Homemade Vanilla Extract

It is FINALLY time for me to share our Homemade Vanilla Extract endeavor with all of you and I’m beyond thrilled! It’s been a good 6 months in the making! Quite some time ago on Pinterest, I found a recipe for vanilla extract. The point was to have a better quality product for a more affordable price than store-bought. After some hemming and hawing about the initial investment, I broke down and bought the ingredients. This is probably one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make, and the results are phenomenal *if I do say so myself*!

All you need is vanilla beans & vodka.

To start, I want to give you the how-to on homemade vanilla extract – the way I did it. Under the instructions, though I will be posting some information I have gathered since my vanilla beans have been steeping. Some of the tips are ones that I wish I would have known beforehand, but there’s nothing I can do about that now! Either way…I have some deliciously pure vanilla extract in my cabinet as we speak. And here’s how I did it…

I purchased a set of vanilla beans at a local spice store call Penzey’s Spices for $10. You can order from Penzey’s here or Amazon here. The vodka I used was Smirnoff.

{Somehow in the last 6 months, I have misplaced the photos I took from the vanilla extract process. The following are the best photos I could find of each step}.

Using a sharp knife with a pointed tip, slice your vanilla beans down the center lengthwise. Leave the ends together so your beans don’t completely separate.


Inside the beans you will notice the vanilla “caviar”. At this point you’ll also start to smell the delicious vanilla aroma.


Using the blunt edge of your knife, gently scrape the caviar out of your beans and scoop it into the jar you’ll be using to store your extract.


Next, you’ll want to cut your vanilla beans in half. There is one reason for this step: you’ll want to make sure the beans are completely submerged in vodka & this is easier when they’re cut in half.


When your beans are cut and the caviar is in your jar, pour the vodka over and seal. If you’re using a clear glass jar, make sure to keep the vanilla in an area without much sun exposure. I keep mine in the back of my baking cabinet.


I have heard many different opinions on what is the best amount of time to leave your beans soaking. As you heard, I left mine for 6 months. The traditional time-frame seems to be at least 6 weeks…but, as with wine the longer it ages, the better.

Once you’ve determined that your extract has aged enough, take cheesecloth and strain out the beans and caviar. Or, it seems you can use a coffee filter!


Put your vanilla extract back into the container and seal. The extract shouldn’t go bad, so technically you should be able to keep it for 10 years or more {though I doubt it will last that long}!

I found the photo below from No Recipes and just had to share it with you. Marc couldn’t decide between using vodka and bourbon for his vanilla extract, so he purchased mini bottles of each to test it out. I absolutely can’t resist anything in a mini bottle, and now I’m ready to run out to the liquor store to make my own mini-extracts! Beyond the fact that it’s perfectly adorable, this photo is a great representation of the progression of vanilla extract. Doesn’t it just look yummy?


Here are a few things I learned after-the-fact:

  • Grade B vanilla beans are better for making extract than Grade A
  • “Legal” extract requirements are 6-8 beans used per 1 C. of alcohol –wish I would have known that before!
  • 80 proof/40% alcohol is best {more alcohol = less vanilla extraction}
  • Vanilla extract should be aged for a year to get the best flavor

Fun Fact: Did you know vanilla beans come from vanilla orchids?
{facts & information from VanillaReview.com}

And now for the fun part: during my research I saw so many cute ideas for how to package your vanilla {especially if you’re planning on giving it as a gift}…here’s a few of my favorite finds.








Making your own vanilla extract is such a rewarding process. If you remove the aging wait time, the whole thing takes about 5 minutes! It’s so much more delicious and pure than anything you could buy at the store {for an affordable price}, and you just can’t beat the feeling of telling your friends and family that you made it yourself. Homemade vanilla extract is also a great gift for anyone on your list!

*keep an eye out for a yummy recipe incorporating my homemade vanilla extract {coming next week}!

Linked To & Featured At:

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  1. says

    I got a jar of this with a book that had a recipe similar to this for my bridal shower and it was phenomenal, though she kept the vanilla bean in the jar. Her recipe “requires” Madagascar vanilla beans. Did you get that specific when purchasing yours?

    • says

      I read that you can use different ones depending on the flavor you want your extract to have and different beans go better with different alcohols. I believe Madagascar beans give you the ‘traditional’ vanilla flavor.

  2. says

    I am such a huge fan of homemade vanilla! The bottle I won is nearly gone (and I’m crying)… I decided to make my own this year too. I suppose I better get busy – now! Love all the photos you’ve posted that show such creativity in dressing up the bottles too!

  3. Dixie says

    What a wonderful idea! Wish I knew your recipe for making vanilla extract sooner because I just bought 2 bottles of homemade vanilla at a craft fair a week ago. Thanks to your great step-by-step directions I know what I’m giving to some family and friends next year for Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Thanks for the additional tips. I too read it on pinterest and made some several months ago, but mine seemed very weak. Now I know, I need to add more vanilla beans, and I’m going to look for B grade. Love the packaging ideas too!


  5. says

    I made this for my mother in law last year for Christmas and she loved it. It’s such a great idea! Thanks for sharing it at our Keep Calm & Link Up party! Hope to see you again in a couple of days for the next one!

  6. Charlotte Moore says

    I will be starting my third batch of vanilla soon. I am fixing to strain my second batch in a day or so. It has been sitting for over 6 months. I actually have more beans in it than it called for so it should be great. I also have a small amount in rum and a small amount in bourbon. Never tried this before. We will see. I just can’t believe it could ever be as good if it does not sit several months. A few weeks just can’t get that strong enough taste.

    I have only used Madagascar vanilla beans that I ordered from Olive Nations. Super good price and good quality.


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