Difference between Vanilla and Vanilla Extract

Vanilla vs Vanilla Extract

Vanilla and vanilla extract are terms usually use to refer to the ingredient used in food preparations. It may be in liquid form or in powder form. Vanilla is a popular flavor used in a wide variety of dishes, across many continents and subcultures since the early centuries.


Vanilla, in general, is the name of a certain genus of plant that is the source of the widely used vanilla flavor. It is an orchid that bears fruit, called vanilla beans, from which the vanilla flavor is extracted using a special process that uses alcohol and water. This flavoring may vary in concentration, with the higher being more expensive.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is the purest form of the vanilla flavoring, having been extracted directly from the vanilla beans using alcohol and water. A lot of food enthusiasts have expressed favors on this pure vanilla flavoring due to its strong and long-lasting aroma. However, they are somewhat expensive, so an imitation vanilla flavoring is sometimes used. This imitation vanilla is made using wood byproducts and chemicals to simulate the flavor, not the real vanilla beans.

Difference between Vanilla and Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is a more general term to refer to the flavor found in food dishes, while vanilla extract is what you would put into a dish to give it the certain flavor. Vanilla extract is the pure flavoring which is a real extract obtained from vanilla beans, while vanilla may vary in flavor in terms of the purity of the substance used, as well as with the mode of preparation: pure vanilla flavor stems from the actual vanilla bean extract, while the imitated flavor is produced from artificial flavoring chemicals and vanillin, which is a byproduct of wood. Vanilla refers to the flavor, while vanilla extract refers to the substance that gives the flavor.

Despite the common interchanging of these two terms, it is important to know that the vanilla aroma can be varied depending on the substance used, with vanilla extract being the stronger and purer form.

In brief:

• Vanilla is the general term used to refer to the vanilla flavor or aroma, and in order to achieve this one may use either the imitation vanilla flavoring or the real vanilla extract.

• Vanilla extract is the substance used to give a strong aroma of vanilla to your dish.

  • Loraine

    so there’s like no difference what so ever

    • Matthew Hoinville

      It’s a grammatical difference. You wouldn’t say “Vanilla Extract Ice Cream”, you’d say vanilla ice cream.

      And you wouldn’t say “I put some vanilla in my food”. You’d say “I put some vanilla extract in my food.”