Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yes. You read that correctly. Homemade Vanilla Extract. It is SO easy to make. I go through very large quantities of vanilla, as you can probably imagine so to me this was worth not having to make an extra trip to Williams-Sonoma (or pay shipping) every few weeks to get the stuff I like. I highly recommend going on Amazon.com to order the vanilla beans. At the local grocery store I have paid, in the past, $16 for a jar that held 2 vanilla beans. On Amazon I paid $25 for a half pound of them - that came to about 60 beans. Totally worth it. I gave away 4oz bottles to just about everyone I know for Christmas and kept a large jar for myself and I still have plenty of beans left over to make lots more. So you have lots of options for flavor. First off the alcohol. Yes, pure vanilla extract is basically just booze and vanilla beans. So you need a high proof alcohol, like 80 proof. Rum, Bourbon, Vodka all will do. Typically you see bourbon vanilla in the stores but if you want just the pure vanilla flavor you may prefer the vodka. You are going to use 3 vanilla beans per cup of alcohol. You need a jar it can sit in and a dark cool place to put it. This stuff has to sit a while. I was making such a large amount that I just poured some of the bourbon out of the enormous costco bottle I bought and stuck the beans in the jar. Don’t worry I didn’t throw the extra bourbon out. I put the rest of it in a mason jar and made more! I also tried doing a vodka one in a mason jar. You also have to decide on the type of bean you want. There are madagascar and tahitian and all sorts of others. The madagascar is the most popular with the full, rich vanilla flavor and tahitian has more of a fruity flavor.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Prep time
Total time
Recipe By:
Serves: Makes 1 cup vanilla extract
  • 1 cup preferred alcohol
  • 3 whole vanilla beans
  • jars to store it in
Preparation Instructions
  1. Slice each of the 3 beans length-wise leaving it connected at the top.
  2. Place the beans in the jar you have chosen.
  3. Pour in one cup booze.
  4. Close the lid on the jar.
  5. Set it in a cool dark place for 2 months.
  6. After 2 months it is ready to use!
  7. That’s it!


  1. says

    Wow!! You are amazing. Who ever thought of creating their own vanilla extract. Much better way then spending a bunch of money on the store bought stuff. Great idea. I will have to try it out. Thanks for posting this.

  2. shari says

    What a great idea, the only problem is we don’t have drinking alcohol in our house, I understand that vanilla extract has alcohol in it, does one need to use a drinking alcohol?

    • says

      Shari, you would need to use a food grade alcohol for sure, but you need something that will ‘extract’ that vanilla flavor from the bean and that is why alcohol is used. Of course the alcohol is cooked out when you use it for baking/cooking leaving you with the vanilla flavor. I don’t usually use this vanilla in things like icing that is not cooked because it does have a distinct bourbon flavor to it. But I purchase bourbon just for this and for a few other recipes I use it for. We don’t drink it at all 😉

  3. Thea Dingo says

    Sorry for being late to this party, but you mention in the last comment, above, that you wouldn’t use this vanilla in an uncooked thing like icing because of the bourbon flavor. If you used vodka, would you have to worry about that? Since regular vodka has no flavor, it would be perfect for making vanilla for icing, no?

    • says

      Sorry, I should have said you need to be careful about it (depending on your desired effect and your crowd of course) it can get rather strong when you add too much and it’s not cooked, but you certainly can use it. Vodka probably would work nicely for that, I never thought of it – perhaps next time I make some I’ll try it and see or if you try it, let me know. I typically will add a teaspoon of the bourbon to a batch of icing though and it comes out just fine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: