The Homemade Pantry: Vanilla Extract

Neither of us drink alcohol although you'd never guess that if you look in my kitchen cupboards.  We store beer and wine for soap, tequila for tequila-lime chicken, bourbon for bourbon ham and vodka for vodka sauce and for this.

I've been hooked on making my own vanilla extract for a few years now.  If you've looked at some of the extracts on the shelf of your grocery store, you'll likely see corn syrup as an ingredient.  Yuck.  Making it yourself ensures you know exactly what's in it {2 ingredients} and it will have the best darn vanilla flavor you've ever had.

Don't buy your vanilla beans from the grocery store - it will cost you a fortune.  Instead, google vanilla beans and you'll find a plethora of inexpensive sources.

Vanilla Extract

For every 1 cup (8 ounces) of Vodka, you'll need approx. 8 Vanilla Beans (1 ounce of beans - the number depends on their size).

If you're adding to a full bottle of vodka, start by removing about 1 cup of vodka and set it aside.  Split your beans down the center and add to the bottle of vodka.  You can scrape them if you prefer, it does give even more vanilla flavor.  If you do this, add the scraped pods + what was scraped to the vodka.

Once you've done this with all beans, add the reserved cup of vodka until the bottle is full.  Shake the bottle and put aside in a dark, cool area for a minimum of 6 months.  If you can wait 8 months to a year, it has the best flavor.

Weekly, or when you think of it, shake the bottle.  Check it after 6 months.  It should smell strongly of vanilla and be dark and slightly syrupy.  If it isn't, put it aside for a couple of weeks and continue to shake and check on it.  

You can pour it into smaller bottles or keep it in the vodka bottle to use.


  1. I am currently in the process of making this for the first time ever.
    Took me forever to remember to buy vodka, so that I could get this started!

  2. I'm gonna make this for Christmas gifts for all my baker friends! So, if you make it right in the vodka bottle, how many pods do you need?
    Thanks for the recipe. Pinned!

  3. Hi Staci,
    Thanks for sharing this vanilla recipe with us. I'll be heading out soon to get the ingredients.
    1. Where do you buy the vanilla beans?
    2. Where do you buy the darling bottle in your picture?
    I want to make some for Christmas gifts and would
    love to put the vanilla in your type bottle.

    As always - I appreciate you sharing such great DIY projects. I know this takes a great deal of time and effort on your part.

  4. Do you use cheap vodka or name brand? I agree - this would be great Christmas presents.

  5. Yes!! I started my vanilla about 5 years ago, and just keep adding vodka to it. I did actually add some more beans-- it started with a "homemade" bottle kit from Marshall's. Last year when I went to Home Goods and saw the same thing, I bought it and added the beans to my old stock. This is THE way to have pure vanilla extract!!

    I did the same with some pecans too. I followed an online recipe, but as I recall, you just put the pecans in some water, boil for 30 seconds to remove bitterness, and then put them in a mason jar with some vodka (in a dark cabinet), and a few months later it's ready to go.

    Thanks for your post. And to take the liberty to respond to the other comment, I've used "better" vodka and even some vanilla vodka I had on hand one time!!

  6. Chris - when I first was going to make Vanilla extract that's what happened to me too. I don't stop at the liquor store so I kept forgetting too. Happy you finally remembered! :)

    Daisy - this makes a perfect gift! If it's a 25 ounce bottle you'll need 10-12 vanilla beans.

    Bobbie - thank you! I believe the small bottle is from Hobby Lobby. I purchased my most recent vanilla beans online through It's definitely a perfect gift!!

    Rebecca - there's no need to use an expensive vodka. The alcohol will bake out anyway when you use it so the vanilla beans are the most important ingredient.

    Thank you so much Carol!!

  7. I was wondering if you'd ever tried rum instead of vodka? Also is there a type of vanilla bean that you prefer?


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