Imitation Vanilla vs Vanilla Extract: Difference and Comparison

Vanilla is the go-to flavour whenever we bake cakes, cupcakes, muffins and so on. Imitation Vanilla and Vanilla extract are used in many food products because of their smell and flavour.

Vanilla extract is a primary ingredient that is used on cakes, while imitation vanilla is made from different kinds of chemicals and is not preferred.

Key Takeaways

  1. Imitation vanilla is a synthetic flavoring made from chemicals, while vanilla extract comes from natural vanilla beans.
  2. Imitation vanilla is cheaper than vanilla extract, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious consumers.
  3. Vanilla extract delivers a richer, more complex flavor profile than imitation vanilla, which may taste artificial.

Imitation Vanilla vs Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla pods in alcohol, extracting flavour compounds from the pods. It has a rich, authentic vanilla flavour and aroma. Imitation vanilla is made using artificial flavourings and additives that mimic the flavour and aroma of natural vanilla. It is less expensive than vanilla extract.

Imitation Vanilla vs Vanilla Extract 1

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Imitation vanilla, just like its name sounds, is made from different kinds of chemicals. The artificial flavouring used in the preparation of imitation vanilla is the by-product of wood and is somewhat bitter in taste.

Imitation vanilla is economical. Imitation vanilla is made from synthetic vanillin (obtained from the pulp of wood).

Vanilla extract is extracted from the pods of vanilla beans. In terms of pricing, vanilla extract is considered expensive, and the price may vary according to the quality of the vanilla beans.

They also need to contain a certain amount of alcohol to be regarded as “pure vanilla extract.” Vanilla extract is used in the preparation of baking, such as cupcakes, muffins and cakes.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonImitation VanillaVanilla Extract
MeaningImitation vanilla is prepared in labs and is used for bakingVanilla Extract is obtained from vanilla pods and used in beverages and baking.
Made fromThey are made from synthetic vanillin.Vanilla Extract is made from vanilla beans. They are a mix of ethanol, water and vanilla beans.
TasteThey taste somewhat bitter.The sweet smell and light caramel in taste with a hint of jasmine.
UsageThey are used mainly in baking, and they can replace vanilla extract.They are used in baking, beverages and skincare products.
PriceImitation vanilla can be substituted for vanilla extract, and they are budget-friendly.Pure vanilla extract is expensive, and the price may vary according to the quality of the beans used.

What is Imitation Vanilla?

Imitation vanilla is a vanilla flavouring that is prepared in the labs. Unlike vanilla extract, imitation vanilla is prepared from the by-products of wood (such as wood pulp) or naturally extracted from the beans of the vanilla pods.

Just like its name sounds, imitation vanilla is prepared from imitation chemicals and is considered unhealthy.

They can be a good substitute for vanilla extract when it comes to baking. In terms of pricing, imitation vanilla has the upper hand since it is budget-friendly. The taste of imitation vanilla is slightly bitter due to the chemicals present in it.

They are prepared from synthetic vanillin, which tastes similar to pure vanilla extract. Just like pure vanilla extract, imitation vanilla is used in the preparation of baking products (such as cakes, cookies, muffins and custards) and food products.

Imitation of vanilla can cause several health problems, such as digestive problems, allergies and headaches. Just like pure vanilla extract, imitation vanilla can also be used for ice creams and cookies.

To replace vanilla extract, one will need double the quantities of imitation vanilla. To conclude, pure vanilla is best in all its forms and is healthy to consume, while imitation vanilla can act as a replacement for vanilla extract but are unhealthy.

imitation vanilla

What is Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract, or pure vanilla extract, is a sweet substance that is procured from the beans of the vanilla pods. They have a sweet scent and is loved by everyone for their amazing flavour in baking products and perfumes.

A pure vanilla extract is a mix of soaked vanilla beans, ethyl alcohol and water.

In order to be “pure”, the vanilla extract must contain a certain amount of alcohol and vanilla beans (thirty-five per cent alcohol and 13.35 drops of vanilla beans). The pure vanilla extract has a sweet scent with a hint of jasmine and tastes like caramel.

Vanilla extract is mainly used in the preparation of vanilla ice creams and can be used as a flavouring agent in other ice creams. They are also used in the preparation of coffee and milkshakes.

The pure vanilla extract is actually brown in colour. With regard to skincare, vanilla extract sure is a good performer as it contains anti-ageing components which allow to slow down the ageing process.

They can help to pacify irritated skin. Vanilla extract is also widely used in perfumes for its fragrance. They are used along with other essential oils and act as perfect perfumes. Overall, a pure vanilla extract is considered healthy and has a variety of uses.


Main Differences Between Imitation Vanilla and Vanilla Extract

  1. The difference between Vanilla extract and imitation vanilla is that vanilla extract is procured from the vanilla beans, whereas imitation vanilla is lab synthesized.
  2. In terms of pricing, Imitation vanilla is considered budget-friendly, whereas Vanilla extract is expensive.
  3. Pure vanilla extract is a mix of ethanol, water and soaked vanilla beans, while Imitation vanilla is prepared from synthetic vanillin, which can be obtained either from vanilla beans or from the by-products of wood.
  4. Vanilla extract is sweet and tastes slightly like caramel, while imitation vanilla can be bitter in taste after consumption.
  5. Vanilla extract is used in baking, beverages, skin care products and food products. On the other hand, imitation vanilla is used in baking products.
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Last Updated : 12 August, 2023

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