What is the difference between Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Essence?

With 120 years of experience in producing vanilla, the Queen team knows a thing or two about what makes a good vanilla. In this article, we shed light on one of the most topical questions in baking- what is the difference between Vanilla Essence and Vanilla Extract? We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you’ll find below!

There’s no flavour in the world quite like vanilla. It’s rich, creamy and warm, and impossible to imagine baking without it. But when it comes to adding vanilla to your recipe, which vanilla do you choose?

You’re certainly not alone if you’re a little confused by the difference between vanilla extract and vanilla essence. Is it real, is it stronger, how is it made? These are just a few of the questions we get asked on a regular basis. So, how do you wade through the choices and choose the right vanilla for your baking?

With nearly 120 years of experience in vanilla, from growing and curing to extracting and bottling, we are here to share our knowledge and hopefully make things a little less confusing next time you’re shopping (or baking!).

At Queen, Natural Vanilla Essence is Vanilla Extract

Our original Queen vanilla recipe was established in the early 1900s and was called ‘Vanilla Essence – Extract of Vanilla Beans’. Historically, the term ‘Essence’ meant a highly concentrated form of pure extract. If you look closely at one of our very old labels, the ingredients are alcohol, sugar, flavour (extract of vanilla beans), water added. As the name suggests, vanilla extract is extracted from real vanilla bean pods by macerating vanilla beans in a mixture of alcohol and water.
This recipe became the signature Queen blend that is now our iconic ‘red label’ bottle ‘Natural Organic Vanilla Essence’.





History has paved the way

If vanilla essence is a true vanilla extract, why do we still call it vanilla essence? The word ‘essence’ has been kept on the label over the decades as many old and loved Australian recipes call for it. It’s that simple!


A true-blue Aussie recipes from days gone by!

Old Australian recipes often call for Vanilla Essence

With the passing of time, modern recipes started to call for simply vanilla ‘extract’ and so we added the words ‘flavouring extract’ to the label to reassure Aussie bakers that Queen Natural Organic Vanilla Essence is indeed the real deal. So, Queen Natural Vanilla Essence is Vanilla Extract.


Modern recipes often call for Vanilla Extract new-recipe-2

Taking a journey back into our long vanilla history, even our old print ads featured our pure, natural vanilla essence. Aren’t they wonderfully retro!


Here’s a few of our old bottles too, do you have any of these at home? We’d love to see them!

Retro Queen Vanilla adverts

Original Queen Vanilla bottles

So there you have it, next time you’re baking with a family recipe that has been passed down through generations, you can smile knowing that the vanilla ‘essence’ your recipe calls for is Queen Vanilla Essence after all! And it’s a perfectly natural vanilla extract (even if it is a little old-fashioned!).


Learn more about our Vanilla journey

We hope this article has helped to provide a deeper understanding of an often confusing baking topic! While we can’t speak for other brands, throughout our history our vanilla essence has always been a true vanilla extract and is the secret ingredient in many a loved and handed down recipe.

Hungry for more vanilla knowledge? Read on to discover more of the Queen story and learn about our commitment to vanilla that is fair, ethical and sustainable as well as what makes single origin vanilla so special and how to choose the best vanilla for your recipe.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Queen Team

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