Vanilla is an essential addition to a variety of baking recipes - its rich, intense flavor is often called for to enhance the aroma of the sweet treat.

But here is the tricky thing about vanilla: it comes in so many different forms - from vanilla beans to vanilla bean paste, to vanilla extract. Chances are, you have found yourself wondering about what’s the difference between vanilla bean paste vs vanilla extract and which one is right for your recipe.

At Online Baking Supplies, we are here to ensure that you have everything you need for your home baker’s arsenal. Keep reading to discover the world of vanilla paste vs extract and the main differences between the two.

Vanilla Bean Paste vs Extract Explained

Before diving into the differences between vanilla paste and vanilla extract, let’s spend a moment to look at the origins of both of these products.

What are Vanilla Beans?

All of the natural vanilla products are derived from vanilla beans. The beans themselves grow on a vanilla orchid, a vine-like plant that is cultivated only in several countries within 10-20 degrees from the equator like Madagascar, Mexico, Uganda, and Tahiti.

Vanilla bean pods offer the purest, most intense flavor out there. When shopping for a vanilla pod, go for a plump and shiny pod and remember to wrap vanilla beans in aluminum foil when storing in order to keep the light from spoiling the delicious goods inside. 

Ideally, you should be aiming to use your vanilla beans within a few months; if the beans dry out, they will no longer contain oils responsible for the mesmerizing aroma and flavor.

When to Use

If vanilla is the star of the recipe, it is worth splurging on whole organic vanilla beans. Keep in mind that one vanilla pod can be interchanged with 3 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

How to Use

  • Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla pod in half.
  • Remove the seeds with the dull side of the knife and use them right away.
  • Make sure to keep the pod, - you can store it in sugar to create vanilla sugar or simmer it in milk or cream for a special aroma.

What is Vanilla Bean Paste?

Vanilla paste is a thick, rich paste that includes the actual seeds coming from a vanilla bean pod. To produce vanilla bean paste with thick, glue-like consistency, pure vanilla extract is blended with vanilla bean powder.  You will notice that the paste itself has a stronger flavor as compared to the extract and contains vanilla flecks from the pod.

While it is offered by only a few companies like Nielsen-Massey, vanilla bean paste is well worth the search: it presents an excellent alternative if you are looking for rich vanilla flavor but aren’t ready to prepare and seed the pods yourself.

When to Use

Go for vanilla bean paste if you want to see vanilla flecks or achieve a stronger flavor in your baked goods, but aren’t ready to spend the time and money on whole vanilla beans.

The vanilla paste can vary by concentration, so make sure to check the side of the jar to find out how much you would need. In general, you can use equal amounts of paste as you would of vanilla extract.

How to Use

  • Simply grab a teaspoon and dig directly into the jar.
  • If some of the paste sticks to the spoon, you can use a silicone spatula or your own fingers to make sure you get every last bit.

What is Vanilla Extract?

Finally, vanilla extract presents the most affordable and easily accessible type of vanilla. The extract looks like dark liquid and is usually considerably cheaper than vanilla beans or vanilla paste.

Some vanilla extracts are made directly from the whole beans, while others are produced from the pods after the specks have been already removed. The vanilla is then macerated with water and alcohol, infusing the flavor into the liquid.

When shopping for vanilla extract, make sure to look for the word “pure” on the label. The imitated vanilla flavor won’t be as flavorful and will result in a strange aftertaste. Pure vanilla extract may be pricier than the artificial kind, but it is definitely worth the extra buck.

When to Use

If the recipe is calling for vanilla extract, but vanilla isn’t a dominant flavor, pure vanilla extract will do the job. Each teaspoon of vanilla paste or a 2-inch piece of the vanilla pod can be replaced with a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

How to Use

  • Pour the extract directly out of the bottle into a teaspoon.

Vanilla Paste vs Extract: Which One to Choose?

All-in-all, when it comes to choosing between vanilla bean paste vs vanilla extract, both options present easy-to-use alternatives to whole vanilla beans.

If you want to taste a decadent vanilla flavor or to see those fancy vanilla specks appear in your desserts, go for vanilla bean paste. It is ideal to be used for white cakes, ice cream, milkshakes, cupcakes, and custards.

On the other hand, if you are baking something simple like a chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, or anything that doesn’t have vanilla as the primary flavor, skip the pricey paste and add a splash of pure vanilla extract instead.

Choose the Best Vanilla Products from Online Baking Supplies

At the end of the day, whether you choose vanilla paste vs extract, it is important to ensure that you use naturally sourced, high-quality ingredients to infuse your baked goods with all the depth and flavor that vanilla can offer.

At Online Baking Supplies, you can choose from a variety of organic vanilla beans, pure vanilla bean paste, and natural vanilla extracts to complement any recipe. Shop today.

  • FRONTIER HERB: Organic Vanilla Extract, 4 oz

  • FLAVORGANICS: Extract Vanilla Organic, 8 oz

  • SIMPLY ORGANIC: Vanilla Bean Whole Madagascar, 2 pc

  • SIMPLY ORGANIC: Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract, 8 oz

  • RODELLE: Pure Vanilla Extract, 8 oz

  • NIELSEN MASSEY: Bean Vanilla Madagascar, 2 pc

  • MORTON & BASSETT: Organic Pure Vanilla Extract, 4 oz

  • MADECASSE: Pure Vanilla Extract, 4 oz

  • NIELSEN MASSEY: Paste Vanilla Pure, 4 oz

  • NIELSEN MASSEY: Paste Vanilla Pure Blend, 4 oz

  • NIELSEN MASSEY Extract Vanilla Madagascar, 4 oz