Whole Bean Vanilla Cookies

Snappy, small, fragrant, vanilla wafer cookies made with a whole vanilla pod. The entire thing!

Whole Bean Vanilla Cookies

I was pulling the sad remnant of a vanilla bean from a bag of sugar the other day, and it got me thinking about using whole vanilla beans. The entire pod. I'm sure this isn't a unique concept, but for whatever reason, it's not something I'd ever considered before. I started thinking it through a bit, and landed on the idea of pureeing a whole pod in a food processor to use in something. Perhaps adding some sugar to bulk it out the vanilla bean a bit. After a bit of experimenting, I landed on these little cookies. I love them! Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies

These cookies are super simple to make - snappy, small, and fragrant, with a sloppy kiss of vanilla, and a right hook of salt to balance everything out. Any tiny pieces of vanilla bean that survived the processor are a bit like having vanilla-kissed flecks of raisins cut into the dough.

Whole Vanilla Bean CookiesWhole Vanilla Bean Cookies

I made the cookies with a blend of rye and all-purpose flours, but I suspect you could make them using either all-purpose flour, or whole wheat pastry flour without any trouble. And, as far as the vanilla bean goes, the key is starting with a good pod, one that is pliable and from a reputable source. I tested these with Nielson-Massey beans because I know many of you have access, and they seem to be widely distributed.

Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies I love sharing these as part of a cookie plate, or cookie gift box alongside other favorite cookies. You can have a look at all the past cookie recipes, or jump right into these favorite shortbread, sables, snickerdoodles, puddle cookies and the like! Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies Have you all come across other whole vanilla ideas/recipes? - I've held off googling.

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Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies

5 from 2 votes

What to look for in a vanilla bean - good source, pliable - the best beans I've ever purchased are plump, but not suspiciously plump.

  • 1/2 cup+ / 2.5 oz /70 g powdered sugar
  • scant 1/4 cup / 1 1/2 oz / 45 g granulated sugar
  • 1 pliable vanilla bean, cut into segments, ends trimmed if tough
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons / 4 oz / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g rye flour
  • 1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g all-purpose flour
  • a touch of sugar/salt for topping
  1. Place the sugars in a food processor along with the vanilla bean segments. Pulse for a couple minutes, until the bean is really broken down, then pulse in the salt. Add the butter and vanilla extract and pulse until combined, check to be sure there aren't any big vanilla bean chunks, pulse a bit more if so, the butter should be creamy and light at this point. Add the flours and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball, 5 - 10 seconds.
  2. Because this dough is on the sticky side, place it in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper, then cover it with a second piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or until well chilled. Heat the oven at this point to 350F / 175C while the dough is chilling.
  3. Stamp out cookies with a cookie cutter, and arrange an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with bit of sugar, and a hint of salt if you like (be carefull not to use too much salt). Repeat with the remaining dough, which you can gather and roll out from the scraps. Chill (well) again in the fridge or freezer - particularly if your dough has warmed up. This will help prevent spreading. Bake in the top and bottom-thirds of the oven for 10 - 15 min, or until golden. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


Crispy little cookies are my favorite, and what a great idea to use the whole pod in such a creative way. I can't wait to make these! Thank you!

Jill @ 42potatoes

There's nothing quite like vanilla bean in flavour and colour - love how the dots of black speckle the cookie!

Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

I've never actually tried using whole vanilla beans before, but these look like the perfect opportunity to try. The rye flour seems so interesting - I can't wait to see what kind of flavor it brings to the cookies!

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

There is something about simple vanilla that is so good and comforting.


Can't wait to try these. The rye flour sounds intriguing, yum. Love the cookie jar.

Steph Cruz

Ah! Last night I made the cinnamon vanilla sunflower butter, and sat looking at the empty vanilla pods, wondering what to do with them...they ended up in the compost, in spite of that voice inside my head that said I should save them "for something." Next time! :)


The cookies look wonderful, but can we talk about your beautiful marble countertops with the snow white subway tile backsplash? And you're renting? Your heart must have skipped a beat when you first walked into that gorgeous kitchen!


I have some vanilla sea salt but haven't found a really interesting use for it... until now. A light sprinkle on the cookie tops. I can't wait to make these.


These sound and look delicious. I will give them a go.

Tea Foodie [by Zanitea]

Do you think you could use something else other than powdered sugar here? Maybe just use all regular sugar or maybe a bit of brown sugar instead? These looks delicious and I am really looking forward to trying this receipe out! thanks heidi!


I'm all over ANYthing with vanilla beans. I would have never thought to use the entire pod. Brilliant! Love the thinness of the cookies!! Also, I want to steal that jar you have the background. :)


Do you think you could slice the cookies (like sables) instead of rolling and stamping? Thanks!


Oooooh I'd never have thought to use the entire bean, but now that you've posted this, the idea sounds [smells??] heavenly!!! :)


Lovely idea....i like how your recipes are so unique!


The closest I come to using the whole pod is making vanilla extract or when I steam the cream with the pod when making your whipped sweet potatoes. (Absolutely AMAZING dish, btw.) I love the idea of pureeing the pod. I'm going to try it soon.


Lovely idea....i like how your recipes are so unique!


Sloppy vanilla kiss, heh. Using the whole vanilla pod is not something I've tried, but I like the idea of making something from it rather than tossing it. Especially cookies! I think I've seen Noelle of xobreakfast put a used vanilla bean pod in her coffee grounds before brewing that morning's cup.


ohhh, these look wonderful--I was wondering if they were chewy, though...because they certainly look chewy. I'm not one for really crunchy cookies...would there be a way to try and make them chewy? A certain flour or wet ingredient?


I should really start using the actual vanilla bean, huh?! Thanks for the inspiration!

Simply Life

This sounds lovely! I'm wondering whether I could "reconstitute" a very dry vanilla bean by soaking it in hot water for a few minutes before processing it with the sugars?


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