Nilla Wafers are versatile little cookies that can be used in various ways — whether you’re craving something sweet, looking to add a little crunch to your snack, or wanting to make a pie crust that’s out of this world.
If you ever discover that you’re out of Nilla wafers and can’t get it in your nearest grocery store, or maybe you just want to branch out and try something new, we have a solution for you.
You can use other suitable Nilla wafers substitutes, such as pretzels, animal crackers, graham crackers, ladyfingers, sugar wafers, biscotti, and pirouette cookies!
What Are Nilla Wafers?
Nilla, short for vanilla, has a rich and distinct taste that is reminiscent of the familiar sweetness of a freshly baked cookie.
Of course, Nilla Wafers are not normal cookies — they are crispy and light, with just a hint of vanilla. Nilla Wafers are the perfect light, crispy snack for every occasion. They’re great with milk and ice cream, but they’re also delicious on their own.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday party or just relaxing at home, you can always enjoy the simple taste of Nilla Wafers.
Historically, the name “Nilla” was originally registered as a trademark in the United States by Nabisco in 1899.
In 1961, Nabisco built a new factory in Richmond, Virginia, for the sole production of Nilla Wafers.
In 1981, Nilla Wafers were featured on a U.S. postage stamp as part of the “Celebrate the Century” series for the 1900s.
Nilla wafers contain the following ingredients:
- Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid)
- Vegetable Oil Shortening (Soybean and Palm Oil)
- Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate)
Best Nilla Wafers Substitutes
1. Graham Crackers
Graham crackers are cookies made from graham flour and have a strong molasses flavor.
Graham crackers and Nilla wafers are similar in many ways. They’re both made from flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. For example, they have similar nutritional profiles.
However, there are some important differences between them too:
The main difference is that graham crackers are made with whole-grain flour, whereas nilla wafers are not.
Graham crackers contain more fiber per serving than nillas; however, nillas tend to be much lower in fat and sodium than Grahams.
Furthermore, Grahams usually come in four packages, while nillas typically come in boxes containing six individually wrapped cookies each (and sometimes even eight).
But if you ask me, those differences don’t count much. You can use them interchangeably since they contain similar ingredients and flavors.
In the end, the winner is Graham Crackers because they have more fiber than Nilla Wafers.
I know most people will go running for nilla wafers again. But hear me out. Try Pretzels!
Pretzels are a delicious snack that provides a great source of carbs and protein, while Nilla Wafers provide almost nothing but sugar.
Also, pretzels are not only lower in sugar than nilla wafers, but they also don’t contain high fructose corn syrup.
Pretzels are great for your digestive system and can help keep your gut bacteria in balance.
You can use both in your meals, but consider replacing Nilla Wafers with Pretzels as a healthy alternative to promote a balanced diet.
Pretzels are made from flour and water and then baked into crispier sheets of dough, making them perfect for dipping in sauces and even topping with cheese or other foods.
3. Animal Crackers
If you can’t find Nilla Wafers, try animal crackers.
Animal crackers have been around since 1902, and they have been making waves in the cookie industry ever since.
While animal crackers are generally considered kids’ cookies, we argue that anyone who likes nilla wafers can enjoy them.
They’re fun, even if they are made with fewer ingredients and more natural ones than many other snacks.
Forget about the shape; ladyfingers and Nilla Wafers are quite similar.
They both have a similar texture, and they’re both made with flour, sugar, eggs, and other basic ingredients.
However, there are some differences between the two cookies that are important to note.
That being said, you can use them interchangeably. But be mindful of their flavors.
While Nilla Wafers have a vanilla-forward flavor profile (made even richer by the buttery shortbread nature of the cookie), Ladyfingers have an egg-forward flavor profile.
5. Sugar Wafers
Sugar Wafers and Nilla Wafers indeed have a lot in common.
They both have 113 calories per serving, they’re both made with mostly white flour and sugar, and they both have the same number of ingredients (7).
But they’re not quite the same.
Nilla Wafers are made by Nabisco, while Keebler makes sugar Wafers.
Nilla Wafers come in chocolate, too, while Sugar Wafers don’t.
This is a huge flavor difference. I won’t say it’s a suitable substitute.
But if you’re looking forward to trying something new, give sugar wafers a shot.
Biscotti is a hard Italian cookie that was first made in the 7th century by Roman soldiers who needed food that would last through long military trips.
It comes from an ancient Latin word meaning “twice baked.” It has since become very popular in Tuscany and all over the world.
I’d vote biscotti as a nilla wafers alternative because they have similarities.
They both have a crispy texture. They’re both made with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter.
However, they do have some differences, too though. Nilla wafers are flavored with vanilla bean, while biscotti is flavored with anise or anise extract.
Biscotti also has nuts and is baked twice to give it its crunchy texture.
Lastly, biscotti is twice-baked, which means it has a harder surface than the soft vanilla cookie.
Because it’s not as easy to crumble, it can make for a good snack on its own — but you couldn’t dip it into tea as you can with Nilla Wafers.
7. Pirouette Cookies
Pirouette Cookies can replace Nilla Wafers in a dessert. They are made with real butter; whole Nilla Wafers are made with vegetable oil.
Although, Pirouette has more sugar.
Most importantly, though, Pirouette Cookies have an average of 0.7 grams more protein per serving than nilla wafers.
Pirouette Cookies have more than twice as much calcium and fiber as Nilla Wafers.
That’s not to mention their 10% more iron and almost 30% more vitamins A, C, D, E, and B6.
Plus, you can find Pirouette Cookies in various flavors, including chocolate hazelnut, vanilla cream, and caramel coconut.
Do you still want your nilla wafers?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Do I Find Nilla Wafers?
Nilla wafers are the best cookies around. The only problem is they’re not that easy to find at your local grocery store. When I’m looking for Nilla wafers, I always go to Walmart. There are usually some boxes in the cookie aisle.
If you’re having trouble finding them, try asking an employee! If all else fails, you can get Nilla wafers on Amazon. You can even sign up for a subscription, so you never run out!
Do Nilla Wafers Have A Shelf Life?
Yes. The box says they’ll be good until a certain date. That’s all the information you need to know. It’s important to try to keep your wafers in a cool, dry place (like the cupboard) and away from anything you might consider to be “fresh” (like bananas or oranges).
The best way to store your Nilla Wafers is in an air-tight container that’s also waterproof and resistant to mold — that way, they’ll stay safe while waiting for you to order the rest of your groceries online. So you can binge-watch Netflix instead!
Are Nilla Wafers Cookies Or Crackers?
Nilla Wafers are, of course, cookies. Think about it: have you ever heard of anyone putting peanut butter on a cracker?
Of course not!
That’s because crackers aren’t sweet. And Nilla Wafers are sweet. The sweetness of the wafer comes from sugar and vanilla extract. But is that all there is to be a cookie? Not at all! There’s also the texture.
The powdered sugar on top gives the wafer a light, crispy texture — almost identical to the delicate crunch.
But what’s inside is what matters: the soft, doughy insides give Nilla Wafers their cookie cred — so much so that they’ve been used as a base for everything from cake to banana pudding to strawberry shortcake over the years.
What Are Nilla Wafers Made Of?
Nilla wafers are made with different ingredients, such as enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and Palm Oil with TBHQ for Freshness), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Eggs, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, and Soy Lecithin.
So that is the end of the list. Try using these alternatives if you ever need a substitute for Nilla Wafers but are unsure of what to make.
The tastes are similar, and you will not be able to tell the difference.