Does Imitation Vanilla Extract Have Alcohol? (Helpful Facts)

vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is a popular flavor in both food and beverages. It’s manufactured from vanilla beans, and the taste comes from the bean’s essential oils. Vanilla extract comes in two varieties: pure and imitation. Pure vanilla extract is manufactured from actual vanilla beans, whereas imitation vanilla extract contains artificial flavors.

Pure vanilla extracts frequently contain sugar or other sweets, which is one way that they vary from imitation vanilla extracts. This is so that the extract’s taste may be stabilized, and its potency can remain constant throughout time. Because artificial tastes are more persistent, imitation vanilla extracts frequently do not contain sugar.

So, does imitation vanilla extract have alcohol? Yes, there is alcohol in both imitation and pure vanilla extracts. The alcohol helps in the extraction of vanilla flavor from the beans. To be considered pure, vanilla extract has to have an alcohol level of at least 35% by volume. Imitation vanilla frequently has less alcohol, sometimes as low as 2%.

In this article, we walk you through all the things you need to know about imitation vanilla extract. In addition, you will understand the purpose of the alcohol in the ingredients.

Imitation Vanilla Extract Facts

Vanilla extract is a common ingredient in baking and cooking, but it can be expensive. A less expensive option is imitation vanilla extract.

Some individuals prefer pure vanilla extract over imitation vanilla extract because they feel it has a nicer flavor. But there is no evidence from science to back up this claim. Actually, a lot of individuals think imitation extracts taste just as delicious as pure extracts.

Most of the vanilla extract sold in the world is imitation vanilla that is not derived from the vanilla plant. Rather, the majority of the flavor comes from an artificial kind of “vanillin”

It is a lab-produced version of the same chemical compound that is found naturally in real vanilla. This artificial vanilla is frequently branded as “vanilla essence”.

While it closely resembles vanilla’s aroma, many claims that it falls short of recreating all the distinct floral and woodsy flavors produced by the variety of taste components found in genuine vanilla.

I’m not saying that imitation vanilla is useless. Price-wise, it’s a less expensive option for buyers. You may just not taste the difference between the imitation and the original vanilla extract.

Is There Alcohol in Vanilla Extract? 

Yes, there is alcohol in vanilla extract. Vanilla extract contains a high percentage of alcohol, typically 35% to 40%. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a minimum of 35% alcohol by volume in order to be classified as “extract“. 

Vanilla extract is a flavoring made from vanilla beans, water, and alcohol. The type of alcohol used in the vanilla extract can vary, but most producers use ethanol. The ethanol in vanilla extract serves two main purposes: it helps to dissolve the flavor compounds in the bean, and it acts as a preservative. Without ethanol, the vanilla extract would spoil quickly and be unsafe to consume.

While most people are aware of the alcohol content in extracts, it’s important to keep in mind that vanilla extract is still a form of liquor. For this reason, it should be used in moderation. Excessive consumption can lead to intoxication and other negative side effects.

Is There Alcohol in Imitation Vanilla Extract? 

Imitation vanilla extract is a great alternative for people who are allergic to real vanilla extract or for those who want a less expensive option. However, some people are concerned that imitation vanilla extract may contain alcohol.

Both imitation and pure vanilla extracts have alcohol in them. The alcohol helps in the extraction of vanilla flavor from the beans. To be considered pure, vanilla extract has to have an alcohol level of at least 35% by volume.

Imitation vanilla extract is made with water, sugar, and artificial flavoring. It does not contain any alcohol. Some brands of imitation vanilla extract may list “alcohol” as an ingredient, but this is simply because the flavoring is derived from a plant that contains alcohol. Imitation vanilla frequently has less alcohol, sometimes as low as 2%.

Is There Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract? 

vanilla extract bottle
Non-alcoholic vanilla extract is a perfect choice for those who want the delicious flavor of vanilla without any alcohol. It’s also great for cooking and baking.

Yes, vanilla extracts with lower or nonexistent alcohol content are available. However, they can’t legally be labeled as “vanilla extract” as such due to FDA regulations. Instead, the term “vanilla flavoring” is commonly used to describe these products.

Non-alcoholic vanilla flavoring can be used to substitute regular vanilla extract in any recipe. It is a good choice for people who are allergic to alcohol or for those who want to avoid drinking it for religious reasons. It is also a good option for pregnant women or children, who should not consume alcohol.

When purchasing vanilla flavorings, make sure to carefully read the labels. While some of these goods are just alcohol-free versions of vanilla extract (usually made with glycerin instead of alcohol), this might also signal that there is less natural and/or artificial vanilla taste and aroma than the FDA requires.

Is Alcohol in Vanilla Extract Harmful?

Most people know that vanilla extract contains alcohol. But is this type of alcohol harmful? The answer is not entirely clear. 

The vanilla extract includes ethanol, the same sort of alcohol alcoholic beverage, wine, and hard liquor (and other types of flavoring extracts, cologne, aftershave, and mouthwash, too). 

There hasn’t been extensive research on the matter, but what has been done points to the fact that there could be some health risks associated with ingesting vanilla extract that contains alcohol. So far, these are only a few studies on the matter, and more research is needed to determine if the alcohol in vanilla extract is truly harmful.

However, in small amounts like those for food recipes, ethanol is not harmful.

Can You Get Drunk on Vanilla Extract?

As it turns out, vanilla extract can make you drunk. Who would have thought? According to a recent study, pure vanilla extract contains a small amount of alcohol. And while that might not sound like much, if you drink enough of it, you will get drunk.

Before you go out and stock up on vanilla extract, it’s important to note that the alcohol content in pure vanilla extract is very low. In fact, you would have to drink quite a bit of it before you felt any effects. But still, it’s something to be aware of if you’re planning on indulging in some homemade vanilla extract cocktails.

So next time you’re whipping up a batch of cookies or cake, keep in mind that vanilla extract can make you drunk. Just be careful not to overdo it!


Imitation vanilla extract is available at most grocery stores, and it’s a great way to save money without sacrificing flavor. 

In conclusion, imitation vanilla extract likely contains alcohol. While the level of alcohol may not be significant, it is important to be aware of this when considering whether to consume this product. 
There is no evidence that the alcohol in vanilla extract is harmful. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming any new food or drink.

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