What is Madagascar vanilla syrup?

Madagascar vanilla syrup is a sweet, dark brown syrup made from vanilla beans grown exclusively on the island of Madagascar. Known for its rich, complex flavor and aroma, Madagascar vanilla is considered by many to be the best quality vanilla in the world.

What makes Madagascar vanilla special?

There are a few key factors that contribute to the unique flavor and quality of Madagascar vanilla:

  • Terroir – The climate, volcanic soil, and growing conditions in Madagascar are perfectly suited for growing high quality vanilla. This gives the beans their distinctive flavor profile.
  • Curing process – Madagascar vanilla beans are cured through a labor-intensive process that develops their flavor and aroma. The beans are sun-dried, hand massaged, and aged for several months.
  • Vanilla planifolia – The vanilla orchids grown in Madagascar are of the Vanilla planifolia species, considered to have the best flavor and aromatics of all vanilla varieties.

These conditions impart a deep, rounded vanilla flavor and a smooth, creamy texture to Madagascar vanilla syrup.

How is Madagascar vanilla syrup made?

Authentic Madagascar vanilla syrup is made through the following process:

  1. The vanilla beans are harvested by hand and cured using traditional methods in Madagascar.
  2. The cured beans are split open and infused in a simple syrup base of sugar and water. This extracts the flavor and aroma compounds from the vanilla bean pods.
  3. The vanilla bean infusion is blended with sugar and water to make a thick, viscous syrup.
  4. The syrup is bottled once it reaches the ideal flavor, consistency, and sweetness.

High quality vanilla syrup uses a higher ratio of vanilla beans to sugar, resulting in a more intense vanilla taste. Lower quality commercial brands may use synthetic vanillin instead of real vanilla beans.

What does Madagascar vanilla syrup taste like?

Madagascar vanilla syrup has a very rich, full-bodied vanilla flavor derived from the high quality beans. Here are some of the main flavor notes:

  • Sweet – The syrup has an inherently sweet taste from the sugar base, but is not overly cloying.
  • Vanilla – Deep, rounded vanilla flavors shine through – both the floral aroma and smooth vanilla extract taste.
  • Woodsy – Subtle woody undertones come from the vanilla beans.
  • Smoky – A faint smokiness comes through from the curing process.
  • Buttery – Notes of butteriness and creaminess lend a velvety mouthfeel.

The complexity of the flavor balances sweetness with robust vanilla character for a syrup that tastes like vanilla extract turned liquid.

What is vanilla syrup used for?

Madagascar vanilla syrup has many versatile culinary uses thanks to its intense vanilla notes. Some popular uses include:

  • Coffee – Adding a teaspoon to coffee is a quick way to make vanilla lattes and other sweet coffee drinks
  • Baking – Use in cakes, cookies, pies and pastries for next-level vanilla flavor
  • French toast & pancakes – Drizzle over French toast, pancakes or waffles
  • Milkshakes – Blend with ice cream for homemade vanilla milkshakes
  • Cocktails – Sweeten cocktails like vanilla martinis or vanilla old fashioneds
  • Yogurt & oatmeal – Stir into plain yogurt or oatmeal for a flavor boost

The options are endless! The syrup can be used in any recipe calling for vanilla extract or vanilla beans to amplify the flavor.

What brands of Madagascar vanilla syrup are recommended?

Some top recommended brands of Madagascar vanilla syrup include:

Brand Details
Nielsen-Massey Made with vanilla extract and real vanilla bean flecks. Intense flavor.
Rodelle Gourmet Smooth, rich syrup made from Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.
Sonoma Syrup Co. Organic syrup with notes of butterscotch and caramel.
Beanilla Bean-to-bottle syrup sourced directly from Madagascar farms.
Williams-Sonoma Madagascar Bourbon vanilla syrup, vegan and gluten free.

When shopping, look for brands that use all natural ingredients and contain actual vanilla bean extracts or flecks for the best flavor. Avoid syrups with artificial vanillin. Small batch and artisanal brands often provide higher quality as well.

Does homemade vanilla syrup taste better?

Making your own vanilla syrup at home allows you to control the quality of ingredients used. Homemade syrup has a fresher, more natural vanilla taste for a few reasons:

  • Full vanilla beans are infused into the sugar syrup base, extracting maximum flavor.
  • Higher grade vanilla beans can be sourced, including vanilla bean pastes.
  • No artificial additives or preservatives are used.
  • You can use organic cane sugar and adjust sweetness preferences.
  • It’s freshest right after being made.

However, homemade syrup only lasts 1-2 weeks refrigerated before it starts to lose flavor. For maximum convenience, commercially made syrups in air-tight packaging can keep for months or years.

How long does vanilla syrup last?

The shelf life of vanilla syrup depends on whether it is homemade or store-bought:

  • Homemade: 1-2 weeks refrigerated
  • Store-bought: 6 months to 2 years unopened. 3-4 weeks refrigerated after opening.

To extend the shelf life, keep vanilla syrup in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator. Signs that vanilla syrup has gone bad include mold growth, off odors, watery texture, or separation of ingredients.

What’s the difference between vanilla syrup and vanilla extract?

Vanilla syrup and vanilla extract both add vanilla flavor to foods and drinks. But there are a few key differences:

Vanilla syrup Vanilla extract
Sweet, viscous liquid Concentrated liquid extract
Made from infusing sugar syrup with vanilla Made from soaking vanilla beans in alcohol
Adds sweetness Does not add sweetness
Better for drinks, pancakes, yogurt Better for cookies, cakes, custards

In summary, vanilla syrup contains sugar and imparts sweetness, while vanilla extract is unsweetened. Vanilla syrup is ideal for sweetening while adding flavor, whereas extract is better for pure vanilla taste.

Is vanilla syrup gluten-free and vegan?

Most vanilla syrups are naturally gluten-free and vegan. They are typically made from just three basic vegan and gluten-free ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Vanilla beans

However, some syrups may contain small amounts of alcohol distilled from the vanilla extraction process. Be sure to check labels if you need a completely alcohol-free vanilla syrup.

Overall, vanilla syrup avoids common allergens like dairy, nuts, and wheat. This makes it a versatile option for vegan diets, gluten intolerance, and many food allergies or sensitivities.

Is vanilla syrup keto-friendly?

Vanilla syrup is high in sugar, so it is generally not considered keto-friendly. A standard 1-tablespoon (15ml) serving may contain around 15 grams of net carbs, all from added sugar.

However, there are a couple lower carb options for enjoying vanilla syrup on a keto diet:

  • Look for sugar-free vanilla syrups made with keto-approved sweeteners like erythritol or monk fruit.
  • Make your own lower carb vanilla syrup using a sugar substitute and adding extra vanilla.
  • Use vanilla syrup very sparingly in keto recipes.

Diluting the syrup with water or milk can also reduce the carb impact. Overall, vanilla syrup is highly sugary and should be limited on keto, but lower carb alternatives exist.

Is vanilla syrup paleo-friendly?

Standard vanilla syrup is not paleo-friendly, as it is made from refined cane sugar. However, there are a couple ways to make vanilla syrup more paleo diet approved:

  • Substitute the cane sugar for paleo-approved sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar.
  • Skip the added sugars completely and infuse vanilla beans into coconut milk for a sugar-free syrup.
  • Opt for vanilla extract instead and add your own paleo-friendly sweetener as needed.

Vanilla syrup can be adapted to fit paleo diets better by altering the sweetener used and avoiding highly processed sugars. But in its traditional form, it does not meet paleo standards due to the refined sugar content.


Madagascar vanilla syrup delivers the irresistible flavor and aroma of premium Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. With its notes of vanilla, butterscotch and caramel, this syrup makes a perfect sweetener and flavor boost for everything from coffee to cocktails. Thanks to its smooth, creamy texture and sweetness, Madagascar vanilla syrup is a versatile ingredient to keep on hand for elevated baking, drinks and desserts.

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