What Mixes Well with Vanilla?
Vanilla Flavor Pairings You Will Love
There certainly is an art to flavor pairing; like any art, it takes a combination of innate skill, passion, experience, and continuous exploration of new and varying mediums. Using vanilla in the kitchen, of course, can take on a multitude of formats, from baked goods to comforting savory dishes and from frozen treats to rich and sultry sauces, and of course, there’s always a time and place for a satisfying cocktail.
Not everyone is an artist, though, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to enjoy art—again, the same is true for artistry in terms of gastronomic and mixological applications. If you aren’t ready to become a Davinci of the kitchen but still want a list of ingredients that pair well with vanilla, that’s fine too. This article may have just been written for you.
As purveyors and enthusiasts of the flavor-packed vanilla bean, we believe the ingredients that mix well with vanilla are infinite and we are coming up with new and remarkable pairings nearly every day. In the interest of giving you a straight answer, though, here is a list of some of our favorite vanilla flavor combinations!
Citrus and Vanilla
Remember when you were a child and vanilla, cream, and orange flavoring were combined and frozen to form the most delectable and refreshing popsicle? They were so satisfying, am I right? Vanilla is perfect for toning down the acid and bringing out the tangy sweetness in oranges, but it doesn’t stop there! Try pairing your vanilla seeds, extracts, pastes, and sugars with all types of citrus—orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and even kumquats!
Tea Leaves and Vanilla
While the list of tea varieties varies infinitely, most actually come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. White, black, green, purple, pu-erh, and oolong are all sourced from these tea leaves but have different flavor notes and caffeine levels due to harvesting and curing processes. Despite the length of the flavor spectrum of these teas, though, they all meld beautifully with earthy, fragrant, vanilla.
Stone Fruit and Vanilla
The list of drupes (or stone fruit) is long, including peaches, raspberries, plums, cherries, almonds, and açaí, just to name a few. We have not come across a single stone fruit that isn’t complemented by the prized fruit of the vanilla orchid.
Herbs & Spices and Vanilla
OK, so this may be a very vague category, as the list of herbs and spices is unbounded, but we haven’t found a single herb or spice that doesn’t play well with the flavor of vanilla. It balances the heat or ingredients like peppercorns and ginger, adds depth to refreshing mint and basil, softens herbaceous flavors like fennel, lavender, and rosemary, and enhances the fruit-like appeal of rose petals, hibiscus, lemongrass, and saffron.
We could go on and on about phenomenal ingredient options to use alongside vanilla, but we want to make time to share a fantastic vanilla cocktail recipe with you.
This cocktail is so wonderful, with an array of flavors that mix well with vanilla. We’ve combined vanilla with both citrus and stone fruit to create a cocktail with several levels of flavor, launching the traditional Old Fashioned to an elevated level of satisfaction.
Bourbon Vanilla Old Fashioned with Vanilla Orange Sugar Rim and Vanilla Soaked Cherries
- 6 Fresh Cherries
- 6 ounces high-quality bourbon
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- A few dashes of Angostura bitters per cocktail
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 4 teaspoons vanilla sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean caviar or seeds from 1 whole vanilla pod
- Ice to fill the glasses
- Orange twist for garnish
- Soak your cherries in the vanilla extract and 2 ounces of bourbon overnight.
- Place 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar in a shallow dish and set aside.
- Use a mixer to shake together the remaining bourbon, two teaspoons of vanilla sugar, vanilla caviar, bitters, and soaking liquid from the cherries.
- Use a segment from the orange you got your twist and zest from to wet the rim of the glasses slightly.
- Dip each glass into the vanilla sugar.
- Fill each glass with ice.
- Pour the shaken cocktail into the glass and top with your bourbon and vanilla-soaked cherries and a twist of orange. Sprinkle with orange zest.
We really can’t say it enough, the uses and flavor pairings for vanilla are endless. Let us know some of your favorites in the comment section.