Is Vanilla Extract Halal?

I remember eating a few cookies with a few friends and the topic of vanilla extract being halal or not. That shocked me as I never thought a cookie or a piece of cake could be considered haram. I was determined to find out what the general understanding and concusses was on this subject in the islamic community.

The general consensus is that vanilla extract is halal and permissible as long as the alcohol level is low and not enough to intoxicate you.

What’s the deal with vanilla extract anyways? What does it do and why are some muslims worried about consuming it? Vanilla extract is commonly found in cakes and other desserts. This gets some people questioning whether the dessert they’re eating or making is halal or not.

According to a Toronto baker, vanilla extract adds the flavour of vanilla to the dessert which is easy to taste. Furthermore, it enhances the flavours of the other ingredients in the recipe (source).

Does Vanilla Extract Hav Alcohol In It?

Short answer is, Yes. Typically, there is approximately 0.1% or less of ethyl alcohol in vanilla extract. Companies use this alcohol as a processing aid and for other technical reasons. Having such a low percentage of alcohol, it is not enough to intoxicate anyone.

What Is IFANCA’s Ruling On Whether Vanilla Extract is Halal or Not

A blogger who runs a Halal Foodie blog had the same question and wanted to know if Vanilla Extract was halal and if IFANCA (Islamic Food And Nutrition Council Of America – A Halal Certifying Agency in America) does certify Vanilla extract as halal(source).

Sadaf, the owner of the blog, wrote to them and they responded by saying that after they consulted with Islamic scholars, the conclusion they came to was that vanilla extract products containing less than 0.1% ethyl alcohol that is not sourced from an alcoholic beverage (like beer, wine, and hard liquor etc) is halal and permissible for consumption (source).

Their confirmation came after conducting tests and finding that at a percentage of less than 0.1%, the ethyl alcohol is not detected by sight, smell, or taste and is not intoxicating in any quantity (source).

One common point of confusion is vanilla flavouring, and that is not the same as vanilla extract. Vanilla flavouring can contain up to 35% alcohol and not all products with that much alcohol are certified.

Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract Options

If alcohol levels is the point of concern for you when using or consuming Vanilla Extract, here are 2 Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract options we found that could be useful to you.

1- NuNaturals Plant Based Vanilla-Alcohol Free Stevia Extract Drops

Check out NuNaturals Plant Based Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract On Amazon (Link To Amazon)

NuNaturals uses glycerin made from palm oil certified by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. NuNaturals Vanilla NuStevia Alcohol-Free uses only true vanilla extract from premium vanilla beans. Their alcohol-free liquid stevia has a mellower taste than the alcohol-based liquids.

2- OliveNation Alcohol Free Gluten Free Vanilla Extract

Check out NuNaturals Plant Based Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract On Amazon (Link To Amazon)

With this vanilla flavor you can remove the alcohol and gluten from any recipe without compromising on flavor. The flavor can be maintained under high temperature and provide the sweetness you’re looking for.

Why Do Some People Deem Vanilla Extract Not Halal?

According to the General Authority of Islamic Affairs, some muslim scholars maintain that vanilla extract that has been dipped and mixed with 35% or more of ethyl alcohol not to be halal because they deem it to be intoxicating. Since they have not gotten full confirmation that it is not capable of intoxicating a person, they can not give it the halal seal (source).

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some muslim scholars deem it permissible because they view Alcohol as not being filthy and impure (najis) from a Shari’ah perspective (source) .

Here’s their full response:

their view that alcohol is not filthy and impure (najis) from a Shari’ah perspective, because the default state of things is that they are pure (until proven otherwise), whether the alcohol is pure or diluted with water, giving preference to the view that the impurity of alcohol and other intoxicants is abstract and spiritual (not concrete and physical), as  gambling, idolatry, divination and wine are all considered rijs (filth) of the handiwork of Satan (Qur’an 5:90), not just wine, and no asserts that these things are physically filthy and impure..

General Authority of Islamic Affairs (source)

They conclude their response by saying that a big part of determining whether it is halal or not is the manufacturing.

Their final recommendation was that they recommend alcohol-free vanilla extract as a substitute. They also concluded their response, similarly to IFANCA’s response, tby stating that it is permissible to consume as long as intoxication is absent.

The Islamic Organization For Medical Science Deems Vanilla Extract Halal As Long As It Doesn’t Intoxicate You

According to a response post on Islamweb, they sourced the eighth seminar of the Islamic Organization for Medical Science (IOMS), based in Kuwait, concluding that the consumption of food that has a slight amount of alcohol (used for the purpose of dissaolving materials that are insoluble in water) to be permissible.

They also pointed out that most of the alcohol is evaporated in the production process. Here’s their full response:

“It is permissible to take foods where a slight amount of alcohol is used for the purpose of dissolving materials that are insoluble in water, such as coloring agents, preservatives and so on. The principle on which this permission is based is the concept of ‘Umoom al-Balwa (i.e. permissibility due to unavoidable necessity; when a matter becomes widespread/general and is difficult to avoid). Apart from that, it is also a factor that most of the alcohol added actually gets evaporated in the production process.”

[Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatihu] Source: Islam Web

Final Thoughts on Vanilla Extract Being Halal

There are different interpretations to the hadith made by Ibn ʻUthaymeen which is

‘Whatever intoxicates in large quantities, then a small quantity of it is forbidden,’

Ibn ʻUthaymeen

Some people are on the camp that any trace of alcohol regardless of whether it intoxicates you is haram because of this hadith. While others believe that is the intent behind the consumption that matters, and that vanilla extract contains a small amount of alcohol used for the process of processing a food rather than intoxication.

As we say on HalalGuidance, the final decision is up to you and we’re just sourcing all the available information made to us to help you make your final decision.

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