Vanillin is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean.


Also known as Vanilla imitation

What is Vanillin?

Vanillin is the predominant compound in vanilla that imparts pleasant aromatic flavor notes. It is an aldehyde that can replace vanilla extract, and is referred to as vanilla imitation. As the world’s most popular flavor, vanillin is used in beverages and food products such as ice cream, dairy products, chocolates, cakes and other baked products.1

  • Extraction of natural vanillin from vanilla beans is labor intensive, thus its use in food products is cost prohibitive.
  • Therefore, about 90% of the world’s vanillin is synthetically obtained from guaiacol, lignin or other substrates .1


Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is thought to have originated in Central and North America, mainly Mexico. Now, the Comores, Madagascar and Reunion are the main producers of vanilla. Various types of vanilla beans such as Bourbon, Tahitian and Indonesian are known with various flavor profiles.1 Today, vanillin is often produced synthetically from guaiacol or other substrates.

Chemical formula




Vanillin can serve several purposes in baked goods:1

  • Flavor and aroma: provides a sweet taste and a rich vanilla flavor and aroma.
  • Antimicrobial effects: may serve as food preservative in several dairy products.


Typical nutritional value of commercially available vanillin or “vanilla imitation”per 100 g:2

Component Grams
Water 64.5
Carbohydrate 2.41
Ash 0.22
Protein 0.05

*Composition made not add to a 100 g

Vanillin has a demonstrated antioxidant, antimutagenic, anticlastogenic and anticarcinogenic activities.1

Commercial production

Main processes for commercial production of vanillin include:

Biological synthesis from vanilla bean 1

  • Procurement of matured vanilla beans (9 months).
  • Scalding: green vanilla beans are placed in hot water at 60 - 70 oC (140 - 158 oF) for 1 - 2 min.
  • Autoclaving: vanilla beans from the previous step are later stored in boxes for 2 - 5 days.
  • Sunning and sweating: vanilla beans are spread on blankets and placed...

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