Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Homemade vanilla extract is so simple and will give your recipes an incredible flavor and aroma. Learn how to make your own vanilla extract at home with just a little time and two ingredients.

homemade vanilla extract in a bottle with a vanilla bean in front.

This recipe is so simple and easy to make and will add so much incredible flavor to your baked goods. It also will make a fun, homemade gift for the foodie in your life.

Ever notice how expensive vanilla extract is? And the imitation stuff isn’t filled with vanilla at all. Even pure vanilla can have added sugar or water to it.

Vanilla is one of those ingredients that seems subtle, but is such a crucial part of a recipe and gives it so much flavor. From pancakes to cookies to lattes to muffins, it adds such a warm and delicious depth of flavor.

Skipping it may leave you with a flavorless recipe. Making extracts at home (you can find my lemon extract here) literally takes minutes and will save you money.

homemade vanilla extract in a glass bottle with a gold lid laying on a tan towel

Tips:

  • You want to split the vanilla bean in half or chop it up to help the alcohol infuse more and give it a richer, deeper flavor.
  • Grade B vanilla beans will work perfectly. You don’t need to get the more expensive, plump, grade A beans.
  • When you run out of extract, you can fill it at least one more time before the full flavor of the beans runs out.

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homemade vanilla extract in a glass bottle with a gold lid on a cream colored towel

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe Ingredients:  

Vanilla Beans: 10 to 15 beans – You can find vanilla beans at some grocery stores or specialty grocery stores (like a co-op or Whole Foods). You can also find them on Amazon. You want to look for grade B beans. These beans are specifically used for extracts. There are different kinds of beans – Mexican, Tahitian, and Madagascar.

Any of these will work, but will have slightly different flavors. Mexican has a bolder, more smoky flavor that is generally less popular. It’s all about preference.  

Vodka: 750 ml (around 3 cups) – While my natural instinct is to buy the cheapest I can find, you want to get a quality vodka. While vodka is the most common alcohol to use, you could also use brandy, bourbon, or rum. Vodka usually has a cleaner taste, but any of the alcohol stated previously will work.  

You need 4-6 beans per cup of alcohol if you are wanting to make it on a small scale.

Tools you may need:

Cutting board

Knife

Jars

Funnel

homemade vanilla extract in a glass bottle with a vanilla bean to the left and a cream towel in the background

Is homemade vanilla extract better?

It definitely can be. You have complete control of the quality here. The quality of the ingredients you use, the deepness of flavor… it’s all in your hands.

Many store-bought extracts contain fillers, sugars, or may not contain vanilla at all. By making this yourself, you know exactly what is going into it.

How long does homemade vanilla extract last?

It can easily last years without a problem. Indefinitely, even. Knowing me, I would toss it after a year or so, but because alcohol is a good preserving agent, it will last a long time. 

What is the best alcohol to make vanilla extract?

You want an 80-proof alcohol and can use vodka, brandy, bourbon or rum. Vodka is what vanilla extract is typically made from, giving it a cleaner, better flavor, but the others also work well. You don’t have to buy super expensive alcohol, either.

Just buy a semi-decent, middle-ground, 80-proof alcohol.

Is it cheaper to make your own vanilla?

Yes. Purchasing pure vanilla extract can be really pricey. The cheapest I’ve seen for a small 4 oz container is around $8. Making your own could be as little as $0.66 an ounce.

Buying and making vanilla in bulk will also help you save money. Bulk beans are cheaper than just buying a few beans at a time.

Can you reuse vanilla beans to make more extract?

Yes. Vanilla beans are packed with so much flavor that they can easily be used at least two times for extract and multiple times for other recipes before their flavor and aroma are depleted.

Just refill the jars with more vodka when you run out.

You could also make vanilla-infused sugar by taking the used beans and placing them into sugar. One bean per cup of sugar is all you need. Place sugar in a jar with the bean(s), seal it, and allow it to infuse for one week before use.

homemade vanilla extract in a glass bottle on a cream colored towel with a vanilla bean to the left

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract:

  1. Clean and sterilize bottles.
  2. Take vanilla beans and split them in half.knife slicing vanilla bean on a wood cutting board
  3. Add the vanilla beans to the bottles. 
  4. Pour vodka over beans and cover.vodka being poured over vanilla beans in a glass jar.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place.a glass jar of vodka with vanilla beans in it to make homemade vanilla extract
  6. Shake once a week for 2-3 months.
  7. It will be ready to use in as little as two months, but the full flavor will develop in six months.

Find more easy, homemade recipes using vanilla:

Tried this recipe and loved it? I would love if you would come back and give it 5 stars. Please and thank you!

homemade vanilla extract in a glass bottle with a vanilla bean to the left and a cream towel in the background

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract is an easy and delicious way to add flavor to baked goods.
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Author: Amy
Prep Time: 5 minutes
180 days
Servings: 146 teaspoons

Ingredients

  • 12-18 vanilla beans
  • 3 cups vodka

Instructions

  • Split vanilla beans in half.
  • Place vanilla beans in clean bottle.
  • Pour vodka over the beans.
  • Place lid on bottles.
  • Store in a cool, dark place.
  • Shake once a week for 2-3 months.
  • After 2-3 months, it should be a nice dark color, rich in vanilla flavor and ready to use. Wait until six months for a fuller, richer flavor.

Notes

  • You want to split the vanilla bean in half or chop it up to help the alcohol infuse more and give it a richer, deeper flavor.
  • Grade B vanilla beans will work perfectly. You don’t need to get the more expensive, plump, grade A beans.
  • When you run out of extract, you can fill it at least one more time before the full flavor of the beans runs out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tsp | Calories: 12kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade vanilla extract, vanilla extract recipe
Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @ablossominglife or tag #ablossominglife!

This post was originally published in February 2012 and updated May 2020.

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