The 1:1 Vanilla Extract Substitute For Cheaper, Boozier Cakes

In a study from 2022 conducted by YouGovAmerica, it was revealed that an estimated 59% of Americans say that they like the flavor of vanilla ice cream; and 11% of Americans say that their favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla, above all others. 

Interestingly, vanilla is one of the most challenging and time-consuming spices cultivated in the world today, with the bean pod of the vanilla flower taking nine months to grow. The making of vanilla extract is so time-consuming that the whole process, from being cultivated to being fermented, actually takes years before the final product ends up on the shelves of grocery stores.

Vanilla is a very versatile flavoring in the kitchen, used in many more dishes apart from ice cream. You can use vanilla extract in just about every baking recipe, such as chocolate chip cookies or cake; and it's great to use as an ingredient for a topping, such as a buttercream frosting or vanilla cranberry sauce. Amazingly enough, vanilla is so multifaceted that you can even use it in cocktails! 

When you're baking with vanilla, however, sometimes the flavor of vanilla can clash with the other ingredients being used; or you may just not have any in your pantry. Here are a couple of ways to substitute another ingredient for vanilla to spice up your baking dishes.

Substitute for vanilla extract with this type of beverage

Did you know that vanilla extract is alcohol based? It's actually created by combining a neutral, high-proof spirit with the vanilla-bean-filled pod once the pod has been dried, cured, and fermented. When considering a replacement for your vanilla extract, try using aged spirits. When making a pineapple upside-down cake, consider replacing your vanilla extract with equal parts rum. The brown sugar's molasses flavor is elevated when adding rum, plus it works well with the sweeter acidity of the pineapple and buttermilk. Rum also works wonders when baking with chocolate, considering the rum improves the fruity notes of the chocolate.

A couple of other great substitutes for vanilla extract in your recipes would be whisky or brandy. These two replacements are well known for having savory, spicy notes, as well as deep notes of caramel. Some people say that vanilla extract is aromatic with sweet, nutty, and woody notes. If your whisky or brandy is barrel aged, those same woody notes from the barrel add to the overall flavor and get the flavor close to vanilla without actually needing it in your dishes.