Making Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract from Scratch (Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic) plus free printable tags!

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract is so easy. Would make a wonderful homemade Christmas gift. #homemade

Yep, today I am sharing how to make homemade pure vanilla extract – from scratch! I cannot believe just how easy it was to make – you literally only need 2 ingredients. See, that doesn’t sound too hard now does it? You can totally do this.

As you might know buying real vanilla extract can get expensive, but the flavor is amazing. Making your own vanilla extract is a great way to save money and add that wonderful taste to all sorts of dishes. It takes a couple months to make your own, but if you start now (and use cute bottles), it would make a wonderful Christmas present for family and friends.

Vanilla beans - Making homemade vanilla extract

When it comes to making homemade vanilla extract, there are two camps: alcohol and non-alcohol vanilla extract.

Making Homemade Vanilla extract

I gathered the ingredients to make both as pictured above. Here are recipes for either:

Alcohol Vanilla Extract Recipe

Cut the each vanilla bean in half lengthwise splitting them in down the middle, but leave an inch at the end that is still connected. Then cut the beans in half the other way so they are shorter to fit in the jar.

Vanilla Beans - Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

For every 8 ounces, add in pieces of vanilla beans that total 3 or 4 whole beans.

Pure Vanilla Extract using Vodka and beans.

Pour the vodka over the beans so they’re completely covered in liquid. I bought a 40 oz. of vodka and it filled up my mason jar perfectly. I used 16 vanilla beans in my jar.

Next, place the cap or lid tightly on the bottle and put them in a cool, dark place (such as a closet or back of the pantry). Once a week, give the bottles a good shake. The length of time you give them will depend on how intense you want the flavor to be. Six to 8 weeks is plenty, or you can let it go longer.

Once it’s done, use something like a coffee filter or flour sack towel to strain out particulates from the extract. Put it back in the bottle or split among smaller bottles for gifts.

Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract Recipe

Non-alcoholic version of vanilla extract

Many feel the amount of alcohol in the above recipe is very minimal, but if you’d prefer something alcohol-free, here’s how to avoid using vodka.

The instructions are pretty much the same as with the above recipe. Cut and split the vanilla beans and place them in a jar with the glycerine. Put on the lid and store in a cool, dark place, shaking once a week. Takes about 6 to 8 weeks.

This is my first time making homemade vanilla extract, so in 6 weeks I will come back and let you all know how it tastes with both types of vanilla.

About Vanilla Beans

Not all vanilla beans will have the same flavor, so choose your vanilla beans according to your own preference. If you like vanilla extract that is more bold and smoky, Mexican vanilla beans are a good choice while Madagascar vanilla beans have more of a floral, fruity flavor and are a favorite among many. You can also experiment using different types of alcohol like rum or bourbon in place of vodka. Vodka is preferred because it typically is neutral in flavor so the flavor of the vanilla is more pronounced. Other liquor helps bring new dimensions of flavor to the extract.

I’ve read that it’s possible to reuse the beans to make more extract. You can also grind up the beans and use them for recipes, including homemade ice cream.

But is it worth the cost and time?

Vanilla made with alcohol breakdown in price:
Vodka 40 oz – $9.89, Vanilla beans ½ of ¼ lb. package = $8.98
Final price for 40 oz of homemade vanilla = $18.87 = $0.47 oz.

Vanilla made with Glycerin
Glycerin – I only used 40 oz, leaving behind 15 oz… – $8.34, Vanilla beans 1/8 lb = $8.98,
Final price for 40 oz. = 17.32  = $0.43 oz.

Online it says Costco’s 16 oz pure vanilla = $8.13 = $0.51 oz. and Walmart has Great Value pure vanilla at $2.48 per oz. So therefore it IS more cost effective to make your own, especially since it takes little effort to make it, just patience. Patience and time. Another plus is that I have heard you might be able to reuse the vanilla pods again after the first batch to make a second batch which would be a better deal.

Update:: A reader looked in store at Costco and the vanilla is $6.99 for 16 oz, making it $0.44 per oz. So it might be more cost effective to just buy it there. 

If you are doing the bottles for gifts though, including the bottles and price of homemade vanilla per oz. you pay only $3.63 per bottle! That IS ONE THRIFTY GIFT!! And it’s homemade so that is even better.

Gifting and Free Printable

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract is so easy. Would make a wonderful homemade Christmas gift. #homemade

If you think ahead you could have some really lovely homemade Christmas gifts for giving. I took a little bit of burlap, cut a one inch strip and used glue dots to wrap them around some amber colored bottles. Then I printed out these sweet labels that were created for you dear readers by Chelsea from ChelseWeilerDesigns. You can just print them out on some kraft colored paper or order these labels and print directly on them.

Free printable tags for making Homemade Vanilla Extract. Would make a wonderful homemade Christmas gift. #homemade

Here are the links to purchase these items yourself.

And if you would like the free printable all I require from you is your first born child and a chocolate cake. Okay, not really. You can have it for free…you know, cause I love you and all.

Free printable tags to make homemade vanilla! Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic recipe.

Click here for the Free Vanilla printable tag for the Alcohol or Vodka recipe

Click here for that Free Vanilla printable tag for the Non-Alcoholic recipe.

I hope you enjoyed learning about making your own homemade vanilla extract. I am thinking of making a little homemade kit of “vanilla” themed products I made myself to give to my friends and family for Christmas this year. When I strain the vanilla beans after 6 weeks I hope to add them to another homemade soap batch.

Have you made homemade vanilla before? It’s so exciting!110 Comments

Making Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract from Scratch (Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic) plus free printable tags! was last modified: June 28th, 2014 by Karrie

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Comments

  1. I love this!! What a great gift idea! Thank you for putting it all together. 🙂

  2. How long will the strained bottles of vanilla extract keep?

  3. Chelsea Weiler says:

    I LOVE how they turned out!! Can’t wait to make some for myself!

  4. I’ve also heard you can use Bourbon but haven’t tried that yet!

  5. I love making homemade vanilla! It is true you can reuse the beans the second time. Right now I’m trying the third time and not sure that’s going to work. I gave this out for gifts a couple years ago and one person returned the bottle and wanted a refill. Thanks for all you hard work!

  6. Thank you so much for the free printable! You are wonderful!

    • Beth Parente says:

      Does anyone have any suggestions with the printable labels. Mine are not lining up right?

      Thank you,
      Beth

  7. what a super cool idea!!!

  8. I already started my batch of vanilla extract for Christmas gifts this year. I let my vanilla beans soak for closer to 6 months for extra strong vanilla. The labels are adorable and way better than the ones I used last year! Love the burlap and the bow. THANK YOU!

  9. I’ve made vanilla twice now, I do 2 of the 750 ml bottles of vodka each time. It saves a lot of money, because real vanilla is so expensive. The first year I had a $10 a bottle rebate on the vodka, so THAT was cool! I usually get a pound of vanilla beans on ebay and sell off what I don’t need to local friends. I make vanilla sugar with some.

    I love the labels and your creative presentation, thanks for sharing!

  10. I have wanted to try this. Can’t wait to hear how it is. Thank you.

  11. I checked at Costco yesterday and their vanilla is 6.99 for 16 oz, which is just under .44 per ounce. So, unless you don’t have a Costco membership, you don’t actually save money by making vanilla at home, although it might taste better since you can choose the type of beans you like and adjust the strength to suit your preference.

    The amber bottles on Amazon are $21 for 12 bottles, which adds $1.75 for each 4 oz bottle, which actually doubles the cost of the homemade vanilla, if you use the amber bottles.

    However, you can use the same basic recipe to make all kinds of extracts, and most extracts are not available at Costco for such a low price as their vanilla extract.

    I make anise extract at home to use in homemade biscotti and other recipes. You can get a 7 oz package of Star Anise on Amazon for a little over $6. http://amzn.to/18sh1Yg
    That’s enough to make 40 oz of anise extract, and you can reuse the star anise for a second batch if you leave the second batch a little longer before straining out the star anise.

    It’s fun to make your own extracts at home, and you can experiment with different flavors.

    • Hi Margaret, thanks for checking in store! My price was the online price for Costco. So maybe it is less expensive to just get it at Costco.

      If you are doing the bottles for gifts though, including the bottles and price of homemade vanilla per oz. you would pay only $3.63 per bottle! That IS ONE THRIFTY GIFT!! And it’s homemade so that is even better.

      • I agree, these would make wonderful gifts. They’re inexpensive and something the recipient will really appreciate, and, best of all, they’re made with love.

        Thanks for the great gift idea!

    • Don’t be fooled! I too found pure vanilla extracts on sale. Read the ingredient list. All the PURE vanilla extracts I have found at Wal-Mart, and other local grocery stores list water and/or corn syrup. The Great Value brand lists water first, meaning there is more water than any of the other ingredients. Not such a deal after all.

    • Costco vanilla (Kirkland, 16 oz) has sugar listed as an ingredient, which is probably why it’s cheaper. I’ve never found it as cheap as 6.44 per 16 oz though- that was some sort of special deal.

    • Hey,
      I’ve also kept anise extract for brewing for first time, how much time do you keep it bottled?, I’ve seen ideal time is 3 mths or so. is there any way to make it in less time?
      thanks!

  12. I have 2 bottles of homemade vanilla aging in my closet now. I did lots of research before I tried it. This was before you put this on your blog. I poured out a little vodka out of the bottles and put the vanilla beans right into the vodka bottles. Even though I think it is cheaper and easier right now to buy it at Costco, I did it because I wanted to try it at least once. And I wanted to give them as gifts. I like your labels.

  13. I’ve used homemade vanilla for years and the recipe I started out with tells you to just leave the vanilla beans in the bottle/jar and fill it up with the alcohol when ever you use some – has worked well so far and have had the same beans in there for probably 3-4 years – although I have added one bean a couple of times. Also the alcohol I use is brandy – supposed to be a stronger vanilla flavor.

  14. For real extract (legally speaking) you need more beans. At least 8 per cup. Double your recommendation. More is fine. Also if you buy a lb of beans you can get a whole lb of extract grade beans for less then $50 online, so it’s not doubling the price if you double the beans. If you use an off the shelf vanilla extract it can have corn syrup and other additives, even if labeled ‘pure’ so that is another possible concern and a good reason to make your own. For more info: http://www.vanillareview.com/make-vanilla-extract/

    Also I love your labels, so cute! And they look great with the burlap on the bottles.

  15. Crunchy4Life says:

    I’ve been making vanilla extract for a few years now. I love it & share it with others. But I use Jamaican rum which gives it a better flavor than the vodka. Be careful using glycerin though, I know a few ppl who are allergic.

  16. I make my homemade vanilla extract like Tash does with at least 8 beans per cup. I have a quart sized mason jar that I have my vanilla “brewing” in and I have a 16 oz. bottle of vanilla that I use when I do my baking (I also keep some vanilla beans in the bottle). When the bottle gets low, I refill from the mason jar and then add more vodka to the mason jar. I will occasionally add a fresh vanilla bean to the mason jar. I do not strain my vanilla at all before using it.

    I started making vanilla extract 3 years ago and still have the original beans in the mason jar.

  17. To make the recipe more cost effective you can grow your own vanilla by purchasing a vanilla tree at http://www.logees.com. They have great deals on trees of all kinds.

    • Just a note on growing your own vanilla. It isn’t a tree. It is a tropical vine with an orchid like flower. It takes just the right growing conditions and you have to hand pollinate.So unless you have a climate controlled greenhouse or solarium and lots of time just buy the beans.

      The reason true vanilla is so expensive is because every plant is hand pollinated.

      But I am going to try this recipe and bottle it up. I make jams,jellies and fruit butters that I sell at farmer’s markets. This would be a great addition especially around the holidays..

  18. I have a large family and lots of work friends that this will be perfect for for Christmas gifts! Thanks for the great idea. I’m bookmarking this page for pay day. 🙂

  19. I’m so excited to make this for my friends, neighbors and myself. Thanks for sharing.
    You can find 4 oz amber bottles at aromatools.com for just $.65 each. I have used these bottles for my essential oils, and they are a great quality. FYI: Sizes range from 1/4 dram up to 32 oz.

  20. Thanks for sharing. I checked my walmart and an other brand of vanilla that I have and they both have stuff in them that I can’t even pronounce! Going to make your recipe so I don’t have all the other “crap” in my Vanilla!

    Do you think this concept would work for other things? I use a lot of Anise extract (especially at Christmas time). Do you think if I put some whole Anise seed in some Vodka it would work the same way? Or how about orange and lemon peel for orange and lemon extract?

  21. What it the alcohol content of the vodka?

  22. I am having SO much fun trying all this new stuff! I’ve made vanilla extract using your recipe and love it! My next adventure is laundry soap/fabric softener. I wonder…could I use the extract instead of essential oil in these? Or maybe grind up the beans into either of them after the extract is finished “cooking”? Thanks…you’ve given me so many happy adventures!

    • Oooh, no I wouldn’t advise using vanilla extract – it’s totally different than essential oil. Extract is alchohol and essential oils are oils from plants. I love the smell of vanilla though…it would be nice in laundry sometimes!

  23. JoAnn Johnson says:

    Do you have to use colored bottles when you make the Vanilla Extract? I have a lot of smaller clear canning jars, I would like to use.

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      It really is best to bottle it in dark bottles if possible so you don’t compromise the quality of the vanilla. Vanilla is one of several products that is damaged by sunlight, thus the need to keep it in a dark bottle. I guess if your bottle never sees the light of day, a clear bottle would be OK to store it in.

  24. I absolutely ADORE your website. I have made so many awesome things and love them all. Is there a reason why you have to use a brown bottle? I’m assuming it somehow preserves the vanilla, as all vanilla I buy is in a brown bottle. I’m just wondering if there is an alternative, like 4 ounce canning jars?? thank you so much

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I am so glad it! You use a dark bottle so you don’t compromise the quality. I have only used brown bottles but I have read if you would like to use a clear bottle keep it stored in the dark to preserve the quality!

  25. I checked in here for the dishwasher detergent recipe and I’m seeing this one now! My mother did this as a gift several years ago and my husband and I did them as wedding favors (only did about 4 oz though per person, but we had lots of extra if people wanted a second) and it only cost about 1.12 per favor! But listen, I know this post is old and I’m sure you are quite committed to amazon but there are scads of wholesale places where you can get vanilla beans much cheaper.
    I really think it’s important for people to know how to make their own vanilla! Thanks! The quality is great.

    When the vanilla beans are spent we dry them out and put them in the sugar bowl for vanilla sugar. Then when that is used up we grind them WITH sugar to make vanilla powder!

  26. Hi, I live in a 3rd world country, where Vodka is very hard to come by and glycerin is, to the best of my knowledge, impossible to get (I can hardly even find broccoli here). Vanilla beans, however, are easy to get my hands on. Is there a third, non-alcoholic choice I can use to make homemade vanilla??? I do not mind if it is laborious. I already have to make most stuff from scratch so I don’t mind the work; it is the simplicity of the ingredients that concerns me.

    • If vanilla extract cannot be made, any suggestions on what to do with my vanilla beans?

      • You can scrape the seeds out and use them directly. Then use the empty pods in your sugar. There are online recipes for making vanilla paste -some without alcohol.

  27. abigail says:

    I was wondering what your opinion of the two vanillas was. I would prefer to use the non alcoholic version but I want to make sure it tastes good. Thanks for the recipes!

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I honestly liked both of them! I used them both in baking and couldn’t really tell that much of a difference!

  28. Christine says:

    Thanks so much for the post. I’ve been planning on trying this and have researched a lot about beans – found out you can use the beans for up to a year. That’s seems a stretch but I think you can get at least 3-4 batches of vanilla from one set of beans. I also read about trying it with different types of liquor. Rum, vodka, brandy and bourbon…I’m going to give all four a shot with different beans (Mexican, Madagascar, Indonesian and Tahitian). What sucks is waiting the 2 months minimum to see which one I like best. Crossing my fingers I love them all!

  29. I totally love making vanilla. I make it from the different kinds of beans. Some are much better in chocolate while others are better in creams. Some favors better in uncooked foods; some better in cooked foods. Experiment. For example, Our family enjoys Tahitian vanilla in caramel but not in chocolate. The same goes with picking which alcohol to soak the beans in. All depends which bean blends with the alcohol. But do buy a good clean alcohol. Since I do not drink vodka, I had a Ukrainian friend help me find a good brand. Her taste test yielded Russian standard, grey goose, and Kirkland as being very good. Given the prices, I use Kirkland.

  30. Try drying the used beans and grinding with sea (or Celtic) salt. I use the vanilla salt in baked goods, oatmeal (from The Homemade Pantry), and smoothies. I got the idea from http://www.beanilla.com after using their vanilla salt.

  31. Krista Thompson says:

    Does the alcohol cook out when you use this for baking?

  32. Catherine M says:

    Hey thanks for the great idea! Quick question, which one ended up tasting better? And did the alcohol one have a lingering vodka smell/flavor or smell purely like vanilla? Thanks!

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I liked them both. The vanilla beans really do a great job of masking any other flavor and taste. I especially loved baking with both vanillas–it really enhanced the cookies to have that homemade touch in them!

  33. I am so excited to try this but I wanted to tell you I followed the link you provided to buy vanilla beans and ordered them. When they arrived I immediately opened them to begin the process and they smelled rancid and were moldy! After reading more and more reviews about the product I realized that this has happened to a good amount of customers and it seems impossible to reach the seller. 🙁 I know this is not your fault but I thought you would want to know about it since it is on your blog.

  34. Hi Karrie.
    This is a really good post. Please, I would like to know how the extracts finally turned out and the difference between the two strength wise etc. Thanks.

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I really liked both of them and so did the people I gave them out to. The consensus between most people was that the alcoholic version was closer to the original. But when cooking with the vanillas they both tasted great! I don’t think you can go wrong with either of them!

  35. Love your pretty bottles! I made vanilla last year with vodka and have let it sit for an entire year! It smells so good! I bought those cute little amber colored bottles around the same time too! So this year….everyone is getting vanilla! haha! Curious as to what size of circles the labels are? I am trying to hunt down a punch!! Thank you for sharing! 😀

  36. Hi, thank you for sharing it, it really helps me because i cant use the store bought vanilla extract that contain alcohol. And i just wondering if i can make other homemade extract like peppermint or lemon extract using this non alcohol vanilla extract recipe?

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      You know I have never made other flavored extracts using the non alcohol recipe! I know you can do it with the vodka recipe so it might be worth a try! 🙂

  37. Beth Parente says:

    I am trying to print off labels today. I bought the labels you suggested from Etsy. When trying to print they do not line up. Help?????? Please.

    Thank you,
    Beth

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      Try printing them first on a piece of blank paper to see where they are not lining up. From there you may need to adjust your paper or the printables. An easy way to do that is to play with the measurements in a photo editing program or even as simple as word. Just download the printable and change the sizes or add more space between them and print out until you get it perfect for the labels. 🙂

    • Jacquie Ragan says:

      I’m sure you’ve either ruined all of your labels or completely given up on the label process at this point but I wanted to respond for others who may have this question/issue. I also purchased the labels linked from this project (very cute, thanks) and when I initially printed on a blank page to make sure everything lined up, they were off – by quite a bit. My husband mentioned that PDFs will stretch to fit the page. You need to use a program like Adobe Reader that will allow you, in the print options, to print “Actual Size”. Do this again on a white page just to make sure things line up. THEN, when you load your labels into the printer make sure they are in there as straight as an arrow. My first sheet, even after all of the testing, wound up off by just the smallest amount but it made a huge difference. But because everything was lined up perfectly on the white “test” paper I tried again with my second (and last remaining) sheet (making sure the label was in the printer as straight as possible) and it worked like a charm.

      I hope this helps.

  38. Hi! My mom and I are always looking for homemade things like this to give out at Christmas and this would be PERFECT! My only question was do you have to have amber colored bottles? My I looked on amazon is said they were for light sensitive things, so I was wondering if that was necessary, in case I found a good deal on some clear ones.

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      It really is best to bottle it in dark bottles if possible so you don’t compromise the quality of the vanilla. Vanilla is one of several products that is damaged by sunlight, thus the need to keep it in a dark bottle. I guess if your bottle never sees the light of day, a clear bottle would be OK to store it in.

  39. Add the leftover vanilla beans to sugar and make vanilla sugar. It is the best!!

  40. Mimi McLaughlin says:

    Hi Karrie,
    I am planning to make these on Thursday. I’m so excited to give these as Christmas gifts this year, it’s been a long 8 weeks lol! Quick question: Did you sterilize your amber bottles or did you just wash and dry them? Just making sure I do everything right… Thank you so much! Love your blog!!! 🙂

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I did sterilize them by boiling them in a stock-pot of water for a few minutes and removing them carefully on a clean towel to dry

  41. I was looking for a non alcoholic version and I found it here. Thanks a bunch. So sweet of you to have given the label link. Not many do. I should appreciate you for that.

  42. I am in the process of making homemade vanilla from Madagascar beans with 40 proof Vodka. The beans have been marinating for 2 months. I then strained all the extract and bottled the extract into 8 oz clear, corked bottles and let sit in my dark, cool pantry. I went to get them for Christmas gifts and see that the neck of the bottles have an oily build-up. To say the least, it looked gross. I know the vanilla beans are naturally greesy but do you get this same build-up in your bottled vanilla?

    • No, mine did not have an oily build up at all. I like to strain mine with a flour sack towel or superfine cheesecloth. Did you strain well enough I wonder?

  43. kiran tank says:

    Is there is any change in taste of alcoholic and non alcoholic vanilla extract

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I really liked both of them and so did the people I gave them out to. The consensus between most people was that the alcoholic version was closer to the original. But when cooking with the vanillas they both tasted great!

  44. For those with gluten sensetivity, use a good quality potato vodka.

  45. I love this especially since I use Pure Vanilla extract as a mosquito repellant on my grandchildren as infants & toddlers because at that age everything goes in their mouth & I can Spray it All Over them in a Travel atomizer & this way they don’t get “poisoned” and SMELL like vanilla cookies^^
    You just use a 1:1 ratio of water to Pure Vanilla Extract (If you have to use “Store bought” before your own batch is ready make sure there is NO alcohol OR SUGAR in the store bought brand… that actually WILL attract the bugs)

    • Hi! Thanks for this little tip! I wondering, what does your Pure Vanilla Extract mosquito repellant use as a base if not alcohol or anything with sugar? Even Vegetable Glycerin is a type of sugar?

  46. Thanks so much for posting this..

  47. What label template should I used to print labels

  48. thanks very much for this very essential for beginers

  49. Hi,

    Awesome site!

    Just one question. Would you know if I can use propylene glycol instead of Glycerin? Would it be better or worse?

    Many thanks!

  50. Awesome work

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