Too Much Vanilla Extract? Here’s 5 Fast Fixes

Too Much Vanilla Extract

There are so many delicious recipes out there that use vanilla extract, they’re almost too many to count!

In fact, the delicious flavor of vanilla is in pancakes, cookies, cakes, flan, banana bread, ice cream and some people love it so much, they add vanilla extract to their coffee!

While it’s defnitely a must have for many delectable delights, once in a while, we can overdo it if we’re not careful.

Don’t feel bad, we’ve all done it!

One thing to keep in mind is overdoing it a little probably won’t hurt. For instance, if the recipe you’re making calls for a teaspoon but you’ve used a tablespoon of vanilla extract by accident, it’s probably not going to make a big difference.

However, one thing is for sure…

if you’ve used too much vanilla extract for whatever reason, you’re going to notice it!

So, short of throwing everything out and starting from scratch, what can you do to fix too much vanilla extract?

We’ve got a few tips and suggestions for you. With any luck, one or more of them will do the trick.

1. Use Complementary Flavors or Ingredients

Thanks to its sweet, smoky taste profile, vanilla pairs well with other flavors, particularly brown flavors and spices, that can help tone it down in your recipe if you’ve overdone it. It also pairs well with some nuts and fruits.

A partial list of these flavors you could try are listed below. Depending on your recipe, you could try one or more of them until you’re satisfied with the taste.

Spices That Go With Vanilla

  • Aniseed
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Nuts That Go With Vanilla

  • Almonds
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Fruits That Go With Vanilla

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconuts
  • Figs
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

2. Use Contrasting Flavors or Ingredients

If using complementary flavors won’t work for your recipe another option to tone down the vanilla extract in your recipe is to make use of contrasting flavors.

By doing so, you can offset the perfume-like heaviness of vanilla with something that will act as its opposite. As with complementary flavors, you will need to consider what using one (or more) of these flavors will mean to your recipe when it’s finished.

You will probably need to be a little more cautious when using contrasting flavors since a little goes a long way.

Sour Flavors

  • Citric acid (aka, “Sour Salt”)
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • Lime juice
  • Lime zest
  • Orange zest 

3. Add Additional Sweeteners

Most often when too much vanilla extract has been used, there’s usually a bitter aftertaste that accompanies it which is primarily due to the alcohol used when its created.

A simple way to take the edge of this bitterness is to add something sweet to your recipe.

As with the other suggestions, you will need to add and taste as you go so as to get the right amount needed.

Sweeteners To Use With Vanilla

  • Brown sugar (Dark)
  • Brown sugar (Light)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Honey
  • Molasses (Can be somewhat bitter depending on the type you are using)
  • Maple syrup

4. Dilution

For many, this option might be more trouble than it’s worth since will often involve significant changes to your recipe either with the addition of extra ingredients, changing in cooking times and so forth.

However, dilution can be a simple and quick method of toning down heavy notes of vanilla in your food. There are no iron-clad rules for this approach because it will come down to adding an ingredient or two, tasting it and then continuing until you’re satisfied with the result.

5. Have Patience

The thing to remember is that vanilla extract does contain alcohol, by law it will contain about 35%.

The simple act of cooking will remove virtually all of it and with any luck, leave behind a less potent vanilla taste than what you experienced while prepping your recipe.

There are no guarantees of course but more often than not, you won’t notice nearly the intensity once your recipe is ready to eat.

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