Apr 5, 2011

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract!


How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

I’m not quite sure what I thought extracting vanilla would entail, but in my head it definitely sounded much more complicated than it actually is! Making homemade vanilla extract is super easy and I really wish that I would’ve started this sooner!

I took some advice on making it from this post on homemade vanilla extract, this video on making vanilla extract, and our local organic farmer friend who suggested using Brandy instead of Vodka.  I admit, I did feel a *little* strange going into the liquor store and asking “Do you know what the best Vodka would be to make vanilla extract?”  I’m sure they laughed at me as I was walking out the door.

I decided to try making Vanilla Extract with both Vodka and Brandy to see which one I like better (here’s the update!)  I got mixed opinions from the articles that I read online, so I’ll just see for myself.  🙂

Are you ready?  This is so easy!

What you need:

  • Vanilla Beans!  You can buy vanilla beans here.
  • Vodka, Brandy, or whatever type of other liquor you would like to use

What you do:

Take the vanilla beans out of the package and cut them lengthwise.  I cut down the center and left it together at the ends so that it would be easier to put into the bottles.  I used 14 beans for the Vodka (750 mL) and 8 beans for the Brandy (375 mL).

Pour a little bit of the Vodka or Brandy into a measuring cup so that it doesn’t overflow when you add the vanilla beans in.  Then place the vanilla beans into the bottle.

Pour as much of the liquor that’s in the measuring cup as you are able to back into the bottle and then close it.

Let sit in a cabinet for about 2 months or until it smells like vanilla extract and the liquor has turned dark.

I’m super excited about this because now I know what I’ll be making for Christmas presents this next year!

You can find a GREAT deal on labels for your vanilla extract bottles here!

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Here’s the cost breakdown for this project:

Vanilla Beans – $9.02 (I used 22 beans at 41¢ each)
Vodka – $18.99 for 750 mL
Brandy – $6.99 for 375 mL
Total spent – $35

That’s $35 for 1,125 mL, or 38 ounces of Pure Vanilla Extract (92¢ per ounce).

NOTE: If you buy less expensive Vodka then you can get your price per ounce much lower.

As a price comparison, the McCormick Vanilla Extract at my local Walmart is $2.88 for 1 ounce ($4.88 for 2 ounces).

This is a much better deal for me, and, well, it’s just fun to make it myself!! 🙂

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  1. I’m over 2 weeks into the vodka one right now! The bottle is getting darker!

  2. I did this a couple months ago too with just vodka on my blog. I can’t wait until it’s done! Looking forward to your update as to which one you preferred!

  3. Suzette says:

    I started a bottle with vodka in August. I read that it takes 6 months. After 4 months it was good enough that I used it, but really wasn’t done until about 6 months. I also heard to leave it in a dark place. Mine is in my garage.

  4. I hope you enjoy it! I might have to try it with Brandy. I have also heard that it works well, but have yet to try it.

  5. wow! thanks for the recipe. I never even thought of making my own extract, but now that i have a recipe i cant wait to try it out!

  6. Michael says:

    The vodka and brandy are going to add their own flavors, wouldn’t you want to use a more neutral flavored spirit? Or is vodka the most neutral? I am just curious.

    • I *think* Vodka might be the most neutral flavored, but I am FAR from an expert here. I tried the Brandy even though it has a stronger flavor because a friend of mine who is very into making things for herself said that the Vanilla Extract was AMAZING with Brandy. And it was only $6.99, so sure… I’ll try it! 🙂

      I’ll have to look into other possible liquors to use too!

      • Michael says:

        Yeah, that is an amazing price. And the more I thought about it, I realized about the only more “neutral” flavor spirit would be grain alcohol, which would make for a potent extract! Oh, if you want really good spices at a good bulk price, check out The Spice House, I get a lot of my spices there and it’s amazing stuff at really good prices…well, at least to me. 😀

  7. Michelle says:

    Mine was ready March 24. I’m working on getting 4 oz. bottles at a good price. So, it is still sitting – waiting to be used. I went the Vodka route. Sure smells wonderful!

  8. Michelle says:

    Just went out and read this recipe. Mine actually brewed for 6 months.

  9. I’m currently making one with vodka. Can’t wait to try it and compare to the real vanilla I currently purchase.

  10. I also just out my beans in today, and my vodka was a good brand for only $10 or $11 I asked the lady at Total Beverage. I will have to try it with brandy also, thanks for posting! For sure let us know the taste differnce.

  11. ladies, how long does it last once opened?

  12. Which one did you prefer, the vodka or brandy vanilla? I can’t wait to hear your update, then I’ll start making mine own vanilla!

  13. where can you buy vanilla beans?

  14. tracy olson says:

    can any one give the links onto which they purchased the vanilla beans at, so I can get the best possible price out there. most helpful it would be. I really want to try this. I never knew the stuff in the stores was made out of vodka.

  15. Does it matter which kind of vodka or brandy you use?

  16. I’ve been making my vanilla extract this way for for a couple of years. Another thing to add is – that once you’ve used an inch or so of the extract, just add more liquor to the original bottle – the beans will last indefinately – so, you have everlasting vanilla! I’m sure over time (I’ve used the same beans for 2 years successfully) the beans will lose their potentcy, but not yet! Wonder if you can make your own almond extract with whole almonds – anyone try this?

  17. heavenlyhomemaker blog shared she gets her vanilla beans at Olive Nation, she also shared a code to get a discount plus they ship the beans for free

  18. Not familiar with this stuff but definitely want to try – do you just use the finished product…err…like vanilla you buy in the store?

  19. I remember the deal you posted abut the vanilla beans and ordered some right then.  Then we moved, and things have been a bit disorganized.  So I’m glad to see this post!  I really want to try this and will get some Vodka this week.  Thank You!  I can’t wait to read about how the brandy turns out.  I bet it will be wonderful.

  20. Tyiesha White says:

    Its called “da licka sto”, lol

  21. Surviving The Stores says:

    LOL Tyiesha!

  22. Julie Hebb says:

    where I am its the alphabet store

  23. What about using Bourbon in vanilla extract? Ive seen Bourbon vanilla in Trader Joe’s.what would be the taste difference? I’m not that familiar with the different alcohols & their taste.

  24. susan higg says:

    I wish I would have seen this a month or 2 Ago.I would’ve liked to make this for Christmas gifts.If you started it now fir next Year.would it just be extra strong by next Christmas?

  25. Yes. Love the homemade vanilla extract! Been making them for gifts as well. You can purchase the bottles at amazon too. Just slap a lable and a ribbon on and wa la! It’s good to shake the bottles every few weeks and the longer it stays in the bottle the better it is.

  26. WendyAnne says:

    I love home-made vanilla, and I especially love it in specialty drinks. Make a London Fog with an earl grey tea bag in a mug of hot milk, with a good sized shot of home-made vanilla. Yumm! And if you have a frother foam up the milk – you can do the same with coffee beverages too like a latte and it’s so much cheaper than going to Starbucks! (add sweetner if you like too)

  27. Gfriemel says:

    Is this recipe considered gluten free?

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t see why not…vodka is gluten free. The process to distill it takes out any gluten from whatever is used to make it. As for the beans, well, they’re just beans right? Double check with your own research if you’re really sensitive to gluten or have Celiac disease.

  28. Did you ever post the update of which extract you preferred? The vodka or brandy?

  29. I love the mexican vanilla. It keeps for years and years. What would you do different to get that flavor? They have white and dark vanilla. What would you do different to get the different colors. the dark is best for me and makes delicious ice cream.. I’m looking forward to your answer..

  30. oh, they sell it in Mexico for $2.00 a quart! Unfortunately I do live close to the border!

  31. I DO NOT live close to the border! LOL

  32. I am definitely going to try this. I get together with family at Christmas to do our Christmas cookie baking and only use pure vanilla extract which is expensive for a small amount.
    Thanks for the recipe

    Kathy G.

  33. The Chinaberry catalog used to sell these kits. The kit suggested using light rum or vodka. I got one and use the light rum. I guess it’s a personal preference! : )

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