How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is super simple to make at home and it’s more economical to make than to purchase at the store. This is all you need:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients:

  • 6-12 high quality vanilla beans (We purchased our from saffron.com)
  • Bottle of vodka

Simply split the vanilla beans in half length wise

Place them in the vodka.

I poured some vodka into a quart canning jar because I wished to avoid the plastic bottle the vodka came in. In order to ensure the vanilla beans were submerged I cut them into smaller pieces. If you’re not weird about plastic (or you purchase your vodka in a glass jar), you can simply slip the vanilla beans right into the jar.

Shake

and wait.

I did tell you it was easy.

Your vanilla extract will be ready to use in 3 – 6 months.

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17 Responses to How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
  1. Annie
    May 8, 2012 | 8:37 am

    I have never made homemade vanilla but what a great idea for gifts too!
    In a side note, I have a friend who makes her own vanilla too and once she was grocery shopping and picked up a huge bottle of vodka for just that purpose when she suddenly realized that people from church might see her with a giant bottle of vodka in her cart! She said she zoomed thru the store hoping not to see people she knew or lead others to believe she was really enjoyed her alcohol! It was funny to hear her tell the story! I feel the same way when we buy beer for beer bread!

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  2. amy
    May 8, 2012 | 9:42 am

    How do you know when it’s done? Is there a way to tell when it’s ready for use?

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  3. Mama Squirrel
    May 8, 2012 | 11:00 am

    Annie, if it’s the same beer bread as we make (without yeast), you can use a can of de-alcoholized beer and it still works fine.

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  4. Joy
    May 8, 2012 | 11:23 am

    Great minds must think alike! I just posted a tutorial about this yesterday! I’ve been making vanilla extract for the past 3 years, and it is one of my favorite homemaking tasks…so fun and easy! :)

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  5. Astrid
    May 8, 2012 | 11:32 am

    You can also take castor sugar and some pieces of vanilla beans, put them together in a jar. After a while when you open the jar the smell of vanilla comes out of it and it is ready to use.

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    Everetta Winchell Reply:

    Astrid, does it taste the same? I want to eliminate the alcohol.

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    Astrid Reply:

    Everetta, the difference is: -that you use liquer with a vanille taste and I use sugar with a vanilla taste. -that you use more of the extract then I have to use of the sugar. My preparation is called vanilla sugar and yours vanilla extract. The difference in taste is that my vanilla tastes real sweet (like sugar with vanilla taste), we use it for baking cakes etc. Hope you can do something with this answer.

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  6. Laura W
    May 8, 2012 | 12:49 pm

    My mom made me some for Christmas using brandy. I think you can use different alcohol for different taste in your vanilla. I never realized, but if you look on store-bought vanilla it says 35% alcohol!

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  7. Jenn
    May 8, 2012 | 9:47 pm

    Yes, real vanilla extract is made with alcohol. I have never made this myself but am wondering if you need to strain this after it sets, like for sediment from the beans? Or just use it? Have you ever tried seeing what imitaion vanilla extract is made from? PAPER!!!! Not kidding, look it up!

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  8. Wendy
    May 9, 2012 | 7:32 am

    I have made vanilla extract before and also vanilla sugar. My vanilla didn’t turn brown though. It was clear like water. After I made my extract I took the beans out and let them dry for a day and then put them in a jar of regular granulated sugar. It was very nice and vanilla-ey. The recipe I followed put a simple syrup (sugar and water) into the extract too. I don’t think it did anything except water down the flavour so I wouldn’t do that again.

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  9. Shannon
    May 9, 2012 | 12:50 pm

    Just checked out the website you mentioned, because vanilla beans are $3.99 for 2-3 beans in my grocery store. They have like 4-5 different types of beans, which one’s did you order and since they have a $12 minimum order what do you do with the rest of the beans?

    Lastly, I have read that after you make your extra you can redry your beans and use them in homemade ice cream or to make vanilla sugar(you can do this over and over until they stop imparting the vanilla flavor to your sugar.

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    Stephanie Reply:

    I went on Amazon and found a bulk distributor selling 1/2 lb. of vanilla beans for $25 including shipping. That is a LOT of beans but all of our holiday gifts were straight beans (we have a number of friends who bake and were thrilled to receive a bunch of vanilla beans), vanilla sugar or homemade extract and I still have quite a few left. End of year teacher gifts will be vanilla sugar as well.

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  10. Lisa Joy
    May 9, 2012 | 3:01 pm

    Question- you said to use 6-12 vanilla beans, but how much of the vodka do you use? This sounds like a really great idea! Thanks!

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  11. Everetta Winchell
    May 10, 2012 | 9:27 am

    There is a place in Wichita Ks called Food for Thought that sells it in bulk by the pound, so you could buy just a few if you want. Not usre how much shipping is.

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  12. Cindy Watson
    May 13, 2012 | 8:52 am

    yes, the one question…do you strain the beans out after six months and I’m assuming no refrigeration is needed even after but want to clarify! Thanks!

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    Stephanie Reply:

    I leave the beans in the big 750ml bottle and take them out when I transfer finished extract to small bottles.

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  13. Genieve
    May 15, 2012 | 3:14 pm

    I love this recipe! My sister in law gave us the ingredients to make our own vanilla extract a couple years ago and it worked really well. We didn’t even split the beans, just dropped them whole in the vodka bottle. Once it was ready (a few months later), we poured some in a smaller bottle with a spout and put it in my kitchen cupboard. We then bought more vodka and poured it into the original vodka bottle (using a funnel of course) which still had some liquid and beans in it and added a couple more vanilla beans. This has been our new process for having good vanilla extract at home :)

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