The Great Vanilla Bean Giveaway

Vanilla Beans

The Saffron saffron contest was so much fun, I decided to do another contest, The Great Vanilla Bean Giveaway from As I mentioned previously, this is a company that provides amazing quality vanilla and saffron at some of the best prices I have ever seen. I’m not getting paid to promote their product, I approched them with the idea of a contest for you, my dear friends!

How do you use vanilla beans?
Carefully halve the bean lengthwise – and lay flat on your cutting board. With the back of your knife, scrape the thousands of vanillin seeds and pulp out. Each bean should yield about 1/2 tsp of vanillin seeds, which corresponds to 2-3 tsp of vanilla extract.

To make vanilla extract, take 1 whole vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise. Place in 3/4 cup of good vodka. Cover and store for 6 months.

How to buy vanilla beans?
According to, look for soft, plump vanilla beans with thin skin. Gently squeeze the vanilla bean with your fingers to feel how thick or thin the skin is. The bean should be black, full of aroma, and a little oily to the touch.

What do you do with the leftover pod?

  • Add it to a canister of sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar
  • Add to a pitcher of spiced or mulled wine
  • Add to a bottle of rum
  • Throw in pot with milk and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Dry, cut into 1/4″ pieces and throw it in your coffee grinder

What’s your favorite way to use the leftover pods?

Vanilla bean “caviar”:

Vanilla Bean Caviar

The Great Vanilla Bean Giveaway!

I’m going to randomly draw 8 lucky winners. Each winner will get 1/2 lb of vanilla beans. Take a look back at the first photo – that is what 1/2 lb looks like! Let’s do the math. The last contest had 137 entries. That’s a pretty good chance of winning!

What is your favorite dish using vanilla? The recipe can call for vanilla beans or vanilla extract.  It can be from your site or someone else’s site. It can be a recipe you’ve tried or it can be one that just looks delicious. See, I’m making it really really simple.

  1. Write the name of the dish below in the form. Link to the dish.
  2. In the comments section, write a comment letting me know that you want to be entered in the contest.

That is all. But you have to do both steps to be eligible.

Contest ends Wednesday, November 7th at noon EST. I’ll then randomly pick 8 winners. The company, will ship directly to you. Good deal?

**BONUS: If you post about this contest on your blog, I’ll give you an extra 2 entries! DUDE, how cool is that???

Enter Name of Dish and link to the dish

STEP 1: Forget Mr. Linky’s directions, follow mine (hey give me a break. It’s a free plugin. I can’t customize it) Enter name any recipe that uses vanilla extract or vanilla beans.  I don’t care who you are in this section. Just type  name of dish (i.e. “Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes”) and the link to it. You can list more than one recipe. We’ll compile a great list of favorite recipes that uses vanilla!

STEP 2: In the COMMENTS section, enter your name and say something, anything. You can give us vanilla tips, fav way to use the leftover pods, or just talk about the damn weather. I will draw from these names.

Wednesday 1:30pm. Contest is closed! I’ll be drawing names later this afternoon tonight tomorrow, after 1 2 3 too many nice, tall glasses of homemade Sangria! Accepting bribes of all sorts until 3pm-ish whenevrwrewrwerrrrrrrr.

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Comments 225

  1. Denise Martin

    Hi Jayden,
    Along with all the others please enter me into the vanilla bean contest. The attached recipe is THE VERY BEST scone recipe – I suppose because of using THE VERY BEST ingredients you can find to begin with, including vanilla beans. Kudos to Marcy Goldman of for this wonderful scone recipe she has shared.
    Thanks & keep up the good work! We all love it at the office.

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  3. Maninas

    Here is another vanilla recipe from me. It’s my mum’s gorgeous fruit cake! yum! brings a lot of happy memories…
    Also, my mum _always_ uses vanilla in her baking! 🙂

  4. Robert

    I love adding vanilla to rice, especially if I’m doing a spicy dish on the side – adds a nice cool/warm (that makes no sense) feel

  5. Kim

    I really love custard and of course I had to go with the recipe that had a french name. “ufs au Lait”, come on. How can you not love it?

  6. Jenny

    Avocado ice cream is one of those things that makes people either go EUGH or OOOH. Fortunately, I’m in the latter category.

    Another flavor of ice cream I’m about to create when I get the chance- Badam Kheer.

    Mmmm, vanilla beans…

  7. Annie N

    I love using vanilla extract when I bake. I recently tried vanilla beans for the first time and it was lovely in the custard cream filling that I made for some cream puffs. Crossing my fingers that I’ll be one of the winners. Thank you for running this contest!

  8. Ana

    Hey! This is the first time I’ve posted a comment, but I love your site! I put up a link for vanilla scented scallops from Cooking Debauchery, they’re sooo good! It was the first “gourmet” dish I made, and the one that made me want to go to culinary school.
    As for my favorite thing to use vanilla beans in, it’s a tie between homemade vanilla extract (vanilla pods in rum), creme brulee, and lavender infused pastry cream (add lavender simple syrup to pastry cream after it sets; goes really really well with lemon or vanilla bean cake!)

  9. Paulette

    I absolutely love this recipe and think it would be that much better if I used vanilla bean instead of extract!

  10. Katie Gardner

    Vanilla Poached Apricots with Honey Madeleines. Mmm… I love a good Madeleine. And you can’t get much better than apricots steeped in vanilla and honey.

  11. Stef

    I haven’t worked much with vanilla beans, just extract. I’d be really excited to have some good beans to play with.

  12. Alex Koch

    I linked the blueberry cake, it’s super easy to make and really good. That looks like a good place for beans, they are usually so expensive that I’ve only used extract before.

  13. Shannon

    Holy crap- these are some great recipes! I linked to a simple standard (tapioca), can’t wait to make some of these others though. Thanks!

  14. Samantha

    I hope you will still enter me in the contest despite the fact that I totally screwed up my first attempt at linking my recipe and put my own name on the list (# 136). I just found your blog and I was so in need of something really good to read to get through a Monday afternoon. I am already looking forward to more stories/pictures from China!

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  16. Liz

    I always bump up the vanilla in my Dandilion Honey because I love the little bean specks on my muffins!
    Count me in for the beans, I’d love to not have to be conservative in my recipes anymore!

  17. Wednesday

    Vanilla salt is much better than vanilla sugar in my opinion. The recipe isn’t hard but a lot of people wouldn’t think to mix the two.

    Please enter me in the contest.

  18. Diana

    Vanilla is highly versatile and used so much in our food that we always take it for granted.

  19. David

    French toast on Sunday mornings is a ritual at our house. Typically we do equal parts eggs to whole milk, a little salt, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of vanilla extract, and the littlest one needs to lick the vanilla spoon afterwards. I found this Crme brle French toast recipe that looks a little obscene. The recipe is about halfway down the page. It calls for a whole vanilla bean. I wonder where I can get some of those… 😉

  20. sheryll

    I’m usually a lurker but I got tempted by the vanilla beans. =) To tell the truth, I normally DO NOT like using vanilla in baking… unless it’s for chocolate related stuff. Outside of chocolatey stuff, I find it makes things taste somewhat heavy and cloying. But inside chocolatey stuff, mmmm! Chocolate enhancer! Would be a good chance to see what real, good vanilla can do to something. Hopefully. =)

    I usually modify the following chocolate cake recipe by reducing the sugar to 1.5 cups instead of 2, and increasing the pinch of salt to 1/4 teaspoon. The quality of the coffee can make a huge difference. (Vanilla macadamia nut coffee, anyone?) I haven’t looked for another chocolate cake recipe since.

  21. Virginia

    First – this does not make enough for 4! It is enough for one so don’t invite anyone to share. I actually also use the vanilla scraped out in the blender with the other stuff. And, sometimes, the irish whiskey spills and is 2 cups. We like it over ice in the evening, in my coffee before work, at lunch with something, and don’t forget afternoon snack. This will go nicely as a follow-up to your bloody mary. I also use a dash of coconut extract. Yum – guess I shall stop at the liquor store on the way home and get some more irish whiskey and make something good before bed!

    Have a great day!

  22. dhc

    Hi Jaden,
    First time to leave a reply but been quietly enjoying your blog for awhile now. Screwed up with leaving a vanilla recipe, but thankfully my screw-up disappeared! Thanks for holding this contest and your grreat blog.

  23. Evan

    I started making my own marachino cherris for my boyfriend who loves to drink manhattans and found that they are so easy (and much better!) to make. I take the original recipe as listed above and add 1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped to each jar. You can also use two dried old pods if thats all you can find (i recently ran out of fresh).The cherries become so lightly sweetened by the vanilla that I’ve also started to eat them on top of vanilla ice cream! Next step, chocolate cover…

  24. Bryan

    Anything with banana is good, but add vanilla bean and plop it in a pie, and you got a winner!

  25. Kathy

    I looooove this sweet potato recipe, I serve it for thanksgiving and it’s a surprise from just whipped sweet potatoes with marshmallow.


  26. Chris Thompson

    I’ve never cooked with vanilla beans before, but some of those recipes look mouth-watering.

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