Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Homemade vanilla extract couldn’t be simpler. All you need are two ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans. And of course, time. This vanilla extract is delicious, easy and makes the perfect gift. Pair them with homemade sugar cubes.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

It’s time that we set some time aside to lean into our crafty side and make this. Our later self will thank us. And it couldn’t be simpler. Buy some vodka. No need to flex on this purchase; just buy the medium-grade/cheap stuff. I went with Smirnoff. And get some vanilla beans. Homemade vanilla extract is perfect to put in these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or my favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Why Make Homemade Vanilla Extract 

I love making homemade vanilla extract because I actually save money. I fly through vanilla bc it’s one of my favorite ingredients to bake with. So for me it’s worth it. It’s also one of the best things to gift to someone. It’s easy, unexpected and will make their day.

You know how people insult people by calling them vanilla? I think that’s totally off base. Vanilla is actually quite complicated. It’s nuanced. And it comes from places like Tahiti, Madagascar and Mexico. When I think of those destinations, I don’t think of bland and boring. I think beautiful, exciting and interesting. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract: with vodka and bottles

Differences Between Vanilla Beans 

Vanilla beans originate from Mexico. When the colonizers from Spain conquered the Aztecs, they returned to Spain with many things that were stolen, including vanilla beans. For a really long time, vanilla beans were exclusively grown in Mexico due to the special climate and pollination that allowed it to thrive in the area. Here are the most common vanilla bean types: 

  • Mexican Vanilla Beans – They are sweet and deeply-spiced. Think of a sweet vanilla flavor with a hint of clove. 
  • Madagascar – Sweet and mellow. I like to make my vanilla extract with madagascar beans. 
  • Tahitian – More fruity and floral. 

Where to Buy Vanilla Beans 

You can buy them at a spice store. I usually buy them off Amazon and it makes the whole process super easy. Going to grocery store to buy them isn’t the greatest option because they usually sell them for about $8 each. I purchased a bag of 25 for about $25. 

Vanilla Beans

How Long Does It Take

I find that it tastes best if you wait 6 to 8 months. BUT, I used the vanilla at month 4 of my last batch and it was pretty delicious. If you want you can add an extra bean in there to speed up the process.

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. I made about 4 bottles so I just quadrupled the recipe below. You can scale it up an or down how you like. 
  2. Start by warming up the vodka.I like to warm up the vodka because I find that it helps kick off the extraction process. You do not want it boiling hot AT ALL. Just warm to the touch. 
  3. Split open the vanilla bean pods to expose the beans inside. Add them to the jar.
  4. And then pour the warm vodka over them. Seal the lid and label it with the date. Every few days you want to give it a shake.
  5. After the initial few days, feel free to return to it for a shake very week or so. In 6 to 8 months, it’ll be ready to use. You may find it’s ready to use at the third month. It kinda just depends. 
Bottles with vodka and funnel

How to Gift Homemade Vanilla Extract

If you start the vanilla process right now, it’ll be a great gift to give for the holidays. I find that it’s nicest to just give it to them as is, with the beans and everything still in there. You can remove them if you like but I don’t see why. It adds extra flavor and people can use them if they like. Pair them with a batch of these Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies.

Tips and Tricks

  • Jars – You can use a big mason jar and just double or triple the recipe if you like. I I found these jars to be great with an attached lid.
  • Funnel – I find funnels to be a super useful thing to have in the kitchen. I’ve had these for a few years and they come in handy!
Homemade Vanilla Extract Bottles Pre-Extraction

Recipe FAQs

Can I make alcohol-free vanilla extract?

You can use food-grade glycerin to make vanilla extract if you like. I haven’t tried it but the internet tells me you would make it the same exact way. It would be just a substitute 1:1. This will give you alcohol-free vanilla extract!

Can I speed up the time?

Unfortunately you can’t. It really does need 6-8 months to extract properly. Warming up the vanilla does help kick off the extraction process.

Can I use another alcohol besides vodka?

Yes, you can use bourbon or tequila if you like. Just note that it will impart those two flavors profiles into all of your baked goods. I like vodka because it’s flavorless–just vanilla!

Looking for recipes to use you Vanilla Extract? Phew, I have a lot of them!

If you tried this Homemade Vanilla Extract  or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!

5 from 6 votes

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 minute
Extraction Time: 180 days
Total: 180 days 6 minutes
Servings: 7
Homemade vanilla extract couldn’t be simpler. All you need are two ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans. And of course, time. This vanilla extract is delicious, easy and makes the perfect gift. 

Ingredients 

  • 5 to 6 vanilla beans, (from Madagascar, Tahiti or Mexico)
  • 8 ounces vodka, (or bourbon or rum)
  • Bottle
  • Funnel

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat, add the vodka. Warm it up until it’s warm to the touch. No need to take it to a boil. You just want it a bit warm.
  • Using a paring knife, split open the vanilla bean pod to expose the beans. Add them to the bottle you’re using.
  • Pour the vodka over the beans and close the lid. Label the bottle with the name and date. Store in a dark place. Every few days, in the beginning, you want to give it a shake. After those the first week, you can just give it a shake every week or so.
  • Store in a dark cool place and in 6 to 8 months, you’ll have beautiful homemade vanilla extract.

Notes

Equipment: 
Bottles | Madagascar Vanilla Beans (Pack of 10) | Madagascar Beans (Pack of 25) | Funnel
Tips and Tricks:
  • Jars – You can use a big mason jar and just double or triple the recipe if you like. I I found these jars to be great with an attached lid.
  • Funnel – I find funnels to be a super useful thing to have in the kitchen. I’ve had these for a few years and they come in handy!
Making Alcohol-Free Extract
Food-grade Glycerin can be substituted 1:1 

Nutrition

Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 0.3mg | Potassium: 0.3mg | Iron: 0.003mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
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Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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