Are you all out of vanilla extract but need it for your recipe? No need to worry! There are a number of substitutes you can use in any sugar cookie recipe.
Vanilla extract’s role is to provide flavor to your sugar cookies. And while vanilla extract is probably the most common flavor enhancer in sugar cookie recipes, it’s not the only ingredient you can use to bake a delicious batch of cookies.
In fact, sugar cookies lend themselves well to all sorts of flavors, the key is choosing an ingredient that will not overpower the other flavors.
And the substitutes below will provide a similar level of flavor as vanilla extract.
So what are the best substitutes for vanilla extract when baking sugar cookies?
The top vanilla extract alternatives you can use in any recipe are almond extract, vanilla bean paste, vanilla bean pod, cashew extract, and vanilla essence.
Make sure to read on to learn how to use each of these ingredients in your particular recipe.
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Vanilla Extract Alternatives when Baking Sugar Cookies
Since we know the role of vanilla extract is to provide a complimentary flavor to our cookies, all we need to find are ingredients that provide a similar level of flavor that pairs well with our other sugar cookie ingredients.
Fortunately, sugar cookies lend themselves well to all sorts of flavors, so you have numerous options when replacing vanilla extract.
The key is to use the substitutes at the appropriate ratio to ensure you do not overpower the other flavors in your recipe.
Related Recipe: Dairy free sugar cookies
Almond extract is one of my favorite flavors to add to sugar cookies, and it makes a great substitute for vanilla extract in any recipe.
While I will occasionally use both almond and vanilla extract, the flavor of almond extract alone is enough to make incredibly tasty sugar cookies.
The earthy, nuttiness pairs incredibly well with the sweetness of the other ingredients in sugar cookies. And you will not have to make any other recipe changes when using almond extract.
Related: Almond extract alternatives
Equivalent1 teaspoon of almond extract equals 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Vanilla Bean Paste
If you are looking to replace vanilla extract while retaining a similar flavor, vanilla bean paste is the best option.
Made by combining pure vanilla extract with real vanilla bean, this ingredient will produce a wonderful vanilla flavor in any sugar cookie recipe.
When comparing equal parts extract with paste, vanilla bean paste has a stronger flavor. So you will want to use a little less vanilla bean paste to avoid overpowering the other flavors in your cookies.
Related: Vanilla bean paste replacement
Equivalent2/3 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste equals 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Vanilla Bean Pod
Another excellent way to replace vanilla extract while producing a similar final flavor is by using vanilla bean pod scrapings.
While not everyone stocks vanilla bean pods in their kitchen, it’s a great alternative if you do have it on hand.
Simply scrape the inside of one vanilla bean pod to replace vanilla extract, and no other recipe changes are needed.
Related: Vanilla bean alternatives
Equivalent1 teaspoon of vanilla bean pod scrapings equals 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Cashew extract is another great alternative flavor option when making sugar cookies. Similar in flavor to almond extract, the earthiness pairs amazingly well with the sweet ingredients in sugar cookies.
While cashew extract is another ingredient many do not keep stocked in their pantry, if you do have it available, it’s a wonderful vanilla extract replacement.
Equivalent1 teaspoon of cashew extract equals 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
If you’re sugar cookie recipe calls for pure vanilla extract and you are wondering if imitation vanilla extract can be subbed in, then you are in luck!
Artificial forms of vanilla extract work fine when baking cookies. The flavor is similar to pure vanilla extract (while costing a lot less) and can be used without any other recipe changes.
Equivalent1 teaspoon of vanilla essence equals 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Extract Replacement in Sugar Cookies FAQ
Is it OK to make cookies without vanilla extract?
You can leave out vanilla extract when baking sugar cookies, but it will effect the final flavor. Because vanilla extract is added to enhance the flavor, it is a good idea to use a substitute if you have one available. But, if you don’t have vanilla extract or anything to use instead, you can skip it and make your cookies anyway.
Can I substitute honey for vanilla extract?
Yes, honey is a good substitute for vanilla extract that can be used in any sugar cookie recipe. Honey provides a wonderful flavor that works well in sugar cookies. It does add sweetness so you may want to slightly reduce other sugar from your recipe. Use one tablespoon of honey for each teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Related: Honey substitutes for baking