Homemade Vanilla Extract ... At the Beginning of the Extraction Process

Homemade Vanilla Extract

It's very easy to make homemade vanilla extract and also very economical. Homemade vanilla extract also makes a wonderful gift.



  1. Soak label off vodka bottle by submerging bottle in water (up to top of label) for a few hours.
  2. Either cut vanilla beans into 1-inch pieces or split/cut in the middle using a knife, but do NOT cut all the way through so that the bean separates into two pieces. See photo below for both methods. I prefer the splitting method because I think the beans looks nicer in the bottle this way.
  3. Vanilla Beans for Homemade Vanilla Extract
  4. Add vanilla beans to bottle of vodka. (If the bottle if filled to the top with vodka, you'll want to remove some of that so that the vodka doesn't overflow when the vanilla beans are added.
  5. Shake or turn every few days. Keep in a cool, dark cabinet for at least a month, preferably longer..


I don’t usually buy my vanilla beans from the grocery store because they are not usually high quality at my grocery store and they are typically more costly. Madagascar vanilla beans are popular. I’ve usually bought the Tahitian ones though (that actually come from Papua New Guinea now it seems). I’ve gotten my vanilla beans through Penzey’s, The Spice House, and Amazon

You can save money by buying a large bottle of vodka, using recycled bottles, and ordering your vanilla beans online in larger quantities. Just be sure if using recycled bottles that they allow for easy pouring, are a similar size to pints, and that they don’t retain a strong smell (i.e., don’t use a jar that formerly contained pizza sauce).

I read one opinion that unless you use six vanilla beans per cup of alcohol, you are making vanilla-flavored alcohol. Well, I’ve been using this ratio for years and have been happy with the results.

The vanilla doesn't have to be ready for use when you give it as a gift. Recipients usually love watching the vanilla get extracted and already have vanilla extract on hand that they can use until your gift is ready.

I just made the bottle of vanilla extract shown in the first photo so no extraction has taken place yet. In a very short time, the extraction process will be evident as the vodka begins to turn amber.

You can see the extraction happening in the second photo. With those bottles, I used more beans that I usually do because I wanted to use all the beans that I had immediately. I also used both approaches to see which approach extracted the vanilla more quickly.

For the two bottles on the left, I cut the beans through the center, but did not split them apart completely. For the bottle on the right, I cut the vanilla beans into 1-inch sections. As you can see, the bottles on the left are becoming vanilla much more quickly. So if you need your vanilla extract sooner rather than later, use the approach where you split the bean in the middle, but not from end to end.

Recipe by gfe--gluten free easily at