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

Ingredients

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

Supplies

Instructions

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!

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Matt Jabs

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. He also writes about Personal Finance at Debt Free Adventure. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and his +Matt Jabs Google profile.

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Comments

  1. Julie A says

    Just did my first 2 bottles of this – can’t wait to give this out as Christmas gifts! Thanks so much for sharing such a great thing! You guys are truly wonderful people! BTW, purchased your book – LOVE IT!!!! Keep up the great work! God bless!

  2. Elizabeth says

    I have a bottle of established extract, that I need to top off with alcohol. I started it with vodka, but am out. Could I switch to rum, or would that throw off the flavors?

  3. Heather says

    Great idea, but it’s a LOT of vanilla extract for me. If we’re going for inexpensive, I’ve found that buying the extract at Costco is even cheaper than making it.

    • Julie says

      It is a lot of vanilla extract lol. I did some comps with the Costco in my area since my mom challenged it and actually, cheaper for me to make it than buy it. I would assume it depends on your location and also what vodka and beans you purchase. Cheap vodka is all that’s needed, I just used Aristocrat, $6 a bottle for me in my area. I also received a great deal on the beans through DIY’s recommendation, and the beans seeped in your first batch can be reused to make another batch. It has a long shelf life and you can distribute as gifts to friends if they are into baking and such. Use it in coffee creamer or hot cocoa. You can also use some beans in some oil to make vanilla oil which is really yummy in baked goods instead of regular oil. We literally bake every day in December to the All Recipes Christmas Cookie Countdown so mine will definitely be put to use. It’s a fun thing to watch – my kids get excited to shake the bottles and we’ve taken pictures to watch it transform – it’s a nifty little science experiment.

  4. Sean says

    i havent shaken up the bottles, its almost like i dont have anymore energy to walk over to the cupboard now.

  5. kim says

    I’m SO happy to have found this site. Thank you everyone! I have lemon and orange trees. I’ll be making ALL of the above as Christmas presents. I think I’ll make “samplers” using the mini alcohol bottles.

  6. Melva says

    Question – I started my vanilla extract batch on 7/25/12. It is starting to
    become a dark brown color – will it get as dark as when you buy vanilla
    extract?

  7. Laurie says

    Where can I buy fair priced vanilla beans to make my own extract? I want to make this for Christmas gifts.Thanks!

  8. Sean says

    each time i get a notification i remember that i have two bottles that need to be shaken up….haha

  9. Quentin Packard says

    The reason to choose between imitation and pure vanilla extract is the addition of heat. Heat boils off many of pure vanilla’s subtle flavors, leaving only vanillin, ultimately wasting money without adding flavor. So the rule is, if you are cooking or baking, use imitation, if you are not cooking use pure or your excellent homemade.

    • Raja says

      I am sorry Quentin, but nothing beats real vanilla. I have been making my own for years now and even add a little glycerine for mouth feel. Fake vanilla tastes fake. There truly is nothing like the real thing whether your are cooking, baking or just adding to cocoa et cetera.

  10. Cat says

    Hi and bless you for your great information on how to make vanilla. I started mine about 3 weeks ago in a very large bottle. Using 3 beans for every cup of Vodka and I just received my brown 4 oz. bottles in the mail. How many beans do I need to transfer to the small bottles to keep continuing to brew? Do you think I should transfer it already? Also, we aren’t drinkers so my husband made me go into the liquor store for the Vodka! 🙂 That felt really strange!

    • Matt Jabs says

      I would let it finish brewing in the large bottle, then you can transfer it to the small bottles with no beans, or including 1 bean in each for the cool look.

  11. Mari the Kiwi says

    I have been making my own for about the last 4 yrs using brandy instead of vodka. Would never go back to the shop brought stuff.

    I do it in smaller 200ml bottles with 4 beans slit lengthwise and cut smaller. I leave the beans in the bottle and use the extract then add more beans and more brandy. I also use the brandy beans in cooking sauces etc and mince them up for pavalova or custards.

    Stupidly I bragged to friends and family about my yummy vanilla, and I now have to make quite a quantity just to give away as gifts. Have 4 regulars for Xmas.

    Because this is in alcohol it will keep indefinitely if capped securely and the cap kept clean. Mine is just kept in the cupboard and not in the fridge. Never had any problems with it.

  12. Sheena E. says

    After you brew it for 3 months…transfer to glass containers…how long will it last from there. I don’t do a TON of baking so I am not sure if I would use a whole 750 ml. of the stuff hehe. Thanks for all your great info! 🙂

    • Matt Jabs says

      To see the shelf life I would look on the labels for pure vanilla extract on store shelves, this stuff would be about the same because it’s the same thing. We have been using ours successfully for years now – same batch.

      • Sheena E. says

        Ok great! I want to do this for Christmas gifts as well and would want to put that on the label. Thank you!

  13. Marie says

    Hey all, I was wondering if anyone ever had mold grow on the inside of your bottles? I have 3 bottles going now that are all about 10 weeks. I noticed on one of the bottles near the neck of the bottle (where there is no vanilla) there is some yellowish residue – which I think may be mold but I’m not sure since I can’t imagine anything growing in a bottle of vodka. Thoughts?

  14. Lisa Quenon says

    I always give homemade gifts for Christmas…thank you so much for sharing this…now I know what everyone in my family is getting for Christmas!! Awesome!! Thanks for the site for vanilla beans as well. I priced them in the store the other day…each individual bean sold for something like several dollars. Too rich for my blood! Thank you. Thank you!

    • Matt Jabs says

      You should be able to give it a shot by now Sean – let us know what you think, we love it and use it all the time. Actually Betsy is mixing us up a drink of homemade coconut milk, homemade vanilla, and a little cocoa powder. 🙂