Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Vanilla

Chocolate chip cookies are a staple snack across the United States. They are simple and delicious, hitting the perfect spot every single time.

For chocolate lovers, being given a chocolate chip cookie is like receiving an instant smile. These treats are more associated with a reward than just about any other dessert save for ice cream, which is also delicious with chocolate chip cookies.

But, by far, there’s nothing that beats the feeling of biting into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie that’s still a bit warm. Oh my goodness — talk about a spiritual experience! And while it may surprise folks who don’t bake, one key ingredient in many chocolate chip cookie recipes is vanilla. It sounds contradictory, but it’s 100 percent true.

Vanilla extract is not something that you have in your home unless you bake regularly.

So what happens if the baking bug strikes you randomly and all the stores are closed? Don’t worry, because we have given you a number of substitutions to use instead of vanilla.

As it is used primarily as a flavoring, there is no reason that you cannot make chocolate chip cookies without vanilla.

They may taste slightly different, but we guarantee that the chocolate content of the cookies will balance this out and they will still be delicious.

So grab a rolling pin and your electric mixer and let’s see if we can’t find a cookie recipe that tastes great without vanilla extract. Personally I enjoy a good peanut butter or sugar cookie recipe.

Why do they contain vanilla?

Vanilla extract is used to enhance the flavors contained within the cookies. It provides a subtly sweet base note that complements the chocolate chips beautifully.

It is by no means an essential ingredient, and your chocolate chip cookies will come out just as well without vanilla.

It is unlikely that people will notice its absence, and so you can easily make cookies without.

When you think of chocolate chip cookies, one might assume that vanilla extract is an essential ingredient. However, there’s a world of delicious possibilities awaiting you with chocolate chip cookies without the addition of vanilla. These recipes offer a wonderful opportunity to explore new flavors and experiment with unique ingredients, ensuring you still end up with a delightful treat.

While vanilla complements chocolate nicely, this doesn’t mean it needs to be present in every cookie recipe. Instead, consider using ingredients like almond extract, coffee, or even unexpected spices to elevate the flavor profile of your chocolate chip cookies. These adaptations can result in a cookie that’s just as delicious, if not more so, than the traditional version.

So, go ahead and experiment in your kitchen with unconventional ingredients and trust that your chocolate chip cookies will be a hit even without vanilla. With a spirit of creativity and a willingness to explore new flavor combinations, you’ll find that the possibilities are truly endless.

Vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, vanilla essence, or vanilla powder?

Vanilla bean pods are the purest form of vanilla, and how it naturally occurs. When choosing vanilla pods, look for shiny and plump pods.

We suggest storing wrapped in aluminum foil as exposure to light can impact the taste. They tend to last a few months in the cupboard, but if they are allowed to dry out, the flavor profile will deteriorate.

Vanilla bean paste is a combination of extract and powder. It is best suited to use in cold products like ice cream and frosting. It has a much thicker consistency and requires more effort to combine.

Vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in an ethyl alcohol and water solution. The strong flavor comes from the vanillin molecule inside the beans. Over time, as it mingles with the alcohol, the liquid infuses and takes on this flavor.

Vanilla essence is produced from synthetic vanilla rather than the vanilla bean. It often has processed crude oil to imitate the vanilla flavor. This means that the flavor is more diluted and the product is cheaper.

If a recipe calls for vanilla extract but you only have essence on hand, use a 2:1 substitution ratio.

Vanilla powder is much stronger than extract. This is commonly made from dried and ground vanilla beans. It is very expensive as a result but is of incredibly high quality. You should use a 0.5:1 ratio as a substitute.

Some cheaper vanilla powders are made from maltodextrin, dextrose, or sucrose that has been finely ground and infused with vanilla. In essence, these are vanilla sugars.

What are Substitutes for Vanilla

None of these substitutes will imbue your cookies with a vanilla taste or aroma, but they will all add something to the final product.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup can be used as a substitute for vanilla in small quantities.

This will add a mild sweetness and a similar flavor to vanilla. It should be substituted for vanilla in a 1:1 ratio.

Almond Extract

Almond extract can be substituted for vanilla. This will not produce the same result but will give a similar aroma.

It is a stronger flavor than vanilla, so ensure you do not substitute in a 1:1 ratio.

Bourbon, Rum, or Brandy

Bourbon, rum, or brandy can be added to baked dishes in order to enhance the flavor.

Vanilla extract is mildly alcoholic and these substitutes will give a similar aftertaste. It is used in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute.


This can be used as a vanilla substitute much like maple syrup. It will not give the same flavor but will make cookies without vanilla taste sweeter.

Agave syrup would also work in the same manner. These are substitutes in a 1:1 ratio.


It is obvious that this will not produce the same result as vanilla in a chocolate chip cookie.

 However, if you find the lack of vanilla makes your cookies taste bland, this is a good option.

Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg are good spice choices for chocolate chip cookies to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee

You could substitute the vanilla in your recipe for a pinch of instant coffee powder.

This will create an entirely different result but will create a very satisfying cookie.

Citrus Zest

Citrus zest is another great way to spice up the flavor of your cookies. Finely grated zest will add a light and refreshing flavor to your cookies, without watering down the dough.

Our favorite addition to chocolate chip cookies is a little orange zest, as this makes a delicious chocolate orange cookie.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

You will need some fresh vanilla beans, a spirit (we recommend vodka), and a large airtight jar.

You will need to split your vanilla beans lengthwise in half. Add to your jar and completely cover with the vodka.

Seal the jar and gently shake to ensure the vanilla and vodka have mixed.

Place in a cool, dark place and allow to infuse for at least 1 month, but for best results we suggest 2. Shake the jar occasionally to encourage the flavors to mix.

After it has been infused for a couple of months, strain through a piece of cheesecloth and decant into bottles.

Rum, brandy, and bourbon will also work in place of vodka. You do not need to use expensive alcohol to make vanilla extract, as the flavors will come from the vanilla beans.

The alcohol you use should be around 80% proof for the best results.

This extract will last forever, as opposed to the storebought vanilla which has a shelf life of around 2 years.

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Vanilla

This will make around 40 small cookies.


  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet is the most common, but any will work)


Your first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, you should grease a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the baking soda, flour, and salt.

Take a separate bowl and cream together the sugars and the butter. This means that you must beat the ingredients together for a few minutes.

This step is important because the butter needs to coat the sugar grains to waterproof them. The more light and fluffy the creamed mixture is, the better your cookies will turn out.

Crack the eggs and add one at a time to the creamed butter. Mix well to combine.

Gradually pour in the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough in your bowl.

Add the chocolate chips in, along with any other flavorings you desire. We like to use a mix of chocolate chips to add variety to our cookies.

Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, dollop blobs of cookie dough onto your baking sheet.

Place in the oven for around 10 to 12 minutes. The surface of the cookies should be golden brown. The cookies are not going to be firm at this point, they will still seem very soft and malleable.

Allow the cookies to cool and harden slightly on the baking sheet for around 5-10 minutes. When they are solid enough to pick up without breaking, use a fish slice to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Alternatively, you could eat them straight from the oven if warm cookies are what you are after!

Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Vanilla

Gluten-free:  No
Dairy-free: No
Suitable for nut allergies: Yes
4.73 from 90 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 40 cookies
Calories 124 kcal


  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 large bowls
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Wire cooling rack


  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet is the most common, but any will work)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper whilst the oven warms up.
  • Get a large mixing bowl and mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the sugars and butter. For the wet ingredients, it is best to use an electric mixer. The mixture should be fluffy.
  • Add the eggs into the mixture one at a time. Mix the first egg fully into the mixture before adding the second.
  • Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet ingredients. You should be able to combine both mixtures into a dough.
  • Now you are ready to add in the chocolate chips.
  • Use a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop to place even amounts of cookie dough onto your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool completely before serving.


Calories: 124kcal
Keyword Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Brown Sugar, Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Vanilla
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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