Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Not many people think about making homemade vanilla extract. It isn’t difficult to do at all and takes only a few supplies. The most difficult part of the process is waiting for it to age to perfection, which will take a few months. Why should you make your own vanilla? The benefits are astounding:

  • More intense flavor
  • Unique blends
  • Less expensive
  • Fun
  • Be self sustaining
  • You know what is in it
  • It makes great gifts

Did I mention cheap?

The main ingredients in basic homemade vanilla are vodka (or other high proof alcohol) and vanilla beans. You can use a variety of vanilla beans to create a more complex flavor, and use organic if you like.

Varieties of Vanilla Beans

  • Madagascar – the strongest, most intense vanilla flavor, with full a body
  • Bourbon – notes of berry and ripe fruit
  • Mexican – sweet and smooth, mellow and spicy
  • Tahitian – delicate, exotic, floral
  • Tonga – rich, full flavored
  • Indonesian – sweet and woody
  • India – higher percentage of seeds, sweet, woody, spicy

There are even more vanilla bean varieties that that. Commercial manufacturers usually use the Bourbon or the Tahitian bean for extract. Look at all the flavor you could be missing!

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

The process couldn’t be simpler. You need:

  • Quart Mason jar
  • Lid and screw down ring
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 6 vanilla beans

1. Cut the beans in half lengthwise.
2. Add the beans to the jar.
3. Cover with the Vodka.
4. Store in a cool, dark place and shake every couple of days for at least a month. The longer you let it stand the more intense the flavor will be. I like mine to go at least six weeks. When it is just how you like it, strain it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into dark bottles and seal tightly.


  • Add a few buds of edible lavender.
  • Add a whole clove.
  • Add part of a a cinnamon stick.
  • Add a teaspoon of brandy per eight ounces. You can also make the vanilla in brandy or rum for a different flavor.

You can vary the flavor of your vanilla by using different combinations of beans or adding another spice during storage.

How to Use Homemade Vanilla

You are going to use your homemade vanilla extract just like the commercial variety, measure for measure. You may find that you need a little less because of the flavor, or you may just get used to having the most amazing desserts on the block.

For gift giving, label the dark bottles with a custom made label. More than likely your friends will be knocking at your door for more as soon as they have used the last drop.

Where to Buy Vanilla Beans

You can buy vanilla beans almost anywhere but you probably won’t find much of a selection. Here are some Internet sites that carry a variety of beans, as well as organically grown beans:

Boston Vanilla Beans
The Spice House
Penzey’s Spices

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

By Marye Audet, Planet Green


Roberto Meritoni
Roberto M4 years ago


Roberto Meritoni
Roberto M4 years ago


Roberto Meritoni
Roberto M4 years ago


Elena T.
Elena P6 years ago

Thank you :)

KAREN L6 years ago


Harshiita Sharma
Harshita S6 years ago

Thanks a lot

bharathi A.
bharathi A7 years ago

Thanks for the recipe

bharathi A.
bharathi A7 years ago

Sounds good to me. Thanks for the recipe

Holland F.
Holland F.7 years ago

Thanks for this article! I also found an article on how to make Buttermilk, Yogurt, Clotted Cream & Clotted Milk, and Butter. Here's the link:
For more food blogs, try also visiting and They really feel like a homey food community to me and you'll most probably like them too.

Zana Zatanique
Jan A7 years ago

Sounds good to me. Thanks for the recipe. I like the idea of using the rum too.