How To Make Vanilla Extract

5 from 21 votes
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Make your own homemade vanilla extract with just two ingredients and five minutes of prep time—perfect for giving as gifts or using for all your home baking needs.

two bottles vanilla extract

Homemade vanilla extract is so easy to make, and considering how expensive it can be at the grocery store, you’ll want to save this recipe for the future! Using either vodka or glycerin with some vanilla pods, this simple DIY vanilla extract can transform a recipe and make a great homemade gift around the holidays.

Ingredients

vanilla extract ingredients
  • Vanilla Bean Pods: Using the highest-quality fresh vanilla beans will give you an even tastier extract. Tahitian, Mexican, or Madagascar vanilla beans are usually the best, and they’ll each give your vanilla a different taste.
  • Vodka: Use if making your vanilla extract with vodka. Any of your favorite brands will work best, but go for an unflavored, filtered option that’s at least 80 proof vodka.
  • Glycerin: To keep your homemade vanilla extract alcohol-free, substitute the vodka for glycerin (you can usually find this with other baking ingredients).

How to make vanilla extract

Prepare The Vanilla Pod: Using a sharp knife, slice down the center of each vanilla pod to split it. You can also cut them in half to fit more into a smaller bottle or a jar. Pull them open slightly after you’ve cut down the middle and set aside.

steps for making vanilla extract

Make The Vanilla Extract: Add the vanilla beans to clean glass bottles or jars—you should be able to fit plenty in. Pour the vodka into the bottle. I find it easier (and much less messy) to use a funnel, so there’s no waste.

If using glycerine, follow exactly the same method. Make sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged before putting on the lid/stopper and shaking well.

How to store

Store the homemade vanilla extract in a dark place – I recommend in the cupboard – at room temperature and leave to sit for at least 6-8 weeks before using. The longer it sits, the more flavor it gains – some can even last up to a year before being used! The longer it sits, the darker the extract will become – this is what it will look like after a month.

vanilla extract - darker

Another great thing about this vanilla extract is it’s replenishable. Simply add a little more vodka or glycerine after using so that the vanilla beans are submerged and return to the cupboard.

If you try making vanilla extract at home, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie.

How To Make Vanilla Extract

5 from 21 votes
By: Samira
Make your own homemade vanilla extract with just two ingredients and five minutes of prep-time – perfect for giving as gifts or using for all your home baking needs.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 48 teaspoons

Equipment

  • Air tight bottle or jar

Ingredients 
 

For vodka-based vanilla extract:

  • 1 cup vodka
  • 6 vanilla beans

For glycerine-based extract:

  • 1 cup glycerine
  • 6 vanilla beans

Instructions 

  • Use a sharp knife to cut a slit down the center of each vanilla bean. You can also cut the pods in half to fit into your jar or bottle.
  • Place the vanilla beans into a clean, empty jar or bottle, then cover with the vodka (or glycerine, if using) until they're completely submerged.
  • Seal tightly and store in a dark place at room temperature for at least 6-8 weeks before using.

Notes

This extract can be replenished continuously. Simply top up the bottle with alcohol every time you use some extract and make sure that the vanilla remains fully submerged under the liquid.
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: European
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: Indefinite

Nutrition

Serving: 1tsp, Calories: 13kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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20 Comments

  1. Anisa says:

    Hi, is it possible to use pure vanilla powder instead of vanilla pods for this recipe?
    Thank you

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Anisa,
      I’m not sure if this would work. Let me know if you give it a try.

  2. Amiee says:

    Hiya! Is there a limit to how much you can keep topping this up? I guess at some point it would lose it’s ability to continue flavouring, but I’m not sure, hence why I’m asking πŸ™‚ if so, how would you know?
    Thanks for the great idea πŸ™‚

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Amiee,
      It’s said that vanilla extract, when stored properly, can last indefinitely. For the best flavor and aroma, I would say at least a couple of years. Of course, it’s always possible to add new vanilla beans to the extract after some time to replenish its potency. I’d say that would be when you can’t smell the pleasant sweet aroma nor taste the vanilla flavor any longer. I hope this helps. πŸ™‚

    2. Elizabeth Thomas says:

      You should be using 1oz of beans to one cup of liquid alcohol or glycerin. Your six beans aren’t going to make a true extract.

      1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

        Thank you for your comment, Elizabeth. You can add more beans if you prefer.

  3. Maria says:

    If I want to make the glycerine-based extract in a 16 oz bottle, should I double the amount of the glycerine (2 cups) and vanilla beans (12 vanilla beans)?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Maria,
      The answer is both yes and no. πŸ™‚ If you want to fill up the whole bottle, then yes, you could double both the glycerine to 2 cups and the vanilla beans to 12. You can also fill up half the bottle – just make sure the vanilla beans will be fully covered, you might have to cut them in half to make them shorter. I hope this helps.

  4. brinacyl says:

    Hi there! can I use glycerine to replenish this extract? many thanks

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi,
      If you made the vanilla extract with glycerine, you can replenish it with glycerine. Depending on much you’ve had to top up, please keep in mind that you might have to wait a few weeks before you can use the extract again. I hope this helps.

    2. Tania says:

      Hi Samira
      I just wonder if I can use tequila or mezcal for the alcohol ingredient?

      1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

        Hi Tania,
        You can use any alcohol as long as it is 80 proof (40% alcohol or more). Tequila or Mezcal can work, but may not be the best choice taste-wise. I’d rather recommend using vodka, bourbon, brandy or rum.

  5. Christina says:

    Hi I wanted to know, when you top up the bottle with alcohol, does it need to sit for a length of time before you can use it again?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Christina,
      I would say it depends on how much you top up. Sometimes I top it up after having used just a few teaspoons, and then you don’t really need to wait long. If you top up about half of your bottle or more, then definitely wait a couple of weeks as the vanilla extract would be too diluted (and too alcoholic). I hope this helps.

  6. Teresa says:

    Hello, where can I get the vanilla bean and the glycerin? I really want to try making it. Thank you.

    1. Samira says:

      Hi Teresa,
      You should be able to source from grocery stores. In case your local stores don’t stock them, maybe you could find them online.
      I hope this helps and you get to make the vanilla extract at home. πŸ™‚

      1. Debbie Pickering says:

        Hi Samira, I have a few questions because I really want to try making this so I hope you don’t mind!
        1. You say to allow it to sit for 6 to 8 weeks so during that 2 week time span how do you know when the extract is ready to use?
        2. If you choose to replenish each time you use it do you need to wait a specific amount of time you need to wait before you use it again and are you only allowed to replenish if you are using Vodka?
        3. Is there a significant difference in the taste with glycerine vs vodka?
        4. If you do not want to replenish do you leave the vanilla beans in the jar until the extract is completely gone?
        Thank you so much for your time!

      2. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

        Hi Debbie. Thank you for your comment.
        1. You know the extract is ready when it doesn’t smell like alcohol any longer. It should have the sweet smell of vanilla. If you are not sure about it, just wait the full 8 weeks.
        2. You can replenish your extract with the same base you used (either alcohol or glycerine). If wanted, you can replenish it after each use, then shake well, and use it again in a couple of days. Or, you can use all the extract, then fill up the jar with your base and with the same beans, and wait for the full 8 weeks.
        3. There is not a significant difference in the taste, although the glycerine extract might be a little sweeter.
        4. Yes, as mentioned in point 2 – you can just use all the exact. Just keep the beans in the jar. They can then be reused several times.
        I hope this helps.

      3. Veggies_babies says:

        5 stars
        Hi Samira, thank you so much for the recipe!
        Little question. I can use all type glycerin, or there are a special glycerin to eat? Thanks! πŸ™‚

      4. Samira @ Alphafoodie says:

        Hi,
        You need to use vegetable glycerin. It’s also known as glycerol or glycerine, and it’s safe to consume. If you are not sure what exactly you are getting, then it’s best to confirm that it’s food-grade/safe to consume – this should be marked on the label.