Vanilla extract is normally used in small amounts in cakes, cookies, and other baking desserts. However, when creating new desserts for the first time, or trying to remember an old recipe, having a general safe boundary on how much vanilla extract to use for what you are cooking in general, is a lot more convenient.
So how much vanilla extract should I use?
Add 1 teaspoon to 3 teaspoons to what ever you are baking that requires vanilla extract and it will be fine. Even 1 tablespoon of vanilla extra isn’t too much, and it isn’t going to kill what ever you are mixing together. It will just give it a more prevalant vanilla taste.
Vanilla extract should be treated as salt is treated with cooking. It will enhance the taste, and usually more is better, but you just don’t want what you are cooking to actually taste like what you are putting into it as a part of the ingredients; otherwise we would just consume it straight from the bottle, right?
Well, consuming vanilla extract straight from the bottle actually tastes pretty bad, just like chunking a small packet of salt rather than mixing in with your whole meal. Neither are pleasurable experiences from most people that describe what happens when you do it. The job of vanilla extract and salt is to enhance the taste of what you are cooking after all.
How much vanilla extract is too little?
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is the generally accepted amount that is actually found in recipes for making the best cookies, cakes, or other desserts. Any less than this, and you may not even get the real effect of actually adding the vanilla extract at all.
There are many recipes that people have rated that have thousands of 5 star ratings that only consist of 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in the mix. The one I am talking about has 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for baking 5 dozens of chocolate chip cookies.
This is a very small amount (75% less for the general amount for baking only 30 chocolate chip cookies).
Is A Tablespoon Of Vanilla Extract A Lot?
The generally accepted amount for most recipes is 1 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons, at best of vanilla extract.
If you didn’t know, some restaurants actually use more than the generally accepted 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract when baking their ‘better than home cooking’ desserts to sell.
What happens if you put too much vanilla extract in something?
How you would know that you used too much vanilla extract in something is found in the aftertaste of the food. It will have a weird, bad aftertaste of something like terrible rum or whiskey. This is generally the same taste you will get if you drank vanilla extract straight from the bottle. The only way to fix this is by adding more of the other ingredients to the mix you started with to dilute the taste, or throw it out and start over.
The reason why someone would use more vanilla extract is for more of that great vanilla taste in their food, but you will know you are using too much if the aftertaste is off.
However, a tablespoon of vanilla extract isn’t going to cause this to happen if it is for making a full cake, or a decent amount of cookies or brownies. It should be fine, and it might even make them taste better.
Can you have too much vanilla extract?
Real vanilla extract by law has to contain atleast 35% alcohol. Drinking a whole bottle of vanilla extract can make an individual feel like trash, cause a burning sensation in their throat, and possibly make them vomit.
Putting more than the usual amount in the food you are cooking, is just going to make it taste like terrible alcohol. Atleast the vanilla extract is spread out in the whole mixture for baking, but it is not a good idea to use the whole bottle, or even half the bottle for a family sized dessert or other meals. It is not going to result in a better experience for your tongue either.
You can dab a bit of the vanilla extract from the bottle, and taste it if you like. It won’t cause any harm if you do so, and you can get a hint of how it tastes all by itself. As stated, it is kind of like salt when it comes to using it in food. A little tasting of it using the finger or dabbing the tongue isn’t bad, but a spoonful of salt in your mouth is another story.
Some people put 2 to 7 times the normal amount of vanilla extract purposely in their baked goods when they make them, and some professional chefs use up to 125% more than the generally accepted amounts in their cakes for vanilla extract when they are cooking them.
The reason why is that the taste of it just isn’t that prevalant when it used for baking. So after people have been baking for awhile, they end up using more. Some people that use 7 times the amount don’t really find any significant difference in the taste when baking, while some do it purposely for the extra vanilla taste. It sometimes depends on the person. Some individuals might find the extra vanilla extract in it to be better, while others with more sensitive taste buds might think that the food or dessert tastes great, but has a slightly off putting aftertaste.
I personally use more vanilla extract, because that’s what the restaurants and some professional chefs are doing, but no way am I going to dump a whole bottle of vanilla extract into my cake or cookie mix, unless I plan on making the mix for baking and feeding a whole cafeteria.
Hopefully this article gave you something to go off of when using vanilla extract, and how much you should use in general for cooking. It is ok to use 3 or 4 times the usual amount of 1 teaspoon (and even a tablespoon or a bit more). Just don’t go crazy. Have some vanilla extract with your food, not some food with your vanilla extract.