# How many calories are in 1 2 tsp of vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is a popular ingredient used in baking to add flavor and aroma to cakes, cookies, pies and other desserts. It’s made by soaking vanilla beans in a solution of ethanol and water, which extracts the flavor compounds from the vanilla pods.

While pure vanilla extract packs a lot of flavor, it contains minimal calories and carbohydrates. However, since it is used in such small amounts, vanilla extract contributes negligible calories to recipes.

So how many calories are actually in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract? Let’s take a detailed look at the nutrition facts.

## Calories In Vanilla Extract

Here are the key stats on calories and macronutrients in 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of pure vanilla extract (1):

• Calories: 5
• Total fat: 0 g
• Carbohydrates: 1 g
• Sugar: 0 g
• Protein: 0 g

As you can see, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract contains minimal calories and macronutrients.

There are 5 calories in 1⁄2 teaspoon, which comes from the small amount of carbohydrates.

Vanilla extract has no fat, sugar or protein. The only macronutrient present is 1 gram of carbohydrate, which accounts for the 5 calories.

## Calorie Density Of Vanilla Extract

Calorie density is defined as the number of calories per gram of food.

Foods with higher calorie density contain more calories relative to their weight. Foods with lower calorie density provide fewer calories relative to their weight (2).

Here is the calorie density for vanilla extract based on the nutrition information above:

• Calories in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract: 5 calories
• Weight of 1/2 tsp vanilla extract: ~1.2 grams
• Calorie density = Calories/gram = 5 calories/1.2 grams = 4.2 calories per gram

The calorie density of vanilla extract is 4.2 calories per gram.

To put this into context, here are the typical calorie densities for other common foods (2):

• Fatty foods like oil, butter and nuts: about 9 calories/gram
• Protein-rich foods like meat, fish and eggs: 4 calories/gram
• Starchy foods like bread, rice and oats: 4 calories/gram
• Fruits and vegetables: Around 1 calorie/gram

As you can see, vanilla extract is moderately dense in calories compared to other foods. Since it is devoid of fat, its calorie density is similar to that of carbohydrate-containing foods.

However, keep in mind that vanilla extract weighs much less than a typical serving of these other high-calorie-density foods. Therefore, its total calorie contribution is minimal.

## Amount Of Vanilla Extract Typically Used In Recipes

To determine how many calories vanilla extract adds to a recipe, it’s important to know how much is typically used.

Here are some guidelines on common amounts of vanilla extract used in recipes:

• Cookies: 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon per batch
• Cakes: 1 to 2 teaspoons per cake
• Bread pudding: 1 tablespoon for 6-8 servings
• Pancakes: 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon per batch
• Frosting: 1 to 2 teaspoons per batch

As you can see, most recipes call for 1 teaspoon or less of vanilla extract. Even in recipes that use larger quantities like bread pudding, a couple of tablespoons is still a minimal amount.

Considering that 1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract only contains 5 calories, typical amounts add just 5–20 calories to desserts, baked goods and other recipes.

## Calories From Vanilla Extract In Example Recipe

To demonstrate how this all adds up, let’s look at the calorie contribution from vanilla extract in chocolate chip cookies.

Here’s a typical recipe for 1 batch (36 cookies) of chocolate chip cookies:

• 2 1⁄4 cups (270g) all-purpose flour: 1,080 calories
• 1 teaspoon (4g) baking soda: 0 calories
• 1 teaspoon (6g) salt: 0 calories
• 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar: 773 calories
• 1 cup (225g) brown sugar: 813 calories
• 1 cup (240ml) unsalted butter, melted: 1,742 calories
• 2 large eggs: 143 calories
• 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract: 10 calories
• 12 ounces (340g) chocolate chips: 1,813 calories

Total calories per batch: 6,374 calories

As you can see, the vanilla extract contributes just 10 calories to the entire batch, or about 0.3 calories per cookie.

This demonstrates that the calories from a typical amount of vanilla extract are negligible compared to the other high-calorie ingredients like flour, sugar and butter.

## Nutritional Benefits Of Vanilla Extract

Although vanilla extract is not a significant source of carbs, protein or fat, it does contain certain micronutrients and antioxidants.

Some of the main nutrients found in vanilla extract include (1, 3):

• Vanillin: The primary flavor compound that gives vanilla its distinctive taste and smell.
• B-vitamins: Small amounts of B vitamins like niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5).
• Minerals: Trace amounts of minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium.
• Polyphenols: Antioxidant plant compounds that may help neutralize harmful free radicals.

So while vanilla extract doesn’t provide much in the way of calories, fat, carbs or protein, it does supply beneficial plant-based compounds.

These nutrients and antioxidants are likely minimal since vanilla extract is used in small quantities. However, every little bit can contribute to your daily micronutrient intake.

## Should You Be Concerned About The Alcohol In Vanilla Extract?

Pure vanilla extract contains alcohol since it’s extracted in an alcohol-water solution.

The alcohol content usually ranges from 35–40% (4).

However, this amount of alcohol is negligible in the small quantities used in cooking and baking.

For instance, let’s say you use 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract in a baked good recipe. Here’s how much alcohol that would provide:

• 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
• Alcohol content: 35% (average)
• Amount of alcohol: 10 ml * 0.35 = 3.5 ml alcohol

3.5 ml is less than 1 teaspoon of alcohol. When distributed among an entire recipe, you’re getting mere drops of alcohol per serving.

This miniscule amount of alcohol is unlikely to cause issues or intoxication, even in children.

However, it can be a concern for those who avoid alcohol for religious or health reasons. If this applies to you, look for alcohol-free vanilla extract.

Just keep in mind that according to FDA guidelines, a “non-alcoholic” or “alcohol-free” vanilla extract must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (5).

## Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla Flavoring

When shopping for vanilla extract, you may come across a similar looking product called “vanilla flavoring.”

However, there are some key differences between pure vanilla extract and vanilla flavoring:

### Vanilla Extract

• Made from real vanilla beans
• Contains at least 35% alcohol
• Has a brownish color and seed specks from the vanilla bean
• More complex, nuanced flavor

### Vanilla Flavoring

• Made from artificial vanilla flavoring, not real beans
• Contains little to no alcohol
• Clear color instead of brown
• Simpler, less nuanced flavor

For the best flavor, it’s best to use real vanilla extract whenever possible.

That said, vanilla flavoring won’t provide the same rich notes but can work well in a pinch or for those avoiding alcohol.

Just keep in mind that vanilla flavoring likely has added sugars and a higher calorie density compared to extract. Check the nutrition labels for details.

## Should You Use Vanilla Paste Instead Of Extract?

Another vanilla-based product you may see is vanilla paste.

Vanilla paste contains the same amount of flavor and calories as vanilla extract. However, it also includes vanilla bean seeds, resulting in a thicker consistency and more specks.

Here’s a quick comparison between vanilla extract vs vanilla paste:

### Vanilla Extract

• Thin, liquid consistency
• No vanilla bean seeds
• Better for blending into batters and mixes

### Vanilla Paste

• Thicker, more viscous texture
• Contains vanilla bean seeds
• Provides specks and visual appeal

Vanilla paste can be swapped for vanilla extract in a 1:1 ratio. However, it’s a bit pricier since it contains those vanilla bean seeds.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Both provide the same rich vanilla flavor with minimal calories.

## How To Store Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life when stored properly (6).

To get the longest shelf life out of vanilla extract:

• Store in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or pantry
• Keep the bottle tightly sealed
• Avoid exposure to light and heat

Over time, the alcohol may evaporate slightly and the extract can darken. But it will remain safe to consume.

If the extract ever becomes thick and syrupy, just add a splash of vodka or rum to thin it out.

Additionally, manufacturers recommend using opened vanilla extract within 2 years for optimal flavor. But an unopened bottle can stay good for many years.

## Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad?

Pure vanilla extract does not really go bad in the traditional sense.

Thanks to its high alcohol content, vanilla extract has an extraordinarily long shelf life and is unlikely to spoil. It does not require refrigeration after opening.

However, there are some signs that indicate lower quality:

• Evaporation: Bottle becomes partially empty as alcohol evaporates
• Darkening: Extract gradually becomes darker brown
• Thickening: Extract turns thick and syrupy
• Dull flavor: Vanilla taste becomes weak or flavorless

While old or improperly stored vanilla extract may lose some flavor nuance, it’s still safe to consume.

If your vanilla has any of these qualities, try adding it to an inexpensive baked good recipe to use it up. Then replace it with a fresh bottle of vanilla extract.

## Common Questions

### Does vanilla extract have carbs?

Pure vanilla extract contains around 1 gram of carbohydrate per teaspoon (5 grams), mainly from naturally occurring sugars. Since it’s used in small amounts, the carb contribution is negligible.

### Does vanilla extract have sugar?

There is no added sugar in pure vanilla extract. However, a small amount of natural sugar from the vanilla bean ends up in the final product. A typical serving of vanilla extract has less than 1 gram of sugar.

### Is vanilla extract keto-friendly?

Yes, vanilla extract can fit into a keto diet. A 1⁄2 teaspoon serving only has about 1⁄2 gram net carb, since the carb mostly comes from fiber. This won’t knock you out of ketosis given the tiny serving size.

### Is vanilla extract gluten-free?

Pure vanilla extract is naturally gluten-free, since it’s made by soaking vanilla beans in an alcohol-water solution. As long as it’s not contaminated during manufacturing, pure vanilla extract is suitable for gluten-free diets when used in recipes with gluten-free ingredients.

### Is vanilla extract vegan?

Traditional pure vanilla extract made from vanilla beans is vegan, since it does not contain any animal products. However, there are some vanilla flavorings made with dairy ingredients like lactose or whey. Check labels to ensure your vanilla extract is vegan.

## The Bottom Line

Vanilla extract is a versatile, low-calorie ingredient used to infuse desserts and sweets with a rich vanilla aroma and flavor.

There are only 5 calories in 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of pure vanilla extract, which comes mostly from 1 gram of carbohydrate. It contains no fat, sugar or protein.

Typical recipes call for 1 teaspoon or less of vanilla extract. So it adds a negligible amount of calories to cookies, cakes and other baked goods.

While not a significant source of nutrients, vanilla extract does contain antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals from the vanilla bean.

Overall, don’t hesitate to use vanilla extract in moderation to add flavor. Despite having a moderately high calorie density, the tiny serving sizes keep calories low while providing a flavor boost.