Friday, November 22, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Sugar & Vanilla Salt (Great Gift Idea!)

Do you agree with me and the Barenaked Ladies that vanilla is the finest of the flavors?  If you do, and/or if you remember that song, you should definitely make some vanilla-infused gifts this holiday season.

Vanilla sugar can be used anywhere you would use granulated sugar, but it's especially wonderful as a finishing sugar, sprinkled on top of cakes, cupcakes, creme brulee, homemade caramels, or ice cream.  You can also put it in your coffee or tea for a delicious touch of creamy sweetness.  Are you sold on vanilla sugar yet?  If not, I'm not sure what to do with you!  You can even make it with coconut sugar for a paleo-friendly vanilla treat.  You know you want to!

If you love sweet and salty flavors together, you will love this vanilla sea salt.  I made mine with Celtic gray coarse sea salt, and it's strikingly beautiful, fragrant, and complex.  You can sprinkle it on top of any dessert that needs a salty finish (like these cupcakes or these bars), or even try adding it to savory dishes.  I used a bunch in a batch of chocolate bark I made last night, and it was amazing (recipe coming soon)!  Once you make this, you'll realize that salt and vanilla are meant to be together.  You'll start wishing all your vanilla were salted, and all your salt vanilla-ed.

I made a bunch of little jars of vanilla sugar to give out as favors to all my friends and family who are coming for Thanksgiving.  I love the idea of giving guests something delicious that they can take home and use for a long time.  Both of these would also make great stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and wedding favors.  The best part is that they only take about five minutes to make!

If you're worried about paying for or working with vanilla beans, I understand.  I just got into it recently, and at first I was skeptical, but now I have to have them in the house all the time.  If you order 25 from Beanilla, you can get them for $1 each!  Twenty-five may sound like a lot of vanilla beans, but I promise you'd find a way to use them all.  Use a few for sugar, a few for salt, and a few to make your own vanilla extract (which will save you lots of money if you bake often).  You could also try vanilla infused vodka, tequila, or rum.  Plus, the beans themselves last almost forever when stored in a glass jar, so you can keep some on hand for anytime you want to make a dessert really special.

Do you have any great ideas for using vanilla salt or sugar?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Ingredients (sugar adapted from Beanilla and salt from Joy the Baker):

Sugar (I made some with organic cane sugar and some with coconut sugar)
Sea salt (I used Celtic)
Vanilla beans (1 per cup of sugar and 1 per 3/4 cup of salt; I like Rodelle, Beanilla, and OliveNation)


Bowls, a cutting board, and a sharp knife
Small jars or bottles (I used these, these, and an empty cinnamon jar)
Squares of fabric cut to an inch or two wider than the mouth of your jars (optional)
Labels and twine (optional)

Make sure your jars or bottles (and your hands!) are very clean and dry.

Place the sugar or salt in a medium bowl.  Trim the ends of the vanilla bean, and split it lengthwise with a sharp knife.  Use the tip of the knife to scrape the seeds out and add them to the bowl with the salt or sugar.  Evenly distribute the vanilla bean seeds by rubbing the mixture between your fingers.

Cut the scooped-out vanilla pod into small pieces.  Add the salt or sugar to the jar, layering in a few pieces of vanilla pod as you go.  Top the jars with lids and fabric, and add labels and twine if desired.

Vanilla salt and sugar become more strongly flavored over time.  It's best to wait at least two weeks before using them to give the vanilla time to infuse the salt or sugar.

Stored in a cool, dry place, vanilla salt and sugar should last indefinitely.

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You might also like:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Preserved Lemons

Lighter Lemon Curd (Dairy-free)


  1. My son and daughter-in-law gave us a jar of this vanilla sugar for Christmas. It is wonderful! I'm glad to have found your blog.


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