What Does Vanilla Smell Like?

The aromatic allure of vanilla is a sensory experience that transcends time and culture. Derived from the cured and dried pods of the vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia), the complex fragrance of vanilla can evoke many emotions and memories. At the heart of this captivating aroma is vanillin, a phenolic aldehyde, but the richness of vanilla’s scent profile is a symphony of various volatile compounds.

 vanilla beans flowers isolated

Source: Volosina/Shutterstock.com

Vanilla is a popular fragrance for bath and body products, candles, and more. Here at Homesick, we offer a variety of candles featuring a sweet scent, similar to that of tonka bean. (Visit our blog to find the answer to “What does tonka bean smell like?”) Let’s explore what vanilla smells like and how you can experience its incredible aroma for yourself. 

What Vanilla Smells Like

Vanillin is responsible for vanilla’s characteristic sweet, creamy and slightly spicy notes. This phenolic aldehyde is a key contributor to the overall olfactory experience and creates a foundation for other aromatic compounds, including eugenol, coumarin, phenols and trace aldehydes. Each compound adds its own unique character, weaving a complex fragrance that unfolds with every inhalation.

Vanilla’s warmth goes beyond its sweetness. Balsamic undertones impart a comforting quality reminiscent of cozy environments, baked goods straight from the oven or even subtle woodiness. These nuances enhance the overall richness of the scent, making it a sensory journey. Last, the complexity of vanilla extends to subtle spicy or floral undertones. Depending on the source and processing method, hints of clove, cinnamon or delicate floral notes may be present. 

Experience the Scent of Vanilla for Yourself

Discover All of Our Candle Scents

Whether you already know you love vanilla or want to experience it for the first time, we have you covered. Homesick candles featuring vanilla notes include: 

New Orleans Candle

Indulge in the essence of the Garden District with our New Orleans candle. Immerse yourself in the aroma of blooming gardenia flowers reminiscent of the historic charm that graces the district. The festivities of Mardi Gras come alive with top notes of zesty orange, aromatic bay leaf and the tempting scent of warm beignets. As you explore the mid notes, encounter the allure of allspice, the lush fragrance of gardenia and the subtle sweetness of rose. Grounded in the rich traditions of the Big Easy, our candle’s base notes include sugar, vanilla and musk. 

Birthday Party Candle

birthday party candle

Celebrate the sweetness of life with our Birthday Party candle. Elevate your senses with top notes of rich butter, velvety cream and the comforting essence of vanilla. As the celebration unfolds, delve into the heart of the fragrance with notes of pure sugar cane, luscious caramel and a touch of allspice. The base notes of bright citron, warm tonka bean and cocoa add depth to this sweet scent.

Canada Candle

Imagine sipping a Double Double while enjoying buttery pancakes drenched in maple syrup. Smell the cozy warmth of butter, maple and vanilla, followed by the comforting blend of lily, amber and oakmoss. The final touch: notes of eucalyptus and fir needles to capture the essence of the great outdoors. Light our Canada candle for a simple yet immersive experience.

Gryffindor Candle

Step into the Wizarding World™ with our Gryffindor™ candle. Notes of lemon zest, nutmeg and the comforting scent of a crackling fireplace form this fragrance’s top notes, while cedarwood and cinnamon mid notes and sandalwood, amber and vanilla base notes form a complex aroma. Light the Gryffindor candle and let the magic unfold!

Home Office Candle

Upgrade your workspace with our Home Office candle. Fresh air, water lilies and amber create a refreshing start, while the energizing touch of cinnamon keeps you focused. Mid notes of oud, heliotrope petals and cinnamon provide a boost, and the grounding base notes of patchouli, guaiac wood and vanilla bring a calming finish. 

Northern California Candle

Homesick Northern California Candle

Experience vanilla with our Northern California candle. Its top notes of pear, vanilla and amber blend with mid notes of musk, clove and apple to form a captivating scent, while sugar and cinnamon base notes add a touch of sweetness. Light it up for a simple and delightful experience that captures the essence of Northern California’s natural beauty.


The scent of vanilla is not just a fragrance. It’s a sensory experience. The symphony of vanillin and other aromatic compounds creates a sweet, warm, complex scent that delights the senses. Whether experienced in a comforting candle or a luxurious perfume, the smell of vanilla continues to captivate and comfort.