Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love to bake and I usually add vanilla extract to just about everything because well why not? Last time I went to the store I was browsing the baking section and noticed a tiny bottle of extract was $23!!!! WOW, I haven’t bought it in probably 10 years and now I know why. That is crazy money for something you can really easily make at home for a fraction of the cost and better yet the homemade kind will be preservative FREE.

Here is my recipe I have been using for at least 10 years and my mom and my grandma used before me. It is insanely easy and a fraction of the cost, it also tastes so YUMMY! Side note I use this in my coffee as well for a little extra flavor, and NO you won’t be drinking/using alcohol as long as you let it sit long enough before using.



  • Good quality Madagascar Vanilla Beans  (you can also find them at Costco for a good price)
  • Alcohol of your choosing (I generally use vodka or rum. See below info. for more options)
  • Glass Bottles or jar with an airtight seal (a canning jar, maple syrup jar, or a Decanter




  1. Take your vanilla beans and split them down the middle with a knife. Try not to cut all the way through both sides of the pod.
  2. Take your knife and scrape the insides out of the pod then scrape them off into whatever jar you are using. You don’t have to get it all this just helps speed up the process a bit.
  3. Once you have split open and scraped all your bean pods (the exact FDA approved calculation is 5 beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. I have never followed this rule I just add several beans to my jar and call it a day. I also keep all my old beans in the jar and just keep adding new beans and more alcohol as I run out of extract. Put the scraped pods in the jar as well.
  4. Pour your chosen alcohol in to fill up the jar
  5. Place air tight lid on and give the mixture a really good shake.
  6. Put your jar in a dark spot for about 4-8 weeks shaking it up every few days to once a week or so. Basically when you remember.
  7. Once your liquid takes on a nice dark tone and doesn’t smell like heavy alcohol anymore it is ready to use. It will still have a light alcohol smell just like store bought. If you open it and it smell strongly of alcohol it isn’t ready yet let it sit awhile longer. Conversion is 1:1 with homemade extract vs store-bought.
as you can see I have a lot of beans in mine from adding to it over the years

I have NEVER had this go bad. It will keep for I am convinced ever. I mean really does vodka or rum go bad? Nope better with age 😉


What Type of Beans and Alcohol to Use


Different types of Vanilla Beans 


Madagascar Vanilla Beans – rich and creamy (These are what I always use)

Mexican Vanilla Beans – bold, dark, smokey

India Vanilla Bean – full, chocolate

Indonesian Vanilla Beans – mild, well balanced

Tahitian Vanilla Beans – floral, cherry-chocolate

Tonga Vanilla Beans – earthy, fig, raisin


Different types of Alcohol 


Vodka – most common, neutral, pure flavor (also usually the cheapest)

You can also get flavored vodka for a different twist and flavor in your extract

Rum – Different varieties can make your extract smooth, rich, sweet, etc..

Bourbon – more complex deep flavor

Brandy – adds a unique and heavier flavor


Additional Information

  • Since this has to sit awhile before it is ready I would recommend having 2 jars going. Another option is to fill your jar up when it gets about half full and let it sit for a few weeks.
  • Don’t hesitate to play around with the beans and alcohol. You will find some amazing combinations!
  • Anytime you use a bean to cook instead of throwing it away just add the spent pod to your vanilla!
  • This makes an easy and delicious gift!