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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract

Vanilla extract, which is in practically every baked good recipe on earth, should have 2 ingredients in it: alcohol and vanilla beans. If your vanilla extract has more than these 2 ingredients, consider how unnecessary the other ingredients are. Plus, this is so easy to make, you’re never going to buy vanilla extract again.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Sara Tetreault
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 50
This is so easy to make but you’ll have to wait six-months until it’s done. I like to have two batches going at once so I’m never out. It’s the tastiest vanilla flavoring I’ve ever tasted!
  • 1 bottle of vodka (I like to use a glass bottle so I bought the glass bottle brand. My bottle was 750 ML but I took some of the vodka out first to make room for the vanilla beans.)
  • Vanilla beans (I bought mine at WinCo Foods, in the the bulk food spice department. These are expensive so do a little comparative shopping.)
  1. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise.
  2. Add vanilla beans to glass bottle of vodka.
  3. Place in dark cupboard for about 4-6 months, giving bottle a shake every few weeks – or whenever you think about it.
  4. Use it in your baked goods and enjoy.
This makes a lovely gift, too! Put it together and include this recipe so your recipient can make it again and again.

So easy and so flavorful – plus no other sweeteners or junk.

Vanilla beans old and new
Vanilla beans: on left – ones to be reused. on right – two new ones.

The bigger the bottle of vodka, the more vanilla beans you’ll need. You can reuse the vanilla beans but they will become less potent with each use. For this recipe, I’m adding 2-fresh vanilla beans but reusing the ones from my previous batches.

Vanilla beans and vodka

It’s best to have 2 bottles of this in your cupboard so that you can use one bottle while the other is turning into vanilla. Or, you can periodically refresh just the one bottle by adding a little vodka and a vanilla bean now and then.

Here’s a video showing you how easy it is:

Can you believe how easy that is?

Have you made your own vanilla extract?

Go Gingham related links:

National Match-Up Day: A step-by-step on how to clean and organize your food storage containers!
Grocery shopping from the bulk bins and food storage containers
Reusing glass jars and how to get them ready for re-use
Homemade chocolate chip cookies – I swear these are almost health food!

More related links:

Try this site: Vanilla beans and extracts

17 thoughts on “Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Great post! I make my own vanilla extract too, and have two jam jars in process at a time. Several years ago a friend gave me about 40 vanilla beans (maybe from Ebay?) and that started my habit. I top off with new vodka when I use some, so it’s always full. Plus, when I have a recipe that calls for a whole bean, I just pull one out of the jar.


    1. Yes, it seems like this is a habit and luckily it’s a good one!
      I don’t have many recipes that call for vanilla beans but good idea on using the ones in your bottle!
      Thanks, Liana.


    1. Heidi,
      Yes on that price! The price of vanilla extract has gone way up and for what it is – it’s much more economical to make it yourself. Plus, the extra ingredients that I see listed aren’t necessary.
      Thanks, Heidi.


  2. I’ve made my own vanilla for years although I have always used rum. I love it. It also makes a GREAT housewarming gift.


    1. Aimee,
      I think that’s just fine! Another friend just told me she’s going to make it with Bourbon next time. I’m afraid that I might take a sip or 2 of that so I’m sticking with the vodka. Great job! Thanks for leaving a comment, Aimee 🙂


  3. Thanks for the idea. I’ve never tried to make my own before so this might prompt me to. I don’t bake a lot so a small bottle would be more than enough.

    Question: about how many beans would you have used for your 750 ml bottle if you were only using fresh beans?


    1. Hi Cee!
      If you don’t bake much, I’d definitely go with a smaller bottle.
      My bottle has probably 3/4 of the alcohol left in it I have 12 or so vanilla beans. In a smaller bottle, you could go with 8-10 new vanilla beans. Remember, too, you can use them over and over. I’ve never gotten rid of any beans, I just use them again and again.
      Good luck, Cee. I hope you enjoy making this.


  4. Thanks Sara, I was just thinking about doing this. It seems like we go through vanilla really quickly, and it’s so expensive.


  5. I am excited to try this. I am wondering how many beans to use for that size bottle. I didn’t see a video link-
    thanks for the great idea.


    1. Hi Tammy,
      There’s about 10-12 vanilla beans but you could do more. They won’t go bad and you can reuse them. Also, the link works to watch it on YouTube or above, on Go Gingham. The video didn’t work in the email if you receive my updates in your email in-box.
      Good luck!


  6. I can NOT believe how easy this is!!!! I have some vodka that I was thinking of getting rid of, and now I am going to make vanilla extract! You are brilliant!!! It is so expensive to buy – this is a great idea!


    1. I know, Annie, it is so easy. The first time I made it, I almost laughed because it seemed impossible that it would that simple.
      Good luck with it! So glad you didn’t get rid of that vodka ~


  7. Hi! I just starting making vanilla and my friends all wanted some, so I bought some small bottles online for storing liquids (there are food grade and non-food chemistry grade. I used the chemistry ones because my chemistry professor said they would be fine if I sterilized them, there are guides online for all of these). Then my friends just brought their empty bottles back for a refill. I just read that you can reuse the beans. Do you add any new beans or just use them over and over? Is there a point where the old beans are just done?


    1. Hi Tami,
      You’re a nice friend – making vanilla for your friends! Well, I know there must be a point at which the vanilla beans should not be used again but I honestly don’t know when that is. I add a couple of new beans whenever I make it (which is about every 6 months or so – ). After a bottle is finished, I take the old ones out and put them in a new bottle and add a couple of fresh ones. Try it and see how it works. If you want a stronger flavor you can always add more.
      Thanks for asking and please let me know how yours turn out. 🙂


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