, ,

Best Vanilla Beans You Might Know

What are the best vanilla beans? To find out, we ordered vanilla beans from 9 brands. What was best for making extract? Best for cooking?

FYI: Vanilla beans come in two grades: A and B. Grade A beans are best for cooking, given their high moisture content. Grade B beans are more concentrated and better for making extract. Here are the ones we’d recommend. FYI: We’ve been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don’t take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported! Thanks for reading this article.

Best For Ice Cream

10 Madagascar Vanilla Beans Whole Grade A Vanilla Pods for Vanilla Extract and Baking (Grocery)

Great aroma!

These beans arrived fresh and moist—perfect for ice cream recipes that need that vanilla turned up to 11. Vacuum packed and sustainably sourced.

The two biggest countries for vanilla bean production are Indonesia and Madagascar. Indonesian vanilla beans are also sometimes referred to as Tahitian, while Madagascar are occasionally called Madagascar bourbon.

Which is best? That’s a tough one—there is a split opinion on this.

Fans of Indonesian/Tahitian vanilla beans say they have a lighter, almost floral aroma. These beans infuse a sweeter vanilla flavor when used in baking.

Devotees of Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, on the other hand, love their stronger, richer aroma. This is the classic vanilla flavor most folks think of when vanilla is on the menu.

Yes, we tried vanilla beans from 9 brands in various grades in different recipes (baking, cooking, ice cream) as well as making homemade vanilla extract.

When it comes to homemade vanilla ice cream, we prefer a strong vanilla bean that packs a wallop. Our recommendation: the 10 pod pack of Grade A Madagascar Vanilla Pods from Vanilla Beans Kings.

What We Liked

• 33% moisture content on average. That’s excellent—the more moisture, the more vanilla you can use for recipes.

• Sustainably sourced.

• Great aroma.

• Excellent quality.

What Needs Work

• Some beans were less than the 5″ to 7″ promised length. We didn’t see that in the test batch we ordered, but we note other reports that say a few pods didn’t reach the 5″ minimum length.

See also  Everything You Need To Know About Can Vanilla Extract Go Bad

Best Vanilla For Extract

10 Vanilla Beans – Whole Extract Grade B Pods for Baking, Homemade Extract, Brewing, Coffee, Cooking – (Tahitian)

Grown in Indonesia

Sun cured for six months, these vanilla beans can be soaked in vodka to make your own extract. Nice floral aroma.

Best Vanilla For Extract: 10 Vanilla Beans Whole Extract Grade B Pods

What was best for extract?

When it comes to buying vanilla beans to make your own extract at home, we’d suggest Vanilla Beans Kings beans—this 10 pack of Grade B vanilla beans is a top recommendation, after trying it out in our own test kitchen.

What We Liked

• Vacuum sealed.

• Nice aroma.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Smaller in size. But that is true for most Grade B vanilla beans (versus Grade A beans).

Best Vanilla For Cooking

Native Vanilla Grade A Tahitian Vanilla Beans – 5 Premium Gourmet Whole Pods – For Chefs and Home Baking, Cooking, & Extract Making – Homemade Vanilla Extract

Grown in Papua New Guinea

If you need a small amount of vanilla for ice cream or panna cotta, this five-pod bundle is an excellent choice. Fragrant and moist. Worked well in custards and maple syrup.

Best Vanilla For Cooking: Native Vanilla Grade A Tahitian Vanilla Beans

When it comes to cooking or baking with vanilla, we prefer Grade A vanilla pods. Why? Grade A beans have more moisture than Grade B—that makes it easier to get all of the vanilla seeds (and flavor) out of a pod. There is less waste—and more vanilla flavor!

If you just need a small amount of vanilla, we’d suggest this five-pod bundle from Native Vanilla. With operations both in the US and South Africa, Native Vanilla beans imports about 2 million beans per month. The company touts its fair-trade sourcing from “micro farms” in Papua New Guinea.

We purchased and tried these vanilla beans in several recipes—very impressive. Very good quality, as compared to other Grade A vanilla beans we sampled.

See also  Things To Consider When Buying A Kitchen Hand Mixer Or Stand Mixer

What We Liked

• Sourced from small farmers in Papua New Guinea.

• Subtle floral flavor.

• Tahitian vanilla has a lighter, more floral aroma.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

Best Vanilla For Baking

Vanilla Products USA 5 Grade A Prime Gourmet Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans 5~6″

Slow cured

For baking cakes or cupcakes that need a vanilla punch, we suggest these beans—excellent quality. The aroma is heavenly.

Best Madagascar Vanilla: Vanilla Products USA 5 Grade A Prime Gourmet Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Beans

For vanilla bean fans, Madagascar beans are the gold standard—these beans have a much bolder, full-bodied flavor profile. When it comes to recipes for vanilla ice cream, cakes or creme brulee, we’d recommend Grade A vanilla bean Madagascar beans, such as this 5-pack from Vanilla Products USA. They were the best beans among those we sampled for this article.

What We Liked

• Vacuum packed.

• 6″ long pods.

• Slow cured over several months. This is preferred over fast curing for flavor intensity.

• Excellent for baking.

What is the best tasting vanilla bean?

That’s a matter of taste. We recommend trying several types—but remember that no two vanilla beans are the same (experts say up to 50% of the flavor profile can change based on growing conditions).

What is the difference between Bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans?

Tahitian beans are lighter in color, which makes them helpful in pale-colored desserts. They have a more floral aroma. It’s like the difference between cardamom and nutmeg—they both come from the same family but they taste different.

What is the best selling vanilla bean?

Madagascar vanilla beans, hands down. This country alone produces 75% of the world’s natural vanillin. In fact, experts say as much as half of all food or drink products contain some form of vanilla flavoring.

See also  Food Processor Alternatives In 2022: Know Our Top Picks

Which is better Grade A or Grade B vanilla beans?

Grade A is better quality and more flavorful. Grade B vanilla beans have been flash frozen, which makes them less flavorful (and smaller) than Grade A.

Where are the beans grown?

Madagascar was once considered a rogue territory with few resources or jobs. Fast forward to 2009 when Madagascar was given International Monetary Fund (IMF) trade status—since then, exports have more than tripled and foreign investment has been increasing annually.

Where are vanilla products made?

Vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea—as well as Mexico and Uganda. The US is a big importer of these beans for extracting the seeds or making extract. Once the seeds are extracted, they go to either France or Italy where they are used to flavor ice cream and other desserts in that region. Some European countries outlaw any other flavoring besides natural (i.e. vanilla) flavoring.

How to use vanilla beans?

One of the most common questions we receive is, “Can I cook with these?” We love baking with vanilla bean—whether it’s vanilla-flavored cupcakes, cookies or even brownies. If you want to try out a recipe that uses vanilla bean, start with only a few beans at first—and experiment! Vanilla beans are very fragrant and aromatic—so you know it won’t be overpowering in a recipe. When using our recipes, you should really use at least two beans per recipe.

Why Madagascar?

Madagascar is a small country, with less than 10 million people. Most of its land is used for growing vanilla beans and other crops to help feed its population of farmers and workers. The country is also the second-largest producer of vanilla in the world (after Indonesia).

Madagascar vanilla is the best for baking, cooking and brewing. Vanilla beans, whether Tahitian or Bourbon, also create delicious extracts that can be added to coffee, tea and cocktails. Purchasing vanilla beans from Madagascar—whether from Sysco or another company in the US—gives all of us a little bit more ease, peace of mind and profit! Thanks so much to Native Vanilla for this information.