So, you're out of vanilla. We've all been there. Don't fear! Since vanilla extract is typically called for in small amounts, it's not difficult to substitute. In most cases, it's OK to leave it out completely! But, if you're looking for a replacement flavoring, we've got some ideas:
My all-time favorite vanilla substitute is amber rum—sometimes I even prefer it! It has a smooth, caramel-vanilla flavor that works beautifully with desserts. But rum isn't your only option; bourbon and brandy will also bring some delicious vanilla-esque flavor.
If you're looking for that fresh-from-the-bakery flavor, go with almond extract. We love using vanilla and almond in tandem, like in our classic pound cake, but almond extract can stand on its own. Not a fan of almond flavored treats (like marzipan)? Start small with this one. Adding a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to a cake or batch of cookies will provide a sweet, slightly floral je ne sais quois, not over the top almond flavor. Same goes for amaretto, if you've got it!
It may not be a total dupe, but good quality pure maple syrup brings some delicious toffee-vanilla flavor to baked goods. Don't knock it 'til you've tried our Butter Pecan Cookies with maple buttercream. 😋
Okay, this might feel like a stretch, but maybe you being out of vanilla was a sign from the universe to take your dessert in another direction. Sure vanilla cupcakes are classic, but why not try cardamom cupcakes instead? As for the cream cheese frosting on your carrot cake, it would be just as delicious flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Use any of these substitutes? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
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