As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. In addition, I participate in several other affiliate programs that allow me to earn while I recommend products I love.
You’re whipping up the dough for a wonderful batch of cookies with your favorite recipe, only to realize that you don’t have vanilla extract in your kitchen!
Is it even possible to make cookies without vanilla extract?
Will it ruin them?
How can you substitute vanilla extract in cookies?
While it’s usually only used in small quantities in cookies, this ingredient is definitely an important part of any cookie recipe, but despite that, there are solutions!
If you do make cookies without any vanilla extract at all, your cookies will have a less rich taste, but will still turn out structurally fine.
Find out what you can use instead and what vanilla extract does in cookies below.
Want more easy recipes?
Join 4,000 others in weekly, easy recipes, right to your inbox!
Can you make cookies without vanilla extract?
Let’s talk the basics: is it possible to make cookies without vanilla extract?
Yes, it is technically possible and some people do it all the time on accident!
There are a lot of cookie recipes that don’t even use vanilla extract, but if yours does and you don’t have it, you can leave it out and it will still taste like a cookie, just not quite as good.
What is the impact of vanilla extract in cookies?
Vanilla extract doesn’t add any structure or texture to a cookie, but it gives it a flavor.
It can bring out the hints of other flavors, as well as overall making your cookies tastes richer.
Some people think it will make any of your cookies taste like “vanilla,” but that’s not true as it’s used in cookies that are not vanilla flavored at all.
You only use a small amount, typically, maybe a teaspoon or just 1/2 of a teaspoon per recipe, so it isn’t enough to overpower the cookie, but enough to get that hint of richness and sweetness in there (of course, you’ll also have the sugar helping you to do that!)
What would happen to a cookie without vanilla extract?
If you leave vanilla extract out of a cookie, the baking world will not end and your cookie will not taste terrible.
Instead, it will be edible and people will eat it, but the flavor will be a little more flat than if you had used it.
If you’re really stressed out about it and don’t want to bother with substitutions, just find a cookie recipe without vanilla extract required anyway, as there are plenty!
What to use in cookies instead of vanilla extract: vanilla extract substitutions
If you do want to try out some substitutions for vanilla extract in cookies, there are quite a few options!
They will have different results and flavorings, but all will go a ways to helping get that richness back in!
While not a liquid, cinnamon can be added into a cookie, particularly a sugar cookie, to give it a bit of flavor and depth that you would be missing out with the vanilla extract.
We highly recommended adding half a teaspoon to a regular sized amount of dough, or a full teaspoon if you really like the cinnamon taste.
You’d be surprised how many cookie recipes that cinnamon tastes great in!
2. Peppermint Extract
If you don’t have vanilla extract on hand, use another extract, like peppermint!
This works best around the holidays when people really want that peppermint taste, but you can try this any time of year.
Both chocolate chip and sugar cookies work well with peppermint extract, and if you want to get creative, you can even use finely ground up candy canes instead.
It’s not going to give your cookies the same flavor as if you used vanilla extract, obviously, but it’s going to go a long way to make your cookies stand out.
So, top tip: I use honey as a vanilla extract substitute on purpose!
A lot of people don’t think of it, but honey helps your cookies with sweetness and gives them a really chewy texture and consistency that can be amazing.
Use the same amount of honey as you would vanilla extract, and enjoy!
4. Rum Extract (or rum)
Seriously, some people go for an alcohol extract like rum to try and add some flavor to their cookies!
If you have rum extract, that will give you a more subtle flavor that’s good for baking, but you can also just add a bit of rum or brandy as is (if you are over 21, of course!)
This is going to definitely change the flavor of your cookie, so be prepared for that, but it’s worth a shot if you don’t have vanilla extract and want to get creative.
5. Almond Extract
Another extract is almond extract, which tastes much nuttier, but is a fantastic substitute in cookies for vanilla extract and is sometimes even called for in recipes instead of vanilla extract.
Because it’s a bit more overpowering than vanilla extract, make sure to use about half of the almond extract compared to what it calls for in vanilla extract.
The nutty taste won’t be too overpowering, and you’ll end up with equally delicious cookies as if you had used vanilla.
Hey! Want more expert cookie baking hacks? Check these out!
- Exactly how long homemade cookies last
- Can you bake cookies on aluminum foil?
- 7 easy ways to soften hard cookies
- Oops! Burned cookies! Here are 9 ways to fix them
- Help! My cookie dough is crumbly!
- Why are my cookies burnt on the bottom?
- How long does cookie dough last?
- Tips on Making Your Cookies Chewier
- How to avoid cakey cookies
- Exactly how to freeze cookie dough
- How long should you chill cookie dough?
- Tips on Making your Cookies Super Moist
- What to do if you put too much butter in your cookie dough
- How to bake frozen cookie dough
- Expert cookie storage tips
- Using salted or unsalted butter in cookies
- Help! How to make cookies without butter
- Help! How to make cookies without brown sugar
- How to use cake flour in cookies
- Help! How do I make cookies without eggs?
- Can you make cookies without baking soda?
- Can you use bread flour in cookies?
- Exactly how to make cookies more puffy
- How to make cookies without baking powder
- How to fix wet and sticky cookie dough