With all the intense and aromatic flavour of vanilla with no wastage, vanilla bean powder is a wonderful substitute for vanilla extract. Use it in all your bakes wherever you’d use vanilla extract, but being pure unadulterated vanilla, you can use less so it can be more affordable too.
I love using this pure vanilla powder in my vanilla sugar recipe for a fragrant sugar that I can use in anything from drinks to baking.
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What is vanilla powder?
Made with just one ingredient – vanilla pods – vanilla powder is whole vanilla pods (including the fragrant beans inside them) dried then ground to a fine powder. It’s known by a variety of names such as vanilla powder, vanilla bean powder, dehydrated vanilla, powdered vanilla or ground vanilla beans.
There are a number of reasons for using vanilla powder. From it’s amazing depth of flavour and lack of any additives or alcohol, to giving a striking visual in your baked goods or frosting from all those little dark brown flecks.
Avid bakers know how costly a good vanilla extract can be but it’s such an essential ingredient in baking so finding ways to make it more affordable is always a bonus. Vanilla powder is one such way. Since we’re using the entire bean (pod and beans – both of which are rich in vanilla flavour), nothing is wasted.
Vanilla powder vs vanilla extract
First up, vanilla extract is the beans from inside a vanilla pod that are scraped out and stored in alcohol creating a vanilla infused liquid. This form is one we all know well and easily add it to our batters and cookie dough but it often has other additives, artificial fillers and alcohol which evaporates at high heat. So, when you bake that lovely cake or batch of cookies, the alcohol from the vanilla extract will evaporate taking some of the vanilla flavour with it.
Vanilla powder, on the other hand, loses nothing through the cooking flavour, maintaining it’s heady scent and flavour. It also stores well at room temperature and since it has no additives, even if you aren’t baking with it, vanilla bean powder will add a more pure vanilla flavour.
How to make vanilla powder (step-by-step)
Ground vanilla is incredibly simple to make. Just one ingredient and essentially a two step process and you’re done. Start by sourcing the best beans you can from a company with a high code of ethics for the environment and it’s workers. Amazon is a great source for beans in bulk but you may have a bulk spice retailer near you that stocks them as well.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Dry the beans: Lay your vanilla beans pods on a baking tray. Bake them at a low temp (80C / 170F) for about 90 minutes. There’s no need to keep an eye on them during this time – just let them dry out in the oven.
- Grind the beans: Grab out your spice grinder / coffee grinder for this quick job. Once the pods have cooled for 5-10 minutes, they should be brittle enough for you to easily snap into pieces. Place those into the grinder and process to a fine powder. I like to put mine through a fine-mesh strainer, then re-grind anything that didn’t get through.
Where to use vanilla bean powder
In baking or cooking
When you apply heat to your foods, the alcohol in vanilla extract will evaporate taking some of the vanilla flavour with it and dulling the flavour. Vanilla powder is perfect for keeping that full flavour in anything baked like cakes and cookies or even where you’re heating a custard-base for ice cream. It’s great too added to recipes where you don’t want extra moisture like granola.
And while we’re most inclined to use vanilla in sweet treats, it can also be a great addition to savoury dishes too. Just like the way Greeks use cinnamon in pastitsio among other great savoury recipes, vanilla can add a lovely twist, comfort and balance to any spice mix. It’s great alongside warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cumin.
For the aesthetics
The little black vanilla flecks are not only flavorful but also visually striking. They add a touch of luxury and create anticipation for how something will taste. This is why vanilla powder is great for recipes like vanilla cakes or cupcakes, panna cotta and ice cream. It also gives a wonderful look to buttercreams and icing, or even just adding to sugared doughnuts or the sugar coating on churros for instance.
Stirred into beverages and breakfast
You can use vanilla powder just like you would something like cinnamon and stir a little into your oatmeal / porridge, yogurt or a chia pudding. It has a light natural sweetness and is great with just a pinch added to your cup of coffee, tea or matcha. Blitz it into your smoothies too.
Ground vanilla is perfect anywhere you’d use vanilla extract and more. With it’s natural strong vanilla aroma, this antioxidant-rich superfood is also keto, vegan and paleo. Professional bakers call it their secret ingredient, using it to add smooth vanilla flavor but also to add visual appeal.
How to use vanilla bean powder
To substitute vanilla powder for vanilla extract, you only need to use about half the amount. So, a recipe that calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, you could use just ½ a teaspoon of vanilla bean powder. It’s worth testing on your favourite bakes too to get the exact intensity of flavour you want.
Yield and storage
One vanilla pod will yield roughly 1 teaspoon of natural vanilla powder. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature or a cool place like the pantry. I’ve used 8 in the recipe below and image above but you can use as many or as few vanilla beans as you like.
Now you know how to make vanilla bean powder, try this vanilla sugar to have at the ready for your morning latte.
Did you try this ground vanilla bean powder recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
Vanilla Bean Powder
- 8 vanilla beans
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Preheat the oven to 80C/175F.
- Place your beans onto a baking tray and bake for 90 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes – they should then be brittle enough to break.
- Break the baked vanilla beans into small pieces and add to a spice grinder. Grind as finely as possible.
- Push through a sieve or fine-mesh strainer then re-grind any of the larger pieces that are leftover.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in a cool place like the pantry.
- Substitute ½ tsp of vanilla powder for 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
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