How to Make Vanilla Sugar

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Learn how to make vanilla sugar with two ingredients: whole vanilla beans and granulated sugar. It is sweet & fragrant and delicious in cookies and cakes.

I mentioned last week that 2022 was the year of the vanilla bean. I stumbled across a couple of groups on Facebook that are filled with people cRaZy about all things vanilla beans: pure vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, vanilla salt and even vanilla paste. Real vanilla extract is so much better than imitation vanilla.

If like me you have a batch of real vanilla extract started but want to add a kick of fresh vanilla to your recipes now, this homemade vanilla sugar is for you. It makes a great gift, too.

Table of Contents
  1. What is vanilla sugar?
  2. Where to Buy Vanilla Beans
  3. What is the most common type of vanilla bean?
  4. Ratio of Vanilla Beans to Sugar
  5. How do you make your own vanilla sugar?
  6. How to Use Vanilla Sugar
  7. Storage Instructions
  8. Vanilla Sugar Recipe Recipe
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
a container of vanilla sugar with a wooden spoon in it


What is vanilla sugar?

It is common in boutique gift shops and specialty food stores. It is most commonly granulated sugar infused with vanilla flavor. You’ll find thousands of different techniques and “recipes” to make your own, but today I’m sharing our favorite method.

Our homemade vanilla sugar has just two ingredients: granulated sugar and vanilla bean pods. Granulated sugar can be whatever brand you love, but the vanilla beans should be quality beans in order to have the best flavor.

This leads to our next question.

Where to Buy Vanilla Beans

You can buy vanilla beans at the grocery store and on Amazon, but beans aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to waste your money. Where do you buy the freshest, most quality beans?

I purchase the vanilla beans through Vanilla Bean Kings. You can purchase the ethically sourced beans in their store at any time. However, they also have a co-op. Once a month they offer the lowest prices they possibly can on a certain vanilla bean. Anyone who is part of their community can order the beans at the low price. Sign up on their mailing list or join their Facebook group to hear about upcoming co-op sales.

dried vanilla beans on a cutting board

What is the most common type of vanilla bean?

The most common is the Madagascar Vanilla Beans. I just bought some through Vanilla Bean Kings that were gourmet, Grade A and they smelled amazing. Other popular beans are Mexican vanilla beans. Mexico is known for their vanilla!

Grade B vanilla beans are drier and thinner than Grade A, but they still are loaded with flavor and perfect for extraction and sugar.

Ratio of Vanilla Beans to Sugar

Although you can vary the amount of vanilla beans you use for sugar, the recommended amount is one vanilla bean per one cup of sugar (220 grams). If you are grinding the beans into the sugar, you may be able to get away with 1 bean per 2 cups of sugar (440 grams).

How do you make your own vanilla sugar?

  • Start by drying the vanilla beans. This takes some attention because you don’t want to burn the vanilla beans, so watch them closely. Set the oven to 175ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then lay out the vanilla beans with space in between each bean on the baking sheet.
vanilla beans on a baking sheet
  • Bake in 30 minute increments. Bake the beans at that very low temperature and check them every 20-30 minutes. The exact time it takes will depend on how large the vanilla bean you have, but plan about 2 hours for this process.
  • Bake the beans until they snap. You’ll know the beans are completely dried when the snap like a twig when you try to break them. Again, watch them closely and take them out as soon as they are done so that you don’t burn the vanilla beans.
  • Allow the beans to cool. Let them come to room temperature.
  • Snap the beans in pieces and grind them. For this step, you’ll need a coffee grinder. Snap the vanilla beans into small pieces, then process them in a coffee grinder on the finest setting it has. Vanilla powder does not dissolve, so you want that powder as fine as possible to have smooth sugar.
vanilla powder in a bowl with granulated sugar
  • Once the beans are a powder, mix them into the sugar. In a bowl, mix the two evenly and your sugar will have beautiful tiny black specks throughout. Seal it in an airtight container and you are ready to use it for all of your baking.

Can i stick fresh vanilla beans in sugar?

Many people like to use this sugar in their coffee, but end up with vanilla powder floating in the top since the vanilla powder will not dissolve.

A second method for vanilla infused sugar is to stick fresh vanilla pods in a container, Ziplock bag or or jar of regular sugar. Seal and allow the sugar to be a desiccant and absorb some of the moisture from the beans. Shake every so often to distribute the sugar evenly. The sugar won’t “extract” the vanillin from the beans, but it will add aroma to the sugar.

vanilla beans stuck in granulated sugar

Let the beans sit in the sugar for several weeks or a month.

This method will make the sugar a little clumpy since vanilla beans have a high moisture content, so you may need to run it through a food processor to break up any clumps before baking with it.

Remove the beans from the sugar and use them to make vanilla paste or allow them to dry for vanilla powder. Then substitute vanilla sugar for normal in your favorite dessert.

a tall glass canister of vanilla sugar

How to Use Vanilla Sugar

Try one of these:

Storage Instructions

Store the sugar in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

a square glass container of vanilla sugar with a measuring teaspoon in it
a square glass container of vanilla sugar with a measuring teaspoon in it

Vanilla Sugar Recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
Learn how to make vanilla sugar with two ingredients: whole vanilla beans and granulated sugar. It is sweet & fragrant and delicious in cookies and cakes.
Servings 8
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours

Ingredients
 

  • 16 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 whole vanilla beans

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 175ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then lay out the vanilla beans with space in between each bean on the baking sheet.
  • Bake in 30 minute increments and check them every 20-30 minutes. The exact time it takes will depend on how large the vanilla bean you have, but plan about 2 hours for this process. Again, watch them closely and take them out as soon as they are done so that you don't burn the vanilla beans.
  • Bake the beans until they snap. You'll know the beans are completely dried when the snap like a twig when you try to break them.
  • Allow the beans to cool to room temperature.
  • Snap the vanilla beans into small pieces, then process them in a coffee grinder on the finest setting it has. Vanilla powder does not dissolve, so you want that powder as fine as possible to have smooth vanilla sugar.
  • In a bowl, mix the sugar and vanilla powder evenly until the tiny black specks are throughout.
  • Seal it in an airtight container and you are ready to use it for all of your baking.
  • Store the sugar in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

Notes

Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe making 2 cups of sugar, with 1 serving being ¼ cup of sugar. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 57g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.03mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 221
Keyword how to make vanilla sugar, vanilla beans, vanilla dessert

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make vanilla sugar with vanilla extract?

In a pinch, yes. Use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract with 2 cups of sugar. Please note this will discolor the sugar, leaving the sugar a little browned rather than pure white. It also won’t have the pretty vanilla bean specks in it.

Can you use this sugar for sugar scrubs?

Yes. This is the great start to a sugar scrub!

What is the fastest method to make vanilla sugar?

Drying the beans and mixing the powder with sugar is the fastest way to make it. It can be done in an afternoon.



About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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