Homemade Vanilla Extract Is Simple & Easy to Make

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Follow this simple recipe to make your own pure homemade vanilla extract. It is a fun project to do at home with friends and is great to give away as gifts!

Picture this – you’re in the grocery store and your healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for pure vanilla extract but you’re trying to save money on groceries and the imitation vanilla is much cheaper. What do you do?

Good news. You never have to choose between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla extract again.

By following this simple recipe, you will learn to make your own homemade vanilla extract. Don’t worry, this is a fun project and making it is very easy to do.

Homemade Vanilla Extract


  • 1 bottle (750 ml) of 80+ proof vodka, rum, or bourbon (80 proof = 40% alcohol)
  • 12 vanilla beans (find vanilla beans here)



Begin making homemade vanilla extract by using the funnel to remove approximately ½ cup of vodka from each bottle to make room for the vanilla beans. Using your cutting board and knife, slice each vanilla bean lengthwise along one entire side of the bean. Place the beans in the vodka bottle, replace the lid, and shake. Store the vanilla for 2-3 months in a cool, dark place.

Shake the vanilla once per week to agitate the beans and speed the extraction process.

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

When we began…

Homemade Vanilla Extract

When we finished…

Homemade Vanilla Extract

How it looks after one week of storage…

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Final Thoughts

Based on the ease and savings of this project, making homemade vanilla extract is a simple and fun project and gives you a high-quality product!


About Matt Jabs

Matt loves to inspire others to save money and live more sustainably. He is passionate about eating local, living simply, and doing more things himself. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Darla Taylor says

    Di you have any recipes for making almond extract? As good as the vanilla extract can be, my preference is almond extract.

  2. Jennifer says

    Sorry if this question is already in the comments but there are so many to read through. I am excited to try this recipe but wondering if you use all 12 beans in one bottle of vodka? You mention 1 bottle but in your picture, there are three bottles. If I need to purchase more than one bottle of vodka, how many beans do I cut for each bottle? Thank you.

  3. Debra Jo says

    I made some vanilla extract for Christmas as gifts and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Bought my beans from beanilla.com

  4. Liz says

    Hey just found this site and hope you can help. I have a batch about 6 weeks out and it has now turned cloudy. Is it still good? the other two bottles I started at the same time are clear. Did I do something wrong? I used beans from a different source for that bottle than the other two–could that be the issue?
    Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks

  5. Sharon says

    If the vanilla lasts only 2-3 months, why would you make so much at one time. I would never use that much in that length of time.

  6. Jeremy says

    I think I cut the whole bean lengthwise and cut into the bean itself. 🙁 So I am only supposed to cut the outside peel per say?

    • Julie says

      @ Jeremy – I cut into the whole bean lengthwise – not in half completely – but I know I cut inside the bean itself as well – I have had no issues – you’re good, no worries- make sure to shake the bottles though to help it along in the process.

  7. Jeremy says

    I am about a month into the process and I notice there are vanilla droppings at the bottom, looks like part of the inside bean. Obviously these wont look pretty as Christmas gifts so I am going to strain them out with cheesecloth. Have I done something wrong?

    • Julie says

      @ Jeremy – Nothing done wrong – there will be some of that during the process, just pieces of vanilla bean. Straining will be ok. I am three days away from my first batch being done and it’s amazing to watch it. (I did actually use some for pie on Thanksgiving and it was fine – my in-laws didn’t know I made it and when they sniffed it said, “it’s vanilla extract, why are you asking” lol.

  8. Rachael says

    Hi, I just saw this and am very eager to try it. I just have a few questions so I don’t screw it up. How many beans do you put into each bottle of vodka? Also, how long exactly should it sit before it’s considered “done” where you can transfer it to a little bottle? Where do you find the extra bottle you used for the extra vodka? Thanks so much! I’m so excited to have found this.

    • Matt Jabs says

      Glad you found us Rachel, give it a shot, you’ll love it. 12 beans per 750ml. 2-3 months should do it. The extra bottle was a gift from a friend, not sure where it came from.

  9. Heather says

    My vanilla extract is very alcohol smelling. When I use it in my homemade coffee creamer I can taste the vodka at times. Does this mean that my beans no longer have flavor?

    • Matt Jabs says

      Hi Heather. How long did you let the beans steep? Flavor extracts are made this way (by letting alcohol extract the flavors over time) so they will have a high alcohol content (just like store bought extracts). I would say just cut back on the amount you’re using in your coffee if the alcohol taste is too strong. Blessings.

    • Heather says

      The beans have been steeping for about 8-9 months. I saw on one of your other posts that you should use about 12 beans. I only have about 6, so I’m guessing that’s my problem.

  10. Nicole says

    Hi! is it a problem if the vanilla bean floats a little bit on the top of the liquid? It has contact with the air that separates the liquido from the cork. Thanks!!

  11. Rachael says

    I was going to use rum instead of vodka because we already have some in the cabinet, but do you think dark rum is ok? Or should I open the new bottle of clear rum?