How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract is super easy to make.  Plus you can use different alcohols to create subtle differences in flavor for a truly unique and delicious addition to baked goods and other homemade foods. 

One of my favorite parts of baking as a child, was getting to smell the vanilla.  It’s smells delectable, but as many a kid has found out, it doesn’t taste as great as it smells!  Even though imitation vanilla smells good, it does not have quite the same effect in baked goods as the real deal.  Real vanilla is made from vanilla beans and alcohol.  Because of this it can sometimes be pricey, but oh so worth it!

Another awesome thing about homemade vanilla extract is that it makes an amazing and super easy gift.  Need a hostess gift when staying at a friends or invited to dinner?  Bring a bottle of homemade vanilla extract!  Want to contribute to the Christmas spirit but not the Christmas sugar overload?  Put a pretty bow on your bottles and give them away instead of plates of cookies and treats.  What DO you give that family member how has everything?  Homemade vanilla extract!

Most vanilla is made in vodka, but you don’t have to limit yourself.  Any 35% or higher alcohol will work, such as rum or bourbon.  The slight flavor variations can really add an extra layer of depth to your homemade goodies like brownies, cookies or even smoothies and ice cream. 

(Throw some of that deliciousness into homemade sour cream ice cream.  Wohoo! Ice cream! Yum.)

If you can make a tincture, you can make homemade vanilla extract.  If you can’t make a tincture, well, by the end of this post you’ll know how!

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla is super duper easy.  The only downside is that it does take a long amount of time to let it sit.  If you have a specific date in mind that you want to finish your extract, make sure to start a batch no later than six weeks beforehand.  The actual making part goes very quickly, however. 

The first step is to order and assemble your needed supplies and ingredients!

Ingredients and Supplies

Vanilla Beans 
Dark colored vials
35% or higher rum, vodka, brandy, or bourbon
Knife
Cutting board
Jar with lid

Fancy bottles are a nice touch.

You could get by without smaller bottles to package your extract into and just use a jar for both storing and making your extract.  However, if you are planning to give your homemade vanilla extract away as a gift, a fancier bottle is a nice touch.  I’m a big fan of reused coconut oil jars for everything, but not everybody else shares my enthusiasm for upcycling!

Instructions

Making your own vanilla extract is super, duper easy.  First, split your vanilla beans in half lengthwise.  Next, cut them shorter so they will fit in your jar and will be completely submersed by the alcohol.  Pour the alcohol over your beans.  Use 8 ounces per seven beans.  I used 15 beans and 2 cups of bourbon to make a big batch.   

Give the jar a good shake and keep in it in a cool, dark place.  Shake it thoroughly once per week while your wait for it to finish.  It needs at least 6-8 weeks, but you can leave it even longer than that for a stronger flavor!  Once it’s done you can leave the beans in for more extracting time, or you can pour the extract into smaller jars without including the beans.

You could really plan ahead for the holidays and make two batches.  One for the current year, and one for the year after.  It would take very little time on your part, and it would be a well flavored extract after 12 months.  Or if you get started late and need a gift sooner than next month, you can make a cute label for your vanilla and include the date it will be ready to be used. 

Homemade vanilla extract is easy and delicious.  It can save you money in the kitchen, plus it makes a great gift for so many different occasions! 

Want more homemade gift ideas?  Here are 33 more projects arranged by the time required to do them!

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2 thoughts on “How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. I have made vanilla for years. Used to make a gallon at a time until vanilla beans price sky rocketed. Now I make smaller amounts when I can get a good coupon on the beans. I let mine soak for 6-12 months.

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