Homemade vanilla sugar is a simple and lovely ingredient for baking! Learn how to make your own, as well as more than 30 ways to use it. This post includes two methods: the first, using a food processor, is quick and takes literally seconds! The second method takes longer (a week or more) but is kind of fun to wait for, especially if you make it a couple of months before you start your holiday baking.
You need one whole vanilla bean (sometimes called a vanilla pod) to make your own vanilla sugar. There are many options for buying vanilla beans. We usually buy our beans based on these three categories:
- Grade: most vanilla beans sold commercially are marked as either Grade A (called "Gourmet", contain higher moisture, are more plump) or Grade B (called "Extract", slightly drier, more wrinkly, usually recommended for making vanilla extract).
- Region of growth: the two varieties most commonly sold for baking are Madagascar and Tahitian beans. Madagascar beans are usually thinner and cheaper, whereas Tahitian beans tend to be more expensive with a deeper, richer flavour.
- Certification: like chocolate, vanilla is one of the most ethically problematic foods in terms of production. If you can buy fair-trade and organic vanilla, you're supporting the farmers and workers more effectively and helping to avoid child labour.
Step 1: slice a vanilla bean lengthwise.
Step 2: and scrape out the interior of the bean.
Step 3: add the vanilla to a food processor with the sugar.
Step 4: pulse the food processor until the vanilla bean seeds are well distributed through the sugar.
Place the sugar in a jar large enough to hold all of it. Slice and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla beans and add them to the jar of sugar. Give the jar a good shake then store it in a dark dry place. Shake the jar every few days. You can use the vanilla sugar after a week but will get the best flavour after 6-8 weeks.
How to Store
Storage: keep the vanilla sugar in a sealed glass jar - this works better than plastic - and keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
- Get good beans: look for vanilla beans that are plump and shiny. It means they are relatively fresh and/or have been stored properly. The seeds from dried-out looking beans will still work, however, may not infuse as much flavour as they will be less plentiful.
- Make extract: us the leftover bean to make vanilla extract! Place the two halves of the scraped vanilla bean into a small bottle (sliced to fit if need be). Top the bean with vodka. Store the bottle in a dark dry place for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking the bottle every once in a while. Use anywhere you would use vanilla extract.
- Don't over-mix: you can let the food processor run instead of pulsing, however, it will pulverize your sugar as well as the seeds. If you go too far you will end up with vanilla powdered sugar! This is totally fine depending on how you are using the vanilla sugar.
30+ Vanilla Sugar Uses
- Stir into coffee or tea.
- Make a vanilla-scented icing or glaze.
- Package into small jars tied with twine as a gift.
- Use in pretty much any cookie recipes.
- Use it in these buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes.
- Make these big soft sugar cookies.
- Add some to the filling of these easy no-yeast cinnamon rolls.
- Add a touch to whipped cream.
- Use it to macerate fruit. It's especially good with strawberries!
- Substitute vanilla sugar for regular sugar in cakes and cupcakes.
- Boil it for a few minutes with an equal amount of water. Once cool, use the syrup as cake soak.
- Sprinkle it onto oatmeal.
- Add some to your favourite pie crust recipe.
- Use it as a coating for homemade sourdough donuts.
- Roll snickerdoodle cookies in vanilla sugar mixed with cinnamon before baking.
- Add some to a streusel topping for baked goods.
- Make classic lemon or orange curd.
- Use it in this sweet shortcrust pastry recipe.
- Add it to your favourite pie filling recipe.
- Sprinkle a bit on the top of puff pastry turnovers.
- Add some to sweet loaves such as banana bread.
- It's terrific in the streusel topping for sourdough muffins.
- Use it in this no-bake cheesecake crust.
- Jam! It's so good in homemade jam like this small-batch strawberry jam.
- Make velvety smooth vanilla custard.
- Sprinkle over this blueberry clafoutis (a super simple egg-based French dessert).
- Add a few tablespoons to a pan of baked oatmeal.
- Make classic shortbread.
- It's a great match for these Mexican wedding cookies.
- Make a batch of vanilla ice cream.
- Use it to make classic meringue nests.
What is vanilla sugar made of?
Vanilla sugar is made from two ingredients, vanilla and sugar. A proper vanilla sugar should only contain those two ingredients and you should be able to see visible bits of vanilla bean.
What is the point of vanilla sugar?
Much like vanilla extract, vanilla sugar adds flavour and a subtle boost to any of your baked goods. It just makes everything taste better.
Why is vanilla sugar so expensive?
Vanilla sugar is expensive because vanilla is expensive. It's hard to produce, only grows in certain areas, and requires a lot of human labour. The price has gone up even more in recent years due to problems arising from human-caused climate change and related issues like deforestation.
If you make this Vanilla Sugar recipe or any other staple recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
How to Make Vanilla Sugar
- Food processor
- sharp knife
- Airtight glass jar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- Place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
- Slice one vanilla bean lengthwise, from top to bottom, with a small sharp knife (a paring knife works well here). Use the backside of the knife blade to scrape out the inside of the vanilla bean. What looks like a small, thick, and sticky dark brown mass is actually the vanilla bean seeds! Add the scraped seeds to the sugar.
- Pulse the food processor until the vanilla bean seeds are well distributed through the sugar. Once the seeds are thoroughly mixed into the sugar, store it in airtight glass jars kept in a dark dry place. Use anywhere you would use regular sugar.