Vanilla Extract Vs Vanilla Essence: Whats The Difference And How To Use Them

Let’s admit it, there’s nothing more satisfying than the aroma of vanilla coming from freshly-baked goods. Whether it’s for making ice creams or for baking pastries, vanilla is extensively used in dessert recipes. However, if you look in the recipes, you would see some using vanilla extract, while includes vanilla essence in it. Now, this brings the question – what is the difference between the two? Can you interchange these two ingredients in the recipes? Confused? Let’s help you understand it well. It’s true that both of these baking ingredients are similar, but they are not entirely the same. If you dig deeper and compare the two, you’ll find noticeable differences between them – in terms of flavour, colour, or production process. We bring you a list of key differences between these two ingredients that will help you use them correctly in recipes.

Also Read: Cupcakes Vs Muffins: 5 Key Differences That Set These Baked Goods Apart


Vanilla Extract Vs Vanilla Essence: 5 Key Differences Between The Two:

1. Difference In Production

The key difference between these baking ingredients lies in their production process. While vanilla extract is a natural product made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol, vanilla essence, on the other hand, is a synthetic substance that mimics the flavour of real vanilla.

2. Difference In Flavour

Vanilla extract and vanilla essence also differ greatly in flavour. The former has a richer and more complex flavour with subtle undertones, while the latter lacks the authentic flavour of vanilla. If you want your baked products to stand out, we suggest you opt for vanilla extract.

3. Difference In Alcohol Content

It is said that vanilla extract typically has a higher alcohol content compared to vanilla essence. While vanilla extract has an alcohol content of around 35%, vanilla essence has a significantly lower content of around 2-3%. The higher the alcohol content, the longer the flavour and aroma of vanilla can be preserved.

4. Difference In Colour

Another significant difference between these two baking ingredients lies in their colour. Vanilla extract is typically a dark brown colour with a slightly reddish tint. Vanilla essence, on the other hand, is usually a lighter shade of brown. However, the exact colour can vary from product to product.

5. Difference In Shelf Life

Vanilla extract has a longer shelf life than vanilla essence. The former can last for around 2-4 years if stored in a cool, dark place, while the latter may only last for around 1-2 years and is more prone to losing its flavour over time. It’s best to use both products before their expiration dates for optimal results.
Also Read: Kitchen Hacks: 5 Substitutes To Replace Vanilla Extract In Your Baking


Usage: What Are Vanilla Extract And Essence Used For:

These ingredients are commonly used in baking and cooking to add flavour and aroma to dishes. They are mostly used in recipes for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more. They are also commonly used in ice creams, milkshakes, and smoothies.

Which Is Better (Or Healthier) – Vanilla Extract Or Vanilla Essence:

Both vanilla extract and essence work equally well, but when it comes to health, vanilla extract is considered to be the better option. This is because it is produced naturally and does not contain any artificial flavours or additives. So, we suggest you opt for vanilla extract. While it can certainly be on the pricier side, you won’t regret buying it.

Can You Substitute Vanilla Extract For Vanilla Essence:

Yes, you can certainly substitute vanilla extract for vanilla essence in most recipes. However, this may affect the flavour and aroma of the final baked product, so you may need to adjust the quantity a bit for the best results.

So, the next time you use either of these ingredients for baking, you’ll know exactly what sets them apart.

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