How to Make Vanilla Sugar at Home (Just 2 Ingredients!)

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Once you know how easy it is to make vanilla sugar at home, you’ll never buy the fancy stuff at the store ever again. It’s the perfect way to add a touch of vanilla flavor to anything, and it’s seriously easy to make. You just need two simple ingredients (and a little patience).

jar of homemade vanilla bean sugar with fresh vanilla beans.

This was one of the first infusing projects I ever tried. I love vanilla and I love baking, so it made sense to put the two together. Since that first attempt about eight years ago, I constantly have vanilla sugar in my pantry!

It’s so much easier to make than you’d think and I love to use it to roll cookie dough, sweet a hot cup of coffee, and so much more. It’s a must-have!

Love vanilla, too? Learn how to make bourbon vanilla extract to flavor your baked goods. Use a couple of extra vanilla beans to make your own homemade vanilla bean paste, too! Need vanilla sugar ASAP? Find the best vanilla sugar substitute here.

What is Vanilla Sugar?

It’s pretty straightforward – this is sugar that’s been soaking up the scent oils from whole vanilla beans. The sugar takes on the scent and flavor of vanilla, which it adds to your cookies, homemade cakes, coffee drinks, and more. It makes everything better.

Try it on your next batch of creme brulee. It’s amazing! My favorite way to use it is to sweeten a really strong cup of black coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Why you’ll love this easy vanilla sugar recipe


  • SERIOUSLY EASY – This vanilla sugar takes about 5 minutes to prep, then you need to let it rest for a bit for the sugar to absorb the flavors. It’s a very low-effort task with a high reward!
  • DELICIOUS VANILLA FLAVOR – The real vanilla beans add so much flavor! I can’t help but open the jar just to smell it sometimes… I know that’s weird, but it smells so good!
  • PERFECT FOR LOW MOISTURE RECIPES – If you want to add vanilla flavor and can’t use vanilla bean paste or extract, vanilla bean sugar is a great alternative! It’s wonderful for shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and more! 
  • FANTASTIC GIFT – After you let your vanilla sugar infuse together for a while, jar it up for a wonderfully thoughtful gift! Bakers and coffee enthusiasts will love it. Just get a little glass jar and some twine, and make a handmade label!

Equipment

To make this easy vanilla sugar recipe, you’ll need:

  • A cutting board and sharp knife (I used a small paring knife to make it easier to control)
  • Mason jar
  • Spoon (optional)
  • Food processor or coffee grinder (optional)
fresh vanilla beans.

Ingredients

  • Granulated cane sugar – Don’t overthink it. Just use whatever regular sugar you have on hand. I prefer to use organic cane sugar when possible. This batch came from the organic sugar at Costco. The crystals are slightly larger than plain white sugar.
  • Whole vanilla beans – I’ve made this sugar in lots of different ways, and I have to say you get the best vanilla aroma and flavor with whole, high-quality Grade A vanilla beans. Scrape out the caviar (the little black vanilla bean seeds) to help speed up the process.

I used the Kiddu brand of Ugandan vanilla beans for this batch to try something new! I really liked the story of this family of vanilla farmers and just had to give it a try. The beans have a butterscotchy, almond flavor that’s really lovely, and there were so many little seeds inside!

Normally, I rely on the Cook’s organic Madagascar vanilla beans since the price is always so good for the quality, but I’m also partial to the beans from Native Vanilla. I haven’t had a bad experience with any of these, and the price tends to range from $0.70-1.00 per bean.

NOTE: You can certainly use just one bean instead, but I prefer to use two (1 bean per cup). It speeds up the process so I can enjoy delicious homemade vanilla sugar faster than normal!

How to Make Vanilla Sugar with Whole Beans

  1. Add the sugar to your jar.
  2. Use a sharp knife to slice along the side of your vanilla bean pods. Scrape out the seeds inside and make sure they make it into the jar!
  3. Cut the emptied vanilla pods in half to help them fit in the jar. Use a spoon to mash the caviar into the sugar crystals (skip this step if you use the food processor).
  4. Seal the jar and shake very well every day for at least 5-7 days. 
  5. Then, store the bottle in your pantry indefinitely. I prefer to let the mixture sit for 2-3 weeks, but it’ll taste good within the first week! Shake every 1-2 weeks to minimize clumps.
  6. Serve or use as desired.

Once you have your vanilla sugar ready to go, make vanilla sugar cubes! Learn how to make sugar cubes at home. They make such a great gift!

Storing

Store the vanilla sugar in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place for 1-2 years. It’s ready to use within about a week, but you can easily let it keep steeping for a long time. I almost always leave the beans in the jar and replenish the sugar when it gets low!

How to Make Vanilla Sugar without Vanilla Beans

There are lots of variations out there for homemade vanilla sugar, usually stemming from the fact that not everyone has fresh vanilla beans on hand. Most of these recipes focus on trying to add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract to get that classic flavor quickly.

Technically, you can add these ingredients to your sugar, but you’ll need to dry out the mixture before you store it in the pantry. Otherwise, you’re destined for clumps!

Personally, I’d use about 1-2 tablespoons of extract or vanilla bean paste per 2 cups of sugar. One tablespoon of vanilla bean paste or extract is the equivalent of one bean, and you can use as little as one bean per 2 cups of sugar. 

Mix it together really well, then spread it on a baking sheet. Bake it at the lowest temperature your oven can handle, ideally for about an hour.

This will absorb the moisture and cause the sugar to clump together. Don’t worry! If you crush it with your hands, it’ll flow freely again. Just add it to a jar and enjoy. 

spoonful of homemade vanilla sugar with flecks.

How to Use Vanilla Sugar

This is the fun part and part of why I always make my own vanilla sugar. I usually keep it simple, but there are so many options. It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for granulated sugar in any sweet recipe, but I prefer to savor it in small doses. Pair it with mild-tasting ingredients to let the vanilla flavor shine brightly.

  • Sweet a hot cup of coffee
  • Broil over creme brulee
  • Sprinkle over your muffin batter before baking
  • Roll snickerdoodle dough for extra vanilla flavor
  • Make the best vanilla ice cream
  • Stir into homemade puddings
  • Make vanilla syrup
  • Sweeten hot cocoa
  • Add to Christmas sugar cookies
  • Mix into your favorite vanilla cake or pound cake
  • Fold into your vanilla cupcakes
  • Sprinkle over fresh fruit for a sweet summer treat

Tips & Variations

  • Use leftover extract beans. I love making homemade vanilla extract, and I never waste vanilla beans. Let them dry out really well on a kitchen towel, then add them to sugar. You’ll likely need to add more beans than normal since the oils have already been extracted in the extract-making process.
  • Speed up the process. This method works pretty quickly, but I sometimes like to hurry things along! If you need vanilla sugar ready sooner than later, try blending the sugar and vanilla beans together in the food processor. Keep going until the beans are small chunks. This will increase the surface area, and you’ll get a strong vanilla flavor faster.
  • Stick with white sugar. Although you can technically add the vanilla beans to brown sugar or even coconut sugar, I suspect the vanilla scent will disappear. White sugar is really a great neutral vehicle for vanilla.
  • Make vanilla powdered sugar: If you have a high-powered blender, blend the vanilla sugar (1 cup) with cornstarch (1 tablespoon) until it turns into a fine powder for your own homemade flavored powdered sugar.
  • Store it in a shaker bottle. Love to add vanilla sugar to your lattes? Store it in a shaker bottle for easy use!
mason jar with homemade vanilla bean sugar.

FAQs

How do you keep vanilla sugar from clumping?

The moisture in the vanilla beans will cause the sugar to clump over time. I always recommend shaking the jar every 1-2 weeks, but after about a month of curing, you can actually dehydrate the sugar crystals. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the sugar in an even layer. Let it bake at the lowest temperature in your oven for about an hour. It’ll clump up, but that’s good! Let it cool on the counter, then crumble the sugar. It’ll flow freely (unless you live somewhere extremely humid). I use this tip for making fresh lavender sugar, and it works wonderfully every time!

What’s the best type of vanilla beans for homemade vanilla sugar?

You can use any type of vanilla beans! I’ve used Madagascar vanilla beans (one of my favorites), Tahitian, Mexican, and even Ugandan vanilla beans! They’re all slightly different. Tahitian vanilla beans tend to have a more delicate, floral flavor, which can be hidden in recipes with strong flavors.

Madagascar and Mexican vanilla beans have a stronger, more classic vanilla flavor with a high vanillin content. They’re a great all-purpose vanilla bean for your homemade vanilla paste, extract, and more. Since sugar has such a neutral flavor, it’s a great vehicle to draw out those lovely oils.

Is it better to use Grade A or Grade B vanilla beans to make vanilla bean sugar?

Here’s the thing. I’ve made this sugar with the plumpest, freshest Grade A beans, new Grade B beans, and leftover Grade B beans from making pure vanilla extract. They all work and give you great infused sugar.

However, you’ll get a strong vanilla flavor faster with Grade A beans. When I scraped the caviar out of the Ugandan beans and literally mashed it into the sugar, the sugar had a strong flavor within just 2 to 3 days! 

Related Recipes

Need some more vanilla recipes in your life? Here are some of my favorites!

closeup of vanilla bean sugar made from scratch.
spoonful of homemade vanilla sugar.

Easy Homemade Vanilla Sugar Recipe

Homemade vanilla sugar is one of the easiest infusing projects and a great way to add extra vanilla flavor to your coffee drinks, bakes, and more! You just need 2 simple ingredients (and a little patience). Your effort will be rewarded handsomely, though.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Infusing Time 21 days
Total Time 21 days 5 minutes
Course Baking, coffee, Dessert
Cuisine American, german

Equipment

  • 1 Pint mason jar
  • 1 Sharp knife
  • 1 spoon or food processor

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Add the sugar to your jar.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice along the side of your vanilla bean pods. Scrape out the seeds inside and make sure they make it into the jar!
  • Cut the emptied vanilla pods in half to help them fit in the jar. Use a spoon to mash the caviar into the sugar crystals (skip this step if you use the food processor).
  • Seal the jar and shake very well every day for at least 5-7 days.
  • Then, store the bottle in your pantry indefinitely. I prefer to let the mixture sit for at least 2-3 weeks, but it'll start to taste good within the first week! Shake every 1-2 weeks to minimize clumps (see FAQs for more details).
  • Serve or use as desired.

Notes

To minimize clumps, shake the bottle every 1-2 weeks. You can also bake or dehydrate the sugar at a low temperature to remove excess moisture (see tips in the post).
There’s no need to remove the beans. Just let them keep infusing!
  • Use leftover extract beans. I love making homemade vanilla extract, and I never waste vanilla beans. Let them dry out really well on a kitchen towel, then add them to sugar. You’ll likely need to add more beans than normal since the oils have already been extracted in the extract-making process.
  • Speed up the process. This method works pretty quickly, but I sometimes like to hurry things along! If you need vanilla sugar ready sooner than later, try blending the sugar and vanilla beans together in the food processor. Keep going until the beans are small chunks. This will increase the surface area and you’ll get a strong vanilla flavor faster.
  • Stick with white sugar. Although you can technically add the vanilla beans to brown sugar or even coconut sugar, I suspect the vanilla scent will disappear. White sugar is really a great neutral vehicle for vanilla.
  • Make vanilla powdered sugar: If you have a high-powered blender, blend the vanilla sugar (1 cup) with cornstarch (1 tablespoon) until it turns into a fine powder for your own homemade flavored powdered sugar.
  • Store it in a shaker bottle. Love to add vanilla sugar to your lattes? Store it in a shaker bottle for easy use!
Keyword vanilla bean sugar, vanilla sugar
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