Let me introduce you to one of my very best friends in the pantry, homemade vanilla extract. I made my first batch of it back in October of last year – to give as Christmas gifts, and I haven’t looked back! I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved over the past few months, a small fortune I’m sure.

As with most DIY projects, I really take pride every time I take it out of the cabinet to bake with. It’s so easy too – you just need some cheap vodka, vanilla beans, and time. You need to let the beans “steep” for about 2 months before you start using the extract, but the longer it sits – the better it gets! I keep 2 jars in rotation to ensure that I never run out.


  1. Sue
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

    Been making my own vanilla extract for about 4 years now 🙂 You can buy vanilla beans in bulk on ebay – much cheaper than in the grocery store. Whenever you use the bean for anything, add the pod to the “brew” – still lots of flavor to be had there 🙂

    • Laura
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

      Sue, I do buy mine in bulk – too expensive any other way. Got a pound for about $20! I stick my leftover spent pods into a Mason jar with granulated sugar. Love vanilla sugar in my hot cocoa come December!

      • Lisa
        Posted December 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

        I’m getting a late start on these to give as Christmas gifts. I ordered 4 oz. bottles and beans on amazon.com and they’re almost here! Do you recommend 1 split bean per 4 oz bottle? My gift tag will include “don’t use for 2 months!” I hear it will be worth the wait. Thanks for the helpful tips.

        • Laura
          Posted December 7, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

          Lisa, I would do 2 beans per 4 oz bottle. They’re a great gift, your friends will love it!

  2. Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    Your extract looks awesome! I’ve got two bottles going in my cabinet right now and I can’t wait to try it out!

  3. Carl LeMaster
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

    Great idea! I love your posts!

  4. Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    I need to start making my own extract. Do you buy your vanilla beans online?

  5. Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    Gotta try this!

    I think I am starting to worry my boyfriend that I’m going to fill our shed with jars between all the things I want to can, jar, and just make in general! 🙂

    Thanks for the idea.

  6. Posted April 16, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    I cannot have alcohol of any kind. Can anything else be substituted for that?

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

      No, Kathy. Alcohol is what acts to extract the flavor of the vanilla. I’d just treat yourself to some whole vanilla beans (I order from http://saffron.com)and use that to flavor your baked goods instead!

  7. Emily
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Permalink


    I’ve been reading about homemade vanilla extract for a while now and have decided to make it this year for my family and friends for Christmas. The one site I read that you have to split the beans and scrape out the inside “seeds” before putting it in the alcohol (and I used rum). After reading the different techniques, I put 5 beans per 17 oz. of rum, and put a little of the seeds in as well. I’m a little nervous because now everywhere I read says just to put the whole bean in without scraping the seeds out. I wanted to ask you, Laura, because I follow your blog and trust what you have to say from making many of your recipes. Hope to hear from you soon! Happy Holidays!

    • Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

      Emily, it will be fine! I’m looking forward to trying my batch with rum or Bourbon next. 🙂

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