The vanilla flavor has always been one of a kind. It is one of the baking essentials. Vanilla gives depth to dishes and also balances the flavors. It is used in ice cream, chocolates, baked goods, coffee, and even nuts.
Vanilla bean paste is a thick paste that has a rich vanilla flavor. It contains vanilla extract as well as vanilla bean seeds that have been scraped out of the pod.
The first time I heard of vanilla bean paste I assumed that it is packaged in a tube (because it is a paste), so I went looking for a tube.
Imagine my surprise when I actually realized that my assumption was wrong. Manufacturers package vanilla bean paste in small bottles.
Vanilla bean paste is commonly used in recipes that call for whole vanilla beans because whole vanilla beans are expensive and in a way, too much work. Vanilla bean paste, whole vanilla beans, and vanilla extract can all be used interchangeably.
Vanilla bean paste has several uses. You can use it in moister desserts, custards, and creams. The paste provides a rich vanilla flavor.
Additionally, it leaves small black specks from vanilla seeds that make your dish visually appealing. My desserts, especially the light-colored ones, always look so attractive when they have these small black specks.
In case your recipe requires you to use vanilla bean paste and you have none, you can use vanilla bean paste substitutes instead.
The substitutes will give you similar results. Vanilla extract, whole vanilla beans, vanilla powder, and vanilla essence are suitable substitutes for vanilla bean paste. They all add a rich vanilla flavor to dishes. We will get into the details of these vanilla bean paste substitutes in a bit.
Where to buy vanilla bean paste
Vanilla bean paste is not that hard to find. Most grocery stores stock it. If the store close to you does not stock it, you can find it in kitchen supply stores.
Kitchen supply stores always stock vanilla bean paste.
Alternatively, you can simply buy the vanilla bean paste online. I have come across several online vendors that sell it so you can just order it online and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Vanilla bean paste substitutes
There are several reasons that you may need to substitute vanilla bean paste with something else.
The most obvious one is when you have run out and don’t have the time to rush to the store and get more.
Luckily, there are several vanilla bean paste substitutes that you can use. These substitutes are readily available and chances are that you have one (or two) stocked in your kitchen.
- Vanilla extract
Vanilla extract is one of the best substitutes for vanilla bean paste. Manufacturers make vanilla extract by soaking whole vanilla beans in a solution.
There are several advantages of using vanilla extract as a vanilla paste substitute. For starters, is a very common ingredient and is therefore widely available. Another advantage is that it is very affordable.
Vanilla bean paste is an amazing addition to desserts that call for vanilla bean paste. Just like vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract gets its flavor from vanilla beans.
However, the vanilla extract does not have seeds that are found inside the bean. Therefore, your desserts will not have the small specks that vanilla bean paste gives them.
The only disadvantage with vanilla extract is that it contains alcohol. You can easily taste the alcohol in some dishes you add it to.
If you want an alcohol-free substitute, consider using one of the other substitutes that we will discuss below.
I love using vanilla extract in custard applications that call for vanilla bean paste because its liquid form is very easy to use.
To substitute vanilla bean paste with vanilla extract, use one tablespoon of vanilla extract for every tablespoon of vanilla bean paste that your recipe requires.
- Whole vanilla beans
Whole vanilla beans are arguably the best substitute for vanilla bean paste.
My only concern is that whole vanilla beans are more expensive compared to the other substitutes. However, if the price is not an issue to you, they are your best bet.
Whole vanilla beans add a concentrated vanilla flavor to the dishes that they are added to. Vanilla beans are actually the source of the vanilla flavor in vanilla bean paste. This makes them the best substitute.
Another advantage of using whole vanilla beans is that they will give the same color that vanilla bean paste gives your light-colored desserts.
Additionally, whole vanilla beans will leave the small black specks that vanilla bean paste leaves. The specks will make your desserts more visually appealing.
To use vanilla beans as an alternative to vanilla bean paste, you will need to use a sharp knife to split the pods and then scrape out the seeds.
You can use the edge of your knife to remove the seeds.
Substitute one teaspoon of vanilla bean extract with one vanilla bean pod. Your desserts may even taste better than when you use vanilla bean paste.
- Vanilla powder
I’m pretty sure you have interacted with vanilla powder in some of your recipes. Manufacturers generally make vanilla powder by grinding vanilla beans to powder form.
Some manufacturers make it by drying a mixture of vanilla extract and sucrose or cornstarch.
The one made by grinding the beans is more concentrated compared to the one made by drying a mixture of vanilla extract and cornstarch.
Vanilla powder is a suitable substitute for vanilla bean paste. There are several varieties of vanilla powder in the market. All the varieties add a distinct vanilla flavor to your dishes.
The main advantage of using vanilla powder as a vanilla bean paste substitute is that it will not add extra moisture or alcohol notes to your dish but still give it that amazing vanilla flavor.
I suggest using vanilla powder in cookies and other baked goods that do not require a lot of moisture.
If you are making a creamy dessert or one that has a lot of moisture, the vanilla powder may not be a suitable substitute. Consider using one of the other substitutes that have a liquid content.
Substitute vanilla bean paste with vanilla powder in equal measures. Use one teaspoon of vanilla powder for every teaspoon of vanilla bean paste that your recipe requires.
- Vanilla essence
Vanilla essence is basically an imitation of vanilla extract. Most people think vanilla essence and vanilla extract are the same things, but they are not.
Vanilla essence is a manufactured liquid that has a synthetic vanilla flavor. It does not contain real vanillin. It also contains other additives like sweeteners, coloring, and preservatives.
Although it gives dishes a vanilla flavor, the flavor is not as concentrated as that of vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla essence still adds a mild vanilla flavor to baked goods and is, therefore, a suitable substitute for vanilla bean paste.
One advantage of using vanilla essence is that it is in liquid form. Therefore, you can easily incorporate it into your baked goods especially those that are creamy or need some moisture in them.
For every teaspoon of vanilla bean paste that your recipe calls for, use one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste instead.
Vanilla bean paste is one of the easiest ingredients to substitute. Not many products will give your dish that authentic vanilla flavor, but the ones can make for excellent substitutes.
Whole vanilla beans are my favorite vanilla bean paste substitute for two main reasons.
The first one is that the vanilla beans add that concentrated vanilla flavor to all dishes they are added to.
The second is that I still get those small black specks in my baked goods. This substitute is a winner because it gives you two of the features that vanilla bean paste is known for.
Vanilla extract comes second for obvious reasons. First, vanilla extract is one of the ingredients used to make vanilla bean paste. Second, vanilla extract and vanilla extract have the same liquid content and texture.
Therefore, substituting one for the other is quite easy. The vanilla extract works well in all recipes that call for vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla powder is another suitable substitute. I do not use it too much because it is only suitable for use in baked goods that do not contain moisture, for example, cookies. All in all, vanilla powder still adds a rich vanilla flavor to dishes.
My least favorite substitute is vanilla essence for two reasons. Vanilla essence only has a synthetic vanilla flavor, in fact, it does not have real vanillin.
Another issue is that it has several other ingredients including sweeteners and coloring. Therefore, vanilla essence does not give dishes the authentic vanilla flavor.
All in all, if you have no other substitute on hand it will work just fine. You can easily incorporate it into dishes because of its liquid form
Try these amazing vanilla bean paste substitute today and let me know how your dishes turn out. None of the substitutes has ever let me down.