Vanilla is one of the most commonly used flavors in the world. We see it in just about everything that we eat from ice cream to coffee, cakes to bread, and in a huge array of beverages and dishes. It has a distinctive sweetness to it that makes it loved across the globe, by any age and gender.
With that being said, you may run into a little bit of confusion when it comes time to prepare a dish and you want to add some vanilla to it. This is because there are two ways of adding that vanilla flavor to your dish or beverage of choice: vanilla extract and vanilla syrup. So, is vanilla syrup the same as vanilla extract?
It is all too easy to make your way out of the supermarket with the wrong one, so understanding the difference between the two is important.
So, What Is the Difference: Vanilla Syrup Vs Vanilla Extract?
Let’s start with vanilla syrup first to explain is vanilla syrup the same as vanilla extract. Vanilla syrup is a syrup with a sweet flavor that is made with granulated sugar, water, and a bit of vanilla extract. There are some vanilla syrups out there made with a little bit of salt and brown sugar to provide a more enriched flavor in the final vanilla syrup result.
The syrup is then made by boiling the sugar and some salt in the water until that mixture comes to a full boil. When the mixture has finally cooled to a sufficient level, vanilla extract is added (a few teaspoons or so) to produce the final, delicious result.
Vanilla syrup also tends to be more of an add-on than vanilla extract. You can find some vanilla syrups that are meant to be added on top of cakes or ice creams to provide that final bit of sweetness to pull the dessert together.
Vanilla extract, meanwhile, is more of an additive to a mixture or recipe than it is a topping of sorts. Vanilla extract is actually a solution. It has vanillin, which is the primary flavor that is found in vanilla beans, mixed together with water and alcohol.
These days, vanillin is actually synthetic. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a vanilla extract should contain around 100 grams of vanilla beans and 35% alcohol per liter of vanilla extract.
The consistency of the two is another good determining factor. Vanilla syrup has a much thicker consistency to it and its taste is also much sweeter in nature. Vanilla extract, meanwhile, has a much more bitter flavor while also being thinner and more liquidy.
So, despite sharing similar names, vanilla syrup, and vanilla extract are actually quite different from one another. The syrup uses a little bit of vanilla extract to produce the flavor needed in the syrup. The extract, meanwhile, is a great additive to produce vanilla flavoring in other creations.
Break out the vanilla syrup whenever you want to add a vanilla flavor topping to a dish – like an ice cream or a cake, for instance – but use the extract when you are mixing it into a recipe that calls for it or a bit of vanilla flavoring.
You might also be interested in our guide on the best coffee syrups on Amazon.
Alternatives To Using Vanilla Extract
We all have our different reasons, but there are those who wish to get the sweetness of vanilla without having to use vanilla extract to do so. Whether you simply want to use something else or just don’t have any vanilla extract on hand, there are solutions to be had.
So, what can you use to procure that vanilla flavor without the use of vanilla extract immediately at hand?
Another extract, almond extract has a very strong flavor to it, so you will want to use half of what you would use if you had vanilla extract. So, for instance, if the recipe requires a tablespoon of vanilla extract, you would want to use half a tablespoon of your almond extract instead.
Almond extract is a great substitute that is ideal for sweets such as cookies and cakes, especially ones that have chocolate and coconut flavors. Again, be careful of the amount that you put into your recipe as the almond flavor can become overpowering if you use too much.
What better way to make up for the sweet taste of vanilla syrup or vanilla extract than by adding the sweet syrup that adorns millions of tabletops around the globe? This is easily one of the best substitutes for vanilla extract that there is.
Even better, you can use the same amount of maple syrup that you would have in vanilla extract. No need to worry about making alterations or changes, just add that same amount of syrup instead of vanilla extract.
Maple extract is another variation that can be used in place of vanilla extract. But if you do use the maple extract in place of maple syrup, you will want to follow the same precautions that you would with almond extract. So, if you have a recipe that needs a tablespoon of vanilla extract, you would want to only use a half of a tablespoon of the maple extract.
Another great alternative to vanilla extract is vanilla powder. This is because vanilla powder is actually vanilla beans that have been dried and pulverized into a powder. When using vanilla powder, you will want to use around half of the amount that you would of the extract.
Vanilla beans can actually be available in the form of paste, too. If you don’t want to have to bring math into the equation, try using vanilla paste, as it can be matched in equal amounts to the vanilla extract in your recipe.
The natural vanilla extract is actually derived from the seed pods of your traditional vanilla plant. The essence, meanwhile, is made of more synthetic compounds to achieve the vanilla flavor and the liquid texture of the essence.
This alternative actually goes in the opposite direction of the other substitutes. The extract form of vanilla has a stronger overall vanilla flavor than the vanilla essence, so you need more of it to achieve the vanilla flavor that you want in your food.
So, if you have a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of vanilla extract, you will need two tablespoons of vanilla essence to achieve the same depth of vanilla flavor. This can be a better substitute for vanilla extract because it leaves a bit more room for error than using another substitute that is stronger in flavor.
Fiori Di Sicilia
Another extract on the list, this one that actually contains vanilla, flower, and citrus essences with it. What’s great is that even though it is not solely a vanilla flavor, it can be used in place of vanilla extract so as to not alter the overall taste of your dish.
Like the other substitutes on the list, you will want to use less of the Fiori di SiciliaFiori di Sicilia than you would want to use of the vanilla extract. So, if the recipe calls for a tablespoon of vanilla extract, you would only want to use half of a tablespoon of fiori di sicilia.
Though it may be a bit trickier to accomplish, you can always use the vanilla bean itself as a substitute for vanilla extract. When you substitute them in for vanilla extract, you need to cut the bean lengthwise and then scrape out the seeds of the bean. You can use both the pulp and seeds of the bean should you so choose.
If you use that combination, you can replace one teaspoon of vanilla extract with just a single vanilla bean. If you decide to use the bean itself, you can also steep the pulp and inner seeds along with the pod of the vanilla bean. Use that liquid instead of the vanilla extract.
Again, use half the amount of this liquid that you would have used of vanilla extract.
Make Your Own Extract
When you are out of vanilla extract and need it for a recipe, you can always resort to making your own vanilla extract. You need to have vanilla beans on hand, as well as some alcohol. Vodka is the preferred alcohol used, but you can also try bourbon or rum if you need to make your own extract in a pinch.
Take three of the most supple and dark vanilla beans that you have and slit them vertically, right through the center. Take the beans and put them in a No products found. before pouring in a cup of vodka. Make certain that the bean is fully immersed in the vodka.
Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for around a month. Make sure that you shake it every now and again. When you begin to start using the extract, replace it with that amount of vodka to keep your extract full for up to six months when you’ll need to replace the vanilla beans.