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!

How to make Vanilla Extract

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

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.

Wash & Dry Bottles for Homemade Vanilla

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.

Making Homemade Vanilla at

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.

Homemade Vanilla recipe at

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.

Homemade Vanilla

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.


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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 and download and print the free Vanilla Extract labels Kelly made for me and YOU!

Free Printable Vanilla Extract Label from

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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! Get all Homemade Vanilla Extract recipe + printable label at

Use your homemade vanilla extract in pretty much everything! Happy baking!!

How to make Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yield: 2 eight-ounce bottles
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

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)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Did you make this recipe?

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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.