Cooking with Vanilla: Top 10 Creative Recipes You Must Try

Cooking with Vanilla: Top 10 Creative Recipes You Must Try

Have you been looking for exciting new ways to make the most of your culinary creations and time spent in the kitchen? In many cases, while it can seem a little difficult to know where to begin with your creative cooking journeys, plenty of excellent options can help you make the most of the opportunities.

In line with this, today, we’re looking at some of the key things you need to know about cooking with vanilla, including several great recipes to really help you make the most of your ingredients. However, before we go any further, we must stress the importance of starting out with top-quality vanilla ingredients to help your recipes come to life.

Cooking with vanilla is delightfully liberating. Indeed, while many ingredients have very specific pairings for what does and does not work, this often is not the case with vanilla. In fact, it’s one of the most versatile ingredients on the market, lending a taste of luxury to countless recipes – as is evident from the following ten creative ideas.

#1 Vanilla Custard

Vanilla is an exceptional ingredient that can transform even a seemingly simple recipe into a delectable treat, and this is rarely evidenced better than with vanilla custard. Moreover, since vanilla custard can easily be served up on its own or alongside other sweet treats, we figured this was the perfect place to start this list. You’ll never look at regular custard the same way again.


  • 5 cups of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Powdered vanilla or vanilla extract to taste


In order to make high-quality vanilla custard from home, start by bringing the milk to the boil, stirring gently until it just begins to boil. Then, allow the milk to cool down slightly before adding vanilla powder or extract. Stir this gently into the boiled milk until the powder has completely dissolved. Leave this mixture on the side to cool down while continuing.

As the milk/vanilla mixture cools, separate the yolks of four large eggs and whisk vigorously, slowly adding the cornstarch and sugar. This should help create a pale color in your custard mixture.

Once you have done so, simply add the warm (mostly cooled) milk slowly, whisking in between each addition. Then, cook on low for around 20 minutes until the custard develops the consistency you have been looking for. Everyone has their own preferences; if you like your custard thicker, you may need to leave it on the heat for longer.

Serve hot once you’ve finished making the custard or allow to cool and keep in the fridge. This delicious homemade custard is one of the most exciting and creative ways to spruce up an otherwise generic recipe – and, better yet, it can allow you to effortlessly energize many other dishes and desserts, too.


Technically speaking, if you need to make your regular canned or powder custard more exciting, you could always add a little vanilla to help. This generally won’t be quite as special as this awesome homemade recipe, but it’s a quick and creative way to improve the taste of boring shop-bought custard quickly.

#2 Velvety Vanilla Pudding

We all remember those silky smooth vanilla and chocolate puddings from our childhoods – there’s something so effortlessly simple about them, yet they’re delectably indulgent, too! As a result, if you’re looking for a quick dessert that you can whip together in half an hour and that won’t leave you wanting for more, this delicious, refined vanilla pudding recipe might just be perfect.


  • 2 cups of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • ¾ cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
  • 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Vanilla powder or vanilla extract, to taste


First, mix the cornstarch with three tablespoons of milk until smooth in consistency. Make sure to leave the rest of the milk for now, as you’ll need this later. Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together one whole egg, two egg yolks, and the sugar, mixing until the sugar has fully dissolved.

At this point, take a saucepan and mix together the remaining milk with the salt and the milk and cornstarch paste that you just made. Then, slowly heat the mixture until it begins to simmer; it’s advisable to keep stirring this gently until the milk begins to thicken.

Once the milk mixture has thickened slightly, allow it to cool slightly before slowly mixing into the egg and sugar mixture. This should be whisked well to ensure a good consistency and even incorporation of the milk mixture.

Once all of the milk mixture has been incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan and slowly add the heavy cream, again stirring continuously. Add a little gentle heat and allow the mixture to continue reducing the mixture down until it has thickened further.

Now, all that’s left to do is stir in the butter and your choice of vanilla, depending on taste, and decant the mixture into chillable containers. Leave in the fridge for around five hours, at which point, the pudding should have set and should be ready to enjoy! 


If you would like an extra smooth finish to your pudding, don’t be afraid to strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer before decanting into your chosen serving glasses and chilling. This step is optional, but it may potentially improve the texture if your mix is a little lumpy or grainy.

One of the greatest features of this recipe is that it’s also very easy to pair with many different treats. So, feel free to finish it with toppings of your choice to really add a little extra refinement – whipped cream, crushed biscuits, shavings of dark or white chocolate, or fresh fruit could all work well if you ask us.

#3 Eggless Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

When it comes to ice cream, it’s easy to lose the flavors to the richness of the mixture itself. Fortunately, since this recipe is based on Philadelphia-style ice cream, there’s no egg involved, which allows the vanilla to really come through strongly and provides for an indulgent frozen treat at any time of year. Better still – it literally only takes a couple of minutes to prep.


  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 5 cups of heavy cream
  • 5 cups of cream cheese
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • Vanilla powder or extract, to taste


Using a blender or a whisk, mix the whole milk, sugar, salt, and cream cheese until smooth and all the sugar has dissolved. Then, add in the heavy cream and your choice of vanilla powder or extract, mixing unce again until fully dissolved.

Then, simply add the mixture to an ice cream maker and blend as per the instructions on the device. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you may be able to somewhat replicate the process by continuing to blend the ingredients in a food processor or by hand, although you’ll likely get a less smooth consistency at the end.

Finally, decant your ice cream mixture into storage containers and chill for at least four hours in a freezer (ideally longer – overnight is perfect).


Vanilla ice cream is one of our favorites for sure, but it’s also brilliant to pair with other flavors as well. Combining our vanilla powder or your own homemade vanilla extract with other amazing options such as caramel (or salted caramel), chocolate, toffee, or praline can really make for an amazing dessert. Fold these into the ice cream before freezing for the best results.

#4 Vanilla Ice Cream Terrine

If you’ve tried our previous eggless ice cream recipe, why not take things a step further with this amazing ice cream terrine? If you ask us, it’s one of the best ways to help transform a bowl of delicious, freshly made vanilla ice cream into an all encompassing dessert if you really want to amaze your guests!


  • 4 cups of homemade vanilla Philadelphia-style eggless ice cream
  • 1 cup of premium milk or dark chocolate
  • 5 cups of plain biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup of dulce de leche (caramelized milk)


First, cut up the chocolate into small and evenly sized chunks, then blend together with the biscuits into a coarse but consistent crumb. Then, add the butter and continue to blend in the food processor until all mixed together and in small but consistent crumbs.

Once you have the biscuit crumb mix, press around half into the base of a tray or pan, then spoon over a layer of ice cream (keeping the ice cream cool until this point to ensure it stays chilled). Spoon a generous serving of dulce de leche over the ice cream, spreading consistently before adding another layer of ice cream. Finally, cover with the remaining biscuit mixture.

At this point, all that’s left to do is ensure a consistent finish on the dessert; the easiest way to go about this is to cover the mix with film then use a cardboard sheet and cans to weigh down the mix. This can help flatten out the pudding and ensure you get that impressive, even finish when you come to serve the dessert.

Freeze for two hours or longer, then cut into slices and serve.


This recipe mainly focuses on our homemade vanilla ice cream suggestion – but it can be a long process to wait for the ice cream to chill.

As such, if you haven’t got homemade ice cream to hand, don’t worry; simply blend regular, shop-bought soft-serve ice cream with a little extra vanilla powder or extract to add a bit more of a “wow factor.” It won’t be quite the same as homemade ice cream, of course, but it does provide a quick and easy alternative if making homemade ice cream isn’t for you.

If you don’t have a food processor, you may be able to achieve similar results by crushing the chocolate and biscuits first with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar; however, this likely won’t give the same level of consistency in the dessert at the end.

#5 Vanilla Panna Cotta

Few desserts offer quite the same sophistication as a panna cotta, and this excellent vanilla twist can really help make any dinner party feel a little more refined. Make sure to give it a try!


  • 3 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2/3 cup of sugar (superfine, ideally)
    • teaspoons of powdered gelatin
  • Vanilla powder or extract, to taste


First, measure out 5.5 tablespoons of cold water and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top. Leave to the side while progressing to the following steps.

Next, add the heavy cream, sugar, whole milk, and vanilla powder in a saucepan and stir together until well incorporated. Then, place this over a medium heat and allow to simmer. You may need to stir the mixture occasionally until the sugar has fully dissolved.

Allow the mix to sit for around five minutes, then pour the gelatin water mixture into the saucepan and stir until smooth.

Finally, decant the mix into your chosen serving glasses or cups and allow the refrigerator to chill for around five hours.


Panna cotta doesn’t have to be that hard to make, although many people assume it must be a difficult recipe given its sophisticated nature. So, be sure to whip it up to impress any guests – and feel free to experiment with different toppings to really finish it off nicely! A freshly made fruit coulis is often a great idea here that’s still effortlessly simple (but certainly doesn’t give that impression!)

If you don’t have superfine sugar, that’s okay – regular granulated sugar can also work, although the texture may not be as smooth as expected. You could also replace the powdered gelatin with sheet gelatin if needed.

#6 Vanilla and Rum Infused Cranberry Sauce

Perfect for livening up any dish, this amazing vanilla and rum infused cranberry sauce might be the ideal option. The inclusion of rum undoubtedly helps add a bit more body to the sauce, while the vanilla adds a refined sort of sweetness. What’s more, it’s absolutely effortless, so this could be well worth keeping in mind as part of your decision.


  • 12 ounces of cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • ¼ cup of rum
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • Vanilla powder, to taste


Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and stir gently to combine; then, bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat.

Once the mix has reached boiling point, allow to simmer for around half an hour. Thereafter, make sure the sauce has time to cool before serving or decant it into a bowl and store in the refrigerator for a few days if needed.


Generally speaking, cranberry sauce is most commonly served during the holidays when cooking for guests – but this option with vanilla is ideal for year-round use. Indeed, if you ask us, that’s far from the only time to serve it, and once you find this incredible recipe, you’ll almost certainly start craving it more and more throughout the year!

As standard, this sauce will have large cranberries left in it after cooking; however, if you would prefer a smoother finish, either remove the cranberries or blitz the mixture in a blender. The choice is largely down to personal preference, so keeping this in mind could help you make sure that the final sauce is finished to your liking.

#7 Vanilla Freezer Cookie Dough

There’s something truly indulgent about cookie dough – and this freezer recipe allows you to really make the most of that amazing flavor! Make sure to combine this rich vanilla flavor with any of your favorite cookie toppings – chocolate chip or caramel are good bets! And, once you’re done, simply roll the cookie dough into a log and freeze; whenever you need a last-minute fresh treat, simply cut off a few slices and bake!


  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • 5 cups of butter
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Vanilla powder to taste


First, mix both types of sugar in a bowl; then add the softened (not melted) butter and cream together until the mix forms a soft and fluffy mix.

Mix all the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl (starting with the dry ingredients). Once these are combined, simply add to the butter and sugar mix and stir until well-blended and consistent.

Decant the cookie dough onto a large sheet of baking parchment and roll the mix into a single log of dough. If there is too much mix to fit on a single sheet, cut the log in two. Then, simply wrap the dough with the baking paper and secure the ends to hold the roll together.

Place the cookie dough in the freezer for at least one hour until firm. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit and slice the cookies into roughly 1.5cm slices. Then, cook for around 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies have turned golden brown. Don’t forget – they will firm up more once removed from the oven, so just because they’re a little soft now, don’t assume that they’re not done.


This cookie dough recipe is designed for a crunchier bake; however, if you’d prefer a chewier cookie, simply shave a little time off the cooking time or cook the cookies at a slightly lower temperature.

One of the great features of this recipe is the fact that you can tailor the depth of the cookie simply by altering how wide you cut each slice. So, for a thin “snappy” cookie, slice the roll thinner. Alternatively, a nice deep wedge will do the job for a fatter cookie!

#8 Vanilla Marshmallows

If you’re not quite sure that a full blown dessert is up your street, you may want to consider something a bit lighter instead – and these amazing vanilla marshmallows might be perfect. Indeed, there’s nothing nicer than a sweet, sticky, and chewy marshmallow sometimes, and if you think that this might just hit the spot, this recipe could be ideal for you. And don’t feel too daunted by the concept; while many people assume they’d be hard to make, the reality is far from it!


  • 5 oz of powdered gelatin
  • 2/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of corn syrup
  • 5 teaspoons of salt
  • Vanilla extract to taste


First, mix cornstarch and powdered sugar in a bowl, then sprinkle this generously over a lightly greased baking tray. The sides and base should be fully covered before you go any further.

Once the tray has been coated, you can begin working on the marshmallow mix directly. Mix one cup of water with the sugar, salt, and syrup, bringing this to a low simmer. Avoid stirring the mixture once the ingredients are initially combined, no matter how tempting it might seem.

While the sugar syrip is cooking, whisk together the remaining cup of water with gelatin. Leave this to sit; the sugar mixture should be done after around 15 minutes. However, make sure you check the temperature of the sugar mixture with a candy thermometer before going any further to ensure it has reached at least 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that the sugar mixture has reached temperature pour into the gelatin and water bowl and whisk slowly with either an electric hand whisk or a standing mixer. In this case, a manual hand mix may be difficult to use, so we recommend against doing so. Increase the speed over thirty seconds, and then continue to whisk until the mix has at least doubled in size. Usually, this will take around ten minutes, so don’t be surprised if it seems to take a long time to respond.

At this point, add in the vanilla extract, and then continue to whisk for a further thirty seconds until fully blended with the marshmallow. Then, transfer the mix into the pre-dusted pan and apply leftover sugar dust to the top of the marshmallow.

Leave to set for around four hours, then cut into portions using a sugar-dusted knife. You may need to add a little more sugar dust to the cut edge(s) of the marshmallows to help dry them out further.


If you don’t have corn syrup, there are several alternatives you could try. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that other types of syrup, such as glucose and golden syrup, may not give the same shelf life on the vanilla marshmallows as you might have wanted; they can get a little stale after a couple of days.

We’d recommend opting for our homemade vanilla extract kit for this recipe, as vanilla powder may impact the final texture of the marshmallows – not quite what you want! However, you could always consider rolling the marshmallows in a mixture of vanilla powder and icing sugar rather than just plain icing sugar as an alternative.

#9 ­­Vanilla Mug Cake

Sometimes, all it takes is top-quality ingredients to make a very good treat – and that’s exactly the case with this awesome vanilla mug cake recipe. Indeed, with a few premium ingredients (top-class vanilla powder or extract being the key to making this extra special), you can whip up a treat in just a couple of minutes that will definitely hit the spot.


  • 5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ teaspoon of cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
  • Vanilla powder to taste


Mug cakes are effortlessly easy recipes to make – and this one with vanilla is no different! Melt the butter, then add the milk, sugar, and vanilla powder together. Mix well until all of the ingredients are combined before adding any remaining ingredients, as well as any extras you might want.

To cook, place the cup in the microwave, then heat for around one minute; if the sides begin to pull away from the edges, it’s done. If not, continue to cook for a little longer until the cake shrinks away from the side of the cup, then remove it from the microwave.

Serving the mug cake is entirely up to you. If you would like to remove the cake from the cup, simply decant it onto a plate once you’re sure it’s cooked; it should hold its shape like a normal cake. If not, you can always eat it directly out of the cup! However, the cake will be scolding hot, so decanting it can help it cool a little sooner.


One of the best things about mug cakes is that they are so exceptionally easy to make, and their flexibility means you can experiment with flavors – and, if it doesn’t work out, just try again! Some ideas you could try to add some extra pizazz to your mug cakes include throwing in some chocolate chips, popping candy, sprinkles, chopped-up fruit pieces, nuts, toffee, and the like.

Technically speaking, if you don’t have any cornstarch, this is optional. However, it can help make the mug cake less sticky, so we strongly recommend using it if you do have any.

When making mug cakes, it’s worth trying it out with several different cups, as the type of cup you use can absolutely impact the final taste and quality of the mug cake. As a result, we strongly recommend looking for a cup that’s ideally broad enough to allow the cake plenty of room to expand.

In addition, try to go for a large cup, keeping in mind here that the mug cake will likely double in size. Nothing’s worse than a mug cake that spills over the edges and makes a mess of the microwave, after all.

#10 Coffee, Hazelnut, and Vanilla Tequila

If you don’t feel up to a heavy pudding, how about treating yourself to an energizing glass of coffee, hazelnut, and vanilla tequila – can you get any more indulgent than that?


  • 1 cup of coffee beans
  • 3 cups of tequila
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • Vanilla beans to taste


Making this brilliant tequila couldn’t be simpler! Combine all the dry ingredients in a large jar, then slowly add tequila before sealing. Store the jar in a cool and dark area for a week or two to help infuse the flavors of the coffee and vanilla beans, giving a sweet and succulent drink. However, the longer you leave it, the richer the taste will become, so don’t be tempted to crack it open too early!


This brilliant tequila recipe takes next to no time to make, but keep in mind that it does need a few weeks to infuse before you’ll be able to enjoy it. Make sure to use the richest coffee and gourmet vanilla beans you can source to really make the drink stand out!

Final Thoughts

Cooking with vanilla is something that many people overlook. Indeed, given its exceptional versatility and use in so many different recipes, it’s perhaps no surprise that countless people fail to recognize just how amazing vanilla as an ingredient can be.

Fortunately, though, today’s recipes with vanilla absolutely change the status quo. Indeed, far from being a plain ingredient, vanilla – when harnessed properly in your cooking – can actually transform a simple recipe into a mouthwatering delight.

Of course, the most important thing is to ensure you start with premium vanilla and ingredients for your baking. Doing so, when coupled with a great recipe, can really help take your sweet treats to the next level. 

What's your go-to vanilla recipe? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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