Homemade Vanilla Extract (Plus FREE Printable Labels!)

Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

Spoiler alert for all of my friends and family reading the blog today:

I made everyone homemade vanilla extract for Christmas this year!!! 🎄

That’s right — you get a free vanilla, and you get a free vanilla, and you get a free vanilla, and — did I mention I made SO MUCH VANILLA?!

Actually, this is one of my favorite gifts to give away.   It’s a gift that’s super quick and easy to make with just two ingredients.  It’s a gift that’s super affordable, especially in large batches.  It’s a gift that I know just about all of my friends will actually use. (And bonus — they can also re-use it for a second round of vanilla if they simply refill the bottle with vodka.)  And, thanks to the cute homemade labels that my friend, Kelly, designed for me this year, it’s a gift that looks so good it doesn’t even need to be wrapped.  Win-win-win.

Of course, homemade vanilla extract is also the gift you can totally make for yourself, and I’ve included instructions (plus a new video!) below if you’d like to make a big batch.  But if you’re interested in making some of the small bottles pictured above, I’ve also included a small-batch recipe below, plus step-by-step instructions and supplies (all available on Amazon) and a 🎉FREE🎉 printable PDF of the vanilla labels that Kelly made for me.  Seriously, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea, it took me about an hour to make three dozen of these.  And thanks to Amazon Prime, you can totally have these ready in a few days.

Let’s make some vanilla extract!

All you need are vanilla beans and vodka to make delicious homemade vanilla extract. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

Alright, the ingredients for this couldn’t be simpler — vanilla beans and vodka!  A few notes on each though:

  1. Vanilla Beans: Really, you can make vanilla extract with just about any kind of vanilla beans (i.e. Madagascar, Mexican, Tahitian, you name it).  They can get pretty pricey in regular grocery stores, so I usually either buy mine online (ordered these vanilla beans recently from Amazon) or I also love buying them at Costco.  The fresher and softer they are, the easier they will be to slice open.
  2. Vodka: The one thing I’d encourage you not to do is splurge on pricey vodka for this recipe.  The alcohol is the least important thing here, and it’s going to absorb all of the flavor of the vanilla beans anyway.  So feel free to grab a cheap bottle (in bulk, if you’re making a big batch!) and trust me, it’ll do the trick.  Also, some people recommend making vanilla extract with bourbon or brandy, but I feel like the taste is noticeably different and distracting with those.  So — while I love bourbon and brandy — I’m definitely in the vodka camp for this recipe.

(Edited: To answer some of your questions about making homemade vanilla extract without alcohol, I’ve learned that you can make it with food-grade vegetable glycerine in place of vodka.)

All you need are vanilla beans and vodka to make delicious homemade vanilla extract. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

Once you’re ready to make your extract, simply slice open all of your vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle, so that those magical little seeds are all exposed.  (<– You don’t need to scrape them out, just leave ’em in there.)  Then place your beans in your jar/bottle, and fill the rest of the jar up with the proportional amount of vodka (see ratios in the recipe below).

Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

And — this is the only hard part — make yourself wait at least a month before opening and using the vanilla.  I prefer to wait at least 6 weeks, to be exact.  Because the longer the beans soak in there, the darker and more flavorful your vanilla extract will be.  If you look above, the first jar was one I filled yesterday, versus one I made a few days ago, versus one I made over a month ago.

Here’s a full video of the step-by-step process:

See?  So simple!
Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

If you’d like to make a large batch, just grab a large bottle or mason jar.  Anything glass with a secure lid will do.  (I used a clear version of this 1-quart bottle from World Market in the photo above, but any size of bottle will work if you use the ingredient ratio listed below.)  Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

Or, if you’d like to make small bottles, I used these 4-ounce amber (pictured just above) and clear (pictured in the opening photo) Boston round bottles.  Then I bought these Brown Kraft 2 x 4-inch labels, and printed Kelly’s cute PDF labels below on them.

Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

That said, if there’s a particular design that you love most, Kelly graciously made separate PDFs for each individual label as well (in clockwise order from top-left):

AND, here is the PDF for the sheet with all 10 different labels, as pictured above, which is what I used.  If you’re making the vanilla extract less than 6 weeks before gifting the bottle to friends, be sure to let them know what date to begin using the extract.  Otherwise, it should last for at least 2-4 years.  Also, vanilla beans usually last for at least 2 batches, so feel free to encourage friends to just refill the bottle with vodka when they’d like to make a second batch.

Alright, I think that’s everything you need to know about homemade vanilla extract!  Big thanks to Kelly for designing such cute labels (check out her other work on her website or Instagram!), and I wish you all some very merry vanilla-making ahead!

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Learn how to make homemade vanilla extract with this easy recipe and tutorial. Supplies for making cute gift-able bottles are listed above.

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka (or see note below for a non-alcoholic substitution)

Directions:

  1. Use a paring knife to carefully split each vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise, cutting halfway through the bean so that the seeds are exposed.
  2. Place the vanilla beans in a glass jar or small bottle.  (See details below.)  Then pour in the vodka so that the beans are covered.
  3. Place a lid on the jar or bottle, and give it a gentle shake.  Then store in a dark place for 4-6 weeks, until the vanilla is nice and dark and flavorful.
  4. Use as desired.  If you'd like to strain out the vanilla bean seeds, you're welcome to do so.  But I recommend leaving the beans in there -- that way, you can continue to top off the vanilla with more vodka as you use it, stretching out the beans so that they last for about two bottles' worth of vanilla.

For the 4-ounce small bottles, you will need 2 beans per jar.  (I cut them in each in half to fit in the bottles more easily.)

For the large 4-cup bottle, you will need 16 beans.

Cooking time listed above does not include the 4-6 weeks needed for the vanilla to soak.

*Most real vanilla extract that you purchase at the store is made with alcohol.  But if you would like a non-alcoholic version, I've read that you can substitute food-grade vegetable glycerine in place of vodka.  The same ingredients amounts and instructions in the recipe above apply.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

This post contains affiliate links.
Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract with this easy recipe, which includes (free!) printable labels. Perfect for holiday gifts! | gimmesomeoven.com

Leave a Comment:





Comments

  1. Hana — December 16, 2016 @ 9:43 am (#)

    I was just wondering if there’s anything you can replace the vodka with if you don’t drink?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 8:58 am

      Hi Hana — you can use food-grade vegetable glycerine. We hope you enjoy!

  2. Monica — December 16, 2016 @ 11:16 am (#)

    Those labels are sooooo cute!

  3. Sara @ Last Night's Feast — December 16, 2016 @ 12:12 pm (#)

    I had no idea this was so easy! So cool

  4. Josh @ The Kentucky Gent — December 16, 2016 @ 12:31 pm (#)

    UM, love this idea! Never realized it was this easy to make it yourself, and I’m definitely going to add this to the to-do list for this weekend. Thanks for sharing Ali!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 8:58 am

      Thanks, Josh — we hope you have fun with it! :)

  5. Sarah — December 16, 2016 @ 2:31 pm (#)

    i LOVE this! what a fun recipe to know and to be able to easy tell others about or make for them!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 9:04 am

      Thanks, Sarah — we hope you have fun making some! 

  6. Susan — December 16, 2016 @ 3:33 pm (#)

    It would be fun to make my own vanilla extract.  Perhaps I’ll need to get some Tahitian beans when we visit in 2018.  Since we have made Limoncello, which I think takes 3 months, I’m sure I’d have the patience to wait long enough for vanilla.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 9:02 am

      Yes, and it’s so much better than the store-bought stuff! :) We hope you enjoy!

  7. Shelly Mathes — December 16, 2016 @ 4:31 pm (#)

    Good job, I love these. I am doing this next year, going to like make this in September so folks can use them when they get them for the holidays. Many thanks for providing the recipe and supplies. I love those labels too! Great gift!

  8. Debbie Gramkow — December 16, 2016 @ 5:56 pm (#)

    Hi Ali, I’ve thought about doing this before and haven’t, since I don’t bake a lot. But now I have more incentive, as I have the recipe amounts and incentive to make some for friends as hostess gifts, etc. I’m also interested in your ideas and comments upon trying your Instant Pot! I bought the big one from Amazon Prime recently but haven’t used it Yet! Thanks.
    Deb

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

      Thanks, Debbie — we hope you have fun with this if you give it a try! :) And we love the Instant Pot, it’s awesome! :)

  9. Ginger — December 16, 2016 @ 6:06 pm (#)

    I would love to make this but i was wondering if you could tell me how long the shelf life is for the vanilla extract? I don’t use it very often but would like to have some of the home made when i do use it. Also if i have extra vanilla beans, how should they be stored to stay fresh? As you can see i’m new at all of this. Thank you so much for posting all the great recipes.

  10. Monica — December 16, 2016 @ 8:31 pm (#)

    What a great gift idea. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing recipe. 

  11. Precious @ Precious Core — December 16, 2016 @ 8:32 pm (#)

    Wow! I should try this sometime.

  12. RHONDA @ CHANGE IN SECONDS — December 17, 2016 @ 3:50 am (#)

    Homemade is the way to go, thank you for the recipe!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 7:03 pm

      You’re welcome, Rhonda — we hope you enjoy it!

  13. Julia @ HappyFoods Tube — December 17, 2016 @ 8:38 am (#)

    I never thought making vanilla extract was sooo easy! Gotta give it a go! Thanks for the idea!

  14. Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog — December 17, 2016 @ 10:53 am (#)

    Wow, this is a super cute idea! It’s so easy too. Is there anything I can substitute vodka with?

    Charmaine Ng

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 18th, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

      Hi Charmaine! You can use vegetable glycerin instead. We hope you enjoy!

  15. Japanese dog breeds — December 17, 2016 @ 5:47 pm (#)

    I totally made this, this year! It is looking fantastic!

  16. Roger — December 17, 2016 @ 6:29 pm (#)

    Love the labels, thank you!  I normally make a LARGE batch, being 1.75LT of vodka to 1/2 pounds of beans that have been chopped into 1/2″ segments.  You can use the vanilla after 30 days but I usually wait to rebottle at 3 months and then let sit for an additional 3 months.  With the price of Madagascar beans, I have gone to Tahitian beans from either Amazon or directly from VanillaproductsUSA.com.

  17. Roger — December 17, 2016 @ 6:45 pm (#)

    Not sure about a replacement for alcohol but you can use any white liquor like gin or rum.  I use a mid-grade vodka, 90 proof but 80 proof also works fine.

  18. Ronda La Duke — December 18, 2016 @ 7:26 am (#)

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  19. Amy — December 18, 2016 @ 7:33 am (#)

    I began making this in September!  Is it normal to have small chunks floating in the bottle?  I’m guessing it’s vanilla bean pieces- but when watching your video it doesn’t look like yours has anything in it.

    • Ali — December 18th, 2016 @ 9:48 am

      Awesome! And yes, small little vanilla floaties are totally normal. I strained them out for the bottle in the picture, but they’re also totally harmless if you just leave them in. :) Enjoy!

  20. Maria — December 18, 2016 @ 10:37 pm (#)

    What a great idea!!! Also, your labels are adorable.  My friends and fam are all getting granola – I spoiled the “surprise” with a post as well haha.  Any Vodka suggestions?  I am always a bit weary of vodka. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 22nd, 2016 @ 9:23 am

      Thanks, Maria — we hope you enjoy this! No need to use any fancy vodka here — honestly, any kind will work just fine — like Smirnoff. :)

  21. Asiya — December 19, 2016 @ 6:11 am (#)

    I made this extract and my family loved it…Never thought I could ever make it as I always used to buy a store bought vanilla extract…

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 22nd, 2016 @ 9:14 am

      Awesome, we’re so happy it was a hit!

  22. Jeff Stern — December 19, 2016 @ 8:26 am (#)

    I like to make this too. And better yet, you can also do it with your used vanilla beans-after scraping out seeds and using, and/or soaking beans in cream or other liquid for the recipe, I rinse off the beans and save them. Then put a bunch of them in a large bottle of vodka for 6+ weeks and you still get amazing vanilla extract.

  23. norm — December 23, 2016 @ 11:41 am (#)

    Tried this before, but scrapped beans,will try your recipe ,mine didn’t turn out,may be it was the Vodka, or was too impatient. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — December 23rd, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

      We hope you enjoy this one, Norm!

  24. Christine Hoffman — January 8, 2017 @ 6:13 pm (#)

    Hi Ali,
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I had made a batch several years ago but had no clue I needed to cut open the bean. I will try a second batch soon following your recipe. The labels are super cute too…thank you for sharing.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 11th, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Christine — we hope you enjoy!