What Is a Substitute for Vanilla Sugar?

Vanilla sugar is growing in popularity among cooks and bakers. While vanilla sugar can be purchased throughout Europe, it is quite uncommon in the United States. Bakers in the U.S.

who are interested in vanilla sugar must make their own or opt for substitutions when using recipes calling for commercially produced vanilla sugar. Learn how to make your own vanilla sugar with a simple vanilla sugar recipe as well as what you can use as a vanilla sugar substitute.

What Is Vanilla Sugar?

Vanilla sugar is granulated or confectioner's sugar to which a vanilla bean has been added. Vanilla sugar can be used in recipes just like regular sugar, with each tablespoon of vanilla sugar providing both a tablespoon of sugar and the flavour equivalent to approximately 1/4 tsp of quality vanilla extract. Vanilla sugar can add depth and flavour to all of your baked goods, whether you are opting for granulated or icing sugar.

Quick Alternatives

If you do not have vanilla sugar on hand, but would like to use vanilla sugar in a recipe or as a topping, combine 1 tsp of vanilla extract with 2 cups of sugar. Stir together until evenly mixed, then spread on a baking tray. Leave to air dry for approximately five hours, then use as you would homemade or commercially available vanilla sugar. This substitute for vanilla sugar will work as both a topping and an ingredient.


Vanilla sugar has a number of uses in the kitchen. It can be added to beverages like coffee or hot chocolate, used to top pastries and other baked goods or used in baking. If you are using vanilla sugar in your baking, you can leave out the liquid vanilla extract and simply use the sugar. If necessary, replace the liquid with a small amount of water, fruit juice or a good quality and appropriate liqueur.

Making Vanilla Sugar

You can make your own vanilla sugar at home. Place 2 cups of granulated sugar into a container with an airtight seal. Cut one vanilla bean in half, scraping out the seeds into the sugar. Place the bean halves into the sugar, covering them well. Close the container and allow to sit for approximately one to two weeks. You can simply add more sugar as you use your vanilla sugar. The beans will remain flavourful and effective for several months. Vanilla powder may be made by crushing vanilla beans with small amounts of granulated sugar in a mortar and pestle.

Replacing Vanilla Sugar

While making proper vanilla sugar takes around 2 weeks and the quick shortcut still requires five hours, you can also simply substitute sugar and vanilla extract in your recipe. Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of vanilla per cup of sugar in your recipe. If you are working with an especially delicate batter or dough, adjust the other liquids accordingly for a good result. Vanilla powder may also be added to sugar in small amounts to create a vanilla sugar topping quite quickly.