Easy Homemade Vanilla Extract

by Alli

Homemade Vanilla Extract is easy to make. Yes, you can make it at home! It does take a few weeks (6) before it’s ready to use and pure vanilla extract has a long shelf life. 

This post, Homemade Vanilla Extract, contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

I bake a lot and I never use imitation vanilla extract when baking. Store-bought pure vanilla extract can be very expensive. Homemade is easy to make and much less expensive. Plus the taste is much better. It’s a win-win!  

Have you ever wondered how real vanilla extract is made?  Did you know that you can make your own homemade vanilla extract? It’s so easy!

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

You only need 2 ingredients – 80% alcohol (vodka, brandy, bourbon, or rum) and vanilla beans. That’s it! You didn’t know that alcohol was used to make vanilla extract? Well, now you do!

Add split vanilla beans to 1/2 pint jars or bottles and add vodka. Cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place, like your pantry. Give it a good shake every day (or every other day or once a week) and in 6-8 weeks, it’s ready. 

You can find vanilla beans in the spice aisle in your local grocery store or order them online. I recommend these Madagascar vanilla beans or these Indonesian vanilla beans.

I already had bottles that I use for homemade vanilla extract, but I love these bottles. They are perfect! 

Homemade Vanilla Extract Takes Time To Age

It takes about 6-8 weeks for the flavors to infuse. Actually, the longer, the better when it comes to aging. When you’re done, you’ll have three 1/2 pint jars of delicious vanilla.

Since homemade Vanilla gets better with age – in 6 months, it will be really good! Plus, it lasts for years. 

How To Speed Up The Process When Making Homemade Vanilla

If you cook the alcohol for 5 minutes, it speeds up the infusion and you’ll have vanilla extract ready to use in 3 weeks. You’ll need to cool the vodka completely before adding the alcohol to the jars. 

When cooking alcohol, be sure and use a large saucepan to contain the vapors. Do not heat longer than 5 minutes. The vapors can ignite.
Also, if you use bourbon, the vanilla will be slightly darker.

When you split the vanilla beans, scrape out the seeds and add to the jar. This extra step will give you a stronger extract in less time. 

I usually omit cooking alcohol. The vanilla extract will need to stand for a few extra weeks before using (at least 6-8 weeks). 

Homemade vanilla extract gets better with age. I leave the vanilla beans in the bottle because it’s pretty. Feel free to remove once the vanilla is ready to use. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Vanilla Beans and A tablespoon of vanilla on cutting board

Difference Between Store-Bought and Homemade Vanilla

Homemade vanilla extract is more flavorful and less expensive than store-bought. You don’t have to use top-shelf alcohol for this. Inexpensive alcohol will work just fine! I use vodka because it has a neutral taste. 

Most store-bought vanilla extract is usually single-fold vanilla, meaning they skimp on vanilla beans and it’s weaker than homemade vanilla. 

Helpful Hint: I used vodka in my homemade vanilla extract because it has a neutral taste.  If you want your vanilla to be darker, use bourbon.

Homemade Vanilla Extract – The Perfect Gift

Homemade Vanilla Extract in glass bottle with cork

I received several comments stating that homemade vanilla extract would make the perfect hostess gift or Christmas present. I totally agree! Thanks for the reminder!

Funny Story

I don’t drink, so I always get my oldest daughter to stop by the liquor store to get the vodka I need to make homemade vanilla extract. She doesn’t drink either but it doesn’t bother her to stop by. 

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Have you ever made your own vanilla extract?

Yield: 1-1/2 pints

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract is easy to make and is less expensive than store-bought vanilla extract. It does need to sit for at least 6-8 weeks before using it.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 month 11 days 14 hours
Total Time 1 month 11 days 14 hours 15 minutes


  • 9 vanilla beans
  • 3 cups vodka, bourbon or rum
  • 3 (1/2 pint) jars with tight-fitting lids


  1. Slit 3 vanilla beans lengthwise and add to a clean 1/2 pint jar. If desired, cut the beans in half crosswise. Place in jar. Repeat with the remaining beans and jars.
  2. Pour 1 cup vodka into each jar. Make sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged.
  3. Cover jars tightly and let stand at room temperature 6-8 weeks before using, shaking jars once a day.
  4. Store in a cool, dry place.


If you use bourbon, the vanilla extract will be slightly darker.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1 teaspoon

Amount Per Serving Calories 40Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

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