Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extractI use vanilla extract nearly everyday when baking. It’s as common in recipes as flour and sugar. In the past two years I’ve started experimenting with other, gourmet vanilla extracts now and again. And I thought it would be fun to make my own-so I gave it a try!
Treats(A few treats made with vanilla extract from our archives.)

I read this tutorial from Ina Garten and decided that I wanted to cut the recipe down a bit as I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to use quite that much extract. Fill a bottle with 4 ounces of vodka (feel free to use the cheap stuff for this recipe as it won’t matter-we won’t be drinking it!) and 1 vanilla bean split down the middle. Seal your bottle and let it soak for 2 months. Ta-da! Vanilla extract!

How to make vanilla extractNow you might be thinking: Wait, I’m going to be putting vodka in my cupcake recipes? I’m not too comfortable with that idea. Don’t worry-the alcohol burns out as the recipe bakes, leaving only the delicious taste of vanilla. And because extract is made with such a high content of alcohol it can be stored at room temp (and used) indefinitely. Happy baking! xo. emma and elsie

  • Can u use just the pod to make the extract? I used the vanilla beans in my cupcakes but I know there is still some flavor in the pods as well. Not sure what to do with it. Thanks

  • Out of vodka? You can use brandy also … Alas, I’m not a drinker, so have neither …

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  • My understanding is it takes hours of cooking at high temperature to burn off alcohol.

  • Also delicious using burboun instead of vodka. Then, when the vanilla extract is all used up, drop the vanilla bean in a jar of sugar and you will have the most delicious vanilla infused sugar!

  • i actually do this but to make vanilla vodka, so i use good vodka and add the vanilla and you end up with the same result. Now i have 2 uses!

  • Great idea! I really want to make it, but there is a little problem as I don’t know where to find a pretty bottle for it like yours 🙁

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  • Hi,
    I’m just wondering if you would be able to taste the vodka if you put it in a coffee? Not that I mind, it just might prevent me taking home-made vanilla latte’s into my lectures. Not sure getting tipsy would be a good thing to do at Uni.

  • I’m fairly sure that alcohol takes a very long time to burn out during cooking so there would still be some left at the end of baking. but barely any seeing as you use a small amount

  • I use it all lot also in my baking, i keep meaning to make some but never get around to it. seeing this has made me get myself in to action and give it a try.


  • I love this. I use about a bottle of vanilla extract a week and never thought of making my own. Thanks for this post 🙂

    Toni x

  • I love this idea! I’ve seen it on multiple sites before and always say I’m going to give it a try!

  • I did this about a year and a half ago, and even after baking lots of goodies, it’s only about half used. It’s very tasty and I plan to continue making it this way. I ordered the vanilla beans from Amazon, and I made about 16 oz. of it, using this recipe and the instructions from CNN’s Eatocracy column:

  • I would recommend using more than 1 vanilla bean for 4 oz of vodka. I use about 4-6 vanilla beans for 8 oz of vodka when I make extract. And I generally let it sit for 8-10 weeks. You really want it to infuse fully, it shouldn’t smell like the alcohol anymore once you’re ready to use it. Just my 2 cents! 🙂

  • “Now you might be thinking: Wait, I’m going to be putting vodka in my cupcake recipes? I’m not too comfortable with that idea.”

    Haha.. I was thinking “Sweet, FINALLY I can put vodka in my cupcakes!”

  • I love making our own vanilla extract! It makes a great Christmas present too, if you have a lot of bakers in the family. My favorite thing about it is you can refill the vodka/rum several times (even for a couple years, if you have a few beans in the bottle) and the same beans will keep making new extract for you before you need to replace them!

  • How convenient. Just learned that vanilla extract is made from what else? corn syrup. -Food Inc. Thank God for Documentary + Research.

  • Wow…so easy. I love Ina Garten…I will have to try this. Check out my blog for other great recipes, enjoy!

  • My mom & I make this for Christmas presents. We use really cheap vodka and Madagascar Vanilla Beans (seriously, after much trial & error, they are the best!)We also double the amount of beans so the extract is darker & more richly flavored.

  • I’m totally going to try this! Thank you. 🙂

    ♥ sécia

  • yum!! definitely hadnt the slightest clue i could do this myself. i’m guilty of generally always having vodka on hand so i will be trying this soon!!

    you lovely ladies are amazing! XOXO

  • Interesting idea. I am going to try it. I like your suggestions for making things with vodka. You should have this as a regular feature on your site. 🙂

  • We just filled up three 1.75 L bottles up with vodka and vanilla. Guess what everyone in my office is getting for presents next Christmas! The longer it steeps, the better. We buy our vanilla from eBay, and have one bottle continuously steeping. I pour a bit of it into a smaller jar whenever I’m needing more.

    Another good thing to do is use a food processor to grind up the beans if you are making a lot (we had several pounds to grind up!)

  • Thanks for sharing! I am always running out of vanilla extract just when I need it. If I make it I won’t! Yeah! I like comment about making the extract and giving it out as Christmas gifts, and the comment about buying vanilla beans from Amazon. Who would have thought that Amazon would sell vanilla beans!

  • i’ve been meaning to make vanilla extract for months now! looks like you’ve made some yummy things, makes me want to bake right now!

  • On the to-do list.

    Thanks girls!



  • My BFF made this for me for Christmas and i have loved using it; i feel like the vanilla taste is somehow more pure.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • that’s awesome. i typically use a LOT of pure vanilla extract for baking and for burns. i need to try this and see if its good for both as well!

  • I can’t stand vodka but have a bottle that was a gift left over- now I have a use! Fab timing as I just ran out of vanilla essence! Rx

  • my mom and i have been talking about doing this!! i can’t wait! it looks so cute in that little bottle.





  • I bet it can do double duty…vanilla extract for baking and vanilla flavored vodka for Friday night cocktails! Cool stuff.

  • Hi Elsie! I have a blog award to give you and just want to say I’ve been a big fan of you and your creative ways forever! Please visit my blog to see what you need to do with the award! xo Lisa

  • Wow…that’s so simple! I’m gonna give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • So simple and delicious! Just make sure to use at least 5 Vanilla Beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. Using any fewer than this just makes vanilla flavored booze (which is still great to drink, but not great for cooking). I’ve been doing this for years and usually find great quality vanilla beans at

    Hope this helps,


  • I have never thought about this!! This is so amazing and I will definitely be trying this out. Thank youu!

  • MMmmmakes me hungry, thanks for the tips, i never knew it was that simple!xxx

  • Very nice and useful post!
    Definitely gonna try this one 🙂

    Love, Sari

  • That is what I did for Christmas presents this year. My ratio of liquior to vanilla beans was a bit different. I also used one batch with vodka and one batch with brandy. The brandy version turned out soooo rich and smooth.

  • Very cool! I wonder what other alcohol choices would do to the flavor? Side point: the alcohol you bake off doesn’t burn off entirely.

    So I bet you might have some different (and interesting) effects with different alcohols.

  • Such a great, simple idea. I bet that would make really cute gifts for people. Especially since buying a large bottle of cheap vodka is very inexpensive!

  • Brilliant, I did not know ther’s was that much alcohol in vanilla extract!

  • Can’t wait to try this? Can you make other extracts (like mint for example) Using this method?

  • Who knew it was that easy! Sheesh, what a great idea!

  • I made homemade vanilla extract a few months ago for the first time. It’s SO easy and so much cheaper than buying the good stuff!

  • This makes so much sense, since vanilla extract has an alcohol base anyway- I’m so glad you pointed it out! I think I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks Emma & Elsie!

  • i’m going to try this-as I do buy the most amazing pods here, from Uganda-also quite nice to think ahead for Christmas gifts. You’ll be ready before I get round to it though-so let us know how it goes.

  • I have been making my own extract for years. To improve on this is to keep the jar in a paperbag (dark) and shake. Yes you can use it in 2 months but it gets so much better the older it is. If you are going to give as gifts start making it now in Feburary so it will already be turning dark at Christmas.

  • Ina is my fav and this vanilla is amazing. I’ve been making my own for years! Love that you reduced the recipe—the original makes a TON of vanilla.

  • rad! – who knew it was that easy!?

    definitely gonna make some homemade extract very soon!

    x bel.

  • This is so cool! I probably use vanilla extract every time I bake too. I’d love to be able to make my own almond extract as well.

  • Plus I don’t know if you’ve notice how EXPENSIVE vanilla extra is, this is a fantastic money saver tip! Now I just need to learn how to grow vanilla beans!

  • I do the same thing with rum instead of vodka. It’s perfect for canelés (a little cake from South West of France, usually eaten with coffee at the end of the meal).

  • It was a beautiful blog, very interesting and very informative. I really enjoyed reading it. Keep it up.

  • Thank you, this is brilliant! So simple, I’d never considered how simple it might be to make! I’m off to make some now! xx

  • I was a little shocked at the vodka, but this is really neat! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    xo Heather

  • I started making my own vanilla extract a while ago as it is so hard to get here in Germany and if you can get it, it is soooo expensive.
    I use it in all my recipes and love it.

    I made about 2 cups and refill it with vodka when about 1/4 is gone and maybe change out some of the vanilla beans every once in a while or throw in a scraped out one – endless vanilla extract. =)

  • Wow! Thats so simple!
    haha! I use vanilla extract all the time when i’m baking! I just loveee the smell <3


  • Really awesome, I love the taste, the smell, the color of vanilla… I will try this soon, for sure!

  • Those iced buns look delicious! Thanks for this post, Maggie xx

  • I do this too and put it in small jars to give as Christmas gifts. Also, for anyone thinking about doing this, Amazon is a great place to get vanilla beans for a lot less than what you’d find in a grocery store.

  • How interesting. I never knew it was made with vodka. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Hi! I’ve been doing this for over 2 years and it always turns out perfect! If you put them in nice bottles you could give them out as favours at a party.
    Alice Barton ♥ The Mow Way

  • Wow! I never knew that you could do this! Thanks so much for sharing:)

    Stephanie May*

  • Haha, the vodka was rather unexpected! Is it possible to use the same idea when making other extracts such as peppermint?

  • Vanilla is my number one favourite flavour! This is a great idea as the good stuff is so expensive!

  • Yes! Finally a way to make this stuff! I am constantly baking, which means I am constantly running out of vanilla extract, so this is a blessing! thank you!

  • i’ve had martha stewart’s recipe bookmarked for months, and i have it saved as inspiration for christmas/birthday gifts this year. how sweet would it be to give this to the bakers in your life?

  • Such a fun idea – I totally want to try this now but I don’t want to have to wait two months for it to be ready! 😉

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