Homemade Vanilla Extract

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 recipe

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yield: 1 liter

Homemade Vanilla Extract - It might seem weird to make your own, but you control the quality of the beans that you use and that makes all the differnce.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0g

Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

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This Post Has 96 Comments

  1. Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious

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

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

    1. bakedbree

      Yup, it sure is.

  2. Jeanelle @ Glocal Girl

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

    1. bakedbree

      thank you Jeanelle!

  3. PamM

    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 πŸ™‚

    1. bakedbree

      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

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

    1. bakedbree

      I get mine through Amazon.

  5. alison

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

    1. bakedbree

      Me too Alison! Who knew how easy it was?

  6. Sara T

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

    1. bakedbree

      Yes they do Sara, especially someone that likes to bake, they really appreciate good vanilla.

  7. Nossi @ The Kosher Gastronome

    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?

    1. bakedbree

      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

    silly question…what size of vodka bottle?

    1. bakedbree

      It was a small one, probably the 375mL bottle.

      1. Kim

        Thanks Bree!

  9. Linds

    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!

    1. bakedbree

      Thank you Linds, I appreciate the pins.

  10. Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy

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

    1. bakedbree

      It is well worth the minimal effort.

  11. Bree

    What an adorable gift idea!

    1. bakedbree

      thanks Bree!

  12. Deb

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

    1. bakedbree

      you are welcome Deb!

  13. Shelley

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

    1. bakedbree

      I am glad that you do!

  14. Janice

    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?

    1. bakedbree

      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. Kayla @ Sheriff of the Kitchen

    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?

    1. bakedbree

      Yes, just in a cabinet.

  16. Eleanor@Eatinglikeahorse

    Brilliant idea, thank you!

    1. bakedbree

      you are welcome Eleanor!

  17. Becca

    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.

    1. bakedbree

      You can make just about anything it seems!

  18. Brandon

    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!

    -Brandon

    1. bakedbree

      I buy it in bulk and got over 50 beans for $26. If you buy them that way, yes it is not expensive. Buying them at the grocery store (and usually an inferior bean) would be insane.

      1. Brandon

        Thanks for the advice, $26 for 50 beans doesn’t sound bad at all!

        1. bakedbree

          I no longer hoard vanilla beans since I have so many, and my baking has gotten so much better.

          1. Kim

            That is so true…when I bought a little tube of them, I was always ‘saving’ them for a special recipe. Kind of like saving the good china for company. Silly silly silly:)

            1. bakedbree

              Exactly! Use the beans, and your china!

  19. Stephke

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

    1. bakedbree

      thank you Stephke!

  20. Christal

    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?
    Thanks!

    1. bakedbree

      The big bottle? I am guessing 1 liter. The little bottles are probably 4 ounces.

  21. Jennifer @ Mother Thyme

    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!

    1. bakedbree

      I actually was lucky enough to get mine from a cake supply store. I bought a bunch of them.

  22. Deena@StayatHomeFOODIE

    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!

    1. bakedbree

      You can still gift it, just tell them to let it steep for a few more weeks.

  23. Becky

    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.

    1. bakedbree

      you did not use enough vanilla bean. You need to infuse the vodka with a lot of vanilla to get it dark.

  24. Stephanie

    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.

    1. bakedbree

      Beanilla is a great source for beans.

  25. Rants and Plants

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

    1. bakedbree

      it is easy, and thank you very much.

  26. Katherine

    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.

    1. bakedbree

      I hope that you do Katherine. A few minutes work for a nice, homemade gift.

  27. Christi's Chirps

    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! πŸ™‚

    Cheers,
    Christi

    1. bakedbree

      it really does, doesn’t it?

  28. Emily (Roots+Platters)

    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! πŸ™‚

    1. bakedbree

      So easy! What else are you adding to the goodie baskets?

  29. Jo @ Let's Face the Music

    I made vanilla extract this year with rum (https://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

    1. bakedbree

      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.

  30. Andrea

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

    1. bakedbree

      Yes, do you mean if you give a person the ingredients for them to do it themselves?

  31. Andrea

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

    1. bakedbree

      Of course! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Duh!

  32. Hilary

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

    1. bakedbree

      I am so glad Hilary!

  33. Amy

    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 πŸ™‚

    1. bakedbree

      I hope that it works out. You need a lot of beans to get it really rich and dark.

  34. Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen

    Wow I didn’t realize this was so easy! Thanks for the GREAT tip, Bree! πŸ™‚

    1. bakedbree

      You are welcome Kristi!

  35. Valentina

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

  36. Starr

    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!!

    1. bakedbree

      No I don’t. I like to see the seeds. It helps make it look homemade.

  37. Susan in the Boonies

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

    1. bakedbree

      That is a nice gift!

  38. Cassie

    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!

  39. petitelien

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

    1. bakedbree

      You can store it however you like!

  40. Curt

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

    1. bakedbree

      Yeah! I just used my last one yesterday. I went through over 50 beans!

  41. Curt

    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!

    1. bakedbree

      You can adjust this however you like. It is not an exact recipe, so you can make it work for you.

  42. Laura

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

    1. bakedbree

      Anthropologie last year.

      1. Jori L McCullough

        What size jar and bottle of vodka did you use?

        1. bakedbree

          It doesn’t matter, you can use whatever you have.

  43. Elizabeth Adams

    Absolutely brilliant idea. Saving the $. Thanks!

    1. bakedbree

      You are welcome!

  44. Natalie Fujita

    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!

    1. bakedbree

      I made this years ago (and am still using the same bottle). My guess is 2-3 cups.

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