Vanilla extract is a more economical and convenient option. It provides a rich vanilla flavor, though it lacks the subtle nuances and aromatic qualities of vanilla beans. Vanilla extract works well in baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, and quick breads.
Vanilla beans powder provide a more complex, nuanced vanilla flavor. Their flavor develops further during cooking. Vanilla beans work best when you want the vanilla to be a prominent flavor. Use them in custards, puddings, ice creams, creme brûlée, or any recipe where vanilla is a star ingredient.
For convenience, use vanilla extract in recipes that call for small amounts of vanilla, like a teaspoon or less. For full vanilla flavor, use beans in recipes calling for larger amounts.
When adding vanilla beans directly to a hot liquid like custard or milk, split the bean lengthwise first to allow the flavorful seeds and oils to infuse more quickly.
To maximize flavor, store used vanilla bean pods in your sugar jar to infuse the sugar with vanilla.
Vanilla extract loses potency over time, so replace old bottles for best flavor. Vanilla beans can be rinsed, dried, and reused once more.
In a simple and conclusive summary, vanilla extract works well in baked goods, while vanilla beans shine when vanilla is central to the dish. Consider convenience, cost, and the prominence of vanilla when deciding which to use.