Homemade Vanilla Extract

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This homemade vanilla extract recipe is super easy to make with just 2 ingredients!  Plus, be sure to check out our PDF for cute printable vanilla extract labels that you can download for free.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Looking for a fun DIY gift to give to your loved ones this holiday season?  Or if you happen to be a baker, are you perhaps looking to cut your costs a bit on price store-bought vanilla extract?

Consider making your own homemade vanilla extract! ♡

It’s just about the easiest thing in the world to make in just 5 minutes with 2 easy ingredients.  And the taste of homemade vanilla extract is extra rich and flavorful, especially when you get to choose the types of ingredients and strength ratio that you prefer.  I’ve also long been a fan of making my own homemade vanilla extract because it tends to be considerably cheaper than its store-bought alternative, especially when you are making a big batch in bulk.  You can even re-use the beans in a jar of homemade vanilla extract, which will make it even more affordable!

So for anyone interested in giving it a try, here is my go-to homemade vanilla recipe and how-to video.  I have also included a supply list if you would like to package your vanilla extract up in cute little bottles for gifting, plus a free printable label PDF (designed by my talented friend, Kelly) that you are welcome to download too.  And for those of you looking for a non-alcoholic vanilla extract, I have included an option for you below as well.

Ok, let’s make some vanilla!

How To Make Vanilla Extract | 1-Minute Video

Type B Vanilla Beans for Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract Ingredients:

As I mentioned above, all you need to make homemade vanilla extract are two ingredients — vanilla beans and vodka!  A few important notes on each, though, before we get to the recipe down below:

  • Vanilla beans: Really, you can make vanilla extract with just about any kind of vanilla beans (Madagascar, Mexican, Tahitian, you name it).  But they can get pretty pricey in regular grocery stores, so I typically either buy mine online (such as these vanilla beans from Amazon).  The fresher and softer the beans are, the easier they will be to slice open.
  • Vodka: No need to splurge on pricey vodka for this recipe!  The alcohol is going to absorb the flavor of the vanilla beans, so feel free to grab a cheap bottle of 80-proof vodka and it will do the trick. Alternately, you can use bourbon, rum or brandy instead.  But note that different alcohols will slightly change the flavor of the vanilla extract.  So if you are looking for the traditional flavor of store-bought vanilla extract, I recommend sticking with vodka.
    • Non-alcoholic option: While most store-bought pure vanilla extract is made with alcohol, you can also use food-grade vegetable glycerin in place of the vodka.  I recommend ordering it online.  And as always when cooking with vegetable glycerin, be sure to double-check that the product is food-grade.  (Some types of glycerin are not meant to be eaten.)  I recommend using 3/4 cup glycerin + 1/4 cup water in place of the vodka.  And also, be sure to note that glycerin vanilla extract will only last for one year.

Vanilla Extract Supplies:

To make homemade vanilla extract, you will also need the following supplies:

  • Jar/bottle(s): You can either use small bottles (I used these 4-ounce amber or clear bottles), a large bottle (like this 1-quart bottle), or mason jars to store the vanilla extract.  Basically, any glass jar or bottle with a secure lid will do.
  • Bottle labels (optional): I used these Brown Kraft 2 x 4-inch labels with the 4-ounce amber bottles and loved them!  See below for the downloadable label template.
  • Funnel (optional): If your jar/bottles have a small spout, a small funnel will make it much easier to pour in the vodka.

How To Make Vanilla Extract

How To Make Vanilla Extract:

It couldn’t be easier to make vanilla extract!  Simply…

  1. Open the vanilla beans.  Very carefully, use a paring knife to make a slit lengthwise down the middle of your vanilla beans, halfway through the bean, so that those magical little seeds are all exposed.  (No need to scrape out the seeds — they will absorb into the extract as they sit.)  Place the opened vanilla beans in your jar/bottle.
  2. Add vodka. Then fill the rest of the jar up with the correct amount of vodka.  (See ratios below.)  If needed, tuck or fold the vanilla beans in half so that they are completely submerged in the vodka.  Seal the jar tightly with a lid and store in a dark, cool place.
  3. Wait.  Next, you must wait at least 8 weeks before using the vanilla extract.  I actually prefer to wait for 3-4 months before I open and use mine, because the vanilla flavor continues to intensify the longer the beans sit.  Then once it is ready to go…
  4. Use in your favorite recipes!  Give the jar a good shake, and use the vanilla extract in all of your favorite recipes!

Refilling Your Vanilla Extract:

The great news about homemade vanilla extract is that you can continue to refill the bottle with vodka as you use it!  One batch of beans should yield at least two batches of vanilla.  So just continue to add in a bit more vodka each time you use it, and your homemade vanilla extract recipe will yield double the initial amount over time.

Large Batch Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract FAQ:

How can you use homemade vanilla extract? Homemade vanilla extract can be used in any recipes that call for vanilla extract.  I’m especially partial to using it cookies this time of year.  But it can be used in all kinds of baked goods, pancakes, ice creams, drinks, and more.

How do I make double-fold vanilla extract? Double-fold vanilla extracts are made with twice the amount of vanilla beans as traditional store-bought (single-fold) vanilla extracts.  As such, they are typically twice the cost.  But you are welcome to make your own by doubling the amount of vanilla beans in the recipe below.

Can I use different kinds of alcohol? Yes, as I mentioned above, bourbon, rum and brandy would also work well as a base.  Just be advised that they will slightly affect the flavor of the vanilla extract, so it may taste a bit different than the typical store-bought variety.

Can I use water instead of alcohol? Unfortunately no, it’s not safe (think: mold) and will not yield the same flavor.

What is the difference between Type A and Type B vanilla beans? Type A vanilla beans (known as “gourmet” or “prime”) have a much higher moisture content and release their flavor more quickly into a dish, but the vanilla flavor itself is not that strong.  By contrast, Type B vanilla beans (known as “extract grade”) are drier and take longer to release their flavor, but the vanilla flavor itself is much more concentrated and ideal for vanilla extract.  Clearly, Type B is the way to go here!

Is there a difference in the flavor of vanilla beans from Madagascar, Mexico, Tahini, etc? Yes!  According to Nielsen-Massey, Madagascar vanilla beans are full, sweet, creamy and mellow with velvety after-tones.  Mexican vanilla beans are deep, creamy, with a spicy-sweet character like clove or nutmeg.  Tahitian vanilla beans are floral and fruity with a cherry-like flavor.

How much does homemade vanilla extract cost?  The price of vanilla beans can dramatically fluctuate from year to year.  But as an example, this year I purchased a 750 ml (3.1 cup) bottle of vodka for $15.  Plus 10 vanilla beans for $18.99.  Thus, a 1-cup (8-ounce) batch of vanilla cost me around $12.60, which is about the same price that you would pay for a regular 4-ounce bottle at the store.  Thus, about half the price, plus it tastes even better!

Free Printable Labels for Vanilla Extract

Free Vanilla Labels PDF

Free Printable Vanilla Extract Labels:

As I mentioned above, I used these 4-ounce amber (pictured just above) and clear (pictured in the opening photo) Boston round bottles.  Then I printed the above PDF on these Brown Kraft 2 x 4-inch labels.

You can download the free PDF with all 10 different labels (as pictured above).  Or, if there’s a particular design that you love most, you can print a sheet with just one individual label as well.  Here are the links to those PDFs (in clockwise order from top-left): Happy Vanilla!, Happly Vanilla (with confetti), Vanilla, Homemade Vanilla, Homemade Vanilla, Mmmm, Vanilla Extract, Mmmm, Vanilla, I Made This Vanilla For You!, Vanilla Extract, Homemade Vanilla.

If you are making the vanilla extract less than 8 weeks before gifting the bottle to friends, I recommend also writing the recommended use date on the label too.

Enjoy, everyone!

Print
Homemade Vanilla Extract

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Description

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


Scale

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Open the vanilla beans. 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. Combine ingredients in a jar.  Place the vanilla beans in a glass jar or small bottle.  Pour in the vodka and submerge the beans so that that they are covered.  Place a lid on the jar/bottle, and give it a gentle shake.
  3. Store.  Store in a dark place for at least 8 weeks, until the vanilla is a dark amber color.
  4. Use and enjoy.  Use in any recipes that call for vanilla extract.  If you would like to strain out the vanilla bean seeds, you can do so with a fine-mesh strainer.  But I recommend leaving the vanilla beans with their seeds in the jar.  That way, you can continue to gradually refill the bottle with more vodka as you use the vanilla extract.  (The beans will last for at least two batches of vanilla extract.)


Notes

For a 4-ounce (1/2 cup) small bottle:  You will need 2 beans and 1/2 cup vodka per bottle.  (I cut the beans in each in half to help them fit in the bottles more easily.)

For the large 4-cup bottle: You will need 16 beans and 4 cups of vodka per bottle.

Non-alcoholic option: In place of 1 cup of vodka, you can substitute 3/4 cup food-grade vegetable glycerin plus 1/4 cup water.

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

 

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47 comments on “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

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

  2. Those labels are sooooo cute!

  3. I had no idea this was so easy! So cool

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 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

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

  11. Wow! I should try this sometime.

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

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

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

    Charmaine Ng

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

  16. 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. 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. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  19. 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.

    • 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. 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. 

    • 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. 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…

  22. 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. 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. 

  24. 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.

  25. I have been making this for years and there is nothing better. The only thing that I do different is I use black rum (not spiced). Give it a try.

  26. “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..

    I have some in a cupboard above my refrigerator that has been there for years and it just gets better with time.

  27. 5 stars
    So easy and friends went crazy for this, they thought so fancy. Thanks

  28. Thanks for this wonderful recipe, I will be putting it together so I can use it God spare my life in the coming years you are my one and only Vanilla Extract Saver whose spreading the love of vanilla extract around the WORLD. Thanks to my Sister In Christ We can spread our love through recipes. Love You God Bless and have a Happy Thanksgiving

  29. 5 stars
    Hello there!! I came from your ” The perfect cookie” recepie blog I found on Pinterest. Can you believe I love that cookie recepie so much I unknowingly pinned it three times!! 😂 I’ve made it more times than I can count I should have memorized it by now. I almost always double the recepie so I can form half into a log and freeze it for when those homemade cookie cravings hit or a last minute party dessert and I’ve even gifted them a few times. I saw the homemade vanilla highlighted and followed the page. I used the last of mine today for the cookies and I just go through so much. So why not save some extra cash and make my own. Ive actually already searched some places and found some reasonably priced Madagascar vanilla beans so I’m already ahead of the game as I saved the link. Can’t wait to get started!! It’s Sept and I’m definitely gifting some…maybe alongside those yummy cookies for Xmas! One month….that’s not so bad. It looks like it’s worth the wait for those two for one smaller bottles. You can’t beat that!! Thanks so much and to Kelly for the adorable labels. xoxoxo

  30. 5 stars
    I make 6 quarts of homemade ice cream at least 6x every summer, plus fudge, cookies, cakes, etc. Guess how much I dreaded the outlay for store bought vanilla (that isn’t what it used to be)?! No more…THANK YOU, Ali and Hayley!!!

  31. Where can I find the vanilla beans. The local grocery that I shop at doesn’t carry them. I’ve tried a few other stores and when I ask about them, they look at me like I just asked for weapons grade petroleum. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

  32. Superb vanilla and so easy! I’ve made homemade vanilla for years for myself and as gifts and always suggest reusing the beans for another batch. I also dry the beans and make vanilla sugar to use in my coffee/tea and baking. Just bury the bean in a tightly sealed container, wait a few weeks and enjoy the results. I buy vanilla beans at a local food co-op; much cheaper than online plus I believe in buying locally.

  33. In the long run, this would definetly be cheaper to make than buying grocery extract. Great idea! I will have to try this.

  34. I bet popping this in the microwave for 30 sec intervals would speed up the process. It works with oak in whisky. :)