31 Vanilla Recipes That Are Anything But Boring (2024)

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Perhaps the most humble of all flavorings, vanilla imparts a sweet, yet earthy, richness to just about any food, but is especially indulgent in quick breads, cakes, ice cream, custards, and other homemade desserts. From Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies to Ginger-Vanilla Milk Punch, these recipes all showcase the incredible flavor of pure vanilla. Whether you reach for pure vanilla extract (or make your own), or prefer vanilla paste or fresh pods, this much-loved flavor is sure to shine.

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Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

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Credit: Photography: Karry Hosford

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée Recipe

Steeping a vanilla bean in the milk used to make the custard, and scraping seeds from that bean into the milk, gives this easy brûlée a wonderfully intense vanilla flavor. If you don't have a blow torch, check out our simple stovetop sugar topping.

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Vanilla Custard Crumble with Mixed Berries

Vanilla Custard Crumble with Mixed Berries

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Credit: Photography: Karry Hosford

Vanilla Custard Crumble with Mixed Berries Recipe

While the custard is made with a vanilla bean, the crumble topping is a simple mixture of crushed vanilla wafers, butter, egg white and vanilla extract. It's easy to make up both in advance and then add berries or any seasonal fruit.

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Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

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Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake Recipe

Made with cake flour and a dozen egg whites, this moist cake is fragrant with vanilla. That's because the sugar for the cake is infused with the seeds of a whole vanilla bean before being added to the batter.

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Vanilla Cream Sauce

Vanilla Cream Sauce

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Vanilla Cream Sauce Recipe

Drizzle this easy cream sauce over fresh berries, bread pudding, or any dessert that needs a special finishing touch. It's a slam-dunk over chocolate ice cream, and the fact that it's made with vanilla extract keeps things simple.

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Bottomless Vanilla Extract

Bottomless Vanilla Extract

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Credit: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffey Hargett

Bottomless Vanilla Extract Recipe

Homemade extract is something every baker should have. It's more flavorful and generally less expensive than store-bought versions. Cooking speeds up the infusion, but you can omit the process by letting the mixture stand an extra week. Then use it in frostings and baked goods.

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Vanilla Ice

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Vanilla Ice Recipe

This ice will remind you of making ice cream out of snow. While many commercial vanilla desserts are too cloying to let the vanilla flavor shine through, this three-ingredient recipe will show you that vanilla is anything but plain. You can use an equal amount of vanilla paste for the extract; it will create an ice flecked with vanilla seeds.

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Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

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Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies Recipe

Lace these sugar cookies with a double hit of vanilla from the seeds and extract of the vanilla bean. Frost the cookies white, and sprinkle them with iridescent glitter; they'll look like delicate snowflakes.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Cupcakes of every imaginable flavor are all the rage these days, but it's hard to beat the rich simplicity of vanilla.

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Blackberry-Vanilla Vodka Lemonade

Blackberry-Vanilla Vodka Lemonade

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Credit: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

Blackberry-Vanilla Vodka Lemonade Recipe

For a winning adult lemonade, try Blackberry-Vanilla Vodka Lemonade. The vanilla bean is a pleasing addition.

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Orange and Vanilla Yogurt Pops

Orange and Vanilla Yogurt Pops

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Credit: Levi Brown

Orange and Vanilla Yogurt Pops Recipe

These creamy vanilla-orange juice pops are reminiscent of the ones from childhood. Create new memories with your family with our version of Orange and Vanilla Yogurt Pops.

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Vanilla Ice Cream

Eagle Brand Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

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Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Making your own homemade vanilla ice cream just doesn't get easier than this three-ingredient recipe. Use high-quality pure vanilla extract for the most decadent flavor.

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Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Vanilla Bean Shortbread

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Credit: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Recipe

Use pantry staples and a flavorful vanilla bean to create these delicate cookies. Make them up to five days in advance, and store in an airtight container.

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Vanilla Bean-Espresso Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Bean-Espresso Crème Brûlée

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Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Linda Hirst

Vanilla Bean-Espresso Crème Brûlée Recipe

Espresso powder and fresh vanilla bean lend this elegant dessert its rich, deep flavor. The ramekins need at least 8 hours to chill, so if you're entertaining, be sure to make these the day before the event.

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Apple Galette with Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle

Apple Galette with Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle

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Credit: Jennifer Causey

Apple Galette with Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle Recipe

We save on saturated fat and make the crust more tender by swapping in low-fat yogurt for some of the butter (use standard yogurt, not Greek-style). Make dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze (just remember to thaw completely before rolling). You can sub the scraped seeds from one vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean paste.

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Basic Vanilla Macarons

Basic Vanilla Macarons

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Credit: Beth Branch

Basic Vanilla Macarons Recipe

To make these light meringue cookies, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites, but be careful not to over mix. The end result is a light and fluffy vanilla treat.

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Snowy White Vanilla Glaze

Snowy White Vanilla Glaze

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Credit: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Snowy White Vanilla Glaze Recipe

A simple Snowy White Vanilla Glaze graces the top of our Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake.

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Classic Vanilla Pudding

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Classic Vanilla Pudding Recipe

For a quick and elegant dessert, serve the pudding topped with fresh berries, crumbled pistachio brittle, or chopped toffee candy and a pretty mint leaf. Substitute 4 teaspoons vanilla extract for the vanilla bean, if you like. Add it with the butter.

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Vanilla Pots de Crème with Dark Chocolate and Roasted Almonds

Vanilla Pots de Crème with Dark Chocolate and Roasted Almonds

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Credit: Cedric Angeles; Styling: Robyn Valarik

Vanilla Pots de Crème with Dark Chocolate and Roasted Almonds Recipe

Although any good dark chocolate will work in this recipe, Los Angeles chef and restaurant owner Suzanne Goin especially likes Caro chocolate, from Spain. "The flavor is intense--deep and earthy, with notes of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla, which match well with the vanilla in the custard and the almonds on top."

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Vanilla Cheesecake

Vanilla Cheesecake

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Credit: James Baigrie

Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe

Transform the traditional cheesecake with vanilla in this six-ingredient cheesecake recipe. The spicy notes from our homemade Ginger Graham Cracker Crust perfectly complement the creamy vanilla filling.

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Vanilla and White Chocolate Cocoa

Vanilla and White Chocolate Cocoa

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Vanilla and White Chocolate Cocoa Recipe

This Vanilla and White Chocolate Hot Chocolate takes a slight veer from traditional hot chocolate by using a base of premium white chocolate and Spice Islands Pure Vanilla Extract.

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Ginger-Vanilla Milk Punch

Ginger-Vanilla Milk Punch

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Credit: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

Ginger-Vanilla Milk Punch Recipe

Ginger-Vanilla Milk Punch wakes up your holiday spirit. This crisp winter sipper is full of citrus and zippy ginger.

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Vanilla Marshmallows

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Credit: Sheri Giblin; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Amy Stone

Vanilla Marshmallows Recipe

Make your own fluffy, vanilla, sugary goodness this holiday season. These make a great gift, along with homemade hot chocolate mix. Cut the marshmallows into bigger squares for s'mores during the warmer months. Gelatin can be found on the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

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Vanilla Bean Pudding

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Credit: Randy Mayor

Vanilla Bean Pudding Recipe

Vanilla beans can be expensive, but their superior flavor is worth the investment. Substitute vanilla paste or one teaspoon real vanilla extract if necessary. Stir extract in with the butter.

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Double-Vanilla Meringue Cookies

Double-Vanilla Meringue Cookies

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Double-Vanilla Meringue Cookies Recipe

By using vanilla bean and extract, you’ll get double the vanilla flavor in these meringue cookies.

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Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Frosting

Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Frosting

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Credit: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck

Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Frosting

A splash of bourbon and vanilla bean paste punch up the flavor of our Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Frosting. Spread this frosting on your favorite cake or cupcake.

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Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler

Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler

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Credit: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler Recipe

Welcome the New Year the right way with a Vanilla-Fig Champagne Sparkler. Cheers!

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Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cakes

Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cakes

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Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr, Jan Gautro, Leigh Ann Ross

Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cakes Recipe

Tart buttermilk and sweet vanilla mingle flawlessly in this pound cake. You can also prepare these cakes in two (8 x 4–inch) loaf pans. Bake at 350° for one hour or until done.

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Vanilla Frozen Yogurt With a Cherry Swirl

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt with Fresh Cherry Swirl

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Credit: Jennifer Causey

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt With a Cherry Swirl Recipe

Creamy, luscious, perfectly sweet with a touch of tart, this simple frozen yogurt was a clear staff favorite. A combination of half-and-half, plain whole milk yogurt, and a little corn syrup gives the frozen yogurt its super-smooth, almost velvety mouth feel. If you can’t find vanilla bean paste, substitute the scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. We love the swirled effect of the jammy cherry mixture with the creamy frozen yogurt. Space out the dollops of cherry mixture over the yogurt in the loaf pan for defined rosy streaks in every bite.

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Vanilla Buttercream

Vanilla Buttercream

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Credit: Thomas J Story

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

The secrets to this celestial buttercream, writes Vancouver baker Rosie Daykin in her first book, Butter Baked Goods(Random House, 2013), are "making sure your butter is not too cold, and then whipping it like crazy!" When properly whipped, buttercream is supremely fluffy--almost like whipped cream--and surprisingly un-greasy. "When it's right, it's a breeze to use," adds Daykin. "It's like pushing air around." Also, because her version has a lot less sugar than most buttercream frostings, it won't set your teeth on edge.

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Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

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Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

These sweet and juicy shortcakes are the perfect strawberry dessert to serve at your next springtime event. Sanding sugar on top of the homemade buttermilk biscuits add a festive touch, and pure vanilla makes the whipped cream extra rich. Scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod, or use 1 teaspoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.

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Fresh Raspberry-Vanilla Preserves

Fresh Raspberry Vanilla Preserves

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Credit: Jennifer Causey Styling: Graham Yelton

Fresh Raspberry-Vanilla Preserves Recipe

Reducing the first press of the macerated raspberry mixture before adding the rest intensifies the raspberry flavor. Kiwis are naturally very high in pectin--just one will thicken the preserves nicely.

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31 Vanilla Recipes That Are Anything But Boring (2024)

FAQs

Is 20 year old vanilla still good? ›

Pure vanilla extract (the kind made with real vanilla beans and at least 35 percent alcohol) has an indefinite shelf life.

What else can you do with vanilla extract? ›

We'll leave you with a laundry list of other uses for vanilla outside of your baking!
  • In co*cktails. Vanilla extract can add a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to co*cktails. ...
  • In savory dishes. ...
  • In coffee and tea. ...
  • In smoothies. ...
  • As a natural air freshener. ...
  • In skin care products.
Jul 27, 2023

What is the best vanilla in the world? ›

Madagascar vanilla beans work extremely well with apples, eggs, fish, ice cream, melon, milk, peaches, pears and strawberries. Mexican vanilla beans, from the genus planifolia, have a reputation for being the best vanilla beans in the world – vanilla did originate in this area so you shouldn't be surprised.

What can I do with fresh vanilla? ›

Use Your Vanilla Pods

For baking, we're usually most interested in the tiny seeds inside the vanilla pod, but the pods themselves have a lot of flavor, too. You can use the scraped-out pods to infuse milk or cream with subtle vanilla flavor, or you can stick them in a jar of sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar.

Can you use 10 year old vanilla extract? ›

Vanilla extract is alcohol-based, so it will remain usable for many years. Be sure to store it in a cool, dark place, away from heat sources, and tightly capped.

Does 100% pure vanilla go bad? ›

When stored properly, vanilla extract will keep indefinitely, but using it within five years will allow for best flavor and aroma. Do not refrigerate or freeze, even after opening. What is the shelf life of my vanilla beans? When stored properly, two years.

Why is vanilla extract legal? ›

Vanilla extract doesn't just rely on alcohol to extract the essential flavors and fragrances from the vanilla bean and suspend them in a stable solution—it's also required by law to have an alcohol content of at least 35 percent.

Does vanilla extract expire? ›

If stored properly, pure vanilla extract should have an indefinite shelf life. Imitation vanilla extract generally has a shelf life of three to four years and is marked by the expiration date on the bottle. At the expiration date, imitation vanilla extract will begin losing it's potency.

What does vanilla extract do for a toothache? ›

Vanilla extract – Vanilla extract contains alcohol, which can help to numb pain. Its proven antioxidant properties also make it an effective healer. How to use: Dab a small amount of extract onto your finger or a cotton ball. Apply it directly to the affected area.

What is the rarest type of vanilla? ›

Pompona - The rarest species in modern times, Pompona was the most common in the days of the Aztecs, and believed to be the original variety of Vanilla the Spanish encountered in Mexico.

Is McCormick vanilla extract real? ›

McCormick Culinary Pure Vanilla Extract is derives its rich, subtle flavor from the finest quality imported premium vanilla beans. Whether you are preparing specialty beverages or beautiful baked goods, the extracts you use will influence customers' experience with your food.

Should you refrigerate vanilla? ›

You should never store your vanilla beans in the refrigerator. Refrigeration will dry out your beans and excess moisture can promote a particular type of mold specific to vanilla. We recommend storing your airtight container in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or basem*nt.

What are the most common uses for vanilla? ›

In foods and beverages, vanilla is a well-known flavoring. In manufacturing, vanilla is used as a flavoring in syrups for medications. It is also used as a fragrance in perfumes.

Why is fresh vanilla so expensive? ›

When vanilla growers plant a vanilla tree (a species of orchid), it takes three years to obtain the first fruits. Also, unlike some spices that offer a good yield from the first year, vanilla takes its time, which justifies a higher price. Another element that impacts the price: pollination.

Does vanilla get better with age? ›

If you use a decent amount of quality vanilla beans (3+ per 8 oz), 4 months should be sufficient. If you use fewer beans, you should wait closer to 6 months. We've found that the extract flavor continues to improve even up to ~ 1 year of aging, then it levels out.

How can you tell if vanilla extract has gone bad? ›

So read on to know if your vanilla extract is gone bad. Change in odour: Vanilla extracts have alcohol which gives away the smell. If you doubt the purity of your vanilla extract, just give it a quick whiff, if you think the smell has faded from the first purchase it's better to discard it.

Does vanilla extract get better with age? ›

Just like you, it will continue to get sweeter with time. Use it now or, for extra sweetness, store it in a cool/dark place until its birthday.

How long can you age vanilla? ›

Unused aged vanilla extract (with the beans fully submerged) will last several years. If it still smells good, it's still good to use! Aged extract without the beans will last indefinitely. Once you begin using the vanilla and adding more alcohol after each use, the beans will eventually need to be replaced.

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