vanilla paste vs. vanilla extract

by Kristina Sloggett

in baking, Dessert

vs. vanilla powder?

I love vanilla.

Sometimes, I add more than my recipes say.

Lately several of my recipes have used vanilla paste (um, why do I type pasta every time there?) instead of vanilla extract. Within an hour of my last recipe publishing, I had 18 people ask me about vanilla paste. Several more questions throughout the day and days after – so I thought I’d share more here.

I order my vanilla paste online, but I have seen it in some stores. Vanilla paste is the same as (pure*) vanilla extract in strength and flavor – so you can easily substitute the same amount of vanilla extract for any recipe with paste.

*I always buy pure vanilla extract, not imitation. I don’t know what that is, but it is synthetic.

I just love vanilla, and I love products. Especially cooking and baking products, so I have to try everything. Vanilla paste is more like a gel consistency, and has the vanilla bean seeds in it:

I also use vanilla powder. I haven’t had this in a while, but I picked some up when we were in Mexico in December.

This stuff is good. Almost coconutty good.

Vanilla powder is the whole vanilla bean, ground into a fine powder. I use it to flavor liquids, from smoothies to coffee drinks.

Do you use vanilla paste? Straight bean? Powder?


{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Evan Thomas March 11, 2012 at 10:16 am

The paste is my favorite. It tastes so much more vanilla-y(definitely a word).


2 spabettie March 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

my favorite too – and YES, vanilla-y is absolutely a word!


3 Marnely Rodriguez March 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

I love using vanilla paste because not only do I get the vanilla flavor, but the iconic vanilla specks. And the powder is great in smoothies!


4 spabettie March 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

yes – I love the specks! :) the powder goes in my smoothies too, and is great in hot drinks, hot recipes – does not evaporate!


5 Rhonda March 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

I have never used anything but the extract, I really need to branch out.


6 Averie @ Averie Cooks March 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

The only time I use imitation vanilla is when I am making a buttercream or cream cheese frosting and I need the frosting to stay REALLY white and the imitation is clear whereas real vanilla will make the whole ting tinged a bit brown. I have also bought a baking supply product that couteracts that; basically a white food dye.

I love vanilla. I have done entire posts on it! But crazy..I have never cooked with vanilla bean paste. What am I waiting for!


7 Curt March 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

I use vanilla powder too. I use it in spice rubs. In fact, honey powder and molasses powder is really good too for rubs.


8 Shannon Roche March 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I love vanilla paste. I haven’t seen vanilla powder anywhere, but I would definitely be interested in using it.


9 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

vanilla powder is harder to find… I have a baking / decorating shop I go to a lot (oooh, it is pure Heaven!) and that is the first time I ever saw it… then I restocked in Mexico! :)


10 Heather (Where's the Beach) March 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I’ve never used paste. I love vanilla, and pretty much always add more than what’s called for.


11 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

good to know I’m not the only one… I never measure it, just assuming if I add more I will like it more! :)


12 Charlotte June 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I always assume every recipe needs at least a few teaspoons more than it calls for! I really love to use the whole beans. Easier than you’d think!


13 Kristina Sloggett June 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

hi Charlotte – you sound like me, I sure love my vanilla! I love scraping the bean too, these jars of paste are as close as I have found if I’m not directly using the real thing!


14 Lisa March 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I had no idea there WAS paste or powder! Is it a straight swap? The same amount of paste for extract?


15 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

hi Lisa – yes, vanilla paste is the same as vanilla extract in strength and flavor – so you can easily substitute the same amount of vanilla extract for any recipe with paste.


16 Angel October 4, 2013 at 12:53 am

I hadn’t heard of vanilla paste or powder either. I, too, LOVE vanilla and they’re beautiful little brown specks. :) Gotta get some paste :)


17 FoodFeud March 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for clearing that up. Vanilla paste (I wrote pasta too) sounds very delectable. Vanilla pasta, maybe not so much.


18 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

oh, I don’t know… a vanilla pasta sounds kinda good to me! 😉


19 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List March 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I’ve never even SEEN the powder!! Interesting. Must get some!


20 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

the powder is great for smoothies and warm drinks – it doesn’t evaporate! and it’s just fun. 😉


21 Natasha March 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Powder and I never heard of paste until you! I will have to look for it!

TTY this week..Happy Spring forward…:)


22 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

I love the paste the most. Happy Spring Forward to YOU, dear! I hope this week starts off well for you all XO


23 Shirley @ gfe March 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Now I must have some vanilla paste! (I typed pasta, too, the first time around!)

Thanks so much for sharing, dear! xo,


24 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

haa, Shirley I LOVE that you typed pasta as well. 😉


25 Jenn@slim-shoppin March 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I’ve never heard of vanilla paste – but I love that you can see the seeds in it!


26 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

I love that too!


27 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) March 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm

We make our own vanilla extract with vanilla bean and cheap vodka. I use it so much that it’s pointless to buy and so much better and cheaper to make on your own. I’ve always wanted to try the paste though. I just so stinkin’ cheap.


28 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

I used to make my own in college – I really need to do this again!


29 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit March 12, 2012 at 4:50 am

omg vanilla. There was so much of it in India. I didn’t know there was such a thing as vanilla paste! I bought SO many beans… but I’m already running low :S will need to look into this paste business, looks soooo good. You’re right, coconutty good.


30 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

I bought a bunch of beans in Mexico last December too… and the powder… and… 😉 paste is good – you should try!


31 Lauren March 12, 2012 at 6:04 am

Where can you buy it?


32 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

hi Lauren, I know I have seen vanilla paste at Whole Foods and other markets similar to WF. I think I have also purchased it at Williams Sonoma.


33 Kath (My Funny Little Life) March 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

So far, I’ve always used a vanilla bean and scraped the seeds out or threw the whole thing into the blender. 😛 I’ve also used vanilla sugar, but that one just has aroma, no real vanilla. And, you know, sugar … 😉


34 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

I need to use more straight vanilla bean…


35 Allie March 12, 2012 at 8:09 am

I have a nice bottle of VAINilla too :) That always cracks me up. I’ve never used paste, but I’d probably love it. I over-vanilla whenever I can, too. And YES, always the real stuff–it’s worth the extra money and then some. I’d love to experiment with whole vanilla beans–I eye them every time I pass them in the grocery–but have yet to do so.


36 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

hee, VAINilla – I loved that too. good to know you are also an over-vanilla-er 😉 you should try the paste, I think it tastes even better! I made my own vanilla in college a couple times – besides one cheesecake that is the only time I’ve used vanilla bean – and I feel bad about that! I need to make vanilla again…


37 janetha March 12, 2012 at 8:37 am

once you go paste, you never go back. i love it.

mmm.. vanilla pasta…


38 spabettie March 12, 2012 at 10:19 am

I know, vanilla pasta actually sounds good… I may have to make some.


39 Baker Street March 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I’ve never tried vanilla paste but I surely must after having read your post.


40 spabettie March 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

you should – let me know how you like it!


41 Linda June 16, 2012 at 7:41 am

Hello, my name is Linda, and I am a vanilla-holic. I am so bad that I even go to Juarez to get my fix. I usually triple vanilla in my baking. I have used vanilla powder, but I had never heard of vanilla paste, until now. Will definately have to try it!


42 spabettie June 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

Linda, good to meet you. I share your vanilla-holicism 😉 I always add more vanilla, LOVE my vanilla powder from Mexico, and… you MUST try the paste – it will be your new favorite! 😀


43 Charisma August 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

How do you order the Vanilla Paste ??


44 Pat February 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thank you for telling us the difference between the paste and extract. This was the best description (and picture) I found online. I too add double the vanilla extract. Maybe I need to scrape some seeds into my cookies too.


45 Kristina Sloggett February 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm

you are very welcome, Pat, glad you found me! I love vanilla paste and the vanilla bean, and I always use more than necessary 😉


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