How to Make Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Bust out the booze friends!  I’ve got a weekend project for you!

We’re making our very own vanilla extract!  Why?  Why make your own vanilla extract when you can just buy the stuff in a teeeeeeny tiny bottle at the grocery store for close to ten whopping dollars?  Hm… see what I did there?  I seem to have answered my own question.

Homemade vanilla extract only requires a handful of things.  Come on… we can totally rock this.

First let’s talk vanilla beans.  Yea… they’re a tad bit expensive, but totally worth their weight in… vanilla.

There are a lots different varieties of vanilla beans.  So many varieties all with their own subtle nuances… it can be a bit overwhelming.  There are beans from Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti, Tonga… just throw a dart at the map and they just might produce vanilla beans there. Ok.  I’m exaggerating.   Different beans from all over the globe have different characteristics.  We could talk about this for days… seriously.  Here’s a brief brief brief run down of my favorites.

Madagascar beans are powerful, dark, full vanilla flavor beans.    Tahitian beans remind me of vanilla figs- fruity and floral.  The Mexican variety has just a hint of sweet creaminess.  How’s that for brief?

What beans are you going to choose for your vanilla extract?  Where are you going to get them?  Use exactly any bean you want!   Maybe you’ll buy them online here.  Use exactly whatever you can get your hands on.  Mix and match!  It’s your world.  It’s your extract.

This is going to be so easy!  Let’s get started!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I started two types of vanilla extract.  One jar is filled with vodka and  Mexican vanilla beans (on the left above) while the other jar has bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans (on the right, silly).  I’m beyond excited!  I’m ready to bathe in this stuff.

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Here’s what you’ll need to make your own vanilla extract:

– A mason jar, or some other clean, super sealing container.

– A high-proof alcohol like vodka, bourbon or rum.  We’re talking 80 proof.

– Three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol

– A dark spot to store the jars.

–  Two months.  That’s how long it takes to create vanilla extract!

Here’s how:

Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down the center of the vanilla beans, leaving about an inch at the top of the vanilla bean uncut.

Put the vanilla beans in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  I used mason jars.

Cover the beans completely with alcohol.  It’s three vanilla beans per cup of alcohol, so if you use 2 cups of vodka split open six vanilla beans and throw them in the jar.

Tightly cover the jar and give it a good shake.  Store in a cool dry place for two months.  Give the bottle a good shake every week or so, just so you don’t forget all about it.

After two months have passed, your vanilla extract should be ready for your favorite chocolate chip cookie or pound cake recipe.  You might also want to put the extract in cute, tiny bottles and give them to your favorite baker friends.

290 thoughts on “How to Make Vanilla Extract

  1. I did a test run with all 3 alcohol choices to see which one I would prefer to give at Christmas. I’ve used each one in different recipes & decided that I am going to make all 3 batches to give away. Can’t wait! :)

  2. I’m attempting to make vanilla extract and today is Day 2. I’m just curious as to why the liquid is so cloudy. Is that normal? All the other pictures of homemade extracts that I’ve seen are clear, or have they been strained?

  3. I just made some and am looking forward to it. Since the formula is 3 beans per cup of vodka or other alcohol, and I had 2 beans, I used 1/3 cup of bourbon for one bean and 1/3 cup of vodka for the other bean and put them in separate jars. I always save the glass spice jars with the plastic lids, like Spice Hunter or other brands. The one-bean mixture fills the jar about 2/3 full. It should work great, and I look forward to seeing which formula we like better.

    Conni B

  4. I second the recommendation for getting the beans from Vanilla Products USA (I bought directly from their website, not eBay). I got 1 lb. of Madagascar Bourbon Grade B Extract beans for $24.95 (approx. 150 beans). You do not want to get the Grade A beans because they contain more moisture and you will get a lot less per pound. The flavor comes from the pod and seeds, not the moisture in the bean.

    I have read on Vanilla Review that the proper portion of beans to vodka is 6 beans per 8 oz. vodka. Anything less is vanilla flavored vodka.

  5. For those who are asking about buying beans on eBay – I bought some from this company last year:

    I got both Madagascar Bourbon beans and Tahitian Planifolia. Everyone I’ve asked says that while the Tahitian smells great, the Madagascar smells *amazing*. I use the Madagascar when I’m baking something where the vanilla flavor will really come through, and the Tahitian when it doesn’t matter much. But the Tahitian is also really really good, don’t get me wrong!

    My main point here is that the vanilla beans from that company on eBay are really cheap, and they make GREAT vanilla extract. :)

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