Zero waste vanilla sugar to swap out vanilla essence

In my attempt to become zero waste, or at least plastic and single use packaging to a maximum, I’m making my own zero waste vanilla sugar! This allows me to skip the plastic-packaged chemical vanilla essence you get at the shops.

I know most recipes in Australia call for vanilla extract or essence, but I really recommend you try out vanilla sugar. In Norway and France where I’m from, the most common vanilla flavouring is vanilla sugar and it works perfectly in all baking recipes.

I love vanilla sugar because I can make it zero waste, but also for the better taste. Since there is no alcohol in it like in vanilla essence, it has a more mellow and pure taste in my opinion.

Recipe tips & notes

ZERO WASTE VANILLA BEAN IN MELBOURNE – I’ve found vanilla bean in bulk at Friends of the Earth in Fitzroy and zero waste-ish online at The Source Bulk Foods (it came in a paper bag I could reuse, plastic-free)

How much vanilla sugar to use instead of vanilla extract? In general, essence is more concentrated than sugar, so add 50% more or double. However, I’ve always experienced that vanilla flavouring is a bit like salt and pepper, just add to taste.

Zero waste vanilla sugar to swap out vanilla esence

Recipe by Pia Lefevre


Total time




  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 200g white sugar


  • Slice the vanillla bean in two lenghtwise and scrape out the paste on the inside of the vanilla bean.
  • Add sugar and vanilla paste to a kitchen blender for 1 minute, or until the well combined.
  • Transfer sugar mixture to an airthight container.

    When using vanilla sugar to replace vanilla essence (or extract), double the amount in the given recipe.

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