What Is Vanilla Paste?

Sonal Panse

Vanilla paste is a thick, viscous paste that may be made from vanilla extract or straight from vanilla beans. It is popularly used in cooking and baking as an alternative to vanilla extract or vanilla sauce, and can be used both as an ingredient as well as a topping. The paste can be purchased ready made in many food stores, or it can be made at home.

Dried vanilla beans can be made into vanilla paste.
Dried vanilla beans can be made into vanilla paste.

To made vanilla paste from vanilla beans, it is possible to buy whole vanilla pods or cured beans that only need to be ground to a powder in a spice grinder. In the case of the vanilla pods, the pods will need to be split open with a sharp knife and the beans will need to be air dried for around a week or perhaps more before they are ready to be used. A good many vanilla beans are required to produce a small amount of paste, and it is important to note that vanilla beans can be quite high priced; considering this, it will be a good idea to ensure that there is little or no waste while making the vanilla paste.

Vanilla powder can be combined with maple syrup to make vanilla paste.
Vanilla powder can be combined with maple syrup to make vanilla paste.

The beans, once they have dried properly, are processed in a grinder until a fine vanilla powder is obtained. The vanilla bean powder is then mixed with a syrup, usually corn syrup or maple syrup, to form the thick vanilla paste; the consistency of the paste can be adjusted by the amount of syrup used. The vanilla paste can be used immediately in baking or to make concentrated vanilla milk, or it may be stored in airtight containers and refrigerated. The paste does not usually last long when stored, generally for up to a week if stored in a refrigerator, so it is best to make and store the vanilla powder and then turn it into paste in small quantities as required. Ready-made vanilla paste will usually have some sort of chemical preservatives in it to give it a longer shelf life.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the vanilla flavor may differ according to where the beans come from. The soil, weather and other environmental factors in the region where the vanilla was grown makes a marked difference in how the beans and thereby the vanilla paste turns out. Harvesting vanilla beans is a laborious and manually intensive process, and this is the main factor for the high cost of the beans.

Vanilla paste or powder can be used to flavor plain milk.
Vanilla paste or powder can be used to flavor plain milk.

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Discussion Comments


Vanilla paste is wonderful. It's easier than using vanilla beans and tastes better than vanilla extract. It doesn't have that artificial, alcohol type of flavor that extracts have.

Depending on the thickness of the paste, it may require some additional mixing when used in non-baked ingredients. But it's not a problem at all if the paste is more syrupy which most are.


@bluedolphin-- The commercial ones have a nice and long shelf life, at least mine does. The bottle says three years. I've never had it last longer than a few months, so I'm no sure if it's true. How long the vanilla paste will last depends on how much vanilla you use and how large of a container you get. I don't bake every day and my vanilla paste is only four ounces so it lasts me quite a while. But I must say, when one finds a good quality vanilla paste, it starts getting used far more frequently because of the delicious taste. I even put some in hot drinks now for a nice vanilla flavor.


Ah, so homemade vanilla paste doesn't last long. But what about the ones sold commercially? I use vanilla flavoring often while baking. If I buy a jar of vanilla paste and refrigerate after opening, will it last for a while, at least a month or two?

Of course, I don't want to spend money on this if the product will only last a week after opening. It will not be of much use to me then.

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