Homemade Vanilla Extract

IMG_6748I absolutely love vanilla extract! Talk about a fun, easy and delicious homemade gift idea! Organic vanilla extract can be quite spendy at the store, and with these cute jars you cannot go wrong in blessing family and friends and your own kitchen cupboard. I made 6 (4 oz bottles) this last weekend and they are steeping away nicely in my cupboard ready for Christmas baskets. Here’s how I did it:


6 Vanilla Beans
6 (4 oz jars)
24 oz. vodka

I purchased the vanilla beans and recycled glass cork top bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs. The vanilla beans are sold by the 1 oz (which is 6-9 beans) for $9.00, making it about $1-1.50 per bean. The jars were $1.60 each. I purchased the vodka at my local liquor store for $10 for 750 ml (which I figured out is about 26 oz). So you are looking at less than $5 per 4 oz jar, compared to easily double that amount at your local health food store. And with reusable glass jars, you can save even more with future batches (if you are making it for yourself, that is). The beans smelled fabulous! I cut them down the center with scissors and then into 2 inch pieces and put them in the jars. I then filled each jar with vodka and put the top on! That’s it! You must steep them for 8 weeks. Once you have used half the jar, you can refill the jar to the top with more vodka to stretch it even more! Make sure to make a note of this when you send it for gifts. You can also save room to sweeten with a 3/4 tsp of rum per bottle after it has steeped.

You can also use this recipe and steep them altogether, but since I was in a rush getting them ready for Christmas, I chose to steep them individually, so I could send them on their way.

Aren’t they adorable? I just have to make a cute little label tag to go with them! That’s more natural living on a budget for you!


About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

95 Responses to Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Pearl December 17, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    where do you get the vanilla bean …. I am in Idaho and it is not plentiful

  2. Shannon August 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Lindsay. I have really enjoyed making this recipe for the last year. I always use it in my baked goods, but I don’t care for the flavor in anything unbaked, i.e. ice cream. Do you have the same problem? I was considering using a less concentrated version. I know the things in the store are diluted quite a bit. Do you think it would work if I diluted this with 50/50 water & alcohol, or maybe 75/25?
    Thanks for your help.

  3. Shannon August 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Hi Lindsay. I have been using this recipe for a while and just love it! I am only using it in baking recipes that will cook out the alcohol. I want to use it in things I don’t cook, such as homemade ice cream. When I have tried it in uncooked things, it leaves a funny taste. Have you encountered this problem? I was looking for possible solutions and thought I could dilute the alcohol with water to 50/50 or even 75/25 water to alcohol. What do you think? In the stores, I know the amount of alcohol used is a much lower percentage.
    Thanks for your advice!

  4. Christine January 14, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    I’m having a hard time figuring out which bottles to order from Mountain Rose. The only cork top one (that I can see) says that it holds 2-3 ounces of liquid, but didn’t yours hold 4 oz? The other bottles listed have metal lids. I just want to make sure I get the ones in your picture, they’re adorable!

  5. Dottie December 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    When you add the 2nd round of vodka do you need to let it sit for a few weeks again or can you keep using it? Thanks so much for this recipe. Super excited to try it!

    • Lindsay December 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      I just keep using it.

  6. Donna November 26, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I finally made this. I start and stumble, last year I mistakenly ordered salve jars (good for holding homemade spices) and this year I triple checked the order and pulled it together. Still late, no one can use it to make their holiday cookies because it needs 6 more weeks to steep, but the jars and the whole set up are lovely. The first week they sat on my counter in a row, then when we had child company, I moved them to a cabinet where they are all lined up. thanks for the inspiration and links to the cutest, best priced bottles ever.

  7. curious November 23, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    maybe I’m dumb – we don’t drink alcohol in our household so I’m not familiar with vodka or rum. Is there always alcohol in vanilla extract? I’m assuming it cooks or bakes out….just curious.

    • Katie November 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Hey, I’m pretty sure there is. All of the vanilla extracts at the store have alcohol in them. But realize that you only use a teaspoon in most things, like say pancakes, so that’s 1 teaspoon divided into 10 pancakes or so. Even if some alcohol doesn’t cook out, it’s a miniscule amount. And you might even be able to use less with homemade vanilla extract because it will be stronger since you can let it steep for a long time with the vanilla beans.

  8. Rebecca November 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Love this idea! I made one bottle last year for myself and this year will try out the mini-bottles for gifting. My recipe is the same as yours except I use Rum instead of Vodka. The end result is the same. I plan to give these with a little recipe card tied to the neck for vanilla cream scones, and also include a jar of jam (for the scones, if they bake them.)

  9. Vicki November 6, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I started mine last night. I used (6) 6 oz. bottles. I added one and 1/3 vanilla bean to each. Is that enough vanilla bean? I also left enough room to add rum at the end of steeping. Thanks, I’m so excited to give these as gifts for Christmas.

  10. Vicki November 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Do you have to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla beans?

    • Lindsay November 6, 2011 at 7:11 am #


  11. Brie October 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I made one test batch a few months ago, and it was wonderful! So easy and produces a much more flavorful extract than any store bought version. I’m making another batch today for Christmas gifts…exactly 8 weeks away! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  12. Nancy October 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm #


    I was wondering how many vanilla beans do you put in each bottle? Thanks

  13. Heidi October 19, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Hey! I had a quick question before I attempted to make this. While researching recipes for homemade extracts I noticed a lot of them said to take the vanilla bean out of the extract after the 8 weeks of steeping were done. It looks like you leave them in. Am I assuming right that you leave them in?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Lindsay October 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      You can do it either way. Leaving it in allows you to replenish the vodka when the bottle is half gone – thus extending the life of the vanilla beans!

      • Heidi October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

        Thank you!

  14. Lexie October 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    I am finally going to make these! I’m super excited.

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