Homemade Vanilla Sugar

You can purchase vanilla sugar in some specialty stores, but it’s really easy to create at home. Use homemade vanilla sugar as a 1:1 replacement for regular sugar to add flavor in your coffee, tea, or baking recipes. If you try it out, I have free printable labels you can use below.

homemade vanilla sugar in a jar with vanilla beans on the side

Consider this the sequel to my homemade vanilla extract tutorial. Today I’m showing you how to make homemade vanilla sugar, a simple yet very special ingredient you can use in your baking. It makes a thoughtful homemade gift and only takes a few minutes to throw together. Even though there are many vanilla sugar tutorials available online and the process is basically effortless, I’d still love to teach you what I’ve learned after making it myself.


What is Vanilla Sugar?

Vanilla sugar is regular sugar infused with vanilla beans. It’s a common baking ingredient in some European regions, but in other parts of the world including the US, you can really only find it in select kitchen stores and bakeries. Vanilla sugar sounds pretty fancy and trust me– tastes pretty fancy too– but it couldn’t be easier to mix up at home.

I used to buy vanilla sugar all the time to use in my Christmas sugar cookies, but started making my own last year. I find that 1 vanilla bean per 2 cups of sugar is affordable and works wonderfully. See my recipe note if you’d like to increase the amount of vanilla.


How Can I Use Vanilla Sugar?

What’s all the fuss about this sugar? Well, it’s a simple ingredient that quickly accelerates the flavor of drinks and baked goods. It’s just regular sugar that’s flavored with vanilla beans, so you can essentially use it in any recipe that calls for sugar. Besides using it to sweeten your coffee and tea beverages, I recommend using homemade vanilla sugar as a 1:1 replacement for regular granulated sugar in recipes where vanilla is the prominent flavor and not overshadowed by more flavorful ingredients. For example, I wouldn’t use it in chocolate cake because chocolate is overpowering. Vanilla beans are expensive, so save this special sugar for recipes that could really benefit from it like vanilla cake, sugar cookies, vanilla cupcakes, strawberry shortcake, or even pound cake and spritz cookies.

  • If your recipe also calls for vanilla extract, which is likely, there’s no need to reduce the vanilla extract if you’re using vanilla sugar. (Especially if you want extra vanilla flavor!) However, feel free to slightly reduce the vanilla extract amount. I wouldn’t leave it out completely though.

a spoon scooping up homemade vanilla sugar

What You Need for Homemade Vanilla Sugar

  1. Vanilla Beans: You need the bean itself and the seeds inside. Vanilla beans are expensive, but you only need 1 bean per 2 cups of sugar and you can reuse the beans to make vanilla extract (more on that below). You can find vanilla beans online or in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. I use and highly recommend these Madagascar vanilla beans, these Tahitian vanilla beans, or these Tahitian vanilla beans. (Note that each are different quantities.) The beans are high quality, nice and plump, and a generous size. You can make vanilla sugar with either Grade A or Grade B vanilla beans. Grade B vanilla beans are usually used specifically for extracting purposes and they’re great for making this sugar. Grade A vanilla beans contain more moisture and clump up your sugar overtime, but if you give your sugar a shake every now and then, it’s fine. You can use either grade.
  2. Sugar: The vanilla flavor will come through the most if you use regular granulated sugar.
  3. Food Processor: A food processor or blender isn’t required, but it’s very helpful. Any small chopper or even a coffee bean grinder works, too. You can skip the food processor/blender and just mix the sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl with a whisk, but you’ll get better flavor if you pulse the two together. The food processor/blender really helps break up those clumpy seeds, too.
  4. Jar: You can store the sugar in any container where you’d store regular sugar. Make sure it’s always tightly sealed to preserve freshness. This 16 ounce jar is a great size for most and has a convenient swing top. The mouth is pretty wide, which is key for scooping out the sugar. These 8 ounce jars are pretty small, but perfect if you’ll only be using the sugar for coffee and beverages. If you want to gift this sugar to the regular baker, I’m sure they’d appreciate 24+ ounces! Mason jars are perfect for this.

It’s This Easy:

  1. Place sugar in your food processor/blender/bowl.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise. Use a knife to scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds on top of the sugar. (Save the empty beans/pods!) Use a spoon or another knife to scrape the seeds off the knife– they’re sticky and clumpy.
  3. Pulse/blend/whisk until all the seeds are broken up and blended. If you’re using a machine, you’re also breaking down the sugar. Finer sugar is OK to use in most baking recipes. Pour vanilla sugar into your jar.
  4. Submerge the empty bean/pod into the sugar. Cut it as needed to fit. This is actually optional, but the empty bean adds more flavor as the weeks go on.
  5. Use sugar immediately or wait at least 2 weeks for optimal flavor.

vanilla beans and seeds

vanilla beans and sugar in a food processor

vanilla sugar pictured in a jar

What Sugar Do I Use?

The vanilla flavor will come through the most if you use regular granulated sugar– like the kind you use in your coffee or baking recipes. You can use brown sugar if you’d like, but the molasses undertones may overpower the vanilla. If you’re using a coarser sugar such as coconut sugar, make sure you process the granules so they’re much finer. Smaller granules absorb more vanilla flavor. I haven’t tested this with monk fruit sweetener, but let me know if you do! Don’t use powdered/confectioners’ sugar because it will clump up and could crystallize.


Can I Reuse These Beans for Vanilla Extract?

After you scrape out the seeds, you can cut and submerge the empty beans/pods into the sugar as pictured above. Overtime, the pods will infuse even more flavor into the sugar. What’s really resourceful, however, is using the empty vanilla beans/pods to make vanilla extract. Even though you no longer have a plump bean full of seeds, the pod still has plenty of flavor that alcohol can extract. In my vanilla extract tutorial, I recommend waiting at least 6 months before using. But now that your vanilla bean pods are practically empty, you may want to wait closer to 12 months before using so that optimal flavor is reached.

  • Reuse the empty beans/pod right after you scrape the seeds out of them. If you submerge them into the sugar, then use all your sugar, the empty beans/pods will have sugar all over them. If you want to use those, you’ll have to rinse them with water and wait for them to dry completely before using for extract. Some flavor may be lost during this process.
  • I haven’t tried reusing beans that were used for vanilla extract to make vanilla sugar. If you try it, make sure the beans are completely dry. Some flavor will be lost since the bean(s) was/were extracted.

Can I Make Vanilla Sugar with Vanilla Paste or Vanilla Extract?

The best form of vanilla to use for homemade vanilla sugar is a vanilla bean. You can use 1 Tablespoon of vanilla paste or vanilla extract per 1 cup of sugar, but both add color and quite a bit of moisture to your sugar. This moisture will affect your baking recipes. You could dry spreading the wet and clumpy sugar on a baking sheet to help it dry out, but the results won’t be the same. I strongly recommend using vanilla beans.

a jar sealed closed with vanilla sugar inside

Free Printable Labels

Because everyone enjoys a fun accessory, I asked my dear friend Jess to design labels for our vanilla sugar jars. They match our vanilla extract labels! So excited to share these with you.

Click this link for the PDF: Sallys Baking Addiction Vanilla Sugar Stickers

Directions: Print out the labels on sticker adhesive paper, then cut out the circles. Peel off the labels and stick on your jars. The labels are obviously optional, but they’re a nice addition if you plan to gift the sugar to others. (Note that you’ll have a crease in the round sticker if the side of your jar isn’t perfectly flat. Looks great on the flat lid, though.)

Print
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homemade vanilla sugar in a jar with vanilla beans on the side

Homemade Vanilla Sugar

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: Blending
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (57 inch long)

Instructions

  1. Place sugar in your food processor or blender. Any small chopper or even a coffee bean grinder works. (Process in batches if needed.) You can skip the food processor/blender and just mix the sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl with a whisk, but you’ll get better flavor if you pulse the two together.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise. Use a knife to scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds on top of the sugar. (Save the empty beans/pods.) Use a spoon or another knife to scrape the seeds off the knife– they’re sticky and clumpy.
  3. Pulse/blend/whisk until all the seeds are broken up and blended, about 10-12 pulses. If you notice extra large clumps, feel free to keep pulsing/whisking or sift them out. Pour vanilla sugar into your jar or container.
  4. Submerge the empty bean/pod into the sugar. Cut it as needed to fit. This is actually optional, but the empty bean adds more flavor as the weeks go on. You could also use the empty beans to make vanilla extract. See written details above this recipe.
  5. Use sugar immediately or wait at least 2 weeks for optimal flavor.
  6. Store vanilla sugar at room temperature. Give it a shake every few weeks because it can clump up. If stored in a cool, dry place, vanilla sugar has a long shelf life, 2+ years at least. (I guarantee you’ll use it up before then!)

Notes

  1. Ratio: I recommend 1 vanilla bean per 2 cups of sugar. Use half of a vanilla bean for 1 cup of sugar. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed. Sure you could use beans for more flavor, but vanilla beans are expensive and the flavor could become overpowering and/or the sugar could begin to clump up from all the moist seeds.
  2. Sugar: For best results, use regular granulated sugar. You can use brown sugar if you’d like, but its molasses undertones may overpower the vanilla. If you’re using a coarser sugar such as coconut sugar, make sure you process the granules so they’re much finer. Smaller granules absorb more vanilla flavor. I haven’t tested this with monk fruit sweetener, but let me know if you do! I don’t recommend using powdered/confectioners’ sugar.

Keywords: vanilla, sugar

11 Comments

  1. Sally, thank you for the recipe and wonderful gift ideas for my friends who enjoy baking. Several of them are keto and prefer Monk Fruit sugar which is used the same as granulated sugar. Any idea if this can be made with Monk granulated sugar?
    Thanks again, and happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Danica, I haven’t tested this with monk fruit sugar/sweetener, but let me know if you do!

  2. Sally another clever recipe. I’ve been making your homemade vanilla extract since you published it first and havent gone back to shop bought, loving it. I have an almost empty bottle of extract now though with beans that have been ‘recycled’ for a second batch of extract already. Any chance you’ve tried re-using beans from extract making for vanilla sugar in the past? Thank you and happy Saturday

    1. Hi Jen, I love making homemade vanilla extract too. I actually haven’t tried reusing the extracted beans before. If you try it, make sure they’re completely dry before using.

  3. I have been adding vanilla beans to my sugar bin that I initially used for making homemade ice cream (or other baked goods) for some time now, and it really makes a difference! After steeping in liquid that I used for my recipe, I rinse and dry them overnight, then just put in my big sugar bin. I’ve done this with both regular white sugar and organic coarser granulated sugar (more like raw sugar), and all my baked goods are awesome. Just be aware, after some time the beans can get dry, break into small pieces, and get into your finished product if you don’t carefully pick them out – had a friend tell me there were ‘sticks’ in some sugar cookies I gave her! I also made Sally’s vanilla for Christmas gifts last year, and boy, is that amazing now!

  4. Hi Sally, I just bought some vanilla beans so I’m excited to make this recipe! Do the beans need to be dried out first or can they just go straight into the sugar? Thank you!

    1. Straight into the sugar. Have fun!

  5. Hi Sally, I absolutely love all your recipes! Do you think the vanilla sugar would be good in red velvet? Would the flavor still come through?

    1. Sounds delicious! Since red velvet cake has only a light cocoa flavor, I think the vanilla sugar would bring out the vanilla taste even more. Let me know if you give it a try!

  6. This post was a crazy coincidence for me! My grandma just translated her mother’s German Hazelnut cookie recipe for me and it calls for a vanilla sugar packet. I was just going to add some extract instead. I will definitely be trying your homemade vanilla sugar instead now. Thank you!

    1. Perfect timing! Let me know how it turns out for you, Jamie. Happy baking!

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