Browse our brilliant collection of vanilla recipes, including Simon Hulstone's passion fruit and vanilla cheesecake, Angela Field's easy vanilla cake, Paul Heathcote's bread and butter pudding, and Chris Horridge's crème brûlée.
Vanilla (from the Spanish vaina, meaning "little pod") is one of the most expensive spices in the world, and prized for the intense flavour achieved from infusing ingredients with the whole pod, or scraping out the internal seeds to add directly to dishes.
Used frequently in puddings, vanilla is a classic addition to crème brûlée. You can also find it in Geoffrey Smeddle's Eton mess recipe where it adds oomph to his meringue, and in Adam Gray's poached pears recipe, where vanilla is added to the poaching liquid for a warm, fragrant infusion.
As an easier alternative to the pods, good quality vanilla extract can be readily purchased as a liquid in bottles and makes a handy addition when baking; see how Adam Gray uses just a few drops of vanilla to add an extra dimension to a traditional apple and blackberry crumble recipe.
Don't overlook vanilla in savoury recipes - it works surprisingly well with fish and seafood. A perfect example is Marcello Tully's sea bass recipe with coriander and vanilla sauce.