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Homemade Vanilla Extract – Making homemade vanilla extract is so easy! With just two ingredients and about 5 minutes of hands-on time, you’ll love making this pantry staple at home! Great for gift giving, too!
I use vanilla extract in so many of my recipes that I thought it was about high time to share about how to make your own at home!
Making homemade vanilla extract is one of the simplest things to make and makes a gift that anyone would love to receive – especially if they love to cook or bake!
Vanilla extract only requires two ingredients – vanilla beans and alcohol.
For the vanilla beans, I like to use organic whole vanilla beans as I think they have a tremendous amount of flavor. I use either vodka or bourbon for the alcohol. The choice of alcohol will impact the flavor slightly of the vanilla extract, so you’ll want to take that into account when you decide which to use.
Vodka is the most neutral of alcohols to use and makes for the cleanest tasting and clearest in appearance vanilla extract in my opinion. It allows the vanilla flavor to shine through and is the closest to a classic vanilla extract that you would purchase from a cooking supply store.
For a deeper flavor and coloring with an amazing scent, I like to use bourbon. It makes for more of a signature vanilla extract to use in cooking and baking and one that is different enough from the everyday that friends remember you when they use it.
While technically homemade vanilla extract is great to use and give a month from when you’ve made it, the longer that it steeps, the more flavorful and the darker it will become. I love to make it and give a little note to the recipient telling them just that. Friends have told me that it just gets better every time they use it!
To make your vanilla extract, you’ll want to use about 6 to 7 whole vanilla beans per cup of alcohol. I split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, leaving the tip of one end attached. Then, I place the vanilla beans into clean bottles and fill the bottle with the alcohol of choice. Then, I secure the top to the bottle and give it a good shake, label it, and place it in a cool, dry, dark location until ready for gifting or using. If the vanilla beans are longer than the bottle that you are using, simply cut the vanilla bean in half or even thirds to fit.
For the bottles, I use different size bottles from year to year, but for this year’s gifts, I’m using these 8.5 ounce bottles. If you would like to make smaller portions to give gifts to more people, I love these 4 ounce round bottles.
I think you are going to love making and giving these wonderful homemade gifts to friends and family and I just know they will love receiving them, too! They’ll think of you each and every time that they use it!
Here’s my Homemade Vanilla Extract recipe. I hope you enjoy it!
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
- 6 to 7 organic whole vanilla beans
- 1 cup vodka or bourbon
- Split vanilla beans in half lengthwise, leaving the tip of one end attached. Place into a clean bottle(s). If the vanilla bean is too long for the bottle, cut in half or thirds as needed. Fill the bottle with vodka or bourbon and secure the top to the bottle. Label the bottle and shake vigorously. Store in a cool, dark location for at least a month, shaking once per week. The longer the vanilla extract steeps, the darker and more intense the vanilla flavor and scent.
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Hi Robyn, thank you enormously for your amazing recipes.
I was wondering, can the alcohol be substituted by anything else?
Is it possible to make the vanilla in smaller bottles using the same ratio of vanilla bean to alcohol? In other words, can I split up my 7 beans to make smaller bottles of extract? Or do I have to make a full cup with all the beans at once (7)?
Can I put vanilla beans in an already made vanilla Flavoring. Will this make the flavoring stronger. I will make the vanilla extract the way you said. Bought bottles of flavorings want to make stronger.
Hi Robyn, just wondering how much of the vanilla extract is the minimum needed if I need to refill it?
Can everclear be used instead of vodka?
I’ve never tried using it, Judy. Hope you enjoy the recipe.
Do you leave the beans in the bottle indefinitely or remove them at some point?
You will leave the beans in the bottle. Hope you like the vanilla extract!
Making mine today for gifts later this year, can you add other whole spices to the mix or have you tried that yet? If what spices?
I have not added any other spices to the vanilla extract recipe so I can’t tell you how any other ones would work.
This is awesome. These will be gifted at Christmas. As for adding other spices….you could but I would remove them after a while as they will overpower and become bitter.
Thanks, Zach. I love making these for gifts.
Sorry if this is a dumb question but what percentage alcohol is the vodka you use?
I generally like to use at least a 40% alcohol for making my vanilla extract. I use Jack Daniels for my bourbon and just a clear, clean tasting vodka. I hope that helps!
I only used vodka as I didn’t want to add another taste to my vanilla but then I used vodka that has been used with honey, Everyone loves my vanilla
Thanks, Stephen. Yours sounds unique with the addition of the honey.
Your info is welcome and fun! Not a consistent baker now but your recipes are intriguing and motivating! Thank you!
Hope you make your own vanilla extract, Patti, and love it.