How often do you use vanilla extract? As chocolate lovers, we do not like to get the flavor of vanilla extract from chocolate cakes or cookies. But vanilla extract is added to all types of cake to enhance the taste and make it appetizing for people. But if the flavor of vanilla cake is overpowering than chocolate, then people will not be delighted.
The flavor is the most important feature of vanilla extract. Due to the use of alcohol, the flavor of the vanilla extract varies. The sugar content in the extract can be harmful to health and result in diabetes. Kosher, non-GMO, sugar, and many other things need to be considered before buying the best vanilla extract to use in your cooking.
The Watkins Vanilla Extract is our best pick on our list because all-natural ingredients are used in processing the vanilla extract. This extract is called gourmet baking vanilla extract as it is used by professionals in all kinds of sweet dishes. Fruit juice color is added in the vanilla extract that will give a light brown color when added with regular cake or smoothies.
The McCormick Vanilla Extract is on our best budget pick because of the caramelized flavor of the extract. We love the design of the bottle and the spout for pouring the extract. The brand has been making vanilla extract and has gained expertise in making the perfect flavorful extract for desserts.
Quick Comparison: The 12 Best Vanilla Extract
1. Watkins Vanilla Extract
The Watkins Vanilla Extract is made of all-natural ingredients that make it safe to use in food. It is made in the USA and is made from the world's best Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans. The flavor of the extract is light as no artificial flavors are not used in it.
This kosher-certified vanilla extract comes in an 11 fluid ounces bottle. The lid is made of plastic. It can leak if it is not stored carefully. It is a non-GMO product that is perfect for baking cookies, cake, waffles, brownies, etc. The bottle can be recycled that reduces the wastage of the products.
Moreover, you can use this vanilla extract to cook any gluten-free recipe. It has low alcohol content and has won awards for its flavor. Not to mention, the vanilla extract has the kosher certification.
2. McCormick Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is used in most baking recipes. The vanilla extract from McCormick does not have an overpowering flavor and goes well with all kinds of sweet dishes. First of all, it has no corn syrup or gluten ingredients. Natural vanilla beans, water, and alcohol are used in the processing of the extract.
It comes in a bottle wrapped in a paper box. The bottle is made of plastic and has an airtight lid. The best feature of this extract is that it has a pour spout which makes the pouring easier. You can limit the addition of vanilla extract with its pouring mechanism.
On the other hand, it has alcohol, and quantity is not mentioned. As the extract gives a bourbon rummy flavor, you can expect the ratio of the alcohol to be high. For those who avoid alcohol or alcoholic products, this extract is not for them. This brand sells vanilla extract in various quantities like 2, 4, 8, and 16 fluid ounces. You can choose the quantity you need for preparing your dish.
3. Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
From the name, it makes sense that this vanilla extract is made of organic elements. Even organic alcohol is used in making this vanilla extract. The feature we like most about this extract is that no additional sugar is added to increase sweetness. So, those who like to bake sugar-free cakes or cookies can easily use this extract in their recipe.
The extract comes in a glass bottle with a tin lid. You can buy 1 fluid ounce of extract if you are using this brand for the first time.
They also sell 2, 4, 8 fluid ounces of vanilla extract. The color of the extract is deep amber and gives a warm flavor. Moreover, their vanilla extract contains 35% alcohol which is the least amount needed for the flavors in the extract. These gluten-free ingredients help to bake healthy and tasty patisseries.
4. Danncy Vanilla Extract
If you are looking for a vanilla extract with intense flavor, then Danncy vanilla extract can fulfill your requirement. This vanilla extract is made using a Mexican recipe. For this reason, this flavor can be strong for some people and perfect for others.
The vanilla extract is made from the purest vanilla beans and is free of gluten elements. The fact we don't like about this extract is that it comes in a plastic bottle. The bottle is not of good quality. Also not suitable to store the whole extract in this bottle for a longer period.
The brand sells a large amount of vanilla extract so people who want to buy a small amount cannot purchase this extract. Even patisseries and bakeries might not need this much vanilla extract for baking their bread, cakes, etc. If you are not a fan of vanilla, it is better to stay away from this extract to use in chocolate cakes or cookies.
5. Rodelle Vanilla Extract
Rodelle has been making baking ingredients since 1936 for which they find the best vanilla beans to make the vanilla extract. They partnered with Sahanala to offer stable jobs for the farmers and in return collect the premium vanilla beans. Most of the process is done manually, which keeps the flavor and taste of the vanilla beans intact.
The extract is then packed in a glass bottle and sold in the markets for the customers. 4 ounces and 8 ounces bottles of vanilla extract are sold in the shops. The vanilla extract is free of gluten and approved as a kosher product.
Moreover, there is no addition of sugar in their vanilla extract that will not change the taste of the baked food. The consistency of the extract is not dark and has no strong flavor. As a result, the cakes will not be overwhelmed with the flavor of vanilla.
6. Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
Nielsen-Massey has its own method of extraction of vanilla extract from vanilla beans. The beans are farmed and cultivated by professional farmers. The matured beans then are handpicked for the further process. By the cold extraction process, they take out the essence and keep the delicate flavors intact.
Moreover, the cleanest and purest water from Lake Michigan is used in the extract. All the items in the extract are natural and are also verified as a non-GMO project. Not only natural but also gluten-free and allergen-free.
It is also a kosher-certified vanilla extract that can be widely used in desserts. However, they have added some sugar to the extract so that the flavor is uniformly distributed in the bottle. The extract comes in a glass jar and is available in various quantities like 2, 4, 8, 32, and 128 fluid ounces.
7. Native Vanilla Extract
This vanilla extract from Native processes the vanilla beans in a way to preserve the 300 flavor compounds from the vanilla. For its extraction process, a floral aroma accompanied by fruity notes is found when added with food. It is prepared from premium gourmet whole bean pods.
It will easily mix with the ingredients of ice cream, cookies, sauce, coffee, and many more. It has no added sugar so you have the flexibility to add sweetness as you like. The beans are collected from Papua New Guinea and the brand helps in developing the lifestyle of the farmers.
You can choose 4, 8, or 16 fluid ounces of vanilla extract. All of them come in plastic bottles. The bottle is designed to ease the pouring method. You can store the extract in the bottle or can transfer it to a glass bottle. There is no mention the bottle is a food-grade product.
8. Symrise Vanilla Extract
The Bourbon vanilla beans from Madagascar are collected to make Symrise Vanilla Extract. After collection, the extraction process and packaging are done in the USA. You will get a rich aroma by adding this vanilla extract to oatmeal, protein shakes, cocktails, etc.
The feature we like about this vanilla extract is that it comes in a glass bottle. The extract can be stored in this bottle for years.
The lid of the bottle is made of bamboo. The whole packaging of the extract makes it look different from others. Moreover, the clear strip on the side shows the remaining amount of vanilla extract. As a result, you can buy the extract when needed.
Symrise also sells their vanilla extract in large quantities like 16, 32, 64, and 128 fluid ounces. These large quantities come in BPA-free plastic. It does not include sugar in processing the extract but they did not mention whether the vanilla extract is corn syrup free.
If you are looking for kosher-certified vanilla syrup, this might not be the one as it has no mention of the certification. Also, this extract is not a non-GMO certified project. Their vanilla extract comes with various other flavors. Vanilla extract with lemon, orange, and spices are available that can be used for making fruity cookies or cakes.
9. Happy Belly Vanilla Extract
Happy Belly Vanilla Extract is only distributed by amazon and it can be hard to find when it is out of stock. This extract comes in 1 fluid ounce bottle. Other quantities are not sold as it is a new brand in the market.
As it comes in a plastic bottle, the lid is also made of plastic. It does not have a pouring spout. You need to carefully pour the vanilla extract or else it spills and creates a mess in your kitchen. Also, make sure to pour the extract away from fire as the alcohol in the extract can catch fire easily.
The vanilla extract is not natural. We are not sure of the allergic reaction it can cause as it is not gluten-free. You need to store the vanilla extract away from the flame for safety reasons.
10. Heilala Vanilla Extract
The Heilala Vanilla Extract is a sugar-free extract that can be used for diets or in children's meals. The best feature of this vanilla extract is that it is alcohol-free. Glycerine is used as a substitute for alcohol. Those who want halal extract can use this one. Though, it is not certified as a halal vanilla extract.
Moreover, the extract is free of peanut, dairy, egg, gluten, etc. The visibility of the vanilla beans makes it organic vanilla extract but it has no certification. The vanilla extract comes in a glass bottle which can be hard to pour.
Alcohol base vanilla extract is also sold by Heilala. If you do not want vanilla beans in your extract you can choose the others ones as well. The vanilla extract can be used raw in pancakes or smoothies.
11. Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Vanilla Extract
Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Vanilla Extract is a Mexican extract that is bottled in the USA. They have been making vanilla extract for more than 100 years. The premium-grade vanilla beans are collected for processing into vanilla extract.
35% alcohol, water, and vanilla beans are used in the extract. All elements are natural and free of gluten.
However, we are not sure of the allergen contents. It comes in a glass bottle that is suitable for storage. It might contain sugar, so taste before using it for baking.
12. Sonoma Syrup Co Vanilla Extract
Lastly, we have a vanilla extract from Sonoma Syrup Co which includes the vanilla seeds for processing. Two types of vanilla Tahitian and bourbon are used to bring out the robust flavor in the vanilla extract. 40% organic alcohol is used for extraction flavors from the alcohol.
The vanilla extract comes in a glass bottle that is recyclable. Cane sugar is added in the process and is made sure that the extract is gluten-free.
Cane sugar is also harmful and can cause diabetes, heart diseases, etc. You will get a vintage flavor on this extract as they have naturally processed the vanilla during cultivation and plucking. This vanilla extract can be used for a wide variety of dishes.
Things To Consider Before Buying The Best Vanilla Extract
Are you new to baking and looking for a flavorful vanilla extract? If it's your first time buying vanilla extract, buy small quantities and pour little amounts so that your cooked food does not get overwhelmed with vanilla flavor. You should go through the elements and certification of the vanilla extract before deciding on the brand.
Quantity of vanilla extract
How often do you bake cookies, cakes, or desserts? Usually, the ratio of adding vanilla extract is the least compared to other baking ingredients. The ideal measurement is adding 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract when 2 eggs are used. Vanilla extracts remove the smell of eggs and provide a light floral smell to the food.
However, some vanilla extracts have dark consistency and may require a very little amount. In our article, we mentioned a Mexican vanilla extract, Danncy Vanilla Extract. They have an intense flavor and 2 or 3 drops are enough. So depending on your use, you should buy 2, 4, or 8 fluid ounces of vanilla extract. 32 and higher ounces of vanilla extract are also available.
Around us, there are many people who cannot digest glutinous food. Gluten is mostly found in grains like wheat, barley, rye which are processed as bread, pizza, cereals, etc. Usually, there are no gluten elements required to produce the vanilla extract. But, the surrounding area of packaging extract can also package wheat. Small grains can get mixed with vanilla extract.
Though most of the vanilla extract is gluten-free. It is better to check if gluten-free is mentioned on the bottle or not. Those who have celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 diabetes, etc are advised to stay away from glutens.
Free of Corn syrup
Corn syrup acts as an artificial sugar when added to any product. To give sweetness to vanilla extract, various brands use corn syrup. Corn syrup not only makes anything taste sweet but also increases the appetite of an individual. The increased amount of appetite leads to obesity.
Eating products that contain hidden corn syrup can result in diabetes, weight gain, fatty liver disease, etc. it is better to avoid corn syrup added to the vanilla extract to make desserts. Also, if you are cooking for diabetic patients, it is better to choose the extract that has no corn syrup.
The allergen products that are widely recognized are tree nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, etc. Tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen come with the change of seasons. These allergen elements can cause different reactions to different people.
If you have a serious allergic reaction, you should choose allergen-free vanilla extract. Most of the brands usually mention if their extract contains any allergic products so that the customers do not have to suffer.
The flavor of vanilla extract
The flavor of the vanilla extract depends on the vanilla beans and the process of extraction. The best quality beans are grown in Madagascar, which is later collected by different brands. The brands have their unique recipe which makes the flavor different from one another.
Alcohol addition for the extraction process is also responsible for the flavor. Some extracts have a sweet floral flavor while others have a rummy or bourbon flavor. The flavor is mostly enjoyed for its light flavor. If you are trying a new brand, you should buy it in small quantities. As a result, if you don't like the flavor, very little will go to waste.
The alcohol content in the extract
Vanilla beans, water, and alcohol are the main elements of vanilla extract. The alcohol works as an agent to extract the flavor from the vanilla beans. According to the FDA, 35% alcohol is required to extract the flavor out of vanilla beans. This amount of alcohol burns while cooking and causes no harm.
Usually, vodka is widely used for the extraction of flavor. Rum, bourbon, and brandy are also used to make variations in the flavors.
Verification as a non-GMO project
Artificial and organic vanilla extract is found in the shops. Artificial vanilla extract has flavors but contains no nutrition benefits. Nowadays, people are partial towards organic products. GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.
A product having a non-GMO verification means no artificial elements or flavors are used in the process of the vanilla extract. Moreover, artificial vanilla extract can give an allergic reaction to some people. It is better to choose vanilla extract made from natural ingredients.
Certification as a Kosher product
Vanilla extract is made of vegan elements. But it is also needed to have kosher certification so that Jews can use it for their food. Kosher certification is necessary for the jews to ensure that there is the contamination of forbidden oils or meat in the vanilla extract.
Addition of sugar
Usually, corn syrup is used to provide sweetness to the vanilla extract. But they mention corn syrup as sugar. So you need to be careful what they are adding to the vanilla extract and the quantity of it.
Vanilla extract that has sugar added can change the taste of your cakes or cookies. You might not like excess sweetness in your cake. So, taste your purchased vanilla extract before adding it to the cake mix.
The spout on the bottle
As vanilla extract is needed in small quantities, a spout will make it easier to pour the limited amount. But most of the bottles do not have spouts in their bottles. Rather they have a big mouth, where there is a big possibility of spilling while pouring the measured amount of vanilla extract.
The vanilla extract that comes in 32 ounces comes in a big jar. Those vanilla extracts need to be poured separately in a small bottle before adding to any recipes.
Glass or plastic bottles
The 2, 4,8 fluid ounces vanilla extract comes in a glass bottle. Glass bottles are healthier than plastic ones and can be reused. But, you need to be careful while handling the glass bottles as they will break if they fall from the kitchen countertop.
On the other hand, plastic jugs are not food grade and should be used for storing vanilla extract in them. If you are buying large amounts of vanilla extract, try to pour them into a food-grade container so that it remains edible.
Expiration date of the extract
Before buying any food products, checking the expiration date is mandatory. At home, cakes and cookies are regularly made. As a result, it is seen that the vanilla extract is stored in the corner for months. Usually, the vanilla extract is made with longer expiration dates to allow people to use it for a long time.
The flavor of the vanilla extract will not fade away if it is stored carefully and the lid of the bottle is closed.
Is vanilla extract considered vegan?
Yes, vanilla extract is vegan water, alcohol, and vanilla beans are used in making the extract.
Does vanilla extract have a shelf life?
Yes, vanilla extract has a shelf life. Make sure to check the expiry date before purchasing.
How should I store vanilla extract?
You can store the vanilla extract in a cold and dry place. It is not necessary to keep it in the freezer.
Can I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract?
Yes, you can use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. But the vanilla bean paste will give a different texture from vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is easier to mix than vanilla bean paste.
How is Mexican vanilla extract different from regular vanilla extract?
Mexican vanilla extract uses beans tonka tree which is a different tree from the vanilla plant. For this reason, they differ in flavor.
Cake frosting or brownies or smoothies? All require a hint of vanilla extract as a flavoring agent. Vanilla extract not only enhances the aroma but also removes the blunt smell present due to the addition of eggs. But the overpowering aroma of the vanilla extract does not make the dish appealing.
On the other hand, you have to make sure that the vanilla extract does not contain elements that can cause allergic reactions or any other health issues. Vanilla beans are the main components but the process and the recipes followed by the brands differentiate each of the extracts. For choosing the best vanilla extract, you need to know the features of the extract so that you can use it without any worries.