Vanilla Extract

It’s that time of year when you’re baking A LOT. And MANY recipes call for Vanilla Extract. I’m pretty particular about my Vanilla Extract. I like the Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract (PLEASE PLEASE don’t evah use imitation, it’s so pshew ~ well just please don’t use it) and well it’s not cheap. Depending on where you get it, it can run $10/for a 4 ounce bottles. I know right! So when I found out how EASY it was to make my own, I thought I’d give it a go! 

You’re seriously NOT going to believe how simple it is to make your own Vanilla Extract! Ready? You need whole vanilla beans & Vodka! THAT’S IT! I’m sayin…. Well you’ll also need some jars to put it in, but hey.

Now, since it ONLY has two ingredients you need to buy THE BEST quality you can find. It will make a difference. I ordered my Madagascar Vanilla beans online & was quite pleased with their quality. Nice and plump & supple. You don’t want hard dried up beans people. Secondly the Vodka. Don’t skimp here either. Buy a nice grade extra smooth Vodka, kay? I bought the cute little 4ounce Mason Jars to put them in & I think they’re perfect.

So perfect in fact, that I’m giving these away as Christmas gifts this year! Just adding a cute little ribbo, label and voila! Merry Christmas! Okay, I know, they’re going to have to wait 8 weeks to use them but hey, it’s still a great gift! (maybe next year I’ll start sooner LOL ) Imagine how fabulous they’re going to look 8 weeks from now! Ah, I can just smell oooh I mean see it! Schweet!

Baci e’ Buon Natale!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

What You Will Need:

  • Vanilla Beans – 3 per jar
  • good quality Vodka
  • small jars w/tight fitting lids- I used 4oz Mason Jars

What To Do:

  1. For each 4 ounce jar of vanilla extract you would like to make: slice three vanilla beans down the center careful not to cut through them so that they will release their seeds.
  2. Place all 3 vanilla beans into each jar. Pour vodka over beans until beans are completely covered.
  3. Place lids on tightly. Store jars in a dark, cool place. Give the jars a good shake once a week. Vanilla extract will be ready to use in approximately 8 weeks.
http://www.bellalimento.com/2009/12/19/vanilla-extract/

 

If you want the link for the vanilla beans you can find them here.

85 Comments

  1. 1

    Fabulous! Thanks for this post. I made Limencello this year for gifts, started the steeping process in September. Can’t wait to add this one to the September festivities next year.

    • 1.1

      Hi Lea Ann! That’s so sweet! Thank you! Oh I LOVE Limoncello! I’m planning on being on the ball this year and having a few bottles ready before summertime!

  2. 2

    Love this!

  3. 3

    Love this idea!!! :)

  4. 4

    I’ve been wanting to try making my own vanilla extract, but kept forgetting to research it. Thanks for posting the recipe. Now I can try it out! Un abbraccio!

  5. 5
    Beth Comella /

    I cannot believe it is that easy!

  6. 6

    saw this in Cooks Illustrated awhile back. Paula if you ever get a chance to use this vanilla I think you will really like it.

    Pure Vanilla Bean Paste by Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, Inc. It is an amazing product, have used it for several years.

  7. 7

    Wow! Thanks for this great info. Beautiful photos as always!

    • 7.1

      Ciao Laura! Grazie’ mille! Sei SEMPRE super dolce ; ) Baci e’ Buon Natale!

  8. 8
    jess /

    i made two big jars of extract earlier this year. one with vodka and one with bourbon. i really like the vodka one, but the bourbon one is out of this world!

    • 8.1

      Hi Jess! I’ll have to give the bourbon a try next go round! I can’t wait until this batch is ready to use! I’ve depleted my bottles with all of my Christmas baking LOL!

  9. 9
    Jan /

    I did this last year, using Anejo Rum and putting it in empty Starbucks Frapaccino bottles. Heavenly!

  10. 10

    Oh, I had plans like this for Christmas! I found some beautiful plump vanilla beans, used a few for a homemade sugar scrub for gifts and set aside the rest to make extract (alas Sunday in Georgia…no alcohol sales). Who knew that Australian shepherds can sniff out vanilla beans– and they love them?

    • 10.1

      Tee Hee Kathleen ; ) Well your sugar scrub does sound fabulous at least!

  11. 11

    YEP, that’s the way my family has been doing if for, let me think – - – , about three generations now.

    Cheers.

    • 11.1

      Thanks Chuck! I can’t wait til it’s ready to use! I’m saving a few jars for myself (well at least that’s the plan LOL)

  12. 12

    I just made a comment on my blog about wanting to learn how to make my own vanilla….you are the answer to my prayers!! Just 2 questions…I do not drink, so I have no clue as to what a good ‘quality’ bottle of vodka is. Help! Also, if you could refer the site for the vanilla beans, that would be great, too~

    • 12.1

      Yeah Frieda! Looks like this is just in time! Just added the links to the post about purchasing the beans. So you can find it there (it’s a super deal!). Regarding the Vodka. I would buy the best Smooth Vodka that you can. You can ask the salesperson for some guidance depending on their selection. Hope that helps!

  13. 13

    Bellisimo, love it, love it, love it! They are perfect!

    -Natasha

    • 13.1

      Thanks Tasha! I hope they do love them! If not, I’m keeping them for myself LOL ; )

  14. 14

    I’m picky about my vanilla extract, too! I get mine from Mexico (when I go there…) and anything else just isn’t the same! Thank you for sharing b/c my stash is getting LOW.

    • 14.1

      Thanks Kristi! Yes, a good PURE Vanilla Extract is pure bliss! & Once you’ve had the good stuff it’s hard to go with anything else! My stash is getting low too! I’ll be waiting on February to get here when I can use mine!

  15. 15
    jess /

    just wanted to add, I buy my vanilla beans from: http://stores.ebay.com/Vanilla-Products-USA
    great products, fast shipping, and they throw in a little surprise with every order!

  16. 16

    What a fun post and I love your jars! I can always use more great gift ideas. Thank you!

  17. 17

    I have a “simple” question. When you want to use this extract, do you just dip your teaspoon in and take out the required amount of liquid for your cooking needs? There really is no other step before using?

    • 17.1

      Hi Becky! I’d give it a little shake before using & then yes, just take out the amount you need! Easy peasy!

      • Lasairiona /

        Do you never need to take the beans out of the vodka?

  18. 18

    I really love this, looks so cute. Just a quick question: where did you get these adorable jars?

    • 18.1

      Thanks so much Elaine! They are 4oz Mason Jars. I purchased mine at my local grocery. 12 to a box (& they included the lids) Hope that helps.

  19. 19

    What a great idea! I’ve been meaning to make vanilla extract as well. I can’t believe how expensive it is to buy store bought vanilla extract.

    • 19.1

      Thanks Ursula! I know right! I used so much this month with all my baking that I thought this would be great!

  20. 20

    Beautiful blog! Excellent content!
    Glad I happened to stumble upon it!

  21. 21

    To take your idea one step further, DON’T USE VODKA. Use bourbon, preferably Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark. The bourbon gives your vanilla a much deeper taste that will reflect richness in all recipes its used in. A lot of people are coming on to this I’ve noticed as even Trader Joes has a Bourbon Vanilla Extract that they sell. Hope this makes your discovery even more grand!!

    Chef Chris

    • 21.1

      Hi Chef Chris! I just happen to have some vanilla beans left over so I’m going to make a bourbon one as well to compare the two ; )

  22. 22

    I’m always looking for great vanilla and will definitely give this a try!

  23. 23

    What a great post! So easy, and who knew?! Not me! So nice to meet you.

  24. 24

    Oh thanks! 8 weeks is all? I’ve heard people talk about doing this but I thought it was a year long thing.

    • 24.1

      Hi Cathy! Yes, that’s all. Although I’m sure the longer it “sits” the better it will be!

  25. 25
    Brenda /

    Great idea ! Thanks !

  26. 26

    Great gift idea!

  27. 27
    Devery /

    I do this too, as it is difficult to find good vanilla extract here in Belgium, and if you do, it comes in ridiculously small bottles. But for Americans, I would think the financial argument for making your own is lost. Surely you ended up spending much more for mail-order vanilla beans, smooth vodka and your pretty jars than you would have paid in the supermarket or even a gourmet shop for a bottle of really great vanilla extract ?

    • 27.1

      Hi Devery! Well I can only speak for myself…but I’m going to respectfully disagree with you. In my case, I spent far less than the $10 it would have cost me for a very small bottle of good quality pure vanilla extract. I ordered my beans in bulk from Amazon (the link is on the post – it was an incredible deal $24.99 for 54 beans, not to mention I received free shipping a bonus- hooray) plus the jars really weren’t that much at all as they’re simple canning jars that are readily available in stores locally & as for the Vodka, well that was also on special. Because of the quantities I purchased, I came in significantly under the $10 price tag per jar. Plus I have the satisfaction of making them myself and my friends the satisfaction of knowing that they received a gift that took time & effort on my part. Now I suppose if you weren’t making these as gifts and simply wanted a jar or two then well that might be as cost effective.

      Merry Christmas! <3 Paula

  28. 28
    Diana /

    I just have a couple of questions:
    1. Should it be kept in the cupboard or somewhere else?
    2. Does the vodka/bourbon (depending on which you use) make it technically alcoholic? Or could I still put some in pancakes that I make for my 2 year old?
    3. Will it go bad after a certain amount of time? Does it have an expiration date?

    Thanks!

    • 28.1

      Hi Diana! Great questions! Yes, your vanilla extract should be stored in a cool dark place (but NEVER refridgerated). I bake/cook with pure vanilla extract all of the time & give the final products to my children (I have three) & have not had any problems (please of course use your own discretion). Finally if your pure vanilla extract is kept in an airtight container it should last for years. For me personally, I’ve never had a jar last that long ; ) I use it all the time. You’ll be amazed at what you can start puttting this in. It adds so much flavor to everything! Enjoy!

    • 28.2

      The alcohol question is a good question and I understand your concerns because I don’t drink any kind of alcohol. All vanilla has alcohol, I think all extracts do. It is what brings out the flavor of the main ingredient and helps it last in your cupboard. Look in your cupboard and read the list of ingredients on your bottle of store-bought vanilla. When you add it to a recipe you only get a drop or so of the alcohol in a whole pancake so it isn’t really considered alcoholic. I’m trying to decide which friend to ask to go in the liquor store for me!

    • 28.3
      Debbie /

      The alcohol should cook out when heated.

  29. 29

    Wow, thanks. If people knew how easy some things – like ghee (http://sheskis.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-havent-made-ghee-for-couple-of-years.html) – are to make from scratch, they would never buy them at ridiculous prices. These vanilla ingredients are on my next shopping list. I bought my last from Vanilla King (have no idea if they’re still in business) 2 oz. for something like $16. It’s great stuff, but if I can make something like it-or-better-for much less, I’m all over it! Thanks again.

  30. 30

    Oh, I’m so going to make this. Right now, in fact. Just bought a bunch of beans in Tahiti. Didn’t know it was this easy.

  31. 31

    I’ve got to give this a try!

  32. 32
    Patricia /

    So good. And lasts forever. Once your beans are no longer covered with vodka, you need to add some more. So, you have an endless supply!!!

  33. 33
    Patricia /

    Meant to say, as soon as any part of a bean is not covered by the vodka, add more.

  34. 34

    My sister in law made me some of this using bourbon. Can’t wait to use it! :D

  35. 35

    Wow, this is a really popular idea this year. I hadn’t seen the tip about using bourbon instead of vodka though, I’ll give that a shot. Since I like to make limoncello and that sort of thing this is right up my alley. And I get so sick of paying so much for vanilla extract! I’ll just have to find a good source for the beans – I bet the prices really vary.

  36. 36

    How fun, Paula! This would make a wonderful gift for my cooking group friends.

  37. 37

    Paula – this is an AMAZING gift idea and I hope my local friends aren’t following me TOO closely as it will end up in their pantry’s this year as a holiday or hostess gift – just love it! :)

  38. 38
    Nancy Mutzl /

    As for the alcohol, the heat of cooking the pancakes burns off the alcohol so the end product, the pancake, would be non-alcoholic. :)

  39. 39
    Joyce K /

    I use bourbon and it makes the vest vanilla. Have tried the Vodka version but the bourban makes a much richer vanilla! Love It!!

  40. 40
    Mel /

    You can keep it going, too. Any time you use the vanilla, just top it off again with the vodka, making sure to keep the bean covered. You can google it — “perpetual vanilla”.

  41. 41

    Has anyone ever tried rum? I only ask because I have some on hand from a year ago and would like to use it for something!

  42. 42
    Kimberly /

    I’ve been making my own vanilla for about 20 years now, but I always use Brandy. Plain ol’ brandy. I use about 30 beans at a time in an old apothacary jar that’s tall enough to hold the beans upright. I cut off one end, just past the curl, and stand it up in the jar. I cover the beans up to the curl of the top end and let them steep for two months (if I’m making a new batch). Then when I use up the vanilla I just top it off when it gets low by 1/3. When I use a recipe that calls for vanilla I usually add extra (because I LOVE vanilla) but also pull a pod out of the jar and squeeze down the length of the pod to get out the lovely vanilla bean slurry now within each pod. It’s WONDERFUL! I buy my beans wholesale from a local Amish general store, and they last for years in the jar. Once I’ve depleted the slurry from all the beans, I make a new batch! Try using the slurry in your next batch of vanilla frosting or cake/cookies! You won’t believe the difference it makes! Thanks for posting this great recipe!

  43. 43

    I started making my own vanilla about a year ago. I use brandy instead of vanilla as I like the way the two pair together.

  44. 44
    Beth /

    Even easier, I take a new bottle of vodka, make myself a vodka cooler (well, hey, you can’t waste it!) and put the whole pod in the vodka bottle.
    I leave the beans in the bottle until the vanilla is almost used up, then remove them, allow them to dry and put them in a container of sugar.
    Shake daily and in a couple of weeks, you have vanilla sugar to use in place of regular sugar.
    SO YUMMY!

  45. 45
    Connie /

    I use vodka for my vanilla and would recommend using a touch of a good dark rum to add a bit of flavor to the vanilla and it adds to the color too. I have been making vanilla for years too and usually let my bottles sit for about 6 months before using, it has a much stronger flavor this way.

  46. 46
    Rosella /

    I was wondering one of the persons on here listed a burdon that he used. I am not a person who drinks and to not know of vodka, so which brand do you recommend? Or is there one that is better to use over the other. I know you said to use a good quality Vodka, but I don’t know which one that would be. Please help?
    Thanks
    I have ordered my vanilla beans from your site you recommended and can’t wait to try. Hope to hear from you soon.Thanks again

  47. 47
    MommaMary /

    How many times can you reuse the vanilla bean? And you say approximately 8 weeks, how do you tell if it needs to sit longer?

  48. 48
    Nabila /

    any alternative for vodka?
    thanks.

  49. 49

    What a fantastic idea. Love the thought of doing this and putting them into my home-made Christmas gift packs with lots of nice little special home-made jammy things! Thanks for posting.

  50. 50
    Sikanda /

    Gracias por la receta, pero si realmente quieres el mejor extracto, te recomiendo que utilices la mejor vainilla en el mundo, la de Veracruz, México.

    Thanks for the recipe, but if you really want the best extract I recommend you use the best vanilla on the world, the one from Veracruz, Mexico.

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