Learn how to make homemade vanilla extract. It makes a beautiful gift with our free printable labels.

Once you have homemade vanilla, you’ll never purchase store bought again! It’s so easy and requires just two ingredients.

Amber glass bottle of homemade vanilla extract. #homemadevanilla #vanillagift #vanillabeans #wheretobuyvanilla
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Vanilla extract is used in most dessert recipes including cakes, ice creams, cookies and so much more. Since vanilla gives desserts most of their flavor, a high quality vanilla extract should be used.

If I’m purchasing a store bought version, I always choose this brand of vanilla extract. However, I’ve really grown to love making my own.

It’s quick and easy to make vanilla extract. It’s also less expensive, especially once you know where to buy vanilla beans. In fact, you can re-use the vanilla bean pods several times.

Homemade vanilla extract in an amber bottle on a white countertop. #homemadevanillaextract #vanilla #vanillabean

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract is the best way to get pure vanilla flavor to enhance your desserts. It adds the most incredible fragrance to your baked treats, too!

This homemade vanilla is the perfect gift for birthdays, Mother’s Day, shower favors and more! It’s also an indulgent, pretty gift for neighbors, foodie friends on your holiday list, and it makes a wonderful hostess gift. Why not get started now?

Homemade vanilla extract in an amber bottle and vodka on a white countertop. #homemadevanillaextract #vanilla #vanillabean

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Vanilla Beans – Most grocery stores offer vanilla beans. You’ll find them with spices. You can find them at Amazon, Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma as well.
  • Alcohol – Choose your favorite bottle! You can use rum, vodka, brandy and more. Essentially, you are macerating vanilla bean pods in the alcohol to make vanilla extract.
Homemade vanilla extract in an amber bottle on a white countertop. #homemadevanillaextract #vanilla #vanillabean

How to Make

  1. Split vanilla beans lengthwise. 
  2. Next, place beans in a bottle.
  3. Using a funnel, fill with alcohol.
  4. Store in a dark cabinet for a at least a month. 3+ months is optimal before gifting or using, shaking occasionally.
Gold scissors preparing to cut vanilla bean pods. #homemadevanillaextract #homemadevanilla
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Tips

Why split the beans? By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.

Beans can be used for a year – Just refill with alcohol. If you feel your vanilla extract is weak, just add a few more beans. A good rule of thumb is 6 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol.

White countertop featuring two vanilla beans and gold scissors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Alcohol is Used in Vanilla Extract?

Vodka is most commonly used to make vanilla extract, however bourbon, rum and brandy can also be used. Vodka has the most neutral flavor which allows the vanilla beans to shine. Most of my recipes feature a classic vanilla extract flavor using vodka.
However, a bourbon or brandy flavored option makes a fun vanilla gift, especially at the holidays! It’s a great way to experiment and find out what appeals to you!

What is a Vanilla Pod? 

Vanilla is one of the most rare spices on earth- in fact, it’s almost as expensive as saffron. This flavor-rich pod is part of the vanilla orchid, produced in three main regions in the world. (Mexico, Madagascar and Tahiti) The most classic or common vanilla flavor is Madagascar, and that’s the vanilla pod you’re most likely to find when you search!

Amber bottle filled with vanilla beans on a white countertop.
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Tip

Vanilla Beans by Grade – Vanilla beans are graded by their moisture and quality. Grade A is the best, and Grade B vanilla beans are generally used for making vanilla extract! Save a little money by choosing a B Grade vanilla.

Raw vanilla bean pod on white surface. #wheretobuyvanilla #homemadevanillaextract

Free Printable Labels

If you’d like to gift this vanilla extract, choose pretty glass bottles. I prefer amber bottles! Why? Vanilla, like most oils and extracts, is best stored in dark bottles in a dark area to maintain both freshness and flavor.

With sticker sheets, print free printable vanilla extract labels. In fact, I’ve created labels with and without “from the kitchen of” if you choose to customize them.

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Tip

While amber bottles are a traditional choice for vanilla extract (because they help block light), clear glass bottles will work well, too.

White surface with an amber bottle of homemade vanilla extract. #homemadevanilla #vanillaextract

Serving Suggestions

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – Vanilla extract should be stored in a dark, cool (or moderate) environment. Your pantry or kitchen cabinets work well. Vanilla extract as an unlimited shelf life!
  • Refrigerator – Never refrigerate your vanilla extract. Vanilla extract can become cloudy in the cold air of your refrigerator.
A bottle of homemade vanilla extract on a table.
5 from 5 votes

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Learn how to make vanilla extract – a beautiful vanilla gift with free printable labels. Once you have homemade vanilla, you'll never purchase store bought again!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 days
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 48 teaspoons
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Ingredients  

  • 6 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 cup alcohol vodka, rum, brandy or bourbon

Instructions 

  • Split vanilla beans lengthwise. By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.
  • Place in a bottle.
  • Using a funnel, fill with alcohol.
  • Store in a dark cabinet for a at least a month.
  • Shake occasionally.

Julie’s Tips

  • By splitting your beans, or snipping into small bits, you expose more surface area, which makes a better extract.
  • Storing for 3+ months is optimal, shaking occasionally.
  • Beans can be used for a year – just refill with vodka. If you feel your vanilla extract is weak, just add a few more beans.
  • Vodka is most commonly used to make extract, but try using bourbon or brandy for a fun, flavorful twist.
Serving: 1g | Calories: 12kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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12 Comments

  1. I make my own Less sugar I will Make your I will make y
    Our recipe sounds better with more xxxsugar Also I use Dryed milk powder to stabilize it.thank you for sharing the ,
    Recipe.

  2. I am so glad to read this post because it confirms my belief that the Nielsen Massey pure vanilla extract is the best I’ve ever used! Before I purchase vanilla beans and vodka I would like to know how the homemade vanilla extract and the Nielsen Massey compare? Is it almost same or off a little? I want a range so badly like or similar to yours. I’m dreaming of course! I read with antisapation your remodel of your kitchen! A beautiful job well done! I love to bake also. I love your blog. Thank you for your time!

    1. Thank you, Judy! It’s very similar – Nielsen Massey is my favorite store bought as well!

  3. I was given a bottle of pure vanilla by a friend when she came back from a boat cruse,now I must say I’m spoiled…the kind I bought in the store didn’t taste or snell like the real vanilla and your right the real kind is soooo expensive,more I’m sure then a bottle of vodka, never bought the stuff but I’m sure it can’t but as much as pure vanilla extract per 3ozs…thank you for the recipes going to try it for sure…