Attention, anyone who loves to bake!! What kind of vanilla do you like to use in your baking? I have been using Mexican vanilla for years, and I love it! However, one day my husband brought me home a bottle of Watkins vanilla and I knew it would turn into a taste test challenge for sure.
I first asked all my friends who liked to bake what kind of vanilla they liked to use. My great Aunt used to own her own bakery and pastry shop, and she likes Trader Joe’s vanilla. So I had to add Trader Joe’s vanilla to the challenge as well. Unfortunately, when I went to Trader Joe’s to get “their vanilla,” there were 2 kinds to choose from. So what did I do? I bought them BOTH.
So let me introduce you to the contenders:
A) Watkins Vanilla
B) Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla
C) Trader Joe’s Alcohol Free Vanilla
D) Mexican Vanilla (yes, that’s the biggest bottle of them all! What can I say, I love to bake and I use it all the time!)
E) McCormick’s Vanilla (used only in the caramels)
In order to be completely fair to all the vanilla contenders, I made 3 types of vanilla items to taste: vanilla caramels, vanilla mini cakes, and vanilla pudding sauce. We had the most volunteer judges in the history of our taste tests….maybe because this sounded like a DELICIOUS opportunity?!
This was a blind taste test and each item was given a letter. The judges were instructed to rank each vanilla into first, second, third, and fourth place.
I held two separate taste testing sessions, in order to get all the judges in! And as the sessions progressed, I soon realized that the judges were voting for DIFFERENT vanillas for the caramels, pudding sauce and mini cakes! In fact, ALL the judges had different votes except for one judge who voted for the same vanilla in first place each time.
It was apparent to me that there was not going to be a CLEAR winner in this taste test. So I had to pull in a professional analyst: my husband. He quickly drew up a spreadsheet to tally the points for each contender. Here’s how the judges voted:
For the Caramels
In first place, was Watkins Vanilla, with 11 of the 15 votes
In second place, was Mexican Vanilla, with 8 of the 15 votes
For the Pudding Sauce
In first place, Watkins Vanilla
In second place, Mexican Vanilla
For the Mini Vanilla Cakes
In first place, Mexican Vanilla
In second place, Trader Joe’s Alcohol Free
**I was surprised by the votes. I expected my favorite (Mexican Vanilla) to take first place. But overwhelmingly, Watkins Vanilla placed first by a wide margin in 2 out of the 3 tests. The interesting thing was, the judges agreed that this taste test was DIFFICULT, because there really wasn’t a bad one of the bunch. In fact, most judges agreed that each item was delicious, however, a couple judges had a slight NEGATIVE reaction to either the Bourbon Vanilla or the Mexican Vanilla.
After much analyzing and deliberation, we have declared the winner to be WATKINS VANILLA!
I am sure I will continue using Mexican Vanilla, but to switch things up a bit I am now adding Watkins to my vanilla repertoire. I should also mention that we used the Double Strength Watkins Vanilla, which contains more vanilla bean and less alcohol.
(NOTE: Many people have asked me where you can get Watkins vanilla, and so I am including a link HERE to a Watkins representative for your reference. Please note that I do not receive compensation for any vanilla purchases. However, I have been told by Jennifer that if you CALL her rather than place an order online, she may be able to SAVE you on shipping costs. I love to save money for my readers!)
So, what do you think? Do YOU agree with our results? Do you have a vanilla that you swear by? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you, judges! Stay tuned for our next Taste Test Tuesday: VANILLA ICE CREAM. (Do we have a vanilla theme going on here?) I’m looking forward to it!
May your days be filled with sunshine,