Vanilla Extract Is Your Secret Weapon For Stunning Caramelized Veggies

Vanilla is the world's favorite flavor, according to the spice and season maker McCormick. In fact, Synergy Taste reports that food and marketing research group, Datassential, found that 81% of people enjoy the taste of vanilla. Whether you are baking brownies or frying up pancakes, MasterClass states that the sweet liquid solution known as vanilla extract is created by bathing whole vanilla beans in alcohol and can enhance the flavor of many foods. According to National Geographic, the Aztecs used vanilla to flavor chocolate while, later in history, the French would use it in ice cream, inspiring Thomas Jefferson to bring the recipe for this luxury back to America.

Today, vanilla extract and flavoring are found in drinks and foods around the world. Real vanilla is expensive, McCormick says it can run you $115 per pound, but it's beloved in the cooking world. Its taste, per Thrive Cuisine, is subtlety sweet and caramel-like to the taste buds. And while it is wonderful in cookies and cakes, vanilla extract is also your secret weapon for stunning caramelized veggies.

Vanilla intensifies the flavor of caramelized veggies

MasterClass describes caramelization as the "non-enzymatic browning reaction" that occurs when the sugar in the vegetables are breaking down. This process not only causes the vegetables to turn brown but also changes the flavor of the food giving it a sweet and savory taste. But according to Honest Food Talks, if you want to truly up your caramelized veggies, add a little vanilla extract to them. The cooking site explains that as the sugar in the extract starts to disintegrate, the vanilla and evaporating alcohol flavors become intense, adding a bold sweetness while at the same time making the vegetables browner in color from the process.

The Vanilla Queen concurs that vanilla extract is a wonderful addition when caramelizing onions for onion confit. What vegetables should you consider adding this extract to? Robin Miller of AZ Central suggests that when choosing vegetables to caramelize, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, and other related vegetables work best. However, if you are worried that the vanilla extract might be too strong for your caramelized veggies, Real Simple reassures you that adding it to your savory foods will not overpower them. So, the next time you are caramelizing vegetables for a roast or onions to pile on top of a burger, add some vanilla extract. Your taste buds will thank you.