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Vanilla extract and vanilla syrup are two of the most popular ways to add flavor to everything from coffee to cakes. Let's take a closer look at vanilla extract vs. vanilla syrup and help you decide which one is the best fit for your next coffee or ice cream recipe.

Vanilla Syrup vs. Vanilla Extract

Both vanilla syrup and vanilla extract are made from vanilla beans. Vanilla syrup is made by steeping the beans in a sugar syrup, while the vanilla extract is made by soaking the beans in alcohol. This gives each one a different flavor profile and texture.

Vanilla syrup is much sweeter than vanilla extract, due to the addition of sugar. It also has a thicker consistency, more like honey. Whereas, vanilla extract is less sweet and has a thinner consistency, like water.

How to Make Vanilla Syrup

Vanilla syrup is made by combining sugar and water with vanilla extract or vanilla beans, though using vanilla beans provides a more robust flavor. The result is a sweeter, more syrupy consistency that you can use to add sweetness and flavor to coffee, cocktails, cakes, shakes and more. One tablespoon of vanilla syrup is equivalent to one ounce of vanilla extract.

How to Make Your syrup

     1. Start by boiling water and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.

     2. Then, remove the mixture from heat and add vanilla extract or split vanilla beans.

     3. Let the mixture cool completely before transferring it to a bottle or jar.

Your homemade vanilla syrup will last for several weeks in the fridge.

How Vanilla Extract Is Made 

Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and water. This process extracts the flavor from the bean, resulting in a concentrated vanilla flavor. 

Since it is made with alcohol, it can sometimes result in a slightly harsh flavor. The flavor from one teaspoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to using one vanilla bean.

Alternatives to Using Vanilla Extract 

Vanilla bean paste: This is a concentrated vanilla form that has a more intense flavor than extract. It's excellent for baking or adding to coffee or other beverages.

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup can be used in place of vanilla extract; however, it will change the flavor of your coffee. If you're looking for a maple-flavored option, this is a good choice.

Vanilla Powder: This is an excellent substitute for vanilla extract because it's easy to use and doesn't change the flavor of your coffee. If you’re a beginner looking for simple recipes, this is a great option. It's also a good choice if you're looking for something more budget-friendly.

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract requires two ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans.

     1. Split a few vanilla beans lengthwise and add them to a jar of vodka.

     2. Then, let the mixture sit for at least two months, so the vanilla has time to infuse into the alcohol.


Vanilla Syrup vs. Vanilla Extract

Let's look at the similarities and differences, and the major distinguishing elements, now that we've looked at them separately.


     · Both are used to add vanilla flavor to food or drinks

     · They are both made with vanilla beans

     · They can both be used in baking, ice cream, coffee drinks and cocktails.


     · Vanilla extract is made with vodka and vanilla beans, while the vanilla syrup is made with sugar, water, and vanilla extract or beans.

     · Vanilla extract has a higher alcohol content than vanilla syrup.

     · Vanilla syrup is sweeter and has a thicker consistency than extract.

     · The vanilla syrup contains sugar, while vanilla extract does not.

     · The homemade vanilla syrup will last for several weeks in the fridge, while homemade extract will last for months.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The major distinguishing factor between vanilla extract and vanilla syrup is the ingredients used to make each one, as well as the consistency which can affect baking recipes. Vanilla extract is made with vodka and vanilla beans, while the vanilla syrup is made with sugar, water, and vanilla extract or beans.

When to Use Vanilla Syrup

Vanilla syrup is a good choice for coffee because it will dissolve quickly and won't change the color or consistency of your drink. It's also a good option because it adds both sweetness and flavor. However, it can sometimes result in a cloying flavor because it contains so much sugar.

When to Use Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is used when you want the flavor of vanilla in your coffee, beverage or baked good without added sweetness. It can be used in both cold and hot brews and will give your coffee a nice vanilla flavor without making it overly sweet.

Which Is Better?

Truly, the answer is that it depends - on how you're using it and what you are trying to accomplish with the recipe. Vanilla extract is better if you want to add vanilla flavor without extra sweetness or calories; it also doesn't change the consistency of your coffee or beverage since it's less thick than vanilla syrup. 


When it comes to vanilla extract vs. vanilla syrup, both are good choices for adding vanilla flavor to your coffee or dessert. Think about the sweetness, the consistency and the desired outcome and pick the one that's best suited for your recipe or beverage.

And be sure to let us know in the comments if you decided to try making your own vanilla extract or syrup!


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