Why You Should Buy Vanilla Bean Paste | Cupcake Project

Why You Should Buy Vanilla Bean Paste

Let’s start with the basics on why you should buy vanilla bean paste.

What is Vanilla Bean Paste?

When I first heard about vanilla bean paste, all I could picture was that white paste that you eat (umm.. glue with) in Kindergarten mixed with some bean specks. I found lots of pictures of the vanilla bean paste bottle online but no pictures of the actual vanilla bean paste itself. I had heard that it was vanilla extract, but with the beans in it. I began to picture a liquid with some specks.
It turns out that vanilla bean paste is much thicker than vanilla extract. It’s actually a thin syrup. While I would never drink vanilla extract straight up, I have been known to lick my fingers if they get some vanilla bean paste on them. It’s still a bit strong (not to mention expensive) to, for example, pour on your pancakes.

When To Use Vanilla Bean Paste

When it comes to vanilla ice cream, I have always demanded vanilla beans (Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream is a favorite). However, for some reason, I had never considered my love of the bean in my baking. Use vanilla bean paste in place of vanilla extract anywhere you want the beans to shine. I love seeing and tasting those little black dots. I recently used my paste to make vanilla bean buttercream frosting.

Why Not Use an Actual Vanilla Bean?

You certainly could use an actual vanilla bean instead of the vanilla bean paste. However, it’s a bit more pricey and this is so easy!

Where To Buy Vanilla Bean Paste

Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Paste 4 oz

Vanilla bean paste is sold at specialty cooking stores. I've seen it at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table. You can also buy vanilla bean paste on Amazon.

View on Amazon.com

UPDATE: Many of you commented that Trader Joe’s sells cheap vanilla bean paste. I just got the word that it has been discontinued.

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67 Responses to Why You Should Buy Vanilla Bean Paste

  1. noisy penguin March 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    They also sell it at Trader Joe’s, where it’s really not much more expensive than regular vanilla extract.

  2. Stef March 9, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    That’s funny that you say that. I had heard it was at Trader Joe’s so I went there to buy it. They not only didn’t have it, but didn’t even know what it was. Someone told me that maybe they only have it around the holidays? Maybe only certain Trader Joe’s have them?

    • Yavi July 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      It’s funny because I wasn’t even looking for this and I found it at Ross Stores yesterday. It was in Las Vegas, NV.

  3. scoopalicious March 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    I LOVE vanilla bean paste and like noisy penguin, got mine at Trader Joe’s for a very good price. But like you, Stef, I couldn’t always find it. I found it, then didn’t find it again for a while — when I found it again FINALLY, I think I bought three or four bottles…I do hope it isn’t just seasonal, though for now I am set!

    Anyway, totally agree with what you wrote…love VBP!

  4. aryooki March 9, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    I have to say I have not tried the paste but for those married to their vanilla etract the stuff at williams sonoma is far superior to aythign you can buy at the grocery store. By the way I love your blog.
    :)

  5. Raquita March 10, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    I will definately try the paste but I am married to actual vanilla beans – they aren’t that expensive if you know where to buy ‘em..

    I need to hook you up..
    blog post forthcoming..

  6. Elle March 10, 2008 at 4:40 am #

    I always buy it at Trader Joe’s, so I don’t think it’s seasonal, unless they’re changing things. Hope not! That stuff is like liquid gold!

  7. Stef March 10, 2008 at 5:35 am #

    Scoop – Why not carry it all the time? They should know how great that product is!

    Aryooki – Aww.. thanks! I highly recommend you try the paste! You will not regret it.

    Raquita – I’m still enjoying the vanilla sugar. I’m now curious about your secret source.

    Elle – Wonder if it just depends on your particular store.

  8. Tempered Woman March 10, 2008 at 6:36 am #

    I haven’t seen Vanilla Paste at Trader Joes either. But the thought has me salivating. Maybe a STL thing? I personally prefer the Nielsen-Massey myself.
    The best place to buy vanilla beans locally I think is Penzey’s. It really is easy to just slice that sucker up and scrape out the beans. Very indulgent frosting. Highly recommend trying for special occasions.

  9. nicisme March 10, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    I absolutely love it! Both the supermarkets near to me now stock it, thank goodness!
    Nice blog – I also love cupcakes!

  10. Stef March 10, 2008 at 6:46 am #

    TW – I’d be curious to do a taste off between the scraping the beans and using the paste. My guess is it would be pretty similar.

    Nicisme – Wow! Lucky you. I wish our supermarkets carried it.

  11. Katie March 10, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    I love Vanilla Bean Paste. Its fantastic. When you are making something simple and you want a little more flavor that extract will provide paste is the way to go. I have never seen it at Trader Joe’s I’ll have to look.

  12. Stef March 10, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    Katie – Good luck! Hope you have it at your store.

  13. noisy penguin March 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    That’s so weird! I saw it last time I was there, maybe I should stockpile in case the one near my place stops carrying it.

  14. scoopalicious March 10, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    TJ’s DOES have a habit of discontinuing ALL the things I love, so I am thinking i should stock up! Glad you don’t think it is easonal though, Elle!

  15. Stef March 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    I just found out that it has, in fact, been discontinued. See this post:

    http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/03/trader-joes-does-not-carry-vanilla-bean.html

  16. Anonymous September 18, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    This stuff is great!!! TJ’s by me didnt have it anymore :(

    I use it in my vanilla bean cake and frosting – out of this world! and it looks so good with the specks.

  17. Jen March 5, 2009 at 5:20 am #

    I also love using vanilla paste! Beanilla Trading Company, wwww.beanilla.com, has excellent paste and it is well priced. Their vanilla beans are also amazing! I ordered some last week… they smelled so good that I bought more today.

  18. Annie April 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    I had never heard of the paste either. However, i do have a ton of vanilla beans (u can buy them in bulk online, this batch came from ebay). I make my own vanilla extract, but what is the exchange for your oreo cookie filling if using the beans or extract instead of the paste?

  19. Shannon June 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    I use the vanilla bean paste in things you want the specks, ie cheescake, panna cotta, ice cream
    I use the nielson-massey extract in things that the vanilla flavor will really standout ie pudding,cupcakes from scratch icing etc

    I use the cheap vanilla extract only for box mixes or like chocolate cake–something not very vanilla

    By the way, I love your blog!

  20. Eva November 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    I’ve never heard of vanilla paste. I am definately going to give it a try. Do you use the same amount that the recipe calls for? For example if a recipe says to use 1 tsp of vanilla extract, do you use the same amount of vanilla paste? This is such a great blog. I always look forward to new entries.

  21. Stef November 19, 2009 at 3:43 am #

    Eva – Thanks! I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog! You can use the paste 1 for 1 instead of extract. In case it wasn’t clear – I highly, highly recommend it, especially in frosting.

  22. Wilene February 2, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    would like to THANK you for introducing me to vanilla bean paste, i bought mine from amazon was 3 bottles for 18$ and free shipping :) i tasted it out of the bottle b/c the smell was so wonderful it wsa kinda sweet i was suprised im making your vanilla bean buttercream frosting as soon as i post this so TY AGAIN for introducing me to new products i would never have thought of!

  23. Stef February 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Wilene – Hope you enjoyed the frosting! Let me know what you thought!

  24. Kristen July 12, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    I love vanilla bean paste. I buy mine from Singing Dog Vanilla. It adds such an intense vanilla flavor, which I love!

  25. Anonymous July 12, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    I LOVE vanilla paste too!!
    I buy mine from Vanilla Food Company and purchase it in a big 32 oz bottle (which works out to be so much cheaper than buying the small 4 oz bottle)

    http://www.vanillafoodcompany.ca/Nielsen_Massey_Vanilla_Bean_Paste_p/nmv302.htm

    Pam

  26. Carolyn Jung July 12, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    I love this stuff. It tastes so much more concentrated. Plus, if you’re lazy, like I am at times, it’s so much easier to use than splitting open an actual bean. ;)

  27. Tifani July 12, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    We get it at Fresh Market. Our first experience with the paste was at a Viking Cooking School class, and we were sold from then on. I can’t think of anything it doesn’t make better. You should taste the strawberry ice cream I made with it today. YUM!

  28. Chocolate Shavings July 13, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    Love Vanilla Bean Paste – wish you could find as easily as vanilla extract!

  29. Lisa! July 13, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    I buy it from Amazon- 12 oz (3 x 4oz bottles) for $18 and no shipping if you have Amazon Prime.

    It is good stuff…

  30. Christie September 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    I’m going to make your favorite vanilla frosting tonight – I just wanted to let anyone in the San Antonio area know that I found vanilla bean paste at Central Market off Broadway in Alamo Heights. It was a bit pricey ($11.99), but somehow I just know it’ll be worth it. :)

  31. Sherry November 6, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    I just bought mines for $5, but it says “best by Oct. 13″

    ….

    So, does vanilla bean paste expire?

  32. Cupcake Forum December 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    just bought my first bottle of vanilla bean paste and will be baking something with it tonight!

  33. Kim Webster Groves May 12, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    This is so great to read. I just bought VB paste on a whim at HomeGoods for $5.99/bottle. They are great for selling discountined items. Now I read this – you just rocked my baking cupcake world!

  34. Angela June 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Nugget Grocery Stores carry it!

  35. katepassionforlife July 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I am such a sad panda… I called 5 different places locally and only one actually carried it (Williams Sonoma) but they were, naturally, out of stock! Darn it being summertime… the lady at the store said that they would have more in stock sometime next month, but it was bought out really fast because apparently everyone and their dog wanted to use it for their icecream… Darn them, darn them, darn them! Don’t they know my frosting is more important?? :(

    Thankfully I did purchase it from Cupcake Projects amazon store. I’m hoping it will get here in time so I can frost the Cupcake Explorer vanilla cupcakes with the Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting before I have to turn my results in! *crosses fingers*

    ♥ Kate

  36. Anonymous August 9, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    I am very new to your post (as in have been reading it avidly for the past two hours) and am enjoying it immensely. Here in New Zealand we do actually have the paste as well but it is 5 times the price of ordinary vanilla essence. I once read the back of an imitation vanilla essence bottle and one of the ingredients was propylene glycol – for those not in the know this can be used as antifreeze for engines. Errrkkk. Sara

  37. Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    The Arizona Vanilla Company has 3 kinds of Vanilla Paste, and also sells vanilla beans in bulk. –
    http://www.arizonavanilla.com/Store/vanillastore.php?cat=3

  38. Maria September 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    The Beanilla website also carries vanilla bean paste. It’s not as expensive as I thought it would be, so I might order some and try your icing recipe! Here’s a link to the Beanilla store:
    http://www.beanilla.com/vanilla-paste-c-27.html?gclid=CJ–7M_AhKsCFQ0BQAod-UZo2g

  39. Anonymous September 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Neilson-Massey’s vanilla paste pales in comparison to a bottle of Madagascar bakers syrup I found from a company called nakedsweetshop. There syrup is made from organic cane sugar and contains absolutely no alcohol. I had found that the paste from NM was not strong enough and I found myself still adding a tsp of extract to reach the desired flavor. The bakers syrup from NSS is amazing. You are able to 1/2 most recipes and still get a beautiful aroma as well as gourmet look. The best thing about it is that it comes in 3 different flavors-vanilla-spiced orange-and cocoa. Dear god the cocoa syrup is incredible. Since then I have gone through 3 bottles and have never had so many comments on my treats. I recommend everyone go to http://www.nakedsweetshop.com you will not be disappointed!!!!!!

  40. Anonymous October 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    The brand I have used is LorAnn’s. They make a madagascar vanilla bean paste. Yes, it’s pricey, but its sooo good! You can order it online though at: https://www.lorannoils.com/p-8688-natural-madagascar-vanilla-bean-paste.aspx

  41. Callie October 28, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    I got my vanilla bean paste online from King Arthur Flour. They sell Nielson-Massey. It comes in a 4 oz jar and is a pretty good value, I think.

  42. Da Bientai December 14, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    is it possible to make it yourself? I’m at the country where they don’t sell those.

  43. cafn8me May 5, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    OliveNation.com also has fantastic vanilla paste, and gorgeous vanilla beans! The beans always ship free, and I got on their newsletter list so I receive promo codes about once a week. Such great products!

  44. Anonymous August 12, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    I bought mine at ROSS. Hit and miss but always check expiration date. I paid 6.99 and it’s Nielson-Massey. Like it better than vanilla extract.

  45. Anonymous December 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I’m pleased to see that Sara (New Zealand) mentions the pitfalls of the vanilla essence. I have 15 vanilla orchids in my land in Grenada and when I think that I will have to hand fertilise the individual flower between 5am and7am when they start flowering. Wait 9 months for the vanilla beans to be full, pick them. Sit them in the hot sun for 3 hours a day for 14 days (wrapping them in a woollen blanket and putting in a box at night), and then lay them on a rack for two months. I wonder how the paste with those beautiful seeds can be so special after all it is the seeds have the flavour. So after giving the recipe for producing first class beans, please tell me what other than the whole pod, munched up, plus the seeds goes into the paste it cannot be that easy what keeps the flavour intact how many additives? Lizzie

  46. Leslie H February 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I just got my first bottle of Vanilla Bean Paste at my new favorite store – Surfas Culinary District in Costa Mesa!!! Along with very cool cooking gadgets, supplies, dishes, cheeses to die for and cake decorating stuff, they have a great little restaurant!!! I could spend a lot of money there!

  47. Unknown February 25, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    I like Rain’s Choice vanilla paste at http://www.vanilla.com/store. The taste is amazing! Plus all products there are eco-friendly and eco-humane.

    This is the Vanilla Queen’s site. There are some very interesting articles there about vanilla if you’re interested. Her stories are really interesting.

    You can buy in bulk at wholesale there or in smaller quantities at Gourmet Country.

    And there are lots of RECIPES there that use vanilla bean paste! http://vanilla.com/?s=“vanilla+paste”

  48. Katrina Amstutz March 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    I actually just bought my first jar of vanilla bean paste and I found it at HomeGoods for $6.

  49. Meghan May 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Vanilla Bean Paste doesn’t expire but as it sits in the cupboard past the expiration date it starts to become a goo instead of a thin syrup. Is there a way around this or can you heat it up to make it thinner? I always like finding it at a good deal.

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    • Dave July 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      Hi all, try Amazon.com they sell a variety of Vanilla products, best of all most products are reviewed by consumers.

  51. Pete in Alaska September 1, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    I have been expirmenting with making my own flavored coffee creamers and used 2 1/2 tsp of the Vanilla Paste instead of Extract. A 1/2 a pinch of fresh ground cinnamon as a hint of counterpoint. Mix an let it sit overnight in he fridge. The paste makes a noticeable differance in the taste! Great creamer at less cost per bottle then bought. Nice thing about it is one can adjust the recipe to personal taste.

  52. Suzanne Drews April 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    ~ To go from using the imitation vanilla when I was growing up to Bourbon Vanilla pure, then scraping a bean– too expensive, Vanilla Bean Paste will be amazing. I’ve seen it on TV and posts. Vanilla bean birthday cake, may be able to make vanilla sugar with it. Definitely will use it in all things requiring vanilla.

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