What Happens if You Add Too Much Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is one of the most widely used ingredients worldwide. It enhances other flavors, creating a bitter-sweet taste that is hard to resist. In a bid to improve your meal’s flavor, you may decide to add more vanilla extract. But what would happen if you added too much vanilla extract?

Too much vanilla extract causes various problems due to its alcohol content. With an alcohol content of 35 per cent, a significant amount of pure vanilla extract can lead to alcohol intoxication and disrupted food taste. The effects depend on age, weight, and tolerance to alcohol. In food, it may depend on the type and amount.

This article will look into the effects of too much vanilla extract, the right amount, and the remedies.

Effects of Adding Too Much Vanilla Extract

Jar of vanilla extract

Consumption of too much vanilla extract can affect your health and food in the following ways:


Like other drinks containing ethanol, adding too much vanilla can cause drunkenness. Pure vanilla extract contains 35 per cent alcohol. With this alcohol content, you need 3–5 ounces to become drunk. Vanilla extract in coffee can act as a substitute for sugar and other sweeteners, but overdoing it can make you drunk. You’ve probably heard of teenagers adding vanilla to their coffee to get drunk.

Nevertheless, some factors determine the amount required to make an individual drunk. They include a person’s tolerance of alcohol, age, weight, and whether they’ve eaten.

Skin Irritation and Inflammation

If you have added too much vanilla extract to your food or beverage, it can potentially cause skin irritation if it makes direct contact with your skin. Once you realize that you’ve exceeded a safe amount of vanilla, avoid direct contact with the skin.

Bitter Taste in Food and Drinks

Generally, vanilla extract has a strong flavor. Adding too much of it to food and drink brings out a bitter taste. It’s best to follow whatever amount the recipe recommends, or you might ruin your meal.

Alcohol Poisoning

Man who got sick after consuming too much vanilla extract

Alcohol poisoning happens when there is too much alcohol in the blood. In extreme cases, due to the significant amount of alcohol in vanilla extract, ingesting too much of it leads to poisoning. This is especially possible if vanilla extract is guzzled straight from the bottle.

The body, through the liver, helps prevent alcohol toxins from contaminating the blood. However, too much alcohol overworks the liver. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Throwing up
  • Low body temperature
  • Slow heartbeat

How Much Vanilla Extract Is Too Much?

Vanilla extract being added to cream after chef learned what happens if you add too much vanilla extract

Due to its strong flavor, a small amount of vanilla extract serves its purpose. You don’t want to destroy your dish with unbearable bitterness. Too much vanilla extract also causes inconsistency in the dough, leading to challenges in the entire baking process.

The best advice is obvious advice: use the recommended amount of vanilla extract in each recipe, since the results have been tested.

Fixes for Too Much Vanilla Extract

Fortunately, all is not lost when too much vanilla extract is added to food. Try these solutions:

Dilute the Presence of Vanilla

You could potentially dilute the presence of vanilla extract by making more of your recipe. For example, if you accidentally added too much vanilla extract to brownie batter, you could simply make more of the brownie batter without adding more vanilla extract. Of course, you’d have to use up more ingredients. And you’d end up with more brownies than you’d originally planned (unless you throw out or save some of the batter). But this would solve the vanilla extract problem.

Add a Contrasting Flavor

Using grater to zest a lemon after adding too much vanilla extract to dish
Lemon zest can help offset the bitterness of vanilla extract.

The addition of a contrasting flavor will balance the bitterness in vanilla extract. Ingredients with tart flavors, such as lemon juice and zest, will help counteract the bitterness. Because vanilla extract is mostly for sweet delicacies, adding salt creates a savory taste.

Sweeten It

When you add too much vanilla extract, sweetening it can bring back the hope of enjoying your meal. Sweet ingredients such as sugar, fruit, and honey complement the bitter vanilla extract taste, thus hiding it.

Add Other Spices

Adding other spices helps mask the strong vanilla taste, which would otherwise be too much. The best spices to use are those with a strong flavor, like cloves and cinnamon.


Mistakes happen during food preparation (some people even run into the opposite problem—they forget to add vanilla entirely). There are ways to balance out the overbearing taste of vanilla extract in a dish. Still, the best advice is worth repeating: try to always use the recommended amount of vanilla extract in whatever recipe you’re working with.

Ever wondered why pure vanilla and vanilla beans are so expensive? There are a few interesting reasons.