24 May

How To Make Vanilla Extract (Homemade Vanilla)

Vanilla Extract How to Make

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make vanilla extract? Homemade Vanilla Extract is prized for its rich, complex flavor and incredibly smooth aroma. There simply is no substitute. Enhance your baking to a whole new level with this easy to follow recipe.

Many people are often familiar with clear or imitation vanilla extract. The difference between pure vanilla and imitation vanilla is simple; pure vanilla extract is made from whole vanilla beans extracted using 35%+ alcohol - that's it! Don't be fooled by extracts that claim to be pure. Imitation and clear vanilla utilizes artificial flavors and harmful chemicals. Pure vanilla extract should be dark brown; the color of Vanilla Beans used in the extraction process.

vanilla-beansphotos courtesy of

Making vanilla extract is fun and simple! Here's all that you'll need:

How to Make Vanilla Extract


  • 8 oz. Glass Bottle or Jar
  • 7 Vanilla Beans
  • 1 cup Vodka 70 Proof/35% Alcohol (or you can also use Bourbon, Rum or Brandy; any brand/quality)

Vanilla Extract IngredientsVanilla Extract Ingredients



Step 1: SLICE

Slice each bean once long-ways and place in bottle. (If it helps to cut them into smaller, tootsie roll-sized pieces so they fit in the bottle more easily, go for it).


Step 2: POUR

Pour one cup of vodka, rum or alcohol of your choice (no cheating now -- the whole cup needs to go into the bottle). Make sure vanilla beans are completely submerged.


Step 3: SHAKE

Shake once or twice a week - for best results, shimmy to the beat of "Rock Lobster" by the B52's.

Step 4: WAIT

Wait about 8 weeks (plenty of time to research oodles of scrumptious Baking Recipes)
Presto, your alcohol has turned into delicious vanilla! Store it at room temp and out of direct sunlight, and you can enjoy this puppy til' the last drop!


What makes homemade vanilla extract so much better than "store bought"? First, you have control over the quality and type of vanilla used in the extract. Using premium grade vanilla beans will provide significantly better flavor and aroma than commercially produced extracts. Did you know that you can make vanilla extract from different types of vanilla beans? Each different vanilla variety will create a unique flavor!

Do you prefer bold and smokey? If so, try Ugandan vanilla beans. Traditional, rich and creamy? Use Madagascar Vanilla Beans! Floral aroma with a unique cherry-chocolate flavor? Venture to the Tahitian vanilla beans. You can even blend various varieties together! The floral, fruity, cherry like notes of the Tahitian variety blend wonderfully with the nutty-chocolate character of the Bourbon varieties.

After 8 weeks the vast majority of the extraction process is complete. At this point the the vanilla is ready to use and the vanilla beans can be removed. If the vanilla beans are left in the bottle, the flavor will continue to evolve just like a fine wine (just be sure the beans are always submerged in alcohol).

In addition to premium vanilla beans, we also offer decorative glass bottles to display your creations along with free printable homemade vanilla extract labels to dress up your bottles.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Labels

Whether you are a seasoned baker, procrastinating about making vanilla extract, or looking for the perfect holiday gift this year— then look no further! Check out our Homemade Vanilla Extract Kit.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract is a fun, easy way to bring a favorite recipe to the next level. Whether you decide to try out our infusion kit first hand, or give it as a gift this holiday season, we are sure you will agree that there is no substitute. You found your secret ingredient.

From all of us at Beanilla, we sincerely hope you enjoy this recipe.

Happy Extracting!

  • Marla

    Looking forward to trying this - what a great gift idea!

  • Fairtrade Organic Vanilla

    Hi Brent,

    This is a fantastic. Thanks so much for posting it!

    All the best, Alex

  • WendyK

    Planning on making this extract for Christmas, and love the square stopper bottles. I'm wondering if clear glass is ok to use for extracts? Also, I thought I'd blend Bourbon, Mexican and Tahiti beans with bourbon, just because I like it better, and thought the blend of beans would give it more dimension! Can't wait to try it.

  • terry womack

    just recieved my 10 madagasacar beans yesterday. came back to the site to be sure I had the bean to liquor ratio correct. Beans look so fresh and wonderful. Can't wait to put my vanilla extract together and start using it. Appreciate the value of the beans and glass jars. I will be back for more.

  • Robyn S.

    Am so excited about making homemade vanilla extract. One question - should the beans be discarded after the extraction process is complete? Or, is it possible to use whatever's left for something else?

  • Tracey

    I bought your sample package of vanilla beans and plan on making extract out of all of them. First question, can you make extract without alcohol, also when making with alcohol, what goes best with each type of bean?

  • Tracey

    What if I only have 3 beans and put them in a pint jar, how much alcohol do I use, plus I was told to use 100 proof not low proof. Which is better?

  • Claudia Rivera

    I bought a pound of Madagascar vanilla beans from this site a few months back. Unfortunately, I did not search your site first to find out how to make my own vanilla extract at home. The site that I found said to put in the whole vanilla beans unsliced for eight weeks and after 8 weeks to remove the vanilla beans and remove one end and press the beans out into the alcohol. My question is what is the safest way to remove the vanilla beans from the alcohol bottle without contaminating or affecting the extraction process. My 8 week time period is 3 weeks away. Please help. Thank you.

  • Gail

    I have been making that for years. It is so good!

  • Rhonda

    I wonder if you could use this same concept to make Almond Extract or Peppermint Extract, etc.... Vodka and Peppermint sticks, or Vodka and Almonds....

  • Marie McG

    **The purpose behind using a "lower grade" vodka is that the more expensive vodkas use special characteristics/flavors to make them unique. You don't want those characteristics/flavors in your vanilla extract. You want ONLY the vanilla flavor, nothing else.
    **For almond extract: You need 12 raw almonds, 16 oz of vodka, and a dark, 16 oz bottle to make the extract in. Put almonds in jar, pour the vodka over the almonds and fill the bottle. Shake mixture every 3-4 days (Don't remove the lids) for 8 weeks.

  • Susan

    I would love to make my own vanilla extract but I find that the beans are awfully expensive....what does everyone else think?

  • Beverly DiBenedetti

    I can hardly wait to make the vanilla recipe for Christmas gifts. I have Barrets disease and am not able to have any alcohol, but I would like to thank you for the wonderful recipe.


  • Ruth

    Yes Vanilla beans are pricey but I use to use vanilla bean paste. That was 16.99 foe a 2 ounce bottle. Vanilla made with Bourbon, ans that was 14.99 a 2 ounce bottle. If you make your own you need enough Liquid to cover the beans, so you will get more then the 2 ounces that I am paying 14.99 to 16.99 for. I make mine in August and leave it sit in my spice cabinet until baking for the holidays. And, people who get my baked items want to know how I get so much vanilla taste into my baked goods. It is well worth the time and expense...

  • ginny

    I purchased the vanilla beans last fall and made vanilla extract for myself and as christmas gifts. It is the best vanilla extract. You can definetly taste the difference. I also made vanilla sugar (great to add to coffee or strawberries) and khalua. I've given some beans to a friend who is going to make orange,creamsicle cello (not sure I spelled that right).

  • Jennifer

    When your vanilla is ready, take a couple of the beans out and put them in a mason jar and fill with sugar. Turn the jar every couple days and in a month you will have THE most wonderful vanilla sugar to cook with!

    Also, if you have a vita mix or high speed blender you can whizz up a couple of your used beans in the extract to make it darker and more flavorful.

    Keep your beans in the bottle of vodka for just a couple of weeks and add a little sugar and you have a vanilla vodka that will outdo any brand name!


  • sheila

    Will it be ok to use pure grain alcohol instead of vodka to make the vanilla extract?

  • Ivonova

    I did this about 25 years ago and I still have the same beans in the same German vodka bottle. I just add a bit of vodka as the level drops and by the time I need it again, it has aged and mellowed into a lovely flavor and scent. I am thinking of adding another bean or two because the color is getting a little less brown. Twenty-five years on the same bottle of vanilla? I defy anyone to match me with "store bought."

  • linda clarke

    I discovered this web site and saw the 25 beans for $25. I am anxious how my batch will turn out, however I didn't use vodka but scotch whiskey.
    On hand I have 2 different rums. Dominican and Bahama coconut rum. Anyone experimented w/ flavored rum? Reading earlier post to steer away from flavored vodka due to the makeup flavor. Maybe the same?


    I'm SO EXCITED to get my Vanilla Beans. I ordered the 25 for $25 Madagascar beans. I plan to make extract to put into gift baskets for family this Christmas. I'm trying to save money & believe a gift from the heart & "homemade" is more special (and hopefully, more memorable) than a "bought gift" that they may or may not want or use! I purchased my bottles from a different site (due to cost) and the total (w/shipping) was only $64.70. So...24 bottles of 4 oz. extract will only be $2.70 each (not including the Vodka...I haven't purchased it yet)!!! What a value! I'm confident it'll be much better than store bought extract! Thanks for such a great blog and all the information you’s GREAT!!!


    For those of you who are making "extract" what color of bottles are you using to store it in...clear, amber or another color? I ordered amber b/c I had heard once that it should be stored in a dark bottle (plus, when you purchase it in the store, it most always comes in an amber colored bottle). I was just curious! Thanks for any comments/feedback!

  • Deborah Chase

    Just received my beans today, 10 Madagascar and 5 Tahitian and they smell absolutely wonderful. I've made extract in the past and there is no comparing to the store bought, so I decided to make and give some as gifts this Christmas. I was going to use a large clear canning jar but Pinnacle has such a pretty blue bottle that I decided that would work just fine to store the extract in until it's ready. Looking forward using and giving this for the holidays this year. Thanks Beanilla!


    I like using the round amber bottles.

  • http://google Donna Gibbons

    Some recipes tell you to scrape the beans out and then add the pod and to heat the alcohol. Is there a difference. Last year I followed your recipe and did not scrape the beans out and the vanilla seemed to turn out fine. Should I scrape the beans out or not?

  • Mary Anne Cottignies

    Easy as pie, put your beans in the bottle of vodka. No one after a few weeks in the cabinet will mistake it for liquor - it is pure heaven. I have used the same bottle for years, add a bean or two every year or so, it is great!

  • Yavonna

    i have a question .. if my bottle are not tall enough for the whole bean to fit in can i cut them in half ??

  • Michelle

    I was delighted to find the 25 for $25 + free shipping special on the Madagascar beans - I have a bottle in my cupboard that's been happily marinating for a couple months (I forgot it was there...). It's bourbon with two beans that I paid $30 for total, alcohol plus beans, so it seemed a bit expensive. This will be far more economical and in perfect time to make it before the holidays!

    Now I gotta get home and try out my mixture, see how it's going!

  • SK

    I have a question. Some of the online vanilla extract recipes call for heating the vodka before pouring it back in the bottle and adding the vanilla beans. Yours does not. Is one method different/better than the other? Does it matter if you heat the vodka? My Madagascar beans should be here tomorrow. I can't wait to start! Thanks for the help. sk

  • Sally

    I just learned about your site from the new America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. cookbook. It includes a recipe for making vanilla extract and mentioned Beanilla as a good source. However, their recipe does involve scraping the beans and heating them prior to infusing them in the vodka. Your thoughts? BTW, I will be placing an order soon, not just for vanilla beans but also for your coconut extract, which has me very intrigued! It's the only non-artificial coconut extract I've ever encountered.

  • Connie

    We have made two "1 gallon" batches of delicious vanilla with 35 Madagascar vanilla beans and cheap vodka. How many times can you reuse the vanilla beans? Any experiences to share? Plan to use bottles of vanilla as gifts this year!

  • Brenda

    I have 24-8oz bottles of homemade vanilla extract "marinating" right now and enough beans to make that many again. Easy gifts for the coming holidays. I like making baked goods and adding a bottle of the extract with them in a basket for friends and family. I'm intrigued by your description of how to make almond extract. I think I will make that next and add both to my gift baskets. Thank you for a very informative site!

  • Terri

    Hello, I just complete my first batch of Vanilla Extract! It's a hit! My family loves it. I have one question though, do you know if it's legal to sell the vanilla? A friend suggested that and I am curious. Thanks for your help.

  • Cynthia Rockwell

    I am making vanilla extract for Christmas gifts. Most store bought vanilla has sugar in it. Can I add sugar to the vanilla beans and vodka? I'm using 8 oz. bottles. How much sugar can be added?
    Thank you.

  • Jacquelyn Rodriguez

    The glass mason jar I have is way shorter than the length of the vanilla bean. Can I cut it in half or bend it? I want to know what I can do since I can't take back the jars I have, nor can I buy any new jars at the moment. Help please?

  • Jacquelyn Rodriguez

    Also, I have enough left over beans to make a batch for myself after gifting. I wanted to experiment with something other than vodka. I'm under 21, so I'm a bit limited when it comes to what kind of alcohol I can use. Currently, I have a choice between the rest of the vodka my mom bought or some cognac no one ever drinks. It's the Hennessy Black Variety. Is this okay to use instead?

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