Vanilla sugar gives a recipe a pleasing aroma and helps improve its overall palatability by making it sweeter. However, despite being a delightful addition to your desserts and baking recipes, vanilla sugar is only available in some specialty stores, and not many of these are accessible to everyone. This requires you to look for the best vanilla substitute that offers the same flavor and sweetens the dish.
The best vanilla sugar substitute is homemade vanilla sugar, made by mixing sugar with vanilla beans. However, you can also use vanilla paste, pure vanilla extract, and vanilla syrup if you already have them. This article will cover a total of 13 substitutes to help you with your vanilla sugar needs.
Read on to learn everything about each substitute, how they affect the flavor profile of your dessert, and how much you need to substitute vanilla sugar.
Best Vanilla Sugar Substitute
1) Homemade Vanilla Sugar
If you have the time, you can make vanilla sugar at home using only two ingredients: white sugar and vanilla beans. When making homemade vanilla sugar, you will need a food processor to turn the vanilla bean seeds into a fine powder and incorporate them with sugar. You need one vanilla bean pod per cup of granulated sugar.
Before adding the vanilla, you must mix the granulated sugar in a food processor. This will help the vanilla spread out evenly. Then, you need to scrape the seeds from the fresh vanilla pod, transfer them to the food processor with the sugar, and blend again for about 30 seconds. You now have vanilla sugar that should last you up to two years.
1 tablespoon store-bought vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon of homemade vanilla sugar.
2) Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla bean paste is made by mixing vanilla beans, sugar, alcohol, water, and gum—making it another excellent vanilla sugar substitute. Compared to vanilla sugar, vanilla bean paste is less sweet with a more intense vanilla flavor.
When used as a substitute, you have to start by adding a small amount and build up when you need more. Also, you might need to add more sugar to your recipe to match vanilla sugar's sweetness.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste.
3) Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is one of the most widely available vanilla products in stores. Like fresh vanilla bean pod paste, pure vanilla extract contains alcohol to get the most flavor from a vanilla pod. However, pure vanilla extract does not have sugar or any sweetener, so you must increase the sugar level in the recipe.
You can also make vanilla sugar by mixing white sugar and vanilla extract. Just mix ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract with one tablespoon of granulated sugar and use it as a substitute. When in a pinch, you can also use imitation vanilla extract, vanilla flavoring, or vanilla essence instead of pure vanilla extract.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and sugar mixture.
4) Vanilla Syrup
Vanilla syrup is a simple syrup infused with real vanilla beans. If you can't find any of this at your local stores, you can make it at home by combining one cup of white sugar, one cup of water, and two tablespoons of vanilla extract until the sugar dissolves. This substitute is perfect, especially when you're preparing a drink.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup.
5) Vanilla Powder
While pure vanilla powder comes from a ground vanilla pod, the ones often available in stores have sugar in them, providing an intense vanilla taste and sweetness from the sugar. However, vanilla powder is hard to find and is pretty expensive.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = ⅛ teaspoon vanilla powder.
6) Regular Sugar
When in a pinch, you can't go wrong with just using regular granulated sugar. Although you won't get the real vanilla taste and aroma, you will get the sweetness you get from vanilla sugar.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon of regular granulated sugar.
7) Icing Sugar or Powdered Sugar
Like regular granulated sugar, icing sugar or powdered sugar also provides the sweetness you get from vanilla sugar. However, icing sugar offers a fine texture, making it perfect for topping or dusting desserts, much like how you would use powdered vanilla sugar.
Icing sugar is perfect for making ice cream, french toast, cookies, and any baked goods that need a sweet topping.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon icing sugar.
8) Coconut Sugar
Although you won't get the real vanilla flavor and aroma when using coconut sugar, this substitute provides a caramel taste to your baking recipes. Coconut sugar works well in sauces, cakes, cookie recipes, and when sprinkled on top of cereals and granola.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar.
9) Brown Sugar
Like coconut sugar, brown sugar enhances the flavor profile of your desserts by adding a deep caramel and toffee taste. Brown sugar works best when used in baked goods and hot drinks. However, the main downside to this substitute is that it takes more time to dissolve it.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
10) Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of the best vanilla sugar substitutes since it offers a complex taste of caramel and vanilla. However, you should start by adding only a small amount to avoid overpowering the taste of your dessert. You can use maple syrup as a drizzle on your cookies, cakes, and french toast.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = ½ tablespoon maple syrup.
Like maple syrup, honey adds a natural vanilla flavor to your recipes. However, note that honey could be a little too sweet compared to sugar. Nevertheless, feel free to use honey as a substitute if you already have it at home.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = ½ tablespoon honey.
12) Vanilla-Flavored Milk
If you're making drinks, vanilla milk is an excellent substitute because of its rich flavor and mild sweetness. The milk adds a creamy texture to your drinks. However, due to its mild sweetness, you may want to consider adding more sugar to your liking.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 2 tablespoons vanilla milk.
13) Almond Extract
Despite being a product of almonds, almond extract surprisingly does not taste like almonds. Pure almond extract tastes like vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and cherry. However, it lacks sugar and may overpower other elements you use in your recipe.
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = ¼ tablespoon almond extract.
This curated list of the best substitutes for vanilla sugar can be summarized into the following table.
|Homemade Vanilla Sugar||Homemade vanilla sugar is easy to make and provides the same flavor profile as store-bought ones.|
|Vanilla Bean Paste||Vanilla paste is sweet and offers a strong vanilla flavor to any recipe.|
|Vanilla Extract||Vanilla extract offers a strong vanilla flavor but needs sugar for the sweetness.|
|Vanilla Syrup||Vanilla syrup provides both the vanilla taste and sweetness without being expensive.|
|Vanilla Powder||Vanilla powder offers an intense vanilla flavor and aroma and is sometimes sweet.|
|Regular Sugar||Regular white sugar is very accessible and provides that sweetness you need in a pinch.|
|Icing Sugar or Powdered Sugar||Provides a more refined texture, perfect for dusting desserts.|
|Coconut Sugar||Coconut sugar adds hints of caramel to your baking recipes.|
|Brown Sugar||Brown sugar adds a deep toffee taste that adds character to your baked goods and drinks.|
|Maple Syrup||Maple syrup offers hints of caramel and vanilla flavors but is sweeter than vanilla sugar.|
|Honey||Honey adds floral notes with vanilla undertones to your drinks.|
|Vanilla Flavored Milk||Vanilla milk provides a rich vanilla taste without the overpowering sweetness. Great for drinks.|
|Almond Extract||Almond extract offers a rich taste with vanilla undertones but can sometimes be too overpowering.|
The best vanilla extract substitutes are either vanilla bean paste, essence, or artificial vanilla flavor. You can also use vanilla powder, powdered vanilla sugar, almond extract, honey, and maple syrup.
Pure vanilla comes from the vanilla orchid, or vanilla bean orchid, which is considered rare and takes years to produce flowers and vanilla bean pods, making them very expensive.