of this product always have bakers in mind. So, you can use it for your baking needs, including preparing some desserts. 

How much do you use? Use half of this extract for recipes with a specified amount of vanilla extract to use. In return, it makes economic sense because it is twice as much as its single-strength counterpart. 

What are the ingredients this vanilla product contains? It contains 35% alcohol, water, vanilla bean extractives, and sugar. 

  • Brand: Penzeys
  • Recommended uses: Baking
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract double strength
  • Available sizes: 2, 4, 8, and 16 fluid ounces (59.1, 118.3, 236.6, and 473.2 milliliters)

What We Like

  • It is economical when making standard recipes because you only add half of the specified recipe amount.
  • Its flavor is richer than the one for single-strength vanilla extracts when used in equal measures. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Its label does not mention its allergen information and diet type. 
  • It is somehow pricier than other vanilla extracts.

Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring (non-alcoholic), Certified Organic | 4 Ounces: Best Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract

About the Product

If you are looking for the best non-alcoholic vanilla extract, Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring extract is the best option. It contains a natural, organic, potent vanilla flavor derived from Madagascan Planifolia vanilla plants. 

This product has no artificial colors or flavors. Also, it is gluten-free without added sugars and GMOs. It is also a Kosher-certified vanilla extract ideal for making cookies, cakes, and baking applications, such as frostings. 

Importantly, this product is non-alcoholic.

Also, it is not from synthetic vanillin. Instead, it comes from oleoresin, an organic, real vanilla bean extraction. Oleoresin contains a pure concentration of complex aroma and flavor essences from fully-cured vanilla beans. 

The vanilla flavoring of this product remains suspended in a mixture of vegetable glycerin and water. So, you get a warm and rich vanilla taste similar to the one the alcoholic extracts contain. 

The sourcing of the vanilla beans that make this product is ethical and sustainable. The production of the beans is environmentally friendly. Also, the farmers who produce the beans usually undertake the largest portion of the curing and blanching process. In return, the beans retain their original quality and flavor profile. 

The vanilla beans used to make this product grow without pesticides and irradiation. So, the beans are purely organic. 

Regarding the packaging, this vanilla extract comes in an amber glass bottle. This kind of bottle prevents the extract from degrading due to contact with light. Also, you can recycle the bottle and its cap. 

  • Brand: Simply Organic
  • Recommended uses: Baking
  • Specialty: Organic
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free, alcohol-free, no artificial colors and flavors, GMO-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 4 fluid ounces (118 milliliters)
  • Diet type: USDA organic, Kosher

What We Like

  • This product is ideal for alcohol-intolerant people.
  • It is also purely organic, thus alleviating fears of any adverse effects of taking inorganic products. 
  • You can recycle the bottle and the caps that contain this product. It is an advantage to those who make homemade vanilla because they get a free storage container. 

What We Don’t Like

  • If you use it for large baking products, it is expensive. 

Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor, 11 fl. oz. Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary): Best Clear Vanilla Extract

Amazon’s choice in Natural Extracts by Watkins

About the Product

Watkins Clear Vanilla Flavor comes from water, propylene glycol, alcohol, sugar, and artificial flavors. It is a premium baking product ideal for recipes with pure white products. So, you can use it on cakes, ice cream, frostings, and other products. It adds a rich gourmet vanilla flavor to your recipes. 

This product does not lose its flavor after baking or freezing it. Also, it does not contain artificial colors. It is kosher, gluten-free, corn syrup-free, and GMO-free. Additionally, it’s a product made in the USA with an artificial flavor. 

  • Brand: Watkins
  • Recommended uses: Baking
  • Specialty: Artificial
  • Allergen information: GMO-free, corn syrup-free, gluten-free
  • Extract type: Clear vanilla formula
  • Available sizes: 2 and 11 fluid ounces (59.1 and 325.3 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Vegan, kosher

What We Like

  • You can use it on recipes that result in pure white products.
  • It does not bake or freeze. So, it retains its flavor regardless of the recipe preparation method. 
  • It is an ideal alternative to vanilla bean-based vanilla extracts. 

What We Don’t Like

  • It does not contain the several flavor compounds that pure vanilla extract contains.

Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract | Madagascar Vanilla Extract: Best Vanilla Extract for Baking and Cooking

About the Product

Beyond Good Pure Vanilla Extract contains a rich flavor and distinct aroma. It comes from Madagascan Bourbon vanilla beans known for their robust vanilla flavor. 

You can use it for baking cookies and cakes. You can also use it in several recipes, including fried rice and soups. If you have a knack for experimenting with vanilla extracts, adding this product to coffee can change your coffee-taking experience. 

The ingredients that make this product are vanilla bean extractives, alcohol, and water. 

  • Brand: Beyond Good
  • Recommended uses: Baking and cooking
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: GMO-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 4 fluid ounces (118.3 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Vegan

What We Like

  • You can typically add it to all recipes.

What We Don’t Like

  • It comes in small batches and can be expensive for large baking or cooking projects.

Madagascar Vanilla Extract (Double-Fold) - 8 fl oz: Best Vanilla Extract for Desserts

About the Product

Madagascar Vanilla Extract comes from twice as much as the vanilla beans that make single-fold vanilla extracts. So, you only use half the amount specified in recipes. However, you can use the amount specified in a recipe to get products with a rich and bold vanilla flavor. 

This product comes from Madagascan vanilla beans known for their sweet and deep creamy notes. Also, the vanilla beans that make this product are “splits.” These are vanilla beans left on the vines to mature more for a few weeks after the normal harvesting of other beans. In return, the beans produce a vanilla extract with a full body impact and a remarkable aftertaste.

The ingredients that this product features are water, alcohol, and Madagascar vanilla bean extractives. 

  • Brand: Beanilla Vanilla
  • Recommended uses: Dessert recipes
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: GMO-free, gluten-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract double fold
  • Available sizes: 2, 4, 8, 64, and 128 fluid ounces (59.1, 147.9, 236.6, 1,892.8, and 3,785.4 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher

What We Like

  • It is a vanilla extract with a more robust flavor than single-fold vanilla extracts. 
  • It comes from splits, vanilla beans that are more mature than the standard beans. In return, it has a bolder flavor than most vanilla extracts. 
  • You can use it on large projects because it comes in large batches.

What We Don’t Like

  • It is pricier than several vanilla extracts.

Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla, with Pure Vanilla Extract, 11 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) - Packaging May Vary: Best Vanilla Extract for Baking

Amazon’s Choice in Natural Extracts by Watkins

About the Product

Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla comes from naturally-derived ingredients. It is a concentrated product used for baking. Also, this product retains its original flavor after baking or freezing it.

You can use this product to make cookies, cakes, brownies, cupcakes, ice cream, muffins, and other products. 

This vanilla extract does not contain artificial colors, gluten, GMOs, and corn syrup. Also, it is a Kosher product made in the USA. 

The ingredients that make up this product are water, sugar, vanilla extract, glycerin, alcohol, natural flavors, and fruit juice (color). 

Since this product comes in large batches, you can use it for large baking projects. It is also a double-strength vanilla extract. So, use half of the amount specified in baking recipes. Alternatively, use the specified recipe amounts for a bolder vanilla flavor. 

This product has less alcohol that evaporates at high or low temperatures. 

  • Brand: Watkins
  • Recommended uses: Baking
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: GMO-free, Gluten-free, corn syrup-free, no artificial colors
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract double strength
  • Available sizes: 1, 2, 4, 8, 11, 32, and 128 fluid ounces (28.6, 59.1, 118.3, 236.6, 325.3, 946.4, and 3,785.4 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher

What We Like

  • It has less alcohol than other vanilla extracts. So, it is ideal for alcohol-intolerant users. 
  • It is double-fold, enabling you to use fewer quantities in standard recipes. 

What We Don’t Like

  • The vanilla beans used to make this product are unspecified. 

Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract for Baking - Heilala Vanilla, Award-Winning Pure Vanilla Extract Madagascar Bourbon Variety, Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract, Sustainably and Ethically Sourced Vanilla, Hand-Picked From the Kingdom of Tonga - 1.69 fl oz: Best Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract

About the Product

Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract for Baking contains suspended real vanilla seeds. Its flavor has a creamy, sweet profile. This vanilla extract also contains glycerin, water, and vanilla extractives. 

The Madagascan Bourbon vanilla beans used for making this product pass through a three-month cold extraction profile that preserves their 200+ flavor compounds. The beans are also ethically sourced from the Tonga kingdom. 

Notably, you can use this vanilla extract for home baking, frosting creation, desserts, and ice cream. 

This product has a shelf life of three years. So, you can use it for a long time. Even though you can use it for all your baking needs, its makers always have a gourmet baker in mind when producing it. 

  • Brand: Heilala
  • Recommended uses: Ice cream making, home baking, frosting creation, or dessert
  • Specialty: Alcohol-free
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free
  • Bean type: Madagascar Bourbon
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 1.69 fluid ounces (50 milliliters)
  • Diet type: Kosher, halal

What We Like

  • You can use it for a long time. 
  • The cold extraction process preserves several flavor compounds, giving it a bold vanilla flavor. 

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s not versatile. So, you can’t use it on several recipes, especially ones that don’t require baking.

Rodelle Organics Baker's Extract 16oz: Best Alternative Vanilla Extract

Amazon’s choice in Natural Extracts by Rodelle

About the Product

Rodelle Organics Baker’s Extract is an all-natural vanilla extract alternative. It is a USDA-organic-certified product made from water, ethyl alcohol, natural flavors, and vanilla extract. So, it is a pure vanilla extract blend that contains complimentary natural flavors, including caramel, chocolate, oak, and cream.  

You can use this vanilla extract on any recipe. It is also kosher-certified and gluten-free. 

  • Brand: Rodelle
  • Recommended uses: All-purpose
  • Specialty: Natural
  • Allergen information: Gluten-free
  • Extract type: Pure vanilla extract
  • Available sizes: 16 fluid ounces (473 milliliters)
  • Diet Type: USDA organic, kosher

What We Like

  • It is an affordable alternative to pure vanilla extract.
  • It is versatile. So, you can use it on any recipe requiring a vanilla flavor.  

What We Don’t Like

  • The maker does not identify the used bean type. 

What to Look for in the Best Vanilla Extract

If you want to buy the best vanilla extract, consider the following aspects:

Bean Origin

Vanilla beans are the fruits of a vanilla orchid plant. The large-scale production of these beans began in the 1840s after the discovery of manual pollination of the vanilla plant. Afterward, the industrial extraction of vanilla also began. 

Like high-quality coffee or wine, you should consider the country of origin of the vanilla beans. This information always appears on the label of the extract. However, sometimes the extract is a blend. So, if you miss the country of origin on its label, it is highly probable that it comes from Southeast Asia. 

Some countries that produce vanilla beans are:

Madagascar

Madagascar produces 85% of the global volume of vanilla, often referred to as Madagascar Bourbon vanilla or Bourbon. You may think that the name Bourbon refers to liquor. However, Bourbon is an island lying east of Madagascar. It is one of the origins of vanilla. 

Notably, Madagascan vanilla has a high quality and rich, consistent flavor. Also, its flavor always stands out, whether you are preparing a savory or sweet recipe. 

Mexico

The other origin of vanilla is Mexico. In the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish merchants carried vanilla from Mexico to several parts of the world. 

Even though Mexico is not the largest producer of vanilla, the quality of its vanilla always stands out in the eyes of vanilla lovers. They regard it as one of the finest vanilla on the market. 

Mexican vanilla features a stringer woody and spiced flavor compared with vanilla from other parts of the world. Its allure stands out when used alone and when mixed with nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, among other baking spices. 

Tahiti

If you are looking for vanilla with fruity cherry-like and floral notes, Tahiti vanilla can be your best option. Its popularity as vanilla with a unique flavor profile is recent. For this reason, it is somehow pricier than other vanilla from other countries.

However, when used in large baking or cooking projects, Tahitian vanilla causes a loss of delicate tropical flavors. To avoid this loss, use it in frozen or cold recipes. 

Other Tropical Regions, Including Indonesia

Despite the fame of the three regions above as the highest producers of vanilla, other tropical areas also contribute to its production. Indonesia is one of the tropical regions that produce vanilla in large quantities. However, the drying process of vanilla in these regions creates a difference in its quality. 

Typically, vanilla often dries under the sun. This process takes a minimum of one month to cure vanilla. 

Notably, Indonesians cure their vanilla over a fire. This process hastens the drying and curing process. Also, it adds a smoky flavor to vanilla. 

Size

You can buy vanilla in small quantities weighing one ounce (28.4 grams). You can also buy it in gallons/liters. It all depends on your preference and budget. If you buy in large quantities, you will have an amount of vanilla to use for a long time. However, large quantities of vanilla come at a high cost. 

If you want to make delicate recipes, including custards, ice creams, and buttercreams, always go for higher-priced vanilla, despite its small quantity. Such recipes are worth a splurge. 

On the other hand, large baking projects that cook at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148.9 degrees Celsius) can do well with less expensive vanilla. Also, you need not be specific about where the vanilla for large baking projects comes from. In return, you will not make a dent in your wallet. 

For enthusiastic bakers, more than 8 ounces (226.8 grams) of vanilla can suffice their baking projects. Such an amount of vanilla ensures they do not run out of stock during a baking project. 

Notably, the price of vanilla goes down when its volume increases. So, you can always get a better deal whenever you buy a larger bottle of vanilla. 

Do you know how much use you get out of a bottle of vanilla? If you don’t know, one tablespoon of vanilla equals ½ fluid ounce (14.8 milliliters). 

Nevertheless, your recipes and baking and cooking frequency determine the usage of vanilla. 

Key Ingredients

Real vanilla extract comes from the infusion of vanilla beans, water, and alcohol. At peak infusion, the beans get strained. Afterward, the extract can get mixed with sugar extract and additional flavors. 

You can also add a thickening agent depending on the vanilla product you want to get. However, using few ingredients results in a high-quality vanilla extract.   

Budget

If you are a first-time vanilla buyer, its price can catch you by surprise. You can get jarred vanilla beans in a grocery store for around $15 for two beans. So, if your recipe requires multiple vanilla beans, you can find it as an expensive ingredient to use. 

Why is vanilla so pricey? It is because of the often fickle and labor-intensive nature of vanilla farming. Its farming starts with a years of growing vanilla orchid vines. 

The other daunting task entails hand-pollinating each flower. One must apply caution to do it within a window that lasts for a fraction of a day. Lastly, one has to take care of the pods during their growth. 

After the harvesting of the pods, the curing process starts. It is a long process that begins with blanching the beans. This exercise stops further development of the pods. Afterward, the pods are sun-dried and made to sweat by wrapping them in a piece of fabric at night. This cycle lasts for a month and seeks to ferment the pods. 

Notably, one must undertake the curing process by hand.

The last process entails conditioning the beans for sale or for making vanilla extract. 

Given the tiresome process of growing, pollinating, and curing vanilla beans, vanilla extract is expensive. The price goes up when the quality and quantity of the extract increase. 

Fortunately, you can get vanilla at a price range that suits the intensity and frequency of your cooking needs. You can get vanilla extract imitations, extracts that get produced quickly, or blended extracts. The price of such vanilla extract is around $10. 

For organic, sugar-free, and alcohol-free vanilla extract, options range between $10 to $20 for a two- to four-ounce (56.7 to 113.4 grams) bottle. 

If you become choosy and buy a vanilla extract from a specific region, you can buy it for around $20 to $80. Also, some region-based vanilla extracts can even cost you over $80.

If you are unafraid of splurging, you can opt for vanilla bean powders or pastes. These are special ingredients that cost more than vanilla extracts. However, their prices depend on their package size. 

Strength

Vanilla extract is either in single or double strength/fold.

Typically, the double-fold vanilla is ideal for industrial baking. It is also suitable for sensitive projects that do not require additional liquid. 

If you see vanilla with the label “concentrated,” the title does not mean that the vanilla has extra strength. Instead, it means that it contains synthetically produced vanillin because it is watered-down vanilla. In return, it provides a low-cost alternative to pure vanilla extract. 

Crafting Process

Artificial vanilla extract comes from lab-created ingredients that give it a consistent taste. It is often flat and uninspired. However, it is a cheap option for standard baking projects. 

Regarding pure vanilla extract comes from vanilla beans infused with water and alcohol. The straining of the infused beans after producing their peak flavor results in the collection of pure vanilla extract. 

Sometimes, there is an addition of sugar and additional colors and flavors to change the look or taste of the vanilla extract. However, these additives are not necessary. 

Storage

Vanilla extract is significantly shelf-stable because of its curing process and alcohol base. You can store it for years in a dark, cool place. Some users claim its flavor improves after storing it for a long time. However, don’t age your vanilla extract to make it better. Instead, buy an amount you can use within a few months. 

Vanilla paste, beans, and powder are also shelf-stable. However, you must wrap or seal all vanilla products and store them in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Notably, most bottles that contain vanilla extract are dark-colored. This color prevents sunlight from getting to the extract because it can lower its quality. 

Even though it’s advisable to store your vanilla in a cool area, do not refrigerate it. The extra moisture in a fridge causes mold to grow on vanilla beans. Also, the vanilla beans and extracts can pick up the ambient flavors that your fridge contains. 

So, after scraping your vanilla bean pods, store them in a jar with sugar at room temperature to make homemade vanilla-infused sugar. Alternatively, you can store them in a jar with salt to make moody vanilla sea salt. You can sprinkle this salt over chocolate caramel tart or glazed ribs. 

Some Reader Questions Answered

What Country Has the Best Vanilla Extract?

Even though vanilla comes from different countries, Madagascar produces the best and largest quantity of vanilla in the world. Also, its vanilla has a high-quality flavor and is ideal for baking or frozen recipes. 

What are the Best Vanilla Beans for Making Extract?

You can use several vanilla bean types to make the best vanilla extract. Some of the most common vanilla beans are as follows: 

  • Madagascar vanilla beans: These beans produce vanilla with a rich, creamy, and buttery flavor. Their flavor also has a faint smokiness and cocoa undertones. They are also readily available and fairly priced.
  • Ugandan vanilla beans: These beans also make bold and strong-flavored vanilla. Their flavor has notes of ripe figs, milk chocolate, and a buttery taste. Notably, Uganda is the only country worldwide that grows vanilla beans in two seasons. So, expect fresh vanilla beans from Uganda all year round. However, this does not mean fresh vanilla extract comes from Uganda. All vanilla beans undergo a similar curing process, regardless of their country of origin. However, Ugandan vanilla beans have a high content of vanillin and are fairly priced than those from Madagascar. 
  • Comoros vanilla beans: If you are looking for a perfect alternative to Madagascan vanilla beans, always go for Comoros vanilla beans. They have rich and deep flavor undertones similar to Madagascan vanilla beans. However, you cannot find Comoros vanilla beans in most grocery shops. So, their price is usually higher than the one for vanilla beans from other regions. 
  • Tahiti vanilla beans: These have soft, floral, and fruity flavor undertones. They are also somehow rare, making them a bit pricey. 
  • Papua New Guinea Tahitian vanilla: These vanilla beans make a perfect economical choice for consumers. However, they have a lower moisture content than their Tahitian counterparts. But they have fruity and floral notes, similar to vanilla beans from Tahiti. 

How Many Vanilla Beans for Extract Should Be Used?

You can make single-fold vanilla by using the ratio of 100 beans to one gallon (3.79 liters) of water and alcohol. On the other hand, the double-fold vanilla requires 200 beans for one gallon (3.79 liters) of water and alcohol.

Is Homemade Vanilla Extract Better Than Store-Bought Brands?

There is no significant difference between homemade and store-bought vanilla. To begin with, homemade vanilla can save you some money because it does not have fancy bottles and tags that raise the price of vanilla a bit. 

Homemade vanilla also tends to be lighter than store-bought ones. One of the reasons for this difference is that store-bought vanilla contains caramel, which makes it a bit dark. 

When making large batches of store-bought vanilla, vanilla beans get mashed, cut, and squeezed to produce the extract. In return, it is a bit darker than the homemade one. 

Nevertheless, both types of vanilla are exceptionally good. 

What’s the Best Way to Store Vanilla Extract?

Even though the extraction process aids in preserving vanilla extract, there are some things you should do to make it last longer. First, always store your vanilla in a cool place. Also, the storage area should have a stable temperature. Also, it should be away from heat drafts and light. 

Can Vanilla Extract Go Bad?

Vanilla extract with an alcohol base is significantly shelf-stable. So it does not go bad. However, the flavor intensity of prolonged-stored vanilla tends to go down. This is why vanilla extract comes in dark-colored bottles to preserve as much flavor as possible. 

Even though you can store vanilla extract for a long time and still use it, buying a quantity you can use within a few months is advisable. 

Is Vanilla Extract Gluten-Free and Vegan-Friendly?

Vanilla extract is a gluten-free product. Sometimes, the alcohol base used during the extraction of vanilla is grain-based. However, the distillation process during the curing removes gluten to a level that legally classifies vanilla extract as gluten-free. So, if you are a gluten-free baker, do not refrain from using vanilla extract in your recipes.

Regarding being vegan-friendly, both artificial and pure vanilla extracts are typically vegan-friendly. 

What’s the Alcohol Percentage in Vanilla Extract?

Pure vanilla extract contains at least 35% of alcohol. However, most vanilla products have their alcohol content listed on their labels. 

Is There a Substitute for Vanilla Extract?

If you run out of vanilla in the middle of your recipe preparation, do not panic. You can use strongly brewed coffee. This substitute is often ideal for brown-sugar-based, chocolate, or nutty recipes. For buttery, citrusy, or fruity recipes, an almond extract can be a perfect substitute for vanilla extract. 

Vanilla extract and vanilla beans

What to Make Using Vanilla Extract

There are hundreds of online recipes you can prepare using vanilla extract. How about trying the one below? 

Best Vanilla Cake Recipe

  • Total time: 50 minutes
  • Number of servings: 16
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Baking time: 30 minutes

Nutritional Content per Serving

  • Calories: 399
  • Fat: 0.56 ounces (16 grams)
  • Cholesterol: 0.002 ounces (54 milligrams) 
  • Sodium: 0.02 ounces (462 milligrams) 
  • Carbohydrate: 2.08 ounces (59 grams) 
  • Protein: 0.18 ounces (5 grams) 

Equipment Needed

  • Oven
  • Small bowl
  • Mixer
  • 3 round baking pans
  • Large bowl
  • Sieve

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (301.5 grams) of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (804 grams) of cake flour
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (502.5 grams) of sugar
  • 4 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup (201 grams) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (591 milliliters) of canola oil
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.7 degrees Celsius). 
  2. Mix vanilla extract, vanilla paste, and cream in a small bowl until well-mixed. Afterward, let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. 
  3. Use parchment or grease paper to line the bottoms of the round baking pans. 
  4. Sift the mixture of sugar, cake flour, salt, and baking powder twice into a large bowl. 
  5. Add canola oil and butter to the mixture and beat until it becomes crumbly. 
  6. Add the egg whites one at a time to the mixture while beating well. 
  7. Add the sour cream and beat to mix well.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the lined round baking pans.
  9. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean after inserting it at the center of each cake.
  10. Let the pans cool for 10 minutes, and transfer your cakes to a wire rack. 
  11. Remove the grease paper from the bottom of the cakes and let the cakes cool off completely.
  12. You can frost the cakes as desired. 

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We always provide high-quality, informative, engaging, and entertaining content. In return, we create a proud community of Italians and Italian-Americans passionate about their culture and heritage. 

What is the Best Vanilla Extract?

The best vanilla extract should meet your baking and cooking needs. We believe you are always after a specific outcome when using vanilla extract. For this reason, we presented you with a variety of vanilla extracts that have the potential to meet and surpass your kitchen needs. 

Among the several vanilla extracts that the market offers, Sonoma Syrup Co Organic Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush", 8 oz, is one of the extracts that stands out. 

It is an all-purpose vanilla extract you can use in all recipes. Additionally, it packs with flavor compounds because of the cold extraction method and the infusion of Madagascan and Tahitian vanilla beans.  

We believe you are now spoilt for choices when choosing the best vanilla extract. So, keep trying them out until you settle on one that will become your favorite. 

Bestseller No. 1
Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking...
Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking…
Made with Pure Vanilla Extract and all naturally derived ingredients; Concentrated, bake and freeze proof blend is ideal for baking
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Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Pure Vanilla Extract,...
Amazon Brand – Happy Belly Pure Vanilla Extract,…
One 16 fl oz package of Happy Belly Pure Vanilla Extract; An Amazon brand; Vanilla bean extractive in water
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Molina Vanilla Blend 16.6oz (500ml)
Molina Vanilla Blend 16.6oz (500ml)
USAGE TIP: Yields as much as Pure Vanilla Extract; add same portions to your preparations
$4.08 Amazon Prime