Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract
Last year I wondered how to make vanilla extract. I use a lot of vanilla in my baking so I thought why not look for a recipe for homemade vanilla extract not to mention, it makes a really cool homemade gift as well! Download and print a pretty label and you have an easy and affordable gift for friends, family or co-workers!
With as much baking as I do, I go through a lot of vanilla extract. Since I prefer the Mexican Vanilla, it can get rather costly at $20+ for an 8-ounce bottle! That’s what happens when you get hooked on the good stuff!
Thanks to Beanilla I found out, making your own vanilla extract couldn’t be easier and it is far more economical than buying the store-bought variety. By making my own vanilla extract, I could also try more varieties than just Mexican. Beanilla sells bottles and 7 different variety of vanilla beans, each of which has a unique flavor! Using premium grade vanilla beans will provide significantly better flavor and aroma than commercially produced extracts.
According to Beanilla.com:
Do you prefer bold and smokey? If so, try Mexican vanilla beans. Rich and creamy? Use Madagascar Vanilla Beans! Floral aroma and unique cherry-chocolate? Venture to the Tahitian vanilla beans. Each type is excellent for homemade vanilla extract. You can even blend various varieties together. The floral, fruity, cherry like notes of the Tahitian variety blend wonderfully with the nutty-chocolate character of the Bourbon varieties.
Christmas is just two months away! How did that happen? So now is the perfect time to start making Homemade Vanilla Extract if you want to hand some out during the holidays and have some for your own holiday baking!
How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
What you need to make Vanilla Extract
- bottles with lids/caps (I like these and these )
- vanilla beans
- Vodka, unflavored (inexpensive Vodka is fine) You can also use bourbon, brandy, or rum but vodka will yield a more pure vanilla flavor to come through.
- Homemade Vanilla Extract label (download and print for free at LiveLaughRowe)
- Raffia or Ribbon optional
How to make Vanilla Extract for a homemade gift
First be sure to wash your bottles in hot soapy water. Rinse well, then allow your bottles to air dry.
Using a sharp knife, slice each vanilla bean in half. then starting about 1/4″ from one end, cut the vanilla bean lengthwise (see picture below)
Place 3-5 vanilla beans in each 8-ounce bottle. Using a measuring cup or funnel, pour vodka into each bottle completely covering the beans in the liquid.
Not sure how many vanilla beans to use when you’re making vanilla extract, it’s always better to err on the side of too many beans, than too little. Vanilla extract comes in many strengths (single fold, double fold, triple fold), and the worst that can happen is you end up with an extract that is a little stronger than you expected. If your vanilla extract gets stronger than what you’re used to, simply top off the bottle with a little more vodka.
Next, place the caps/lids on tightly and store bottles in a cool, dark environment (I put mine in a closet) Give them a good shake about once a week. The vanilla will be ready to use as soon as 8 weeks, but if you can leave it 6 months things really start to get good!
The extra can be used in most baking after just 8 weeks, but note that it may have a stronger alcohol flavor at that point. The longer you allow the vanilla extract to age, the darker it will become and the more intense the vanilla flavor will be.
When the vanilla extract is ready to use, the vanilla beans can be removed or you can leave the vanilla beans in the bottle for the flavor to continue to evolve – just be sure to add vodka so the beans are always submerged in alcohol.
If you plan to give any as gifts, you may want to remove some or all of the beans for a prettier presentation. But don’t throw away those beans though!! Lay them out to dry on a paper towel, then add to a jar of granulated sugar, which will soak up whatever flavor they have left.
How Long Will Homemade Vanilla Extract Last
For long-term storage, keep the vanilla extract in a cool, dark place like your pantry. Light and heat can cause evaporation and even cause the extract to turn cloudy. If your extract looks a little clour or muddy, check the odor and if passes the smell test, it’s fine to still use it.
If stored under proper conditions (cool dark place, dark bottle help as well) the vanilla extract should last indefinitely due to the alcohol content. But if you do any baking, chances are you’ll use it up before you’d start to question how old it is 😉
For gift giving, be sure to let the recipient know that the extract should be stored in the bottle in a cool, dark place.
CHECK OUT HOW EASY HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT IS TO MAKE! WATCH THE VIDEO!
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Homemade Vanilla Extract FREE Labels to print
If you’d like to dress up your vanilla extract before gifting, you can head over to LiveLaughRowe.com and download and print the free Vanilla Extract labels Kelly made for me and YOU!
Like This Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract? Pin It!
Use your homemade vanilla extract in pretty much everything! Happy baking!!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Make the best homemade vanilla extract in just a few minutes of hands-on time. The secret to making your own vanilla extract is using quality vanilla beans and a little patience. It makes a great homemade gift!
- 16 ounces vodka (or bourbon, brandy, or rum)
- 6-10 whole vanilla beans
- 2 8 ounce clean bottles with lids (or one 16-ounce bottle)
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. You can also chop the beans into smaller pieces if necessary to fit in your bottles.
- Place beans and alcohol in clean bottles (3-5 beans per 8 ounces). Be sure the alcohol covers the beans. Place the lid on the bottles and give them a good shake.
- Place the bottles in a cool, dark place for at least 8 weeks (the longer you leave it the stronger the flavor), occasionally agitating the beans in the alcohol.
- When the extract is ready to use, you can leave the beans in the bottle, or remove them and use them start another bottle of extract.
Use 3 to 5 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol and multiply accordingly for making more extract.
UPDATE GIVEAWAY has ENDED
Disclaimer: Beanilla found out I was making my own Vanilla Extract and offered to send me the supplies and some to giveaway. As always, all opinions, views and love of good quality vanilla are my own.
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does anyone know how it should smell? mine still smells like vodka . do i need to add more beans and let sit longer? or is it supposed to smell like vodka / or will it just taste good in anything
Vodka is odorless, so you should be smelling the vanilla – how long has it sat? did you follow the instructions on vodka/bean ratio?
how should it smell? and or taste
i believe clear vanilla is actually imitation vanilla, and not pure
Can I use a metal lid or does it need to be plastic or cork? Thank you!
This might be a silly question but is this safe for children considering the alcoholic ingredients?
all vanilla extract is made with alcohol. –
These look so AWESOME and can only imagine just how yummy they are for baking and anything I might need vanilla extract for…Oh the possibilities! ThAnKs!!!
found your web page, excited about making this for holiday gifts. But CANT find any small bottles. Where did you buy them from. thanks
Beanilla sells bottles as small as 4 ounces. But you could also try Amazon or The Container Store
I am a celiac and would love to make my own vanilla extract. However, vodka has gluten and would like to know if that is the only one I could use. Do you think I could use gin instead?
I checked with some GF bloggers and got these answers for you:
She can make homemade vanilla. Bourbon and Vodka are gluten free. There is some misinformation in regard to this. If she is super concerned, Tito’s Vodka would be the simplest answer, as it is distilled from corn so has never contained gluten.
Here is a list of GF Vodka’s… (scroll down) http://munchyy.com/gluten-free-alcohol-list/
Sadly this doesn’t make good vanilla. See America’s Test Kitchen’s review. Plus I tried it last year. I used 15 fresh Madagascar Vanilla beans partially split down & let it sit for over a year. As with America’s Test Kitchen mine never lost the strong alcohol smell & taste.
I had the same problem, very dissatisfied with the whole process..
I’ve made 3 batches over the last 4 years, and use it in most of my baking.
If you are used to imitation vanilla this is nothing like that chemical loaded junk.
If you compare with real vanilla this homemade is so much better.
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your link for vanilla beans are almost $100 / 25 beans, not $25 / 25 beans.
That was in 2012 and was a really good deal. Vanilla beans are not cheap, and the higher the grade of bean, the more expensive they are.
Where can I order vanilla beans?
Could I use vanilla bean paste or ground vanilla beans to make the vanilla flavor?
What a wonderful gift idea for any time of the year! So easy too!
This is one of my favorite recipes on your site, Cheryl (and on the internet, to be honest). Love the labels, love the photos and love the recipe!
This is so much better than the imitation stuff you can buy at the store for sure! Also makes great fits!
I love everything about this! Especially the printable labels!
Never even thought to make my own vanilla extract! Will be trting this for sure!
Love that you mentioned Mexican vanilla beans. The flavor is fantastic. And your gift ideas are wonderful!
This is so easy – I can’t wait to try making it myself!
WE LOVE THIS FOR GIFTING! THANKS!!!
Just ordered everything to try this:). One question.. so after you take the beans out, it said put them in sugar… it’ll soak up the flavor. What can we use the sugar for?
I always make my own as I too am a big baker. I just bought a small bottle of vodka( think flask like) . I pour enough for a small vodka on rocks, so there is room for the beans. I split my beans and on occasion add more to the original. I keep the bottle in a closed liquor cabinet. While this bottle ages, I shake it occasionally as I open the cabinet. I reuse a 4 ounce name brand bottle. I add a small Amt of bean paste. Each time I use it, I shake it before pouring. When the small bottle empties, I refill from the “ mother” bottle. That gets refilled with vodka and an occasional new bean. I have not bought ready made in years! And, years ago, we went to Mexico for a few years, I bought pint bottles, 2 in 2 suitcases! Hubby joked , it was like contraband!
Here where I live in Canada vanilla beans are very expensive. So it is more economical to buy pure vanilla extract than try to make my own.
Hi Phyllis have you read the label on “Pure Vanilla Extract”. That is why I have tried making my own. This is my second time ordering beans for the homemade version. Yes it is more time consuming but HOPEFULLY, at least we know what’s in the product.
I’m in the process of making this right now. I shake it around once a week, and the little specs of beans are floating all around. Is that ok? Did I do something wrong, or is that normal?