How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract-
Have you ever thought of making your own vanilla extract? I would never have guessed how easy it is! All you need is two ingredients, vanilla beans and alcohol. Yup, that’s it. Who would have thought it could be as simple as that? Last Christmas I gave little bottles of vanilla to some of my family and friends as gifts. I love simple homemade gifts. This has got to be the easiest gift I have ever made.
Homemade Vanilla Extract

1-750 ml bottle vodka, rum or bourbon
20 vanilla beans
1 quart glass jar
1. Cut your vanilla beans length wise with scissors and then into two pieces. Put the vanilla beans in a glass jar cover with the alcohol and secure the lid.2. Leave it in a dark place for at least two months, shaking occasionally. Over time the vanilla will become darker and the flavor stronger. My most resent batch has been sitting for almost five months. The flavor and color are so much richer, definitely worth the wait!

Extending the Life of Your Vanilla

While many claim that vanilla extract is purpetual, I have foudn that not to be the case. I do reuse the vanilla beans for a while but over time there is little flavor left to be extracted. I remove any spent beans and leave them out to dry. Once dry i add them to a jar of sugar or salt to add a delicous and light flavor to dishes where I want just a hint of vanilla.  I have also cut them up and added them to tea.

Gifting Your Vanilla 

Instead of making the vanilla in a glass jar you can split the vanilla beans and booze between six 4 oz bottles, tie them with a ribbon and note explaining that the recipient can add more alcohol once the bottle is half empty.

I buy my vanilla beans and glass bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs. (You can purchase them through the link on the sidebar.)

So what are you waiting for? Go out get yourself some booze and buy some vanilla beans. You’ll be so glad you did!

On the left -Bourbon  On the right-Vodka


This post is part of The Week Long Blog Hop, Hearth and Soul, Simple Lives Thursday, Teach me Tuesday,  Homemade Christmas Gifts Carnaval,  Pennywise Platter Thursday, 

About Katie Mae Stanley

Katie Mae Stanley is the writer at Nourishing Simplicity, where the focus is on nourishing foods, herbal remedies, simple living and faith. Ethnic and Mid-west foods are always a favorite in her kitchen and on her blog. She is also the author of the book Steeped: Simple Nourishing Teas and Treats. Katie Mae spent 10 years as a missionary dorm "mama" for a gaggle (almost 40) of amazing deaf girls at a school for the deaf in Baja California, Mexico. Now she finds herself state side ready to embrace God's next adventure. A cup of tea or coffee and a bit of dark chocolate make an appearance at some point in any given day. You can connect with the Nourishing Simplicity community on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.


  1. Kristi, you won’t regret it! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I use vanilla extract all of the time…I can’t wait to try this!!

    Kristi at

  3. Thank you!

  4. Anonymous, I had a friend who made her’s with vegteable glycerin. She filled a pint jar with 4 vanilla beans and the vg. She cooked it in a crock pot for three days. To do that you place a cloth in the bottom of the crock pot because you don’t want the jar to break. Then you fill it with water until the jar is 3/4 of the way exposed. You cover and cook on low or warm for three days, ocationaly adding more water as it evoporates. The out come isn’t as good as vanilla that is extracted with alcohol but the flavor is still therem though not as strong. The color also does not change much, it is only a very light brown. I hope that helps! I believe that Tader Joe’s sells an alcohol free vanilla, but I could be wrong.

  5. Do you know if there is a way to do it without alcohol? I am allergic but would like to make my own. Right now I just use imitation vanilla with no alcohol.

  6. Thanks for sharing and linking this with the Hearth and Soul. I like the tip about cutting the beans lengthwise, thanks.

  7. Erin, very true! 🙂

  8. oops I haven’t added anything all year. Oh well, still tastes delicious. It is a great gift…to give and receive!


  1. Chai Eggnog says:

    […] cup chai tea concentrate 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/4-1/2  cup rum or bourbon (optional) 6 eggs 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (additional for […]

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