homemade vanilla extract recipeMaking your own vanilla extract might seem silly, but it is one of the most practical things to make yourself.  When you bake often, you go through a lot of vanilla.  Pure, high quality vanilla is expensive.  I would go through a bottle almost every other week.  When I saw that how easy it was to make my own vanilla, I decided that I would try it out.  I found a nice bottle, bought some vanilla beans in bulk, a bottle of vodka, and invested about 10 minutes of my time.  I started my bottle this time last year, and have not bought vanilla in almost a year.  You can make it with bourbon, but I prefer vodka.  For no other reason, I like to see my progress, and it is much easier to see in a clear liquid.  Since I bought vanilla beans in bulk, I had about 35 leftover, and have been using them in everything.  Vanilla bean adds so much depth of flavor to baking, and the black little seeds running through your baked goods is just plain sexy.

When I use a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out, I add the leftover pod to my main jar of vanilla.  When I am starting to get low, I just add more vodka, and let it sit.  I keep a smaller bottle of vanilla in my pantry, and just head to my vanilla extract supply when I start to run out.  The resulting vanilla is floral, and has no additives like store bought vanilla can have.  I bought some small brown apothecary bottles and made these into gifts for all of the bakers in my life.  I found cute little labels at anthropologie and added a little bow.

homemade vanilla extract recipe1 bottle vodka
10-15 vanilla beans
1 large bottle with a tight fitting lid

homemade vanilla extract recipeSplit the vanilla bean in half. You can use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors.

homemade vanilla extract recipeAdd the split beans to the bottle.

homemade vanilla extract recipePour the vodka over the vanilla beans.

homemade vanilla extract recipeDon’t the vanilla beans look beautiful?

homemade vanilla extract recipePut the lid on the bottle, and store for a few weeks.  Give the bottle a shake every few days.

homemade vanilla extract recipe3 weeks later, you have a deep, dark, vanilla extract.

homemade vanilla extract recipePour the vanilla into smaller bottles (a funnel is helpful), add a label and a bow, and you have a perfect holiday gift.

Homemade Vanilla Extract


  • 1 bottle vodka
  • 10-15 vanilla beans
  • 1 large bottle with a tight fitting lid


  1. Split the vanilla bean in half. You can use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors.
  2. Add the split beans to the bottle.
  3. Pour the vodka over the vanilla beans.
  4. Put the lid on the bottle, and store for a few weeks. Give the bottle a shake every few days.
  5. 3 weeks later, you have a deep, dark, vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the vanilla into smaller bottles (a funnel is helpful), add a label and a bow, and you have a perfect holiday gift.

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94 Responses to Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Wow that looks so easy! I have to give this a try.

    And who knew that vanilla extract was made with vodka? Interesting…

  2. Bree, you think of everything! These are such thoughtful gifts. Hope you’re well… x

  3. PamM says:

    Hi! I’m a big fan of your site and your photography. The food just looks so amazing and delicious in your photos! I didn’t know it was this easy to make home made vanilla extract, and it looks so precious as a gift. I have some questions: how do you store this? And how long will it keep? Thanks! Much love from Manila, Philippines :)

    • bakedbree says:

      Thank you Pam! I store it in my pantry, and I think that it keeps forever. I have been using the same bottle (I add to it) for a year.

  4. sue says:

    How cute are those bottles! I really should try this, I wonder how much that many beans would cost here? I love the idea.

  5. alison says:

    One of my favorite things to make…and it’s so easy!

  6. Sara T says:

    I love this!!! And could make a really cool Xmas gift!! Beautiful!

  7. You don’t scrape the seeds out first?
    I tried making my own vanilla extract, and I think my ratio of bean:vodka was off, because after a month it still wasn’t strong enough…So I’m tempted to try it again, but I’m not sure of how many pods, 10-15 seems like much, but I guess it worked for you, I was thinking like 5 max, have you tried less than 10?

    • bakedbree says:

      No, I don’t. I would not skimp on the amount of beans. It is what makes it dark and a high quality vanilla. I buy my beans in bulk and online. They are inexpensive and a better quality than what I get in the store.

  8. Kim says:

    silly question…what size of vodka bottle?

  9. Linds says:

    This is genius! I go through so much vanilla and would save a boat load of money making my own. Thanks for the great tip! Also, I “pin” at least one of your recipes a week–just love everything you bake!

  10. The bottles your homemade vanilla are in are just adorable! I have never thought to make my own vanilla!

  11. Bree says:

    What an adorable gift idea!

  12. Deb says:

    Your bottle labels are adorable! Thank you for sharing such a fantastic but simple recipe.

  13. Shelley says:

    I will totally do this for Christmas next year! I love it. thank you for this idea.

  14. Janice says:

    How cool is that?? It never even occurred to me that I could make my own vanilla extract. I’ve been paying the ridiculous prices for the tiny bottle in the grocery store. I don’t recall ever seeing actual vanilla beans in my local store before…are they sold with the regular baking supplies and spices?

    • bakedbree says:

      I would buy them online, you will get a much better price than in the store. Grocery store beans tend to be dried out too. These are soft and pliable.

  15. Wow so easy! A perfect gift. Did you store your extract bottle with the vanilla beans and vodka in a dark cool area during the three week period?

  16. Becca says:

    I’ve never thought about making my own vanilla extract, but now it sounds very interesting. Last week I learned how to make my own brown sugar, and now I know how to make my own vanilla extract.

  17. Brandon says:

    What a great, simple idea. Do you know if you save money making your own vanilla extract? I know vodka is relatively inexpensive, but I’ve never purchased vanilla beans. Vanilla extract is definitely one of those expensive baking ingredients!


  18. Stephke says:

    Waw this is so a good post!!! Thank you!

  19. Christal says:

    I recently saw that a friend had made this and wanted to make my own. Quick question. What size is the bottle you made it in?

  20. Jennifer @ Mother Thyme says:

    I recently made a batch of vanilla extract and love your post about it too! I LOVE your bottles you put it in. I have been looking all over for the perfect bottles and these are just it! I made mine to give with holiday gifts so I definitely will be grabbing a few of these cute bottles you got! Thanks!

  21. Gorgeous!
    I just bought a few vanilla beans from the store… so the timing is perfect. I may be a touch late for this year’s gifts, but I will DEFINITELY be using this idea.
    Thank you!

  22. Becky says:

    I started my vanilla in August, and it’s still not very dark or very tasty. What gives? I used 4 oz of vodka and a whole vanilla bean split. My husband tasted it and said it just tastes like bad vodka. It is supposed to taste good out of the bottle, or only when it’s mixed in a recipe. I was planning on giving bottles to my coworkers for Christmas, but not I’m almost afraid too. I don’t want to give them an inferior gift. Does mine sound like it should after 5 months of steeping? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially since Christmas will be here before we know it.

  23. Stephanie says:

    Darling labels. I gave homemade vanilla for gifts earlier this year for birthdays (vodka and Mexican Vanilla beans). This Christmas I’m gifting vanilla using Madagascar Vanilla beans in bourbon. This is a wonderful gift idea for our baking friends. Beanilla is a wonderful on line source for unusual beans.

  24. I didn’t know it was so easy to make vanilla extract. Beautiful blog.

  25. Katherine says:

    Thanks for such a fun, creative thing to do! I have been wanting to make homemade gifts for my friends this year, and I would love to do this.

  26. A quality vanilla extract makes the biggest difference when baking. I love how you’ve bottled the vanilla! This would make a darling Christmas gift! So cute! :)


  27. Now THIS is an amazing idea for gifts! I’m making goodie baskets for everyone this year and this would be an awesome addition. I had no clue it was this easy! Thank you, Bree! :)

  28. I made vanilla extract this year with rum (http://charlieandjo.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/double-vanilla-extract/ ). I love opening it up from time to time and just smelling it. Woo-hoo. Already gave one away to a special friend but I’m afraid I might just hoard it it’s so lovely. Thanks for sharing your method. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    • bakedbree says:

      Doesn’t it smell amazing? Every time I open up my big bottle to add more vanilla beans, I want to wear it as perfume.

  29. Andrea says:

    If you give it as a gift before steeping, would you recommend adding a vanilla bean to the gift bottle?

  30. Andrea says:

    One more questions, (sorry!), could you just add the vanilla beans to the vodka bottle?

  31. Hilary says:

    I just LOVE this! What a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to try it – for myself and as gifts. Brilliant.

  32. Amy says:

    I’m so glad I saw this because I have had my vanilla extract going since mid-October and its still pretty pale. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime, I will be fixing that problem today :)

  33. Wow I didn’t realize this was so easy! Thanks for the GREAT tip, Bree! :)

  34. Valentina says:

    Bree, this is a fabulous post! So easy and such a lovely gift these would make!

  35. Starr says:

    Hi Bree,
    Do you filter the extract as you pour it into the small bottle or do the seeds and other solids dissolve over time?
    Thanks for the great idea! I had no clue it was so easy!!

  36. I was just given 6 vanilla beans, so I think I’ll try this. Awesome tutorial.

  37. Cassie says:

    Bree, what type of beans would you recommend? There’s so many different varieties: Madagascar, Indonesian, Mexican, Tahitan… I have no idea which one to get!

  38. petitelien says:

    may I strore the liquid like the 5th picture? (not pour into smaller bottle)? thanks a lot. I’m from Vietnam.

  39. Curt says:

    My bean shipment should be here today! Thanks for another great idea!

  40. Curt says:

    Whew, I just read the post about the size of Vodka bottle, I assumed you used the 1.5 liter bottle. ( I always buy the bigger bottles at CostCo., it makes it look like I drink less) I’m adding more beans right now!

  41. Laura says:

    Can you please tell me where you got those awesome labels?

  42. Absolutely brilliant idea. Saving the $. Thanks!

  43. Natalie Fujita says:

    I buy vodka in a really big bottle from Costco, so can you tell me how many ounces or cups you used to make this recipe for vanilla extract? It sounds delicious as so many of your recipes are!

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