What Is The Difference Between Vanilla Extract And Vanilla Essence???

If you’re into baking cakes and other desserts, you must often have wondered about the difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence. Different recipes call for either, but it’s important to understand how the two differ.

Simply put, both vanilla essence and vanilla extract are used as flavoring agents in desserts, breads, cakes, puddings, frostings, etc.

Before I found out what vanilla extract was, I would feel I was missing out by using vanilla essence as a substitute. That’s because almost all international dessert recipes call for vanilla extract. However, when I finally began using it, I found hardly any difference in the taste of the final product. But when it comes to cost, vanilla extract is far, far more expensive.

Basically, if you like to use organic ingredients, natural vanilla extract is what you should opt for. To make the extract at home, keep a slit vanilla pod in an alcohol base like vodka for 3-4 months. Over a period of time, the flavor from the vanilla pod gets infused into the alcohol. Vanilla essence, on the other hand, is artificial and made using chemicals to recreate the flavor of vanilla.

You can also make vanilla extract by boiling a small piece of vanilla pod in a little water and use that water for flavoring. Alternately, slit open the pod and scrape out the vanilla beans which you can use directly in your dish.

Vanilla pods are quite expensive though – an average of Rs. 195 for three pods – but making your own extract is a lot cheaper than spending anywhere between Rs. 400 to Rs. 800 for a 60 ml bottle of vanilla extract (the bottle you see in the pic below is from Marks & Spencer). A bottle of vanilla essence (Bluebird, Marson and Voila) costs only Rs. 125 for 100 ml.

If you’d still like to buy some vanilla extract, I highly recommend Ndali Intense Vanilla Extract and Taylor & Colledge Vanilla Bean Extract.

I always have ample vanilla extract in my fridge and I use it mainly in custards, ice creams and in my recipe for homemade vanilla latte.

The choice between vanilla extract and vanilla essence mainly depends on what you’re using it for. For the vanilla latte, for example, I would recommend the extract because vanilla essence is too strong for the drink and sometimes gives it a bitter aftertaste.With vanilla essence, I determine the quantity based on the quality of the product.

While making puddings, if I need to replace vanilla extract with essence, I’ll use half the quantity of extract suggested in the recipe. Sometimes, however, I’ll use the same amount of vanilla essence; it all depends on how strong you want the flavor of vanilla to be in your dish.

Just a few tips: in my experience, too much artificial flavoring leaves a bitter aftertaste, especially in coffees and cookies, so be careful about that. Also, always add the extract or essence after the custard or pudding has been taken off the flame.

The word vanilla is a treat to the ears of many as the first thing that comes to mind is the image of an ice cream! The use of vanilla is most common as a flavour of ice cream and most of us associate vanilla with the same or a sweet dish only! This is not correct; there is more to vanilla than merely ice cream. As we are now about to see, there are many different applications of vanilla as well as vanilla extract. These two are often confused as one but they are not. There are some significant differences between the two that we shall now explore.

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Vanilla is a flavour that comes from orchids of the Vanilla genus. These are primarily Mexican species and are also known as flat-leaved vanilla or V. planifolia. The word vanilla itself is derived from a diminutive of a Spanish word vaina which refers to a pod or a sheath. Three main sources of vanilla are currently grown in the world. All of these are derivatives of a species that was originally found in Mesoamerica as well as regions of today’s Mexico. Talking about spices, vanilla is the second most expensive one (after saffron). This is because growing vanilla seed pods is a labour intensive job. The high prices are also because of the high demand of vanilla which is valued for its unique flavour.

On the other hand, vanilla extract is not just a flavour; it is a solution that contains the flavour known as compound vanillin which is the primary ingredient. A vanilla extract that is pure is made by macerating and then percolating beans of vanilla in a solution of water and ethyl (an alcohol).

The proportions of the two vary in different parts of the world; for example in the United States, a vanilla extract can be called pure if it contains a minimum of 35% alcohol and 100 grams of vanilla beans per litre (which is approximately 13.35 ounces per gallon). Double strength and triple strength vanilla extracts are also available.

When we refer to natural vanilla, the amount of alcohol that is present is very low when compared to a vanilla extract. Only about 2-3% alcohol is there in natural vanilla.

Although we may not realize it but the most common form of vanilla that we use today is actually vanilla extract. The main varieties include Mexican, Bourbon, Indonesian and Tahitian. We normally refer to any flavour of vanilla as being natural vanilla although the reality is that most of the times we taste vanilla we are actually consuming vanilla extract.

Moreover the composition of the two also varies. Vanilla in its pure form is a combination of vanilla bean extract, water and glycerin. A typical vanilla extract, however, is a combination of vanilla bean extract, water and sufficient quantity of alcohol. The glycerin is not present in vanilla extract.

In terms of the flavour, the vanilla extract is a pure flavouring and is a real extract that has been obtained from vanilla beans. Vanilla, in its natural form, however, can vary in flavour depending on the purity of the substance that has been used as well as the mode of preparation.

In very simple terms, keeping the composition and the flavour aside, we can also simply say that vanilla refers to the flavour whereas vanilla extract refers to the actual substance that is responsible for the flavour. The latter is also the stronger and the purer form of the two.

Summary of differences expressed in points

Vanilla- a flavour that comes from orchids of the Vanilla genu; vanilla extract is a solution that contains the flavour known as compound vanillin; is pure if made by macerating and then percolating beans of vanilla in a solution of water and ethyl (an alcohol)

Vanilla extract- pure if it contains a minimum of 35% alcohol; natural vanilla has as low as 2-3% of alcohol

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Vanilla refers to the flavour whereas vanilla extract refers to the actual substance that is responsible for the flavour

Only vanilla has glycerin

Vanilla extract is the stronger and the purer form of the two.

Which is best essence or extract?

The extract is stronger, the essence is more delicate. But the essence is all-purpose, so you can use it for many things, but you also need to make sure that it has vanilla in it. The extract usually contains vanilla in it, but not always.


Vanilla bean: Used for baking and cooking. The beans are cut from the plant at the end of its season and then soaked in alcohol to extract its flavor. About 35% alcohol is required to make liquid extracts. Around 20 beans are needed to make a single pint of extract.

Coffee: A combination of vanilla and coffee can be used to add a new taste to your cup. You can decide whether you want it with or without caffeine. To make extract it takes about 20 beans to make one pint.

Liqueurs: A vanilla flavoured liqueur is a nice treat for someone who doesn’t care much for alcohol or can’t tolerate it at all. It is also commonly used to complement the blends in hot chocolate drinks.

Extracts come in two different ways: “pure” extracts and “enhanced” extracts (sometimes called “flavouring oils”). Pure extracts are the most expensive, but they are well-known to increase the food quality. The pure extract is used in baking, sauces and other cooking applications. The enhanced flavouring oil extract is much cheaper but also has an artificial aftertaste when used in baking or as a drink. It is not uncommon for these oils to have alcohol added, making them even more potent than pure extracts.


Vanilla: Vanilla makes a great addition to nearly any beverage you can think of, including hot chocolate and lattes. Vanilla flavour can be incorporated into your favourite tea for a nice change. You can also use this product in ice cream and pudding recipes for added flavour and sweetness.

How To Store Your Vanilla?

Vanilla should be stored in a cool, dark place to maintain its flavour. Vanilla will last indefinitely if left unopened. Once opened, the extract should be kept in a cool, dark place and used within six months to one year. The beans can be kept at room temperature but will start to dry out after six months and need to be replaced – if you like fresh vanilla this is not the best option for you. After it has been added to a recipe it will stay fresh for about 6 months in the refrigerator and over a year at room temperature. But once vanilla is heated and begins to evaporate, it loses its flavour quickly so it is best to use it sooner rather than later.

What is better vanilla essence or extract?

Generally, the essence is used for a smaller range of uses than the extract. It will contain real vanilla seed, as well as glycerine and water. The essence is often more expensive than the extract.

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It is still used in curries and more savoury dishes like sauces. Pure extracts have been produced since 1823 when first commercially available to mix with confectionery, spirits and liqueurs. Extracted vanilla was eventually combined with alcohol, glycerin and water; it took on a different name: Vanilla Extract. The original pure vanilla extract was a brown syrup made by macerating and percolating the seeds of a mountainous vine, Vanilla planifolia, also known as Vanilla Bourbon.

The extracts are flavoured with alcohol and glycerin to provide more flavour. The extraction process of alcohol is called alcoholic extraction, which is carried out in a lab. The process can take up to four months (from the time when the beans are matured). During this time, many beans have lost their vigour and the vanilla flavour will be better preserved if extracted in winter or early spring. It is important during the process that an appropriate amount of alcohol be added so that it remains volatile in the presence of water.

How much vanilla essence is equal to vanilla extract?

The vanilla extract has alcohol and water added to it. Now, how much water is added in it.

It depends on two factors: the intensity of the flavour and the strength of alcohol. An average taste will have 10 percent alcohol by volume. If one bottle contains 50 ml, then that means that 25 ml is pure vanilla extract, which is 30 percent in potency (100-30=70). If you desire a milder taste with less alcohol content, you can use more water and less volume of vanilla extract.

The ratio also depends on the type of vanilla extract. If you are using only pure extract, then the ratio will be different. If you are using pure vanilla that has a strength of 10% alcohol, then for 100 ml, you will need 40 ml pure vanilla extract. The flavour and intensity would depend upon what type of vanilla you decide to use and the quality of the ingredients used.

How much vanilla is in a teaspoon?

A teaspoon is 5ml or 0.17 oz; 0.5ml/0.02oz for castor sugar (used in baking/cooking). In a pinch, we can say that one teaspoon is about 1 tsp (5ml).

How much vanilla in a pint?

A pint of vanilla extract weighs 8 oz, while the teaspoon weighs 5 ml or 0.17 oz. Which means that a teaspoon is equal to about 2 tablespoons (1 fl oz) of vanilla extract. And since there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, then you can measure up to one cup of vanilla extract into 2 cups (16 fl oz) of water, which comes to three teaspoons. So you’re looking at 20 tablespoons in this recipe, which is equal to 1 pint or 16 ounces. If we multiply 1 tsp by 4 you get the same result: 2 tablespoons of extract mixed with 8 ounces of water.

If you love vanilla extract and the idea of some added spice, then consider brewing your own using real vanilla beans. Keep in mind that the flavours of herbs and spices are subtle and take time to develop, so don’t expect any results overnight. With a few easy ingredients you can easily make your own vanilla extract. I hope we have helped you with this article on how much is equal to vanilla extract. If you liked it please share with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Thanks for reading. We hope to help you find out more about the many different ways to use your fresh fruits in recipes – which is maybe not what everyone would think they can be used for.

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