Last Updated: Oct 15, 2021 @ 2:14 pm.

What's the best organic vanilla extract? We did a blind taste test with six different brands of organic vanilla extract—we baked sugar cookies and then looked for the best flavor and texture. Here are the winners!

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep things independent, we don't take money or freebies from brands we review! Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Simple Ingredients

Rich, smooth taste
Excellent vanilla extract made from Madagascar vanilla beans impressed us when used in cookies, cakes. No GMO's, artificial colors or flavors.
$14.86 ($3.72 / Fl Oz)

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Best Simple Ingredients: Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract

Let’s talk organic vanilla extract.

Here’s something no one tells you about buying vanilla extract: you can’t tell the strength of vanilla extract by just tasting the liquid.

Vanilla extract reacts with other ingredients (and the alcohol cooks off in baking/cooking), making the flavor more intense.

When it comes to using vanilla extract in baking, there are different schools of thought. Some bakers love pure vanilla extract (which must contain at least 35% alcohol). It packs a punch in cakes and cookies.

Other folks think that extract tastes too alcohol-y. These bakers prefer vanilla flavor (which by law has less than 35% alcohol). These brands are marketed as “vanilla flavor” with vanilla extract as one of several ingredients. So even though these bottles are sold in the vanilla extract category, they technically are vanilla flavors.

There is no right or wrong answer here—it depends on your taste and what you are baking. So, this article will recommend both organic vanilla flavor and organic vanilla extract.

For the best simple ingredients vanilla extract, we thought Simply Organic Vanilla Extract was tops. Yes, we did blind taste tests with cookies baked with several brands of organic vanilla extract (and flavoring). This one, Simply Organic, was a top favorite among our testers.

We loved the smooth, rich taste this organic vanilla extract imparted to baked goods like sugar cookies. 

What We Liked

• Simple ingredients: vanilla beans plus naturally derived alcohol. That’s it.

• No artificial flavors or colors.

• Vegan.

• Gluten free.

• No added sugar.

• No GMO’s.

• Made from Madagascar vanilla beans.

• Organic alcohol (35%).

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Bottle can dribble when pouring. That’s annoying since it wastes precious (and expensive) drops.

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Best Small Bottle

Great for French toast
This two-ounce bottle packs an impressive vanilla punch—and yes, it is USDA organic. No GMO's. Non-irradiated vanilla beans.
$11.80 ($5.90 / Fl Oz)

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Best Small Bottle: Frontier Organic Vanilla Extract

If you are only an occasional baker and need a small quantity of vanilla extract, this two-ounce bottle is an excellent choice. This brand, Frontier Organic, is a reader favorite. Here’s more:

What We Liked

 USDA Organic.

• No GMO’s.

• Kosher.

• Glass jar.

• Excellent flavor.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

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Best Non-Alcoholic Vanilla

No artificial colors or flavors
Wonderful taste and smell, this vanilla flavoring is less potent than extract—so you may need to adjust your cookie recipes. Kosher and no GMO's.
$19.75 ($4.94 / Fl Oz)

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Best Non-Alcoholic Vanilla: Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring

As we discussed at the top of this article, there is a divide among vanilla fans: extract or no extract? 

If you would prefer an alcohol-free vanilla flavoring, this brand came out tops in our testing: Simply Organic. Yes, that is the same brand that won our taste test for vanilla extract as well—same great taste, just no alcohol (technically, there is a trace of alcohol here: half a percent by volume).

What We Liked

• Very tasty!

• No colorings.

• No added sugars.

• No GMO’s.

• Very yummy!

What Needs Work

• Weaker than extract . . . so need to use more, say some of our readers.

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Best Budget-Friendly

Vegan-friendly
Although the bottle is a bit hard to open, we liked this vanilla extract for its strong flavor notes. And it is much easier on the wallet than others we tested. No GMO's.

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Best Budget-Friendly: 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Seasonings, Vanilla Extract

Yes, organic vanilla extract can be pricey—but good news! In our taste tests, one organic vanilla extract was both flavorful and easy on the wallet: 365 by Whole Foods.  It won kudos for taste. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• No GMO’s.

• Very good flavor.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Strong alcohol aroma.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability. When we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money. 

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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