Vanilla Extract Substitute

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Vanilla Extract

Out of vanilla extract, or looking for an alcohol-free or gluten-free alternative? Here are several vanilla extract substitutes to consider.

Maple Syrup (or Pancake Syrup)

Use an equal amount of syrup, in place of the vanilla extract that’s called for. If you use pure maple syrup, this substitute is gluten-free.

Vanilla-Flavored Nut or Soy Milk

Have vanilla milk in the fridge? Use it as a 1:1 replacement for vanilla extract. Most nut and soy milks are gluten-free, so this is another possibility, if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to vanilla extract. Just be sure to check the label on the milk carton. Some manufacturers use flavorings or preservatives that contain gluten.

Another Flavoring Extract

Dig through your pantry to see which flavoring extracts you have on hand? Do you have almond extract? What about orange, lemon or maple extract? Pick the one you think will work best in your recipe. Then, replace it measure for measure. If you choose almond extract, use half as much as is called for. It’s flavor is significantly stronger, so a little goes a long way.

Bourbon, Rum or Brandy

Grab a bottle of bourbon, rum or brandy from your liquor cabinet, and pour out an amount equal to the vanilla that’s called for in you recipe. Obviously, this substitute is neither alcohol-free, or gluten-free.


Swap in an equal amount of honey for the vanilla. This will add more sweetness than the vanilla extract, so consider how this will work in your recipe. Raw honey is gluten-free.

Vanilla Beans

If you don’t have vanilla extract, it’s probably unlikely you have vanilla beans in your pantry. But if you do, they’re an excellent stand in. To replace one teaspoon of extract, just slice a bean open lengthwise, and scrape the seeds out of one side. Save the rest of the seeds for another recipe, or use them to make vanilla sugar.

Vanilla paste or vanilla powder

Have vanilla paste or powder that you bought for a special recipe? Use it as a 1:1 replacement for the extract in your recipe.

If you don’t have any of these vanilla extract substitutes on hand . . .

Just skip the vanilla. It doesn’t contribute enough moisture to affect the chemistry of the recipe, and it probably isn’t the only source of flavor. You may want to think twice about leaving the vanilla out, however, if the word “vanilla” appears in the name of the recipe. That’s a good indication that it’s flavor is integral to the finished product.

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Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract Substitute

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Here are a bunch of vanilla extract substitutes, including alcohol-free and gluten-free options.

  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: Varies


  • Maple syrup, pancake syrup, vanilla-flavored nut or soy milk, flavoring extract (almond, lemon, orange), bourbon, rum, brandy, honey, vanilla beans, vanilla paste or vanilla powder


Replace the vanilla extract that’s called for with an equal measure of any of the ingredients listed above. If you decide to use almond extract as your substitute, use half as much, to account for it’s stronger flavor.


  • Pure maple syrup and raw honey are gluten-free. Vanilla-flavored nut or soy milk, vanilla paste and vanilla powder may also be gluten-free. Consult their product label.
  • Nutrition facts are based off of using maple syrup as the substitute.

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