I use vanilla extract in a lot of my baking. Unfortunately, the cost of buying organic vanilla (over $8 for 4oz) is too expensive, so I decided to make my own. This homemade vanilla extract taste delicious and makes a wonderful gift during the holiday season.
Vanilla extract is so easy to make and tastes soo much better than the extract you purchase from the store. The longer the extract sits with the vanilla beans, the better the flavor will be! This is a great time to start making vanilla extract because it will be ready to use by the holidays. Make sure to make enough to give to family and friends for Christmas!
Is making homemade vanilla extract worth it?
Making homemade vanilla extract takes a long time (4-6 months). And it is 100% absolutely worth it. Not only will you save money vs buying vanilla extract from the store, but the taste is leagues better than store-bought. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Homemade vanilla extract ingredients
Homemade vanilla extract requires just two ingredients (plus a container):
- Vanilla beans (link to the vanilla beans I use personally)
- Vodka, rum, or bourbon. You can use just about any – I’d go for lower mid-grade (think $20+ for a handle) so you get a smoother taste…and you want something either thoroughly neutral or with some hints of vanilla. Ssomething with vanilla notes could be particularly nice. Smirnoff blue vodka could be a good starting point, but only if you’ll drink the rest!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- You will need approximately 1 vanilla bean for every 1/3 cup of alcohol. Carefully slice each vanilla bean open.
- Place vanilla beans into jars or flask. Pour appropriate amount of liquor over the vanilla beans.
- Close tightly and store in a cool dark place.
- Swish the bottles of vanilla once or twice a week. The vanilla extract will be ready to use within 4-6 months.
- You can remove the vanilla beans (I like to use them to make homemade vanilla ice cream) or leave them in the extract.
FAQs and updates
I got a lot of questions about this recipe since I originally posted it back in 2013, and I’ve answered most of the major ones just below. Keep them coming!
Generally, the best alcohol for vanilla extract is vodka (80-proof or so). This is because vodka is the most neutral-tasting alcohol, so it will just imbue the vanilla flavor. However, bourbon and rum can both be fun, especially if you want a little bit of caramel from a good bourbon.
The taste will fade over time; generally, I’d try to use it all within 24 months or so. Does homemade vanilla extract ever go bad? Probably, eventually, but I haven’t personally experienced it.
My recipe takes 4-6 months – this is definitely not for someone who needs vanilla flavor quickly!
Short answer: You haven’t let it stew for long enough. Give it another couple of months, and the taste should improve.