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Let’s face it. Would cakes, cookies, custards, brownies and other desserts be just as good without the pleasant, savory taste of vanilla? Well, of course not!
The natural vanilla extract added to our desserts and baked products is one of the reasons why we can’t just get enough of these delicacies.
After all, vanilla is the main ingredient responsible for the deep, tasty flavor in most Western desserts. Without it, your ice creams, puddings and pastries won’t be as delicious as they should be.
So what is the best vanilla extract?
Well, we have the answer! We headed out to the market and identified the top 7 best vanilla extracts ideal to zest up your baked goods.
Moreover, we ensured that we only pick the all-natural vanilla extracted from orchids grown in vanilla-rich locations such as Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti and Uganda.
Our best overall pick is the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. But before reviewing each product, let’s first discuss the key elements to consider when choosing the best vanilla extract.
Here are the best vanilla extracts you can buy:
- Best overall - Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
- Runner up - Watkins Gourmet with Pure Vanilla Extract
- Best Pure Vanilla - McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract
- Best Non-Alcoholic - Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring
- Best Mexican Vanilla - Monila Vainilla Mexican Vanilla Blend
- Best Gourmet Extract - Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla Extract
- Best Vanilla Powder - Cook’s Organic Pure Vanilla Powder
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
7 Best Vanilla Extracts Reviews
1. Best overall - Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.6 x 4.3 inches
Size: 4 ounces
Madagascar is home to the finest, best tasting vanilla. The country accounts for about 80 percent of the world’s vanilla production. With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract is our best overall pick.
This sweet, creamy flavoring is extracted from green pods handpicked and hand cured from the vast vanilla plantations in the Bourbon Island. Moreover, the selected vanilla beans go through a proprietary cold extraction process to draw out over 300 flavor compounds found in vanilla.
Interestingly, this vanilla extract works well for all types of baked recipes and desserts – you can use it for your custards, ice creams, puddings, cakes, cookies, brownies and pastries.
The best part is that this vanilla extract is extremely healthy. It contains 100% natural, non-GMO ingredients. Moreover, all the ingredients are allergen-free, gluten-free and certified kosher.
The extract contains water, natural sugar and 35% alcohol as required by the FDA. Furthermore, the alcoholic content adds a more enriched and consistent, mellow flavor with each pour.
2. Runner up - Watkins Gourmet with Pure Vanilla Extract
Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 1.5 x 8.1 inches
Size: 11 ounces
Origin: sourced universally
The Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet with Pure Vanilla Extract is a special flavoring formula tailored for baking. Whether you want to bake sweet-tasting marble cakes or chocolate chip cookies, this vanilla extract is exactly what you need.
The product is made using premium vanilla extract and the finest ingredients and flavors sourced from every corner of the world. Moreover, all the ingredients are 100% natural, free of artificial sugars, preservatives and colors.
In addition, this baking vanilla extract is non-GMO certified, and it does not contain corn syrup. Most importantly, the extract is gluten-free, making it ideal for people with various allergies and chronic conditions. Sounds good, right?
Even though this Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract is specially formulated for baking, you can use it to spice your drinks, treats and delicacies. Besides, it has an extremely pleasant smell, making it the perfect flavoring companion for your cakes and pastries.
What is even more interesting is that the ingredients are bake and freeze proof, meaning that the extract won’t form lumps after baking or leave a bad taste in refrigerated pastries.
This particular bottle contains 11 ounces of pure vanilla extract, but you have the option of ordering up to 32 Fl ounces to meet your everyday baking needs.
3. Best Pure Vanilla - McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract
Size: 16 fl. ounces
Many flavoring products out there claim to be pure vanilla extract. Sadly, most of these products do not meet expectations.
If you want nothing but pure, natural vanilla, then look no further than the McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract. McCormick is a brand that has been around for over a century, specializing in the production of 100% pure, natural vanilla extract.
The company sources all their herbs, spices and ingredients from Madagascar, ensuring that they produce only the best flavors for your desserts, pastries and delicacies. Considering this, the McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract is not an exception as far as quality is concerned.
Moreover, you can use this extract for a wide range of cuisines other than desserts and pastries, including sauces, marinades, and meat and seafood dishes. Amazingly, the aroma remains pleasantly delicious regardless of the type of food you are making.
According to the FDA regulations, all vanilla extracts should contain at least 35% alcohol. However, this pure vanilla extract surpasses this requirement, as it contains over 41% alcohol, for an enriched and tasty flavor.
Perhaps the only concern about this extract is the price. However, we strongly believe that if you want nothing but pure vanilla extract, then the price of this product won’t be an issue.
4. Best Non-Alcoholic - Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring
Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.8 x 5.3 inches
Size: 4 ounces
Whether it’s for health reasons, religious beliefs or personal preferences, not everyone prefers eating foods flavored with alcohol. However, given that the FDA requires all vanilla extracts to have 35% alcohol, it could be hard for you to find the ideal flavor for your desserts and pastries.
Thankfully, we have just the right solution for you. Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring is a pure, natural vanilla extract with no alcohol. Instead, the extract contains a mixture of water and glycerin, which is a great substitute for alcohol.
Remarkably, this non-alcoholic extract manages to maintain the same potent vanilla flavoring just like other alcoholic extracts. The product derives its flavor from real vanilla beans grown exclusively in Madagascar.
As suggested by its name, all the ingredients are 100% organic. This vanilla flavoring does not have artificial additives. The extract does not contain added sugars, colors or flavors. Besides, it is non-GMO certified and kosher certified.
We also loved the fact that Simply Organic always strives to develop trustworthy relationships with the growers for sustainable and environmentally friendly growth of vanilla in Madagascar and other vanilla-growing regions.
5. Best Mexican Vanilla - Monila Vainilla Mexican Vanilla Blend
Size: 33.3 ounces
Doing a taste test on different vanilla varieties could be fun if not appetizing. If you want to try out a different type of vanilla other than the popular Madagascan variety, then you should consider the Monila Vainilla Mexican Vanilla Blend.
You do not have to travel to Mexico to taste this enriched vanilla flavor. This extract is grown, harvested and processed exclusively in Mexico, before being distributed to baking and dessert enthusiasts around the world.
Moreover, it has one of the longest shelf lives given that it can last for more than 3 years without losing its potency or taste. Believe it or not, but the last spoon of this vanilla extract tastes just as good as the first.
Apart from desserts and pastries, you can use this flavor in a wide range of other dishes, beverages and recipes. The Mexican vanilla blend delivers an exceptional taste in coffee and cocktails as well as main dishes such as meat or fish.
Most importantly, this vanilla blend is extremely healthy. Apparently, it does not contain coumarin and it is gluten-free. This makes it ideal for people experiencing various conditions and allergies.
We’re not through yet…..
The fact that it comes in a 33-0z bottle means that you should expect to use this extract for years to come for all your dessert and pastry recipes.
6. Best Gourmet Extract - Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla Extract
Product Dimensions: N/A
Size: 8 Fl ounces
If you want to make the finest gourmets and cuisines, you have to add the best flavors. No other flavor tastes better than Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla Extract.
This flavoring product is made using a blend of premium vanilla beans sourced from major growing regions north and south of the equator, including Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti. The processed extract boasts of a rich flavor incomparable to any other vanilla extract in its class.
The production of the Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla Extract is a delicate process that involves hand-pollinating select vanilla varieties and picking only the best green vanilla beans. The farmers pick only mature beans after every 9 months to ensure that the extract produced is of the highest quality.
Furthermore, all picked beans have to go through a curing process to create the dark, fragrant vanilla familiar with everyone.
Like most vanilla extracts on our list, this product contains 100 percent natural ingredients. Besides, the Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla Extract is gluten-free and kosher certified. It does not contain added sugar or artificial flavors and colors.
7. Best Vanilla Powder - Cook’s Organic Pure Vanilla Powder
Product Dimensions: N/A
Size: 4.5 ounces
Winding up, we look at yet another exceptional vanilla extract, but this time it comes in powder form rather liquid form.
This vanilla powder tastes better than many liquid extracts out there. Moreover, it comes in handy when baking white cakes and other pastries that do not require extracts that contain alcohol or liquids.
The fact that it is in powder form means it won’t evaporate from your food as it is the case with liquid extracts. Besides, the powder forms a very good condiment for various beverages such as coffee, tea and smoothies.
Then again, this vanilla powder has a very long shelf life, given that it does not contain any liquids that could evaporate, hence affecting the taste. Furthermore, it comes in a reusable and re-sealable plastic bottle for convenient and safe storage.
We know you are eager to find out about the best vanilla extract for the money. Well, after a long and comprehensive research process, the best vanilla extract that you should consider this year is the Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract.
As you are aware by now, Madagascar is home to the best vanilla extract in the world. For this reason, we had to settle for the purest and tastiest option the region has to offer.
So why wait any longer? Order the Nielsen Massey Bourbon Vanilla Extract and start enjoying more flavorful and tasty desserts and pastries.
Criteria For Choosing the Best Vanilla Extract
The type of vanilla extract you choose will determine the overall taste of your pastries and desserts. If you select a weak flavor, your delicacies won’t boast of the savory taste associated with vanilla.
Unfortunately, choosing the best vanilla extract is not a job for the faint-hearted. Thankfully, we have a few tips up our sleeves that can help you identify the ideal vanilla extract for your needs.
Vanilla Bean Origin
The bean origin largely determines the flavor of the vanilla extract. One of the most popular vanilla extracts originates from Madagascar. Many people like the Madagascan vanilla due to its authentic, subtle flavor.
If you would like to explore other options, you may also consider the pure Mexican vanilla extract or the Tahitian vanilla extract, as they taste just as good.
Vanilla extract comes packaged in different bottle sizes, ranging from a few ounces to a couple of liters. If you are a baking enthusiast or you love making desserts quite often, then you certainly need to buy a large bottle of vanilla extract to suit your daily needs.
Besides, vanilla has a long shelf life, and buying the extract in large quantities is much more cost-effective and convenient.
The strength of the flavor is also another factor to consider. Most vanilla extracts are of standard strength in terms of flavor, but if you want something stronger, you should opt for the double-strength vanilla extract.
The only concern is that double-strength vanilla is quite costly, but it makes up for the cost by reducing the amount of ingredients you will need for your dessert and baking recipes.
Pure vanilla is somehow expensive. For this reason, some manufacturers have a tendency of adding other ingredients such as glycerin, water and glycol to pure vanilla as a way of reducing its overall cost.
With this in mind, you should always check the label on the bottle to establish whether the product you are buying is pure vanilla or vanilla essence (synthetic vanilla flavor).
Alcohol vs. No Alcohol
Alcohol is an essential ingredient added to vanilla extract to give it an enriched flavor. The most common alcoholic drinks used include vodka, brandy and rum.
However, not everyone would like to have alcohol in their foods. Considering this, some manufacturers may substitute the alcohol with propylene glycol or glycerin to produce non-alcoholic vanilla extract.
The brand also matters. Some brands have been around for ages, and they are renowned for producing high-quality vanilla extract while others are still finding a foothold in the industry.
If you are adventurous and you would love to explore other options, you may try out the new brands in the market. If not, you are better off sticking with recognizable brands to avoid disappointments.