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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Homemade vanilla extract is much more affordable than the store-bought version and it tastes delicious. It’s so easy to make, and it’s a wonderful gift.

Homemade vanilla extract is such an easy DIY kitchen project. It makes the perfect Christmas or other holiday gift.

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I bake a lot, and it seems like every recipe for baked goods includes vanilla extract. I wince every time I buy vanilla extract because it’s so expensive. At my Stop and Shop, it costs $9.99 for 4 ounces of their store brand extract, or $2.50 per ounce.

I’ve wanted to make homemade vanilla extract for a while now, and I finally got around to ordering vanilla beans. Some extract recipes call for using lots of vanilla beans, but I thought I would try using just one and see how it came out. After making my first batch with one bean, I decided to go with 2 beans in future batches. I felt funny going into a liquor store and buying a big bottle of vodka, but I did it.

I’m so happy that I finally got around to doing this, because making homemade vanilla extract is simple and cost effective. It makes a great gift, too. I love giving this out during the holidays to the bakers in my life.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract is much more affordable than the store-bought version and it tastes delicious. ($.49 per ounce)
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:0 mins
Resting Time:30 d
Total Time:30 d 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 8 ounces cheap vodka

Instructions

  • Slice the beans open lengthwise and scrape out half the paste. Use the paste for another recipe. I made vanilla ice cream, and it tasted incredible!
  • Place the spent vanilla beans (with half the paste still in the beans) in a clean jar and cover with the vodka.
  • Put the jar in a cabinet and forget about it for a month.
  • After a month, open the jar and see if it smells like vanilla or vodka. If it still smells like vodka, put it away for a few more weeks and try again. When you get that nice vanilla extract aroma, you can start using it. (Mine started smelling like vanilla after 3 weeks.)
  • Top off periodically with more vodka. This should last for many months. When it stops smelling like vanilla, replace the beans or add another one.

Nutrition

Calories: 34kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg
Servings: 16
Calories: 34kcal

Homemade Vanilla Extract Price Breakdown

I bought the cheapest vodka I could find: one liter for $7.99. With this vodka, the price of my homemade vanilla extract is $3.92 for 8 ounces, or $.49 per ounce.  The store brand vanilla extract at Stop and Shop is $2.50 per ounce, which is five times more expensive than the homemade version. The amazing thing is that you use the half-spent vanilla bean for this extract, so you can use some of the paste for another recipe.

Note:  If you want to buy vanilla beans in bulk, Amazon has lots of options. I bought the flip-top bottles at the Container Store for my homemade vanilla extract.

Homemade vanilla extract is such an easy DIY kitchen project. It makes the perfect Christmas or other holiday gift.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.

34 Comments

  1. I started making this recipe sometime around the 15th of July. I has been about a month and while my vanilla bean extract smells a little like vanilla it still smells pretty strongly like alcohol. Did I do something wrong? I added the same amount of vanilla beans that is called for and scraped out the beans from one of the pods. I put mine in a glass mason jar. Has anyone else had this issue? Should I just keep leaving it in there or maybe add more vanilla beans?

    1. Anna, how is the color? Is it turning brown? It can take a few months before it’s ready to use. There can be some variation based on the freshness of the beans and the type of vodka. Some people do make vanilla extract with more beans than I use, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another few beans if you want. Give it another few weeks and see how it looks. Come back and let me know! 🙂

  2. Thanks I am going to try this. I really like good Madagascar Vanilla. However its just to expensive. I have been usin the costco kirkland brand but am getting low. I just have to find a deal on Madagascar beans

    1. I would totally recommend beanilla.com
      They have so many different kinds of vanilla to chose from and decent prices. I love the Tonga and Ugandan vanillas that I got (much better imo than the Indian vanilla… and have you tried Tahitian vanilla, it has notes of cherry/almond in it.
      For me, the most expensive thing was the vodka – Alcohol is outrageously expensive in Canada – definitely crossing the boarder next time I make vanilla or other extracts – it is literally half price in the US compared to Canada (and I got the very cheapest).

  3. I keep meaning to try this not you have motivated me. My mom would love this as a Christmas gift. Hard to think of ideas for her – it is not the money but the meaning. Thanks!

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