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How to Make Vanilla Extract: Save Money, Make a Great Gift

Updated on October 12, 2014

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DIY Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract could not be easier to make. It's a perfect guest gift for weddings, stocking stuffer for Christmas, or hostess gift next time you're invited to a dinner party. I always have a bottle going in the pantry since it takes a couple of months to infuse. Read on for needed items, tips, and ideas for your homemade extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Ready for Gifting


What You'll Need

To make vanilla extract at home, you will need 16 ounces of vodka and 10 vanilla beans. For this project, it's cheapest to buy vanilla beans in bulk online. I've used these premium vanilla beans and can recommend them. The project can get very costly if you buy beans at the supermarket, where you'll probably spend $5 per bean.

Traditionally this homemade extract is made with vodka, but you can use a different spirit, such as rum or bourbon. Vodka has the most neutral flavor, though.

You will also want a large jar for infusing (like a large mason jar) and small 4-oz glass bottles to pour the finished extract in. Find these online or at a local craft supply store.

  • 16 oz. vodka
  • 10 vanilla beans

Preparation Time

Prep time: 10 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: Serves 4 people 4-oz jars of vanilla extract.

Infusing Beans in Vodka


How to Make Vanilla Extract Yourself

  1. Cut your vanilla beans in half the long way. You do not need to scrape the seeds out.
  2. Place the sliced vanilla beans in the jar.
  3. Pour the vodka over the vanilla beans. It should cover them. If the vodka does not cover them, place the infusion in a smaller jar or remove the beans, chop them in half, and put them back.
  4. Seal the jar and label it with the date you made it. Give the jar a good shake.
  5. Place the jar in a cook, dark storage area like a pantry or cupboard.
  6. Allow the vanilla to infuse for a minimum of one month and up to three months. The longer you allow it to infuse, the more flavor the extract will have.
  7. To bottle the finished vanilla extract, simply fill up each jar, cap it, and label it. Many people like to leave a vanilla bean in the jar since it looks impressive. Alternately, you can strain it out if you prefer a clean look.

What to Do With Your Homemade Extract

You can use the homemade vanilla extract in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract or vanilla beans. Get creative with it! I like to add a splash to pancake or waffle batter, baked goods, homemade preserves, and cookies.

To give the extract as a gift, just place a sticker on it that says what it is and tie a piece decorative ribbon or baker's twine around the top. There are all sorts of free online printables if you are giving this as a DIY wedding favor or hostess gift and want to jazz it up.

Try Other Flavors - Like Homemade Orange Extract!

You don't have to limit yourself to plain vanilla extract. You can make other flavors using the same process - like orange!


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