Yea or Nay: Pure Vanilla Extract

For a pastry chef or gourmet foodie, this might be a no-brainer. But for the everyday cook “especially one looking to save a few bucks” it can be a quandary. You want the best vanilla taste, but for a decent price. So is it worth ponying up for the pure vanilla extract?

We decided to test it out on homemade sugar cookies, making two batches – one with Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract from Williams-Sonoma (8 oz bottle for $19) and one with a $0.99 bottle of imitation vanilla flavoring, and give our holiday guests a taste test.

The results were mixed. Some of our taste testers could tell which cookies contained the pure vanilla, while others didn’t notice at all. If you don’t bake often, it might not be worth the price; however, if you do bake frequently, the flavor of pure vanilla might be worth the price.

What do you think? Have you tried pure vanilla extract?