The Costco Vanilla Extract Professional Bakers Can't Get Enough Of

As the rising tide of inflation turns the idea of filling your cart full of groceries from an uneventful daily chore to a fraught financial ordeal, the popularity of discount supermarkets will continue to grow. One of the most popular economical grocery store franchises is Costco. The company has in excess of 100 million members worldwide, who for the relatively small price of $60 are granted access to the chain's massive selection of bulk pantry items and daily deals. If trekking through a cavernous Costco has you feeling peckish, employees sprinkled around the store can give you free food. These snacking stations are so abundant that TikTok is making full meals out of Costco free sample courses.

Costco's popularity is such that even nonmembers have likely heard about its $4.99 rotisserie chicken deal, but did you know that the franchise also offered a $29.99 pair of Calvin Klein jeans? The chain retailer also made a foray into trendy spice blends with its Kirkland Signature Sriracha seasoning. For March of 2023, the chain offered savings on salmon and cereal bars. For some chefs browning Costco aisles, the first stop has to be at the baking aisle, where bottles of pure vanilla extract are available at a ridiculously low rate.

Costco's Pure Vanilla is beloved by bakers

Pastry chef Keya Wingfield, who won the Food Network competition series "Spring Baking Championship," feels that Costco's pure vanilla extract is one of the most important purchases that a baker can make. Writing for The Kitchn, she explains that the Costco brand bottle of fragrant essence is among the best commercially available vanilla extracts, and moreover, it is incredibly affordable.

In a separate The Kitchn article, food columnist Meghan Splawn, encouraged by the advice of celebrity baker Shauna Sever, also tested the Costco extract. While she felt that the generic vanilla was less aromatic and flavorful than Nielsen-Massey's Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract, a popular name-brand extract, she also concedes that Costco's option is much more affordable.

In her recently published piece, Wingfield asserts that a 16-ounce bottle of Costco vanilla extract will run you $11.99. While it's possible that Wingfield happened upon one of Costco's constant bargains, former chef and writer Lizzy Brisken, who loves the Costco extract bottle's sheer size, said in Business Insider that the vanilla costs $15.99, which lines up with the price posted on the official Costco website. However, the extract has been subject to some extreme swings in price — one Costco Facebook post from 2020 reveals that a bottle once cost $24.89.

Buying Costco vanilla extract is a wise economic decision

Vanilla extract is so expensive because vanilla is an incredibly fickle crop. Vanilla beans require specific conditions to grow and are primarily grown in Tahiti, Mexico, and Madagascar. The price of vanilla extract has grown considerably in recent years, and it doesn't seem likely that the cost will fall in the future.

Fortunately for home bakers who are watching their finances, a little bit of vanilla extract can go a very long way. Many recipes call for no more than a teaspoon of the stuff. With this in mind, picking up a bottle of Costco vanilla extract becomes an even more sensible decision. A single 16-oz bottle, which will run you just under $16, contains roughly 96 teaspoons of vanilla extract. That's enough flavor to churn out countless batches of sweet treats. For example, if you were to make this chocolate chip cookie recipe with your newly purchased bottle of Costco vanilla, you could churn up enough batter for around 768 cookies.