Homemade Vanilla Extract

 Vanilla Extract
Pure vanilla extract from the store can be pricey staple if you use it as often as I do. Luckily, though, there is a great alternative to spending a lot of money or reverting to imitation extract. It’s called homemade! And it’s easy to do. Seriously easy.

Last month, I stumbled across this great tutorial from Elaine at The Italian Dish for making the extract, but there’s really no need to follow a strict recipe. Homemade vanilla extract only requires a bottle with a cap and two ingredients: Vodka and 3-4 vanilla beans of your choice (I used Bourbon beans but here’s an informative post about many different kinds).


All you do is this: Halve and split open your vanilla beans with a paring knife (Elaine has beautiful photos demonstrating how to do this). Plop the split beans into a bottle, about 4-5 oz. in size. Fill to the top with vodka (I used Svedka), shake gently and store in a cool, dark cabinet. When you’re running low, just fill up the bottle with more vodka, and eventually add some fresh vanilla beans. It will last for years.

The extract needs 6-8 weeks to fully develop before it’s ready to be used. However, after about 5 weeks, I have grown impatient and made chocolate chip cookies, pancakes and strawberry-vanilla jam with it, and the smell and taste have been more pronounced than with any store-bought variety I’ve ever used. It’s really amazing.

Whether as a gift for friends or family, or just to experiment, try this for yourself and you’ll be happy you did!

PrintPrint Recipe

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yield: Makes about 1 cup of extract


3-4 vanilla beans (recommended: Madagascar, Bourbon)
About 1 cup vodka (recommended: Svedka)
Glass bottle with a tight fitting cap


Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut each vanilla bean in half, then lengthwise down each bean, opening them up.

Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting cap. Cover completely with the vodka.

Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a cool, dark cabinet.

This lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake. Eventually, add some fresh vanilla beans.


Adapted from The Italian Dish


32 Responses to “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. #
    Pam — December 20, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

    How great is that! I’ve never thought to make my own vanilla extract.

  2. #
    Blog is the New Black — December 20, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

    Beautiful! :)

  3. #
    Jennifurla — December 20, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

    I have a friend who gifts this every year, I think it is so awesome! Lovely post.

  4. #
    Annalise — December 20, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    I gave these out to friends this year for Christmas and so far it has made me VERY popular! :)

  5. #
    LimeCake — December 20, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

    Wow you made your own extract? Gosh vanilla sounds so lovely for the holidays! Great gift I’d love to receive anytime of year!

  6. #
    The Italian Dish — December 20, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

    What a lovely post. I love those bottles that you used! Very nice.

  7. #
    baking.serendipity — December 21, 2010 @ 12:59 am

    I love this! I seriously need to think in advance next year. This would make an awesome gift :)

  8. #
    Bridgett — December 21, 2010 @ 1:03 am

    Georgia, This is such a good idea! I go through the good stuff like crazy but I am going to borrow your idea and give this a go. Wishing you the best this holiday and thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  9. #
    Cake Duchess — December 21, 2010 @ 3:44 am

    Georgia-I have to mark this on my new calendar to remember to do as a gift next year. Beautiful photos and your blog looks incredible! Thank you for your sweet comments-they make me smile:) Merry Christmas!! xo

  10. #
    Magic of Spice — December 21, 2010 @ 4:33 am

    This makes such a lovely gift, and I agree so much more flavorful than a store bought version :)
    Happy Holidays!

  11. #
    Magic of Spice — December 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    This makes such a lovely gift, and I agree so much more flavorful than a store bought version :)
    Happy Holidays!

  12. #
    baking.serendipity — December 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    I love this! I seriously need to think in advance next year. This would make an awesome gift :)

  13. #
    Blog is the New Black — December 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Beautiful! :)

  14. #
    LimeCake — December 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Wow you made your own extract? Gosh vanilla sounds so lovely for the holidays! Great gift I’d love to receive anytime of year!

  15. #
    Georgia — December 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    This is a test

  16. #
    Jenn's Food Journey — December 21, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    This is great! I won homemade vanilla extract in a giveaway earlier in the year and I’m almost out…. Now I don’t have to cry in my pantry when it’s gone…all I need is some vodka… I got the beans just waiting to be used! Thanks for sharing Georgia!

  17. #
    Peggy Labor — December 21, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m running into my kitchen right now to do this! I can’t believe it was so easy all along! I don’t think I’ll ever buy the real stuff after this!

  18. #
    Deborah — December 21, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    I have always wanted to do this! And I love your bottle!

  19. #
    Georgia — December 21, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Test comment

  20. #
    Georgia — December 21, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    Test comment

  21. #
    Georgia — December 21, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

    Test comment

  22. #
    Velva — December 21, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Oh wow! Your vanilla extract is stunning. What a great gift idea.

    I am really glad that you visited my blog-it gave me a chance to discover yours. I am a new follower.


  23. #
    Georgia — December 21, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

    Test comment

  24. #
    Emily — December 21, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

    I love that you made homemade vanilla extract! The bottle is gorgeous. Also, just wanted to let you know the book and cookies arrived today and made my day. Thanks again!

  25. #
    Betty @ Scrambledhenfruit — December 22, 2010 @ 5:50 am

    This sounds wonderful! I’ve read about making your own vanilla, but I’ve always wondered about how it really turned out. With your recommendation though, I’m tempted to try it now! Love your bottle! :)

  26. #
    Angie — December 22, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I really need a tested vanilla extract recipe! Gotta try it soon.

  27. #
    Miranda @ Mangoes and Chutney — December 22, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

    Awesome Georgia, thanks for sharing!

  28. #
    foodies@home — December 23, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

    I never knew Vanilla extract came from Vodka. That makes me very happy and Costco might just loose one more vanilla extract customer.

  29. #
    Winnie — December 24, 2010 @ 4:02 am

    I made vanilla extract a couple of months ago. I used rum instead of vodka (I just don’t like vodka) and it is terrific. I wish I’d made extra jars to giveaway…fantastic idea!

  30. #
    Bo — December 30, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    I made homemade vanilla to give as Christmas gifts this year.

  31. #
    whatsfordinneracrossstatelines — January 28, 2011 @ 3:48 am

    Hi Georgia, I found your from your guest post on Chef Dennis. I just had to know how to make the homemade vanilla extract you used in your souffles. I can’t wait to try them. I’m a new follower too, look forward to reading more. Have a great weekend.

  32. #
    Latasha — December 21, 2014 @ 1:32 am

    Hi Georgia, I made your vanilla extract about 3 months ago and was wondering how long I can keep it? Do I just keep refilling it back up with vodka and vanilla beans and if so, how long before I have to discard the vanilla beans from the bottle? Thank you! I love your recipe for this! I am on my second bottle. The first time I made it with vodka and the second one is made with rum.

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