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.
When it comes to making homemade vanilla extract, there are two camps: alcohol and non-alcohol vanilla extract.
I gathered the ingredients to make both as pictured above. Here are recipes for either:
Alcohol Vanilla Extract Recipe
- Unflavored vodka
- Vanilla beans
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.
For every 8 ounces, add in pieces of vanilla beans that total 3 or 4 whole 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
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.
- 16 oz food-grade vegetable glycerine
- 8 vanilla beans
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
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.
Here are the links to purchase these items yourself.
- Amber colored bottles
- Kraft colored sticker labels (from etsy)
- Glue dots
- Vanilla beans
- or Vodka – liquor store
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.
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.
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
- 16 oz Vodka or Vegetable Glycerine
- 8 vanilla beans
- Cut and split the vanilla beans and place them in a jar with the vodka (use glycerine for a non-alcoholic version). Put on the lid and store in a cool, dark place, shaking once a week. In six to 8 weeks your vanilla extract will be ready to use.
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!
what is the NUMBER of the labels AVERY ? To purchase to print these labels you had for free printing
Thank you for sharing this! Things are tight for me this year and I have been searching for a way to give gifts that people will use. being able to give them this vanilla will be amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you 🙂
The labels are wonderful too!
Oh, I love this! So glad it could help!
Sherrie Oldham says
Do I scape the seeds out of the bean or leave them intact.. confused about the straining step.. I so want to make this.. THX
Just cup the vanilla beans in half and leave them intact. I’m excited for you to make it!
Leena Paul says
This is really nice. thanks for sharing.go ahead
Corine Mullins says
What size bottles are the amber colored. I try to rap the link but it won’t allow the contents
Can I mix vodka and glycerin together to make it go further and stay true to the flavors.
I don’t think that would work unfortunately… glycerin is a thicker consistency and probably wouldn’t mix well with the vodka.
Would the glycerin eventually become less thick? If not, would one use the extract as they normally would per recipe?
It’s a thicker solution for sure, doesn’t turn liquidy. I use it the same as extract in the recipe.
I’m always diy-ing my Xmas gifts and this would be an amazing idea! Best part about it? Even I won’t be able to screw it up haha. So glad I’ve discovered this on Pinterest!
It’s better with bourbon than with vodka.
Barbara Guth says
Where is the recipe for coconut extract? I’d like to try that one but don’t know of I need fresh or unsweetened/ sweetened shredded.
After much research, most glycerin comes from PALM OIL!!! :0( The most DESTRUCTIVE, sought after ingredient that has and is diminishing our rain forests. I found a fabulous alternative: Coconut derived glycerin. Here’s the site I purchased mine from: wildlyorganic.com 41oz. $19.99; 1 gal $54.95 For me, the cost is worth it in order to do my part in what is best for our planet and her creatures! Also just found a way to make your own Coconut Glycerin….it’s a good day! :0)
Your link for vanilla beans is $157 for 30. And I can’t find then anywhere as inexpensive as you did. Any tips?
Darn, yeah it when I first made this post years ago vanilla was inexpensive! Now the prices have soared. Try googling where to find the best current deals on vanilla beans are…?
Annetta Williams says
As of 10/9/2019 – Costco’s Pure Vanilla is now close to $37/32 oz bottle. I bought their vanilla beans (5/container) yesterday so will try my hand at the glycerine formula since I have glycerine in the house already!
Update: As of this date Costco’s PVE is now a whopping $27.69. More reason to diy. Thanks for the blog.
Costco Vanilla is even higher in 2018: closer to $35 for the same $9.79 bottles a year ago!! Time to do my first attempt at vanilla. Does the glycerin preserve the vanilla as long as the vodka-based? I would like to re-use the beans again and need something that preserves the vanilla safely. Thanks!!
To answer my own questions, I found this information on http://www.thebalance.com: “Enjoy the long shelf life. Your extract should keep for up to four years and does not need to be refrigerated. The glycerine acts as a preservative in this recipe, which is why the extract has such a long shelf life.”
Do you have a recipe for homemade Almond extract? I use it a lot
Just one question. Would you know if I can use propylene glycol instead of Glycerin? Would it be better or worse?
It looks like you could according to this site: http://www.vanillaqueen.com/vanilla-extract-an-insiders-view/
Thank you very much for that, Karrie. ^_^
You are very welcome!
What label template should I used to print labels
Thanks so much for posting this..
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?
For those with gluten sensetivity, use a good quality potato vodka.
kiran tank says
Is there is any change in taste of alcoholic and non alcoholic vanilla extract
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!
From reading around, vanilla flavour (the non-alcoholic variety) is sweeter but has a less intense vanilla flavour. The vodka extract is clean tasting and more versatile than a bourbon base – which has its own, rich character.