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


These look delicious! I usually chop up leftover vanilla bean pods and use them when brewing tea.

Mary from Sweet Roots

this looks easy and so so delicious. i am going to make these today! thank you for an awesome post.


A great idea. I adore vanilla, it is one of the key ingredients in my kitchen. I recently made a beautiful slow cooked beef dish which included a vanilla bean. Absolutely exquisite!

Lizzy (Good Things)

I still have not bought a fresh vanilla bean to use in baking but totally think it is worth it. Next time I go to the natural food store, I'll be picking one up and baking your cookies!

Julia {the roasted root}

I sure hope you are working on another book :)




Genius, Heidi! I have some vanilla beans in the freezer. Thanks so much.



jamie @ green beans & grapefruit


jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

Yum!! I would probably eat all of these in one setting!

jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

Yum!! I would probably eat all of these in one setting!

jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

Diane - I was wondering the same thing! These cookies look delicious (I've got a stock of delicious beans that my friend brought back from Madagascar for me), but I don't have a food processor. I've never used my immersion blender for baking, but maybe it's worth a try at least for combining the beans, butter and sugar?

HS: Hi you two - so yeah, I think a processor (or something comparably powerful) is a necessity here. You definitely don't want big chunks of pod in the cookies.


These would totally satisfy my sweet craving I'm having after lunch. Lunch involved your quinoa cakes!


Uh-oh. That should be one STICK butter. 1/2 cup. And a little less than 1 c. sugar since the solids are already sweet. Sorry again.


Sorry for this non sequitur but comments on the rhubarb syrup are closed. With the rhubarb solids I made a cake like applesauce cake subbing the solids for 1 c. applesauce. 1 c. sugar, 1 c. butter, 2 c. flour, 1 tsp soda, and an egg plus the rhubarb. 40 min at 350. Then poked holes and poured some of the syrup over. Both so delicious and didn't last long. Thanks!


Don't throw away the pod..! After I scrape the seeds out of the pod, I do use the pod. I drop it into a bottle of Everclear (grain alcohol). They keep collecting in there, and after a few months, you will have dark rich, aromatic-knock-your-socks-off pure vanilla extract. I use it in recipes and it's so much better than anything I can buy (and so much cheaper). And I always have plenty so it's nice to share small bottles with friends. If you time it right, you can even make a batch for the holidays and give out cute little homemade bottles of vanilla in a gift basket or something.

Deana Gunn @ Cooking with Trader Joe's

It's always felt wasteful to throw away the pod after steeping it in something -- usually cream for crême brûlée. Without access to a food processor, I suppose I will just have to mince the beans -- or perhaps I could whip them up with the butter with my immersion blender?

Diane, A Broad

Why is it that you seem to always have the best vintage pottery!! If you find another could you please hook me up...............:-) Love the size of the cookie..........just a bite! Tea & Me will enjoy these.

Keli Aiello? Portland

YUM! I love anything with vanilla beans. Can't wait to make these!


I love vanilla cookies, reminds me of those Nabisco ones. Those in milk....

Belinda @zomppa

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