What Does Vanilla Extract Taste Like?

An integral ingredient in baking recipes, Vanilla Extract is a must in your cupboard. Vanilla Extract is fundamental in cookies, cakes, muffins, and more.

A staple ingredient in baking, Vanilla Extract provides your favorite delicious baked goods with flavor. Vanilla Extract tastes like caramelized sugar, mixed with a hint of jasmine. Vanilla Extract is known for its sweet and floral nature.

A little bit goes a long way with the potent ingredient that is Vanilla Extract. Vanilla Extract contains 35% alcohol and is a highly concentrated formula. Vanilla Extract is known as a flavor enhancer. The reason for this designation is that it improves and deepens the flavor of other foods.

Is Vanilla Extract Bitter?

On its own, Vanilla Extract has a bitter taste. Vanilla Extract is enhanced when added to other dishes. Specifically, the combination of sugar and Vanilla Extract allows the flavor of Vanilla Extract to flourish.

What are Some Vanilla Extract Substitutes?

The unique taste of Vanilla Extract is a taste that is difficult to replicate. Although you can purchase artificial vanilla, there is a difference in taste between imitation vanilla and Vanilla Extract. 

If you are in a bind, there are some Vanilla Extract substitutes that you can try

  • Rum Extract
  • Maple Syrup
  • Cinnamon

Although these alternatives will provide a floral and sweet flavor, there is nothing like pure Vanilla Extract. 

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Many cookie enthusiasts would agree that a cookie without Vanilla Extract is not a cookie worth eating.

How Can the Vanilla Flavor be Increased?

The combination of Vanilla Extract and sugar helps Vanilla Extract to reach its potential. When Vanilla Extract is mixed with sugar, the full depth of Vanilla Extract is realized. 

Vanilla Extract is a key ingredient in chocolate chip cookie recipes, cake recipes, pancake recipes, and more. The reason Vanilla Extract is important in baking is because of the signature flavor it contributes.

What Does Vanilla Extract Smell Like?

Vanilla Extract smells like the main compound of vanillin. Vanillin is a naturally occurring ingredient that gives Vanilla Extract its signature smell and flavor. The phenolic compound called vanillin comes from the combination of Vanilla Beans and ethyl alcohol. You can also smell caramel and a hint of jasmine in the odor of Vanilla Extract.

Why Does Vanilla Extract Smell Good but Taste Bad?

The potent odor of Vanilla Extract is undeniably delicious. Unfortunately, Vanilla Extract does not taste as it smells. Vanilla Extract contains a high amount of alcohol. As a result of its high alcohol content, Vanilla Extract is very bitter on its own.

Vanilla Extract is a mixture of water and ethyl alcohol that has been filtered numerous times through vanilla beans. 

Vanillin is the active compound in Vanilla Extract. The smell of Vanilla Extract comes from the compound of vanillin. Vanillin is a compound in Vanilla Extract and is the scent associated with the taste and smell of vanilla.

Vanilla Extract tastes very strongly because of its high alcohol content. Alcohol improves the solubility of vanillin, the main ingredient in Vanilla Extract. 

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Vanilla Extract Texture

Vanilla Extract is made using solid vanilla beans and an alcohol/water mixture. The alcohol and water are filtered through vanilla beans, resulting in a liquid. The liquid, or extract, is vanillin that has been removed from the vanilla bean. Vanillin is the phenolic component of Vanilla Extract that gives it flavor and taste. 

Vanilla Extract vs. Imitation Vanilla

There is a subtle difference in taste between Vanilla Extract and Imitation Vanilla.

Vanilla Extract contains a compound called vanillin, which gives it the signature taste and smell. Imitation Vanilla contains synthetic vanillin and tastes slightly different. 

Although many people cannot taste the difference, Vanilla Extract purists claim that imitation vanilla tastes chemical-like. Vanilla Extract gets its flavor from naturally occurring vanillin and does not have a chemical taste.

Pure Vanilla Extract is highly concentrated, unlike imitation vanilla. 


It is hard to imagine a world without Vanilla Extract. The signature scent and flavor provided by Vanilla Extract is like no other. For this reason, Vanilla Extract is necessary for a plethora of baking and cooking recipes.

Vanilla Extract is a flavorful powerhouse–a little bit goes a long way.

Vanilla Extract features the highly sought-after and expensive vanilla bean. Water and alcohol are continuously filtered through vanilla beans, eventually creating Vanilla Extract.  Vanilla Extract gets its flavor and scent from the naturally occurring compound of vanillin. Imitation vanilla uses synthetic vanillin, directly inspired by vanillin. 

Although there are vanilla substitutes, nothing can directly replicate the intense, unique flavor of Vanilla Extract.