Natural vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It belongs to the orchid family and grows in the tropics. Tropical creeper fruits are twisted sticks, slightly elastic and oily to the touch.

The harvested pods initially have no odor, but a white coating with a pronounced aroma is formed after fermentation.

The spice is added to cookies, cakes, buns, muffins, sweet pies, Easter cakes, and other pastries. In addition, it is often used in the preparation of fruit salads, desserts, wine, liqueurs, jams, puddings, creams, jellies, sweets, and sweet sauces. 

Vanilla is delicious in dairy products, such as smoothies, cottage cheese casseroles, and other dishes.

What is Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is an alcoholic tincture of vanilla beans. It is less concentrated compared to the essence, but it still enriches products with a great aroma.

vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is prepared similarly to essence but in different proportions. It is a mistake to believe that vanilla must be infused in 97% alcohol, as it will not allow the vanilla flavor to open up fully. Therefore, it is better to choose alcohol with a strength of no more than 35 -40.

Vanilla should be infused for 2-3 months. At the same time, you need to remember that, like any alcohol tincture, both the essence and the extract do not tolerate high temperatures and lose their properties when heated.

What is Vanilla Essence?

Vanilla essence is a concentrated alcoholic vanilla extract. Unlike vanilla powder or extract, the essence is more economical. For example, adding 3-4 drops is enough to give the dessert a persistent and rich aroma.

You can make vanilla essence at home if you have access to fresh vanilla pods: pour them with substantial alcohol proportion for 1 liter of alcohol 200-300 g of vanilla.

Vanilla Essence

Then infuse the essence for 2-3 months, periodically shaking the container. It’s essential to store the essence in a cool dark place but not in the refrigerator.

What is the difference between Vanilla extract vs. vanilla essence?

At first glance, it isn’t easy to distinguish them from each other for use in the recipe. However, below is the comparison that would help you make the final choice.


It’s not so easy to get vanilla. Traditionally it is a complicated process that takes several weeks to months.

In addition, the cultivation and production of vanilla are possible only in a few regions. So the high cost of vanilla extract and natural vanilla beans is logical.


As you can see above, the production process for vanilla essence and vanilla extract is very different. One is made in a natural way, while the other is synthetic.

Possible uses

For food production nowadays, both variants are used, and it’s just a question of price and quality. 

How are vanilla extract and vanilla essence different in baking?

When we talk about classic desserts worldwide, vanilla extract should definitely be the center of attention. If you add even a tiny amount of it, you can significantly enhance the flavor of your sweet recipe.

vanilla extract vs vanilla essence

Remember that vanilla extract gives any dish a more intense vanilla flavor than vanilla essence, but it’s more expensive. 

Essence is cheaper but artificially flavored. In most cases, it’s used in baked food where vanilla is not the prominent flavor, so there is no need to pay more. Still, if we talk about high-quality vanilla extract, it should be used when making vanilla pudding or royal icing.

Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla essence?

Of course, both products are used in cooking and can be used instead of each other. However, it would help if you stuck to the original recipe to get high-quality and tasty pastries.

Also, some products will only benefit if it has a pronounced flavor, while others should have minimal vanilla flavor.

How to use vanilla extract

The extract has a powerful aroma. However, it’s enough to use just one drop for 200 ml of cream. So there is a simple ratio of 5 ml per 1 kg to figure out how much vanilla extract to add to the dough. This way, you can get the perfect smell in the cake.

The only drawback of the extract is that it’s not stable under the influence of temperature. The aroma evaporates at temperatures above 70 C. So the best choice is to use it for biscuits, creams, and glazes.

How to use vanilla essence?

If we talk about high temperatures, the essence is more resistant. On the other hand, there is a drawback to this concentrated liquid.

How to use vanilla essence?

It isn’t easy to measure the right amount of spice if you cook with few ingredients. Too much liquid vanilla can be too strong, and the dessert would be spoiled. So for 1 kg of product, the maximum quantity of essence is 2 3 ml.

There are no other restrictions on how to use the extract and essence. You can add them to almost all recipes. Try not to rush and accurately measure the dosage. Substitutes for vanilla extract and vanilla essence

The liquid vanilla is very convenient, but it’s still quite expensive. And, of course, many people want to save money and replace vanilla extract.

Especially when you can go to the nearest supermarket and buy the usual vanillin paying ten times less, but if you still want to use artificial flavor, add 1 g of powder instead of 5 ml of extract. For example, to replace the vanilla essence in a biscuit, you need 1 g of vanillin per 2-3 ml of liquid.


The main task that every pastry chef has is to diversify the taste and aroma of desserts. Vanilla extract is an excellent choice for this. Due to more than 100 aromatic components, the smell is simply divine. In addition to desserts, it helps to:

  • Enhance sweetness. The dessert will still be just as sweet and much more healthy with less sugar;
  • Combine different flavors. Thanks to vanilla, other spices are felt as a single and pleasant bouquet of smells and tastes;
  • Hide imperfections. If you add too many spices or citrus fruits, the extract will help reduce their harshness. 

No matter what kind of vanilla product you choose, It will make everything taste better.