I discovered Vanilla Bean paste several months ago, and was so pleased with the results that I have been using it every since. It is the consistency of a thick syrup, and has the little black specks in it, like the actual vanilla bean, and to me it packs a lot more flavor, so I bought a 32 oz. size because it was more economical. But you can use vanilla extract if you don't have the paste. I NEVER USE IMITATION VANILLA BECAUSE IT DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH FLAVOR for my taste.