5 Ways to Use Spent Vanilla Beans

updated Sep 12, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Cooking with real vanilla beans is a beautiful thing; I love the flecks of vanilla flavor and scraping the concentrated vanilla seeds out of the fragrant beans. But after paying up for the real things, the last thing I want to do is throw away the scraped-out pod. Good news — there are plenty of uses for these spent beans, which still contain tons of great vanilla flavor.

  1. Vanilla sugar – Stash spent vanilla beans in a canister of sugar to give it a subtle vanilla flavor. The vanilla sugar is ideal for sprinkling over tart fruits, in baked goods, and in coffee and tea.
  2. Homemade vanilla extract – Yep, that’s right, it’s as easy as soaking spent vanilla beans in vodka or even bourbon. Keep adding beans to the bottle as you use them, and you’ll have great vanilla flavor after a few months.
  3. Vanilla powder – Let the pods dry and grind in a spice grinder (or coffee bean grinder) until they reach a powder consistency. Use this to boost vanilla flavor in baked goods.
  4. Vanilla syrup – Add a vanilla boost to simple syrup by simmering sugar and water with spent beans. Keep syrup in the refrigerator and add to iced tea, iced coffee or drizzle over fresh fruit.
  5. Super charge vanilla extract – Add spent vanilla beans to store-bought extract to intensify the flavor.

How to Use a Vanilla Bean

Check out our guide on getting the most from your vanilla beans: