Vanilla Extract Recipe (2024)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (1)

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Learning how to make vanilla extract is the easiest thing ever. It requires only 2 ingredients andmakes all of your baked goods taste and smell incredible. Homemade vanilla extract will be your secret ingredientfor baking!Once you make your own homemade vanilla extract,there’s just no going back to the store-bought version. As a bonus,you can refill real vanilla extract with more vodka as it runs out so it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

These make for darling and thoughtful DIY Christmas gifts (see tutorial below). My cousin’s wife, Alla, shared this awesome idea with me for gifting homemade vanilla extract and now all my sisters and friends know exactly what they’re getting for Christmas! lol.

I included links to all of the tools and resources that I used to make these from the sweet little glass bottles on Amazon to the free labels I designed which you can print at home. There’s also a full visual tutorial on wrapping these in kitchen towels. I really enjoyed making these and I will enjoy giving them away even more!

Vanilla Extract Recipe (2)

Vanilla Extract Ingredients (makes 10 (4oz) jars):

20 vanilla beans
40 oz plain vodka* (80 proof works great)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (3)

It’s easy to scale this recipe up or down, the proportions are 4 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.

*It’s not necessary to get themost expensive brand of vodka; something middle of the road like Smirnoff triple distilled 80 proof will work just fine. I found this at the liquor store and paid $25 for a giant jug. I’ll be refilling my vanilla a long time :).My cousin used the Vodka sold at Costco (Washington Costco’scarry liquor, but Idaho’s don’t).

Tools you’ll need for Homemade Vanilla Extract:

Small funnel or measuring cup with pouring lip
10 (4oz) clear bottles with lids (avoid cork lids – alcohol evaporates through the cork)
Labels (click here to save and print the labels I designed FREE!)
Kitchen scissors or sharp knife

How to Make Vanilla Extract:

1. Wash and sanitize bottles and lids. I washedwith mild soapy water, rinsed then swirled with boiling hot water to sanitize them.

Vanilla Extract Recipe (4)

2. Cut beans in half then Split beans. I found this is easiest with kitchen scissors. Cutting them about halfway down the stem. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1″ pieces. Place a total of 2 whole beans in each jar (or 4 split halves).

Vanilla Extract Recipe (5)

3. Use a funnel or measuring cup to pour vodka to the top of the jar. Cover tightly with lid and let them brew for 2 months, shaking occasionally.

Vanilla Extract Recipe (6)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (7)

Apply the FREE vanilla extract labels by printing them on label paper or by gluing them onto the bottles. If printing on the labels, make sure your printer is set to 100% and not “fit to page” which make shrink or stretch labels.

You should give the vanilla a little shake every now and then for the next couple of months as it sits. It will turn a beautiful amber color when it’s ready to use. The instructions are right on the label so you don’t have to wait that long to gift them ;).

Vanilla Extract Recipe (8)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (9)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (10)

For Creative Gifting:

12 yards of yarnorkitchen string
12 kitchen towels for gifting, preferably tea towel style
12 small/medium cookie cutters

How to Wrap a Gift With a Kitchen Towel:

Fold a kitchen towel in half lengthwise and then in half again lengthwise. Place vanilla in the upper left corner, fold over the bottom flap, roll into a log and tie the top with a string or ribbon directly over the next of where the bottle is sitting inside the towel.

Vanilla Extract Recipe (11)

Vanilla Extract Recipe (12)

How to Store Vanilla Extract

Keep your homemade vanilla extract in a cool dry place. Heat and light can cause it to turn cloudy.

If it does turn cloudy, murky, or muddy-looking, do the smell test and if it still smells good, it should be fine to use. Using 80 proof vodka, it is highly unlikely there is bacterial growth.

Sometimes the type of beans you get can leach pulp into the alcohol and you can strain out sediment if desired.

Vanilla Extract Recipe

4.95 from 351 votes

Author: Natasha of

Vanilla Extract Recipe (14)

How to make Homemade Vanilla Extract - it's so easy and only requires 2 ingredients! This will become your secret ingredient for baking.


Prep Time: 30 minutes mins

Total Time: 30 minutes mins


Servings: 12 (4oz) jars

Vanilla Extract Ingredients (makes 12 (4oz) jars):

  • 20 vanilla beans, I used Grade B Bourbon
  • 40 oz plain vodka*, 80 proof works great

Tools you'll need for Homemade Vanilla Extract:


  • Wash and sanitize bottles and lids: Wash with mild soapy water, rinse, then carefully swirl with boiling hot water to sanitize them.

  • Cut beans in half then Split beans (it's easiest with kitchen scissors), cutting them about halfway down the stem. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into small 1" pieces so they don't stick up above the surface of the extract as you use it. Place a total of 2 whole beans in each jar (or 4 split halves).

  • Use a funnel to pour vodka to the top of jar. Cover tightly with lid and let them brew for 2 months, shaking occasionally.


It's easy to scale this recipe up or down, the proportions are 4 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.

  • Full Nutrition Label
  • Nutrition Disclosure

Course: Condiments, Sauce

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Vanilla Extract

Skill Level: Easy

Cost to Make: $$$

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

Vanilla Extract Recipe (15)

Natasha Kravchuk

Vanilla Extract Recipe (16)

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Vanilla Extract Recipe (2024)


Can you make your own vanilla extract? ›

  1. Slice each bean lengthwise and place in bottle. ...
  2. Pour one cup of vodka (or alcohol of your choice) into the bottle. ...
  3. Shake once or twice a week.
  4. Wait at least 8 weeks, but 4-6 months is ideal. ...
  5. Presto, your alcohol has turned into delicious homemade vanilla extract!

What is the best alcohol to make vanilla extract? ›

The FDA dictates that a pure vanilla extract needs to be at least 70 proof or 35% alcohol, and this makes Vodka an ideal choice for vanilla extraction.

Is DIY vanilla extract worth it? ›

All you need are fresh beans and cheap booze to make an ultra-flavorful extract at a fraction of the cost. All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How many times can vanilla beans be used to make vanilla extract? ›

You can use vanilla beans for extract more than once, which makes them a gift that keeps on giving. Just know that the flavor will get weaker over time. Many recommend using them no more than four times.

How long will homemade vanilla extract last? ›

What is the shelf life of my vanilla extract? When stored properly, vanilla extract will keep indefinitely, but using it within five years will allow for best flavor and aroma. Do not refrigerate or freeze, even after opening.

Is homemade vanilla extract stronger than store bought? ›

Everything you have ever heard about homemade vanilla extract is untrue. It's not more intense, deeper in flavor, or less expensive than store-bought vanilla extract. I feel like kind of a jerk for even saying so, but there you go.

Why don't you have to be 21 to buy vanilla extract? ›

typically contains around 35 to 40% alcohol by volume. Compare that to vodka, which is typically 40% alcohol. In many places, vanilla extract is considered a food product. and is available even if you're not legal drinking age.

Can Homemade Vanilla go bad? ›

Pure vanilla extract (the kind made with real vanilla beans and at least 35 percent alcohol) has an indefinite shelf life. unless it's been stored improperly.

Should I use vodka or Everclear for vanilla extract? ›

Vodka is the preferred alcohol for extractions like this, as its flavor is neutral and does not compete with that of the vanilla beans.

Why is my homemade vanilla not dark? ›

As the vanilla extract sits, it will get darker. You want the beans to soak in the alcohol for at least 2 months before using it. The flavor will only get better with time. Make up several batches of vanilla extract at once so you never have to wait for a batch to brew.

Can you reuse vanilla beans after making vanilla? ›

Vanilla beans are expensive, but 6 of them (a little over 1/2 ounce or 15g total) make an entire CUP (8 ounces) of vanilla extract and you can reuse the beans. Compare that to $4 for 1 ounce of store-bought extract.

How many vanilla beans for 8 oz vodka? ›

It's easy to remember that 8oz of spirits is a cup, so use 1oz of vanilla beans in 1 cup of spirits. That method is easy to remember and will never let you down!

Do I need to scrape vanilla beans when making extract? ›

Leaving the Beans Whole

There are two primary benefits to leaving your vanilla beans whole: Vanilla extract makers will tell you that there is a richer vanilla taste when the vanillin is extracted by seeping through an uncut vanilla pod. It's easy to harvest the caviar or reuse the bean when your extract is finished.

How long do vanilla beans last in homemade vanilla extract? ›

You can leave the vanilla beans in the bottles indefinitely and continue to top up the jar with alcohol as you use the extract. Alternatively, you can make vanilla sugar with the used vanilla beans. Place the old vanilla beans in some granulated sugar to infuse the sugar with vanilla flavors.

How long does it take to make homemade vanilla extract? ›

For the best flavor, let the beans steep for 6 months or up to 12 months. However, you can use the extract after 2 months, it just won't be as strong. Once the extract is ready, you can transfer the liquid to 4-ounce glass bottles for easy use or gifting. Place a piece of vanilla bean in each bottle if desired.

Why is vanilla extract legal? ›

Vanilla extract doesn't just rely on alcohol to extract the essential flavors and fragrances from the vanilla bean and suspend them in a stable solution—it's also required by law to have an alcohol content of at least 35 percent.

What is a good substitute for vanilla extract? ›

8 substitutes for vanilla extract
  • Vanilla paste. Vanilla paste — also called vanilla bean paste — is a mix of vanilla extract, vanilla beans, and sugar. ...
  • Vanilla powder. ...
  • Vanilla sugar. ...
  • Almond extract. ...
  • Maple syrup. ...
  • Honey. ...
  • Bourbon, brandy, rum, or vanilla liqueur. ...
  • Vanilla flavored plant-based milk.
Nov 12, 2021


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