This homemade vanilla extract is so easy to make and makes a great gift. It will cost far less than store bought vanilla extract in the long run.
Homemade vanilla extract is incredibly easy to make, much cheaper than tiny store-bought bottles, and it makes a great gift. All you need are vanilla beans, liquor, and a little patience. The vanilla beans steep in the liquor of your choice for several months, resulting in syrupy, flavorful vanilla extract that beats the diluted store-bought version any day.
Since there’s no cooking involved and the majority of the solution is 70-80 proof alcohol, there’s pretty much no chance of anything spoiling or turning out wrong. It’s great to make in preparation for holiday baking, and a wonderful gift!
Vanilla beans are expensive, and those beans will add up, especially if you’re making large quantities of extract. In the store, you might pay upwards of $3 per vanilla bean.
Where to buy vanilla beans then? Forget about the grocery store and specialty spice stores and order your beans online. I was able to find 1/4 lb vanilla beans (which turned out to be around 30 beans) on Amazon for less than $15, and I still have beans to spare.
Vodka or other alcohol
Unless you’re a teenager doing shots of vanilla extract shoplifted from the gas station, you probably won’t be drinking this vanilla, so don’t use high-quality liquor. Just buy whatever is available and reasonably priced.
I used vodka this time around, but you can experiment with bourbon, rum, whiskey, or another liquor. The vodka lets the flavor of the vanilla shine, but a more flavorful base would delightfully complement the flavor of the vanilla.
As long as it’s clean, made of glass, and airtight, you can use any kind of bottle: glass bottles from the craft store, canning jars, recycled juice bottles, or the leftover bottle of vodka. If you’re giving away your vanilla extract as gifts, you may even want to tie little ribbons around them and slap on a decorative label.
If you steep your extract in a few different bottles, you can reuse the beans by refilling the first bottle you finish, then waiting 2 months before using again. You can reuse the beans 3-4 times before they start running out of flavor. Much better than using one big bottle and running out completely!
Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the insides a bit to loosen the good stuff, and chop the beans into 1-2 inch pieces. No need to be precise.
Combine the measured liquor and vanilla beans in the bottle(s) of your choice.
Done! Let sit in a dark, cool place for 2-3 months before using. Shake the bottles every few days.
When the vanilla is ready, it will be dark brown in color. Use as directed in any recipe.
- Label your bottles with the date you made them.
- Steeping the vanilla beans longer will, of course, make the vanilla more flavorful. Keep some (or all of the) vanilla beans in the bottle, even after the vanilla is ready.
- Leave a vanilla bean or two in each bottle if portioning out the extract into small bottles. The flavor will continue to develop.
- Vanilla beans can be reused! When your first bottle is gone, refill it. Add a few extra beans to make up for lost flavor.
- How long will your homemade vanilla extract last? You can safely keep it for several years, if it lasts that long!
- If you don’t want to bother measuring and won’t drink the rest of the alcohol: use 10 beans for an entire 750 ml bottle of alcohol.
- Concerned about using alcohol if you don’t drink, or have kids? Unless you specifically purchase alcohol-free vanilla extract in the store, the store-bought vanilla extract you already use probably contains alcohol. A few teaspoons (1 tsp vanilla=1/9th of a shot) in a recipe is fine, and the alcohol content is no different than store-bought vanilla. It will also mostly evaporate in baked goods.
🍰 Ways to use
Ready to start using your vanilla extract to bake? You can use it in any recipe as directed, the same way you’d use store bought vanilla extract. Here are some of my favorite recipes with vanilla extract:
This vegan sugar cookie recipe is perfect for making Christmas cookies, or cutout cookies for any holiday! It uses aquafaba in place of eggs for a puffy texture.
And I mean fudgy! Have a glass of your favorite non-dairy milk nearby.
Using your vanilla extract for holiday baking? Start with these Double Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies! They have a double chocolate chip base and are infused with peppermint extract and chopped candy cane pieces.
- 12 vanilla beans
- 1 quart vodka or other liquor
- Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the insides a bit to loosen the good stuff, and chop the beans into 1-2 inch pieces. No need to be precise.
- Combine the measured liquor and vanilla beans in the bottle(s) of your choice.
- Done! Let sit in a dark, cool place for 2 months before using. Shake the bottles every few days.
- When the vanilla is ready, it will be dark brown in color. Use as directed in any recipe.
- Use 3 vanilla beans per 1 cup liquor. Scale the quantities up or down as much as you'd like (I made 1 1/2 quarts!).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 192 Serving Size: 1 teaspoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on seitanbeatsyourmeat.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.