11 recipes that prove vanilla is just as good savory as it is sweet

September 20, 2016

In the US we tend to use vanilla in desserts: vanilla ice cream, vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cookies, vanilla cheesecake - but if you haven't tried vanilla in savory dishes you're totally missing out.

Whilst the French are masters at using vanilla in sweet goods (familiar favorites are vanilla cream filled eclairs, tarts and feuilletée, vanilla macarons, French vanilla ice cream and my personal favorite, crème brulee), French chefs have also been using vanilla in savory dishes for just as long. Parisian duck dishes, provincial beef stews, pasta sauces and barigoule all benefit from a touch of vanilla. To a French chef, vanilla in the main meal is not unusual at all. Likewise in many of the vanilla producing nations, fish and vanilla go hand in hand. Big fat prawns or mahi-mahi parceled in banana leaf and cooked in coconut cream and vanilla are common tropical dishes. Vanilla gives depth to chicken dishes and pork with apple is just begging for it. You can even splash a dash in your favorite pulled pork recipe and vanilla is awesome in BBQ'd chicken wings or ribs.

Don't just take my word for it, here are the best 11 savory recipes on the internet proving just how good vanilla is as a savory spice.

lobster ravioli in champagne vanilla sauce

Lobster Ravioli in Champagne Vanilla Sauce

langouste à la vanille (lobster in vanilla sauce) is the national dish of Cosmoros, a vanilla producing African archipelago nestled between Mozambique and Madagasgar. Here's a modern take on that traditional dish written out in really basic instructions, so even I can follow them.

Get the recipe from Pinterest: Lobster Ravioli in Champagne Vanilla Sauce

vanilla viniagrette vanilla salad dressing

Vanilla Vinaigrette

I eat a lot of salad and this vinaigrette has become a bit of a go to in my house recently. It's super simple and quick to make. Olive oil, white vinegar, vanilla extract, salt and pepper (I leave the sugar out but if you like it a bit sweeter go for it). Vanilla vinaigrette is particular good to dress a summer salad with berries, citrus and pecans. 

I found this recipe on food.com: Salad Greens with Oranges Strawberries and Vanilla Vinaigrette

lamb stew with vanilla

Lamb Stew with Vanilla

My husband and I received a gorgeous Le Creuset Cookware pot just like this, but in a deep red color, as a wedding present (almost 8 years ago!), so I'm a little biased towards anything presented in Le Creuset Cookware, but that aside, their lamb stew with vanilla does look really good!

I found this recipe on the Le Creuset website: Lamb Stew with Vanilla

green smoothie Heilala vanilla powder USA real

Vanilla Green Smoothie

There's no better way to start the day than with a nutritious green smoothie. Spinach is a great option for green smoothies as it is full of green goodness but isn't bitter like other leafy greens can be, add a banana for sweetness and satiety, vanilla extract or you can use vanilla powder and cinnamon for a bit more flavor. If you need a more satiating smoothie, add almond butterand blend with your choice of milk - use a plant based milk if you are wanting a dairy-free option.  

vanilla braised beef cheeks taste com au

Vanilla-Braised Beef Cheeks

As fall approaches a hearty beef dish warms everyone's bellies. A vanillla bean gives depth to this slow cook beef dish. If you don't have a whole bean on hand, you can use vanilla powder instead.

Another great recipe from Taste.com.au: Vanilla-Braised Beef Cheeks  

Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes real vanilla

Vanilla mashed potatoes

This is a great addition to family dinner time, ticking all the right boxes: It's quick, easy, inexpensive, interesting and everyone will happily devour it. Don't serve plain boring mashed spuds - get some vanilla in there and keep weeknight meals interesting.

Here's a great mashed potato and vanilla recipe from Diethood: Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes

prawns in coconut milk and vanilla

Coconut Vanilla Prawns

For another dish straight from the islands, this is a decadent dish with prawns cooked in double cream, coconut milk, vanilla and rum! Definitely one to serve with rice to mop up all that vanilla coconut goodness.

Find the full recipe here at Food.com: Tahitian Coconut Vanilla Prawns

vanilla pickled veges fermented foods

Vanilla Pickled Veggies

Fermenting foods is a hot health food trend right now - and for good reason. Fermented foods have been through a process of lactofermentation which preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, acids, b-vitamins, and various strains of probiotics. This recipe created by UK Chef Marcus Wareing, uses a couple of vanilla pods but vanilla extract would work if you don't have any beans. Not sure about magetouts? That's French for snow and sugar snap peas!

You can get the recipe here: Vanilla Pickled Vegetables

vanilla pork chop recipe fennel salad

Vanilla pork and Fennel Salad

This grilled pork chop recipe couldn't be easier. Rub salt, pepper and a de-seeded and chopped vanilla pod on a pork chop, add a bit of oil and grill it. If you really want to make it easy use ground vanilla powder instead of scraping the seeds out of the pod. You'll have this on the table in no time and it's sure to be a hit with all the family. Making pulled pork instead? Splash a dash of vanilla extract in with your BBQ sauce.

This recipe is another one from my friends at Heilala Vanilla: Vanilla Pork and Fennel Salad

 vanilla extract and vegetables recipe

Vegetables a la Barigoule

Barigoule is a provincial French dish, usually made with artichokes. Here's a modern version of it, but feel free to put artichokes in too as the edible thistle flower are full of beneficial antioxidants and are great for healthy liver function.

The recipe is from Epicurious: Vegetables a la Barigoule with Vanilla

fish in creamy vanilla sauce vanilla pods2

Fish in Creamy Vanilla Sauce

For a healthy and delicious way to tenderly cook fish, check out this coconut milk and almond recipe. This recipe uses cod fish, but your could substitute the cod for any other fresh white flesh fish you can get locally.

Get the recipe from Gourmantine blog here: Cod in Creamy Vanilla Sauce


Selecting the right vanilla products

The Heilala Vanilla plantation in Tonga, was established as a trade aid project by a New Zealand family, in partnership with a local family from the village of Utungake in Vava’u. Not only is the company founded on principles of empowering grower communities and sustainable agriculture (all the beans are organically grown) but Heilala Vanilla is the only vanilla company in the world to control their entire supply chain, ensuring the vanilla is pure and authentic which has led to the Heilala vanilla range being the most awarded vanilla in the world.

Heilala Vanilla is the Bourbon variety. It is creamy, sweet, rich and one of the strongest and most bold vanilla flavors. You can purchase in the USA from The Kiwi Importer.

heilala vanilla beans on board4

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