Vanilla sugar is one of my favorite things. The only problem is that it can be hard to find unless you shop gourmet grocery stores, and even then it is typically too expensive to justify the purchase. Luckily, there is an easy solution: make your own. It’s simple, quick, and it eliminates unnecessary waste by giving discarded vanilla bean pods a delicious new lease on life.

I like to prepare my vanilla sugar in two ways:

Method One
Once you’ve scraped out the seeds of a vanilla bean for a recipe, set the pod aside. Do not throw it away – it is full of flavor and aroma that shouldn’t go to waste. Instead, place the pod into a food processor with roughly two cups of granulated cane sugar. Pulse until the pod is well incorporated into the sugar and very fine. You may need to scrape the sides down a couple of times.

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The resulting product will be moist, packable (like the texture of brown sugar) and aromatic, and it will be ready to use instantly. I prefer to use this type of vanilla sugar on my cinnamon toast, or as a substitute for regular sugars in baking recipes. It adds depth of flavor, and generally eliminates the need for vanilla extract.

Method Two
In an airtight container, combine turbinado sugar (aka “sugar in the raw”) with one or two whole vanilla beans. A good rule to follow here is that you should use one vanilla bean per every two cups of sugar, so if you have a larger jar, adjust your vanilla bean count accordingly.

Let the jar sit for two to three weeks, lightly shaking the contents every couple of days or so. When ready, the sugar will be infused with the essence of vanilla. The vanilla beans can then be removed and reused for other purposes because they will have remained whole and undamaged in the container. I like to use this particular type of vanilla sugar in my coffee, or to sprinkle over pies and cookies. The sugar crystals are large and defined, so I find that it works best as a topping, and it gives a nice flavor boost as rimming on cocktail glasses as well.

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Because vanilla sugar is so delicious and easy to prepare, it makes a great Christmas gift. To package, scour your local thrift store for some cute jars or corked bottles, and attach your favorite tag from Evermine. For my jars, I chose the Aunt Lorraine scalloped hang tags in periwinkle and pale peach, and I tied them on with some jute twine. Very cute.

How do you use your vanilla sugar?

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Lindsay (114 Posts)

Lindsay is a writer/blogger from Oregon who loves crafting, cooking, gardening, and simple living. You can find her writing about all of this and more on her blog A Wooden Nest.


  1. Possibly, but I would try it in reverse order: first use the beans to make the vanilla sugar, and then use them again for the vanilla extract. I would do it this way so you avoid infusing your sugar with the taste of alcohol.

  2. Could I open the bean & scrape the seeds into the sugar and toss the beans in as well? Would 1 bean to 4 cups sugar still flavor enough?

  3. Yes, you can scrape the seeds in as well. I recommend 1 bean for every 2 cups of sugar, but 1 bean to 4 cups might work too. You just need to make sure you stir or shake the sugar every once in awhile, and give it enough time for the flavor to really incorporate itself.

  4. I’ve actually made vanilla sugar using the beans taken from my vanilla extract. I made the vanilla extract and let it steep for 4 months then took the beans out, scraped the seeds and placed them and the cut pods into a glass container then covered them with sugar. I turned the container and stirred the sugar for a month then put the sugar on a baking sheet to dry it because it’s like brown sugar at this point. I turned on the oven to warm it then turned it off and placed the sheet with the wet sugar into the warm oven. After the sugar was dry I broke up the pieces removed the bean pods and packaged the sugar. It tasted and smelled amazing.
    I am making vanilla sugar now using fresh pods from the same shipment of beans. For some reason the smell isn’t any where near as strong as the previous batch even though I have used almost twice the beans. I am wondering if the addition of the vanilla extract contained in my “used” beans didn’t make the difference.
    I will definitely try the pods in the food processor trick this time. I had no idea the pods themselves were edible..

  5. If using method 1, how do you suggest I store that? Does it need to be refrigerated or in an airtight container? Or can I put it in a cute jar as well?

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