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Best Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Vanilla beans

Several years ago I went on a quest to find the simplest and the best homemade vanilla extract recipe. Our family does a lot of baking – going through a lot of vanilla.

It always made me scratch my head in bewilderment – why the heck does vanilla extract cost so much?!?! Is there liquid gold in there or something?

Many years later I still make my own vanilla extract and I’m hooked. I always have some on hand and it’s frugally delicious! Give it a try – I think you’ll be hooked too.

Supplies for Making Vanilla Extract

  • Vodka – I buy the cheap bankers club stuff.  I have used the expensive stuff, mid priced stuff and cheap stuff. I did not notice a difference in the quality of the vanilla extract.
  • Jar to put vanilla extract in – I use mason jars but any glass jar would work (I would stay away from plastic). You could even use an old sauce jar that you wash out.
  • Grade B Madagascar Vanilla Beans – I buy grade B Bourbon beans because they are best for making an extract – they aren’t pretty like in pictures, just super fragrant

Let’s Make Some Vanilla ExtractBest homemade vanilla extract recipe

Pour vodka into your jar – fill it up enough so that it will cover your vanilla beans. However high you fill it up will be how much vanilla extract you will get.

Next slice your vanilla beans the long way but don’t go all the way through. You just want to expose the insides of the beans.

Stick the vanilla beans in the jar and put it on a dark shelf (I store mine on a shelf in the basement).

You want to shake the jar occasionally – I probably only do it every few weeks to a month. About the time I need to refill my vanilla bottle in my kitchen.

Waiting is the Hardest Part…

Give your jar a few months and your vodka and vanilla beans will be transformed to vanilla extract.

I leave the beans in the jar and I reuse them for 2 bottles of vanilla extract before replacing them.

The extract gets darker the longer it sits – optimally you should wait 6 months to get more flavor.

I usually have three jars that I rotate through so I always have some ready and on hand.

Comment below to let me know how easy it was for you! I’d love to hear from you



  1. Suzette

    Hi Shannon, Love this recipe for homemade vanilla extract. My husband loves his vanilla. Growing up amish, his mother used to make what he calls bread pudding. A slice of bread, milk, and lots and lots of vanilla. I have ventured to try it yet but he loves it! I would have never guessed that vodka would be an ingredient. Your right, the wait would be hard but sounds like it would be worth it. I will have to try this. Can you suggest a good place to purchase the best vanilla beans. Do you purchase yours locally or online?

    • admin

      Suzette – thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you would need a lot of vanilla for bread pudding. No wonder you have not ventured to try it yet – it would be pretty expensive. I get my vanilla beans online on Amazon – I linked the vanilla beans in the post above under the “What you need” part of the post. Get grade B and masagascar beans.

  2. Scott

    Very interesting find! I make homemade almond and coconut milk at home because I do not like all the additives in the store bought ones. I add vanilla to them to improve the flavor. I have been buying organic vanilla which is so expensive!
    I am going to give this a try. Thanks for providing the link to the vanilla beans. I haven’t looked into this before because buying organic vanilla beans at a store is crazy expensive. It is nice to know there are all these alternatives out there.
    Now my almond milk can be completely homemade and natural!

    • Shannon

      You sound well versed in milk making 🙂
      Once you make your own vanilla you’ll never go back. Hardest part is waiting for it to be ready. Enjoy!


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