If you are all out of vanilla sugar but are making a recipe that calls for it, no need to worry. There are numerous substitutes you can use instead of vanilla sugar no matter what you are making.
Popularly used in all sorts of baked desserts, vanilla sugar provides sweetness with a touch of vanilla that goes well in everything from cookies and cakes to bread and waffles.
So if you are in the middle of making a vanilla sugar recipe, no need to make a special trip to the grocery store, you probably have more than one of these alternatives in your kitchen already.
So what are the best substitutes for vanilla sugar?
The top vanilla sugar substitutes are vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, vanilla powder, palm sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup.
Make sure to read on for how to use each of these vanilla sugar replacements in your recipe.
Vanilla Sugar Alternatives
When it comes to sugar, there are so many ways to sweeten a dessert. I just looked in my pantry and counted six different types of sugar, and that’s not even close to all the options available!
And vanilla sugar is one of my favorites. It’s a wonderful ingredient to add sweetness and flavor to all sorts of tasty recipes.
But not everyone has vanilla sugar on hand, and if you’re like me you refuse to make a special trip to the grocery store for a single ingredient.
Fortunately, there are a number of kitchen staples you can use in place of vanilla sugar. And with a little forethought you can get a flavor and sweetness level that is quite similar to vanilla sugar.
With all that in mind, here is how to use each of the best substitutes for vanilla sugar.
Vanilla Extract with Granulated Sugar
This combo is a great substitute for vanilla sugar that most people already have in their pantry. The granulated sugar gives you the sweetness you need while the vanilla extract provides the delicious vanilla flavor your recipe needs.
Use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for each cup of granulated sugar. Add both ingredients at the same time to the rest of your recipes ingredients.
Note: I recommend using pure vanilla extract as it provides a better flavor than imitation vanilla extract. But if imitation vanilla extract (aka vanilla essence) is all you have on hand it will work.
Related: Does vanilla extract go bad
Equivalent1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract equals 1 cup of vanilla sugar
Vanilla Bean Paste with Granulated Sugar
While less commonly stocked in US kitchens, vanilla bean paste is an excellent ingredient for adding a deep and complex vanilla flavor to any recipe. And when combined with granulated sugar, it makes a wonderful substitute for vanilla sugar.
Vanilla bean paste is made by combining pure vanilla extract with real vanilla bean and then adding a thickening agent. It is one of my favorite ways to add a delicious vanilla flavor to my recipes.
Related: Vanilla bean paste substitutes
For each cup of granulated sugar, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
Equivalent1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste equals 1 cup vanilla sugar
Vanilla Powder with Granulated Sugar
Vanilla powder can be mixed with granulated sugar to create a solid vanilla sugar substitute. It works well in everything from waffles and pancakes to cookies and cakes. While it doesn’t make the best finishing sugar, it works quite well when cooked or baked into a dish.
For each cup of granulated sugar, mix in 2 teaspoons of vanilla powder.
Equivalent1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons of vanilla powder equals 1 cup of vanilla sugar
Palm sugar has rich, sweet flavor with notes of molasses that is quite similar to brown sugar. While it does not offer the same flavor as vanilla sugar, it has a complex flavor that pairs well in recipes that call for vanilla sugar.
Related: Palm sugar substitutes
Palm sugar works well in all types of recipe, from breakfast to baked desserts.
Equivalent1 cup of palm sugar equals 1 cup of vanilla sugar
Coconut sugar has grown in popularity in recent years and it makes an excellent vanilla sugar replacement.
Produced from the sap of coconut palm trees, it has a deep, sweet flavor that is far more interesting than regular granulated sugar alone.
Use coconut sugar in any recipe that calls for vanilla sugar. But if you want to have a flavor of vanilla in your final recipe, you will need to add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
Equivalent1 cup of coconut sugar equals 1 cup of vanilla sugar
Another kitchen staple that makes a great substitute to use instead of vanilla sugar. You most likely already have brown sugar in your pantry, which means no extra trip to the store.
The deep, sweet flavor of brown sugar works well in any recipe that calls for vanilla sugar. It’s particularly well suited for baked goods thanks to it’s higher moisture content.
Again, it does not offer the same flavor as vanilla sugar, but that can be fixed by adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste to your recipe.
Related: Brown sugar baking guide
Note: I prefer light brown sugar when subbing for vanilla sugar, but if dark brown sugar is all you have it will work in a pinch.
Equivalent1 cup of brown sugar equals 1 cup of vanilla sugar
If your recipe calls for vanilla sugar as a finishing sugar sprinkled on top of an already baked dessert, maple syrup is a great alternative.
The rich, sweet flavor of maple syrup compliments so many other flavors, and when drizzled on top of a baked dessert, the results are incredibly tasty.
Related: Maple syrup substitutes
Vanilla Sugar Replacement FAQ
What is the difference between vanilla sugar and regular sugar?
Vanilla sugar is produced by infusing granulated sugar with vanilla over a long period of time. This imparts a rich vanilla flavor to the sugar granules. While you can imitate the flavor of vanilla sugar by adding vanilla extract to granulated sugar, it will not have as deep of a flavor as vanilla sugar.
Can you use vanilla extract in place of vanilla sugar?
It’s not recommended to use vanilla extract alone as a vanilla sugar substitute. Vanilla extract does not have the sweetness needed for replacing vanilla sugar. But vanilla extract can be used along with another sugar to create a flavor similar to vanilla sugar.
What can be substituted for 1 packet of vanilla sugar?
Small packets of vanilla sugar contain approximately 4 grams. That means you can add 4 grams of granulated sugar along with a dash of vanilla extract or a shot of vanilla syrup to substitute a packet of vanilla sugar.
You can also use a tablespoon of maple syrup as a substitute for one packet of vanilla sugar.
What is a good substitute for Dr Oetker vanilla sugar?
Dr Oetker is a brand of vanilla sugar that can be substituted with granulated sugar mixed with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. For each cup of Dr Oetker vanilla sugar, use one cup of granulated sugar mixed with one teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
What is the best substitute for vanilla sugar in coffee?
Vanilla syrup and granulated sugar is the most similar substitute for vanilla sugar in flavor and texture. Add equal amounts granulated sugar to vanilla sugar and then add vanilla syrup to taste.