How to Prepare Homemade Vanilla Extract

How to Prepare Homemade Vanilla Extract

In very few steps, you can make vanilla extract of your own from the comfort of your home. It’s a super simple process and it only requires 3 ingredients: vodka, vanilla, and time.


YIELD: 1 cup

PREP TIME: 5 minutes



  • 6 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 c. vodka



  1. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise with scissors or a knife. Leave a bit intact at the end if desired. Cut the beans down to fit the height of your jar if necessary. 
  2. Put the beans in an 8-ounce jar. Cover with the vodka. Screw the lid on and give it a good shake. 
  3. Place in a cool, dark place. Let sit for at least 2 months. The longer the vanilla sits, the stronger the flavor will be. While it's sitting, give the jar a shake every week, or as often as you can remember.


Note: Prep time does not include 2-month waiting period.


You need only 2 ingredients: vodka and vanilla beans. You can use rum or bourbon instead of vodka, but the flavors won’t be as clean.

There are different varieties of vanilla beans. The three main types are Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican vanilla beans, but they are grown in other parts of the world as well. One of the new favorites is Ugandan vanilla.

In addition to varieties, there are also different grades of vanilla beans. Grade A beans are longer and contain more moisture, and Grade B beans are less pretty and usually recommended for making extract. Grade B beans are less expensive, so if you’re trying to cut back on cost, definitely go for those.


Steps to Take

  1. Start by splitting your vanilla bean pods in half along the length. You can do this with scissors, or with a knife.

If you want your vanilla bean pods to look pretty in a jar, you can leave a bit of the end uncut to keep it together.

If there are any vanilla beans stuck to your scissors or knife, make sure to put them in your jar. You don’t want to waste any of those lovely beans.

Now stick your sliced beans in a jar.


Note: Remember this ratio: 6 vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol. So if your jar is 12 ounces, use 9 vanilla beans. If it’s 16 ounces, use 12 beans.


  1. Pour your alcohol of choice on top. Make sure it covers the beans. If any are sticking out, you can cut them down to fit better.

A tall jar looks pretty, but you can totally make vanilla in a squat jar as well. Simply cut the beans down to size as well as splitting them in half lengthwise.

Again, cover with alcohol.

  1. Now put a lid on the jar and give it a good shake.
  2. Store in a cool, dark spot and give it a shake every week or so (or whenever you remember).

As the vanilla extract sits, it will get darker. You want the beans to soak in the alcohol for at least 2 months before using. The flavor will only get better with time.

Make up several batches of vanilla extract at once so you never have to wait for a batch to brew. If you’re organized enough, you can note how quickly you use up your vanilla and make a new batch 3 months before you run out.

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