Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Vanilla. Is there a more comforting smell? Just a whiff of it brings a sense of comfort and warmth. It makes you think of cookies and cakes and Christmas… Okay, maybe I am getting carried away, but I love the smell of vanilla. And I use a LOT of vanilla.

It can get expensive buying extracts, but they add so much flavor to recipes! Even the least expensive vanilla I found (Costco brand) gets expensive when you use it a lot and it has added sugar! It is a nominal amount, but still! Who wants added sugar in their vanilla extract!

Real, good vanilla has only two ingredients: alcohol and vanilla beans. That’s it. That is all you need. No sugar, no weird preservatives, nothing else. Just alcohol and vanilla beans. And when you make your vanilla yourself you save a lot of money.

Before I go any further with this post I want to put some of your fears to ease. If you did not know that extracts were made from alcohol you may be concerned about this. (Actually some extracts are made without alcohol but they are very expensive!) Please note that when you use extracts you are using teaspoons at a time in WHOLE recipes. You need not fear the alcohol in this recipe. You are not drinking your homemade extract. I just wanted to put your mind at ease if you, like myself, are not a drinker.

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

  • Large bottle of Vodka or Bourbon (any inexpensive alcohol that is at least 40% alcohol. I used the cheapest Vodka they sell at Trader Joe’s.
  • 8-10 vanilla beans  (The type of beans in this link are the kind you want. You do not want the grade A, moist beans. Those are for baking and cooking. You want the grade B dry beans for making extracts.)
  • Scissors

That is all you need, seriously! Open the bottle of Vodka (or whatever alcohol you are using).  My bottle has a filter type top that pops off. Pop it off, you can pop it back on later.

Smell it; it smells like rubbing alcohol. Yuck! Seriously, I will never understand how people can drink that. Anyway…I digress… Remember that smell, because, oh boy, is it going to change!

Now take your vanilla beans, cut them into two to three inch pieces with your scissors and drop them into the Vodka bottle. Put your filter top back on then put your lid back on.

Place the bottle in a dark cool place and wait…

Keep waiting…

Okay, so it takes a minimum of 2 months (3 is better) to make vanilla. Your vanilla will never get as dark as the vanilla you buy in the store if you start with Vodka which is clear, so don’t think it isn’t done just because it is lighter.  Now that your vanilla is ready, smell it again. Ah, happiness! The smell of cookies, cakes and Christmas! You can use your vanilla straight from this bottle but it is really big. I kept my Costco vanilla bottle and just keep re-using it by pouring my homemade vanilla into it.

Whenever I get down to about a 2 month supply of vanilla I buy a new bottle of Vodka. I take the beans out of my old bottle and put them in the new bottle. You can use your beans at least two times if not three! See how much money you are saving! Your initial bottle will save you money, but each additional bottle you get out of the same beans saves you even more! Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Make Your Own Vanilla Extract”

  1. This is wonderful vanilla. The best I’ve ever had. Thanks for posting. I urge all your readers to try it, you won’t go back to store bought.

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