Is Vanilla Extract Halal?

is vanilla extract halal

Vanilla extract is produced from the vanilla plant, which is the most expensive plant after saffron. Among its many uses, it’s found in perfumes, cakes, and ice creams.

Almost all scholars agree that vanilla extract is halal since it does not cause intoxication when consumed in large quantities.

History of Vanilla

It is amazing anyone has ever tasted vanilla since it is a mysterious Mexican orchid that is so difficult to grow. A significant portion of the past 500 years has been dedicated to growing and perfecting vanilla plants.

In the late 19th century, wood pulp and clove oil were used to create vanillin, the scent that gives vanilla its sweetness.

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How Is Vanilla Extract Made?

Vanilla extract can be made in two ways: naturally and artificially.

Natural Vanilla Extract

natural vanilla extract

The natural method is the costly one as it involves the expensive vanilla plant which is rare. By slicing open vanilla pods and soaking the beans in ethanol, natural vanilla extract can be made.

The ethanol is in high amounts here and some say it’s more than 30% which is why some Muslims think vanilla extract is haram.

Actually, the final product has amounts of alcohol but vanilla extract is only used in certain amounts just for flavorings for example cakes and ice creams. The final product let us assume cakes it is. You can never get intoxicated no matter how much cake you consume.

The same is the case with ice creams or any other product in which natural vanilla extract is involved. One can never get drunk and that is why it is considered halal.

Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem has explained it perfectly in this video:

Artificial Vanilla Extract

The mostly vanilla extract used worldwide is artificially manufactured as pure vanilla is rare and expensive.

Synthetic vanillin can come from wood pulp waste, clive oil, pine bark, or coal tar. It doesn’t involve any alcohol or any other haram ingredient. Hence artificial vanilla extract is totally halal.

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Fatwa On Vanilla Extract

fatwa on vanilla extract

I have found many scholars who have given their verdict on vanilla extract as being halal whether it is artificially or naturally made.

Generally, Islam tells us that if a certain food or drink does not intoxicate you in large amounts then it is halal in small amounts as well.

Islam QA states:

“Eating vanilla is permissible even though it was mixed with alcohol during preparation for two reasons: 1- alcohol is not najis (impure), 2- alcohol does not have any effect on vanilla.”


Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“Do not think that any ratio of alcohol that there may be in a thing makes it haram; rather if the ratio is such that it will have an effect, in the sense that if a person drinks this liquid that is mixed with alcohol he will become intoxicated, then it is haram. But if the ratio is very small and has diminished and left no trace, and it does not have any effect, then it is halal.”

This means that even if the food or drink has alcohol present in it it won’t be considered haram unless it can make you drunk if you consume it in high amounts.

A fatwa on a question asked regarding cake containing vanilla extract:

“As to percentage, do not think that any percentage of alcohol in a thing makes it unlawful; rather if the percentage of alcohol has an effect whereby when a person drinks this mix, he becomes intoxicated, then it is unlawful. But if the percentage is very small without effect, then it is lawful. For example, a percentage such as 1%, 2% or 3% does not make the beverage unlawful. Some people misunderstood the hadeeth that states, ‘Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden,’ to mean that if a small percentage of an intoxicant is mixed with a large amount of a substance that is not intoxicating, then it is unlawful. This is a misunderstanding of the hadeeth. ‘Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a little of it is unlawful’ means that if a lot of something will cause intoxication, and a little of it will not cause intoxication, then a lot or a little are both unlawful, because you may drink a little that does not cause intoxication, then you may be tempted to drink more and become intoxicated. But if something is mixed with alcohol, while the alcohol content is a minute amount and does not have any effect, then it is lawful and does not come under the ruling of this Hadeeth.”


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Final Thoughts

Vanilla extract can be made artificially and naturally. 99% of the vanilla extract found globally is artificially made as pure vanilla is rare and super expensive.

Artificial vanilla extract does not contain any haram ingredient and is halal.

Natural vanilla extract is made with high amounts of alcohol but it is used in small amounts just for flavorings. The final product is not intoxicating in large amounts so is considered halal in small amounts as well.

And Allah Knows Best.

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