All About Vanilla for Baking


Vanilla is one of the most important flavorings in baking. Whether it is the main flavor or a supporting flavor, vanilla is used more than any other flavoring in baked goods. Learn the different types of vanilla products you can use for baking and how they are best used. 

This article was created in partnership with Rodelle Vanilla.

Vanilla Overview

Today we are diving into arguably the most common flavoring used in baking, vanilla. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors used worldwide and it is incredibly common to use it in baked goods.

If you’ve ever baked anything in your life then you likely have a little bottle of vanilla extract in your cupboard. But there are many other vanilla products available, and today I am partnering with my favorite vanilla brand, Rodelle Vanilla, to discuss some of the different forms  of vanilla you can use in your baking.

Rodelle is the brand of vanilla that I have been using for years and I am so grateful to partner with brand that I use and love. Not only are Rodelle’s vanilla products high quality, but they are a brand with great integrity that believes in supporting the environment and their farmer’s. You can read more about the Rodelle Foundation and their philanthropic efforts here.

What is Vanilla?

True vanilla comes from a pod, sometimes referred to as a bean, of a climbing orchid. This orchid is native to central and northern south america.

Inside the vanilla pod there are thousands of tiny seeds that are highly aromatic and contain most of the vanilla flavor. Often when you buy something labeled as “vanilla bean” flavored you will notice all of the tiny little seeds throughout the product. This is a visual cue that the flavor is the real thing.

Where does Vanilla Come From?

While Mexico is known as “the birthplace of the vanilla bean,” currently Madagascar is the world’s leading producer of vanilla. The whole process of producing vanilla from start to finish is both labor intensive and time consuming. This is why vanilla is among one of the most expensive spices in the world.

What is Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla pods in alcohol and water. Over time the complexities of the vanilla flavor become infused in the liquid creating vanilla extract.

Are Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Flavor the Same Thing?

Vanilla extract and vanilla flavor are both made with real vanilla beans. The difference between the two is that vanilla flavor is not made with alcohol and therefore cannot be labeled as extract.

Comparing Vanilla Products for Baking and Best Uses

The types of vanilla products available for baking go far beyond vanilla extract. Here are a few of the most popular products and the best uses for each.

Pure Vanilla Extract

  • What is Vanilla Extract?: Vanilla extract is made from soaking real vanilla beans in alcohol and water. This process extracts creates a thin liquid that has a concentrated vanilla flavor.
  • How to Use Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract does not affect the structure of your baked good, it only flavors it. You can increase or decrease the amount of vanilla extract in a recipe to meet your flavor preferences.
  • Best Uses for Vanilla Extract: All purpose baking. Cookies, cakes, brownies, frostings, and more…
  •  Find Rodelle’s Pure Vanilla Extract »

Baker’s Extract

  • What is Baker’s Extract?: Rodelle’s Baker’s Extract is pure vanilla extract mixed with other natural flavors such as chocolate, caramel, cream, and oak. It is a more inexpensive option to pure vanilla extract.
  • How to Use Baker’s Extract: You can substitute baker’s extract 1:1 in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract.
  • Best Uses for Baker’s Extract: All purpose baking. Cookies, brownies, cakes, candies, and more…
  •  Find Rodelle’s Baker’s Extract »

Vanilla Beans

  • What are Vanilla Beans?: Vanilla beans are the whole vanilla pod containing thousands of tiny seeds inside. The seeds contain concentrated vanilla flavor.
  • How to Use Vanilla Beans: Make sure the vanilla beans you buy are soft and pliable. Cut the beans in half and then split each half down the center using a sharp pairing knife. Use the blade of the knife to scrape out all of the seeds to use in your recipe. Substitute 1 vanilla pod in place of 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Best Uses for Vanilla Beans: Baked goods where vanilla is the main flavor. Vanilla bean ice cream, pastry cream, vanilla bean frosting, homemade vanilla extract, vanilla sugar
  •  Find Rodelle’s Vanilla Beans »

Vanilla Paste

  • What is Vanilla Paste?: Vanilla paste is made up of concentrated vanilla extract and vanilla powder. It is a convenient alternative to using whole vanilla beans, as it has an intense vanilla flavor and will give the visual look of using vanilla beans.
  • How to Use Vanilla Paste: Substitute vanilla paste 1:1 for vanilla extract or use 1 tsp vanilla paste in place of 1 vanilla bean pod.
  • Best Uses for Vanilla Paste: Where you want the visual look of vanilla bean and a strong vanilla flavor. Vanilla bean ice cream, pastry cream, buttercream
  •  Find Rodelle’s Vanilla Paste »

Alcohol Free Vanilla Flavor

  • What is Alcohol Free Vanilla Flavor?: Alcohol free vanilla flavor is just like vanilla extract except it is made without soaking the beans in alcohol. Vanilla flavor is still made from pure vanilla beans and is not imitation vanilla.
  • How to Use Vanilla Flavor: Vanilla flavor can be used 1:1 in any recipe where you would use vanilla extract.
  • Best Uses for Vanilla Flavor: All purpose baking
  •  Find Rodelle’s Alcohol Free Vanilla Flavor »

Double Strength Vanilla

  • What is Double Strength Vanilla?: Double strength vanilla extract, also known as double fold vanilla extract, is made from twice as many beans as traditional vanilla extracts.
  • How to Use Double Strength Vanilla: Substitute half the amount of double strength vanilla for traditional vanilla extract in your recipe.
  • Best Uses for Double Strength Vanilla: Double strength vanilla makes an excellent gift. Should be used for special occasions when a very strong vanilla flavor is desired.
  •  Find Rodelle’s Reserve Vanilla »

I hope you found this information about different types of vanilla products used in baking helpful. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section and I will be happy to answer them for you!

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10 comments on “All About Vanilla for Baking”

  1. So informative and fun to read!! 

  2. This is a great post, Kristin! Thank you for putting this information together and for clearing up some of the questions bakers might have about the many types of vanilla products available! We’re excited to help answer any questions you might have about our premium vanilla ingredients!

  3. VANILLA FOR BAKING: Good informative article. Would like to see more like this. Learning about and why in baking…..is always good. How about what frosting to use with what cake; different flavorings to add to get new taste etc. Example: I make a dark chocolate raspberry amaretto as a cake and as brownies.

    also: will try Rodelle extracts.

    • Hi Robert! Glad that you enjoyed this article. Frostings are definitely something I have on my list to add more to the site! I only have a few because, surprisingly, I am actually someone who really doesn’t enjoy frosting. But I know people are always looking for frosting recipes so I have some in the works!

  4. How to make my own vanilla 

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