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Homemade Vanilla Extract (Just 2 Ingredients)

1:52 PM MST
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How to Make Your Own Vanilla Hip2Save

Have you ever considered making your own vanilla extract? With just 2 ingredients and some patience, you can make your own Vanilla Extract at home for much less than the store bought variety. Whereas a 6 ounce bottle of real vanilla extract at the store can be around $10-$15, I spent around $6 on my homemade version. Homemade vanilla extra also makes a great gift for Christmas or for a hostess gift.

For this recipe, I used four Madagascar vanilla beans from Cost Plus World Market – they were priced $2.99/2. If you want to snag a great buy without leaving your house, check out these highly rated bulk Madagascar vanilla beans on!

Homemade Vanilla Extract


3-5 Vanilla Beans (Madagascar, Bourbon, Mexican, or Tahitian varieties)
6 oz. of alcohol (I used Vodka, but you can also use Rum, Bourbon, or Brandy)

Directions: Split your vanilla beans lengthwise. An easy way to do this – first, press down with your knife to flatten down the bean, slice and open up the bean to expose the inside, and then cut them widthwise to fit inside your bottle. Fit beans inside your bottle, and pour alcohol on top of vanilla beans. Close the lid and store in a cool dark place for at least 2 months and up to 6 months for best results (I opted to store mine in a kitchen cabinet). Every once in a while shake up your bottle; the vanilla beans will infuse with the alcohol to make a wonderful extract.

Making Vanilla with Vodka Hip2Save

 I’m planning on making a big batch of Vanilla Extract in a large bottle and then transferring the finished product to smaller darker bottles like these – the should make for fun and easy Christmas gifts! Do you make your own vanilla extract? What variety of vanilla bean and alcohol combo have you tried?

Written by Lina for Hip2Save. Lina is a proud mom of 2 small kids who loves photography, all holidays, cooking, thrift store makeovers, bargain shopping, and DIY makeovers. Her goal is to create a beautiful life and stylish home on a dime! To see all of Lina’s recipes created just for Hip2Save, click here.

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  • Pharmchick says:

    Yum! Does anyone know where you can actually find vanilla beans? I have so wanted to make so many recipes that use it but I don’t know where to look.

  • TLcarter says:

    I think anything homemade is better:) However, for those who want to purchase vanilla extract, I buy through BJ’s ( using a free membership they offer many times throughout the year). 16 fluid oz on sale usually runs around 10-12 dollars. You pay half that for a mini bottle at the grocery store, usually 1 or 2 oz bottles. I just stock up.

  • Karen says:

    I would also like the alcohol free version.

    • Tonia says:

      I’ve researched it and there really isn’t a “good” way to do extract without the alcohol, unfortunately. You can make vanilla sugar (split the bean and set it in sugar for awhile) and use that instead of extract. That is how it’s done in other countries instead of using extract. When I lived in France and Belgium, you bought little packets of vanilla sugar instead of using extract.

  • Emily says:

    This would be a nice idea as long as you plan ahead! Our grocery store usually puts the bigger McCormick bottle on sale for $4 several times a year. When that happens, I pair with a McCormick coupon and stock up!

  • Tanya says:

    I make my own all the time. The best prices for vanilla beans are actually on amazon. Did you know that after the initial wait time, all you have to do is top it off with the alcohol of your choice when it starts getting low, ? Also, if you have extra beans, cut a slit in one and throw it in a jar of sugar….you will instantly have vanilla sugar and the bean will last forever in there. It’s great in coffee and adds a little something extra to desserts.
    Also, it’s best to use a dark colored bottle. Light is NOT the friend of vanilla extract. You can buy cute amber colored bottles off of amazon too. These will help keep the light out, and I would keep it stored in a cabinet for the best results. :)

    • Lori says:

      Since you make your own, can you please refer to my question below (about making a bigger batch)?

      • Tanya says:

        What we did initially was we bought a bunch of small 6-8 oz amber colored bottles. We put one vanilla bean in each bottle and then filled each one with vodka. I suppose adding more beans would just make it a stronger flavor, but ours was just fine for us. You could just take a bottle of vodka (or your choice of liquor and just divide out how many ounces the bottle holds, then put in 1-5 beans per 6-8 ozs straight into the vodka bottle. But, personally, I would just get individual bottles and do it that way because you will have to transfer them anyways when it’s done if you are wanting to give them as gifts. Plus liquor bottles usually aren’t dark bottles, so you will need to make sure that you keep it in a dark cabinet.
        So there are about 25 ounces in 750ml (the standard liquor bottle), so that breaks up to 4 sets of 6oz or 3 sets of 8oz. So say you decided to put in 3 beans per 6oz, you’d put in 12 beans.

        Hope that helps. :) (And just for the record, you really can’t mess it up. Putting in more just gives it a stronger vanilla flavor.)

    • Vickie says:

      Glad to hear someone else puts the extra beans in their sugar. My friends and family laugh at me for it but they love how it tastes! :-)

    • Tiffany says:

      Thanks for the tips. Vanilla sugar sounds delicious in coffee.

    • Andria says:

      I have made mine for years…a word of caution though. I always buy a large bottle of vodka (almost 2liter) from costco, to refill my bottle filled with vanilla beans. I must have topped the bottle off too much…and it exploded! Glass, vanilla extract, and soaked stockpile in my pantry!!! A very expensive lesson learned. Leave room at top.

  • Lori says:

    So do I use 3-5 vanilla beans for every 6 oz of alcohol? What ratio do you use if you were to make a bigger batch to be divided up as gifts? (I wouldn’t want to mess this up after putting the time and money into it!)

  • Vickie says:

    I’ve made this and one thing to add is use a good vodka (or alcohol of your choosing) if you wont drink it don’t use it. It really does make a difference. I use Madagascar Vanilla beans, that I can get at the local spice shop, and it turns out pretty good .

    As for non-alcoholic versions, a friend of mine uses Vegetable Glycerin which she purchases on line for about $10-$12 a 16 ounce bottle. I’ve tried her’s and it tastes a little sweet but once you use it in baking you can not tell. She also uses an extra vanilla bean.

  • Tanya says:

    You can also use a combination of beans to give it different flavors.

    • Kathryn says:

      I have made my own vanilla for many years. Vicki is correct, buy a high quality vodka. I buy organic vanilla beans both madagascar and tahician. The beans bring different nuances and flavors to your vanilla.
      I also add just a little bourban. This mix made the most amazing vanilla. For me it wasn’t about saving money per se but about having a very high quality organic product that was so much better than I could purchase. ..

  • Andrea says:

    I only used 6 vanilla beans in a 1/5 of vodka and it was really good at that strength. A nice mellow light vanilla flavor. I let it sit for 6 months. Added more vodka when it was low and it was too weak. If you want it richer and darker I would double the beans. Hth

  • john says:

    Only 3 beans for 6 ounces seems a little low and more likely you’ll end up making vanilla flavored vodka rather than vanilla extract.

    I used the following as a guideline when I made my own extract:
    You don’t need to scrap out the vanilla “caviar” just slicing the bean in half and then cutting it into pieces works well. The more surface area you have of the bean, the better.

    Use a dark bottle as well. Shake occasionally. And if you are buying beans online use B grade, not A grade beans.

  • Darcy Gaucher says:

    I have made vanilla for years for presents, and I just use the 750 ml bottle of vodka and I add about 10 – 12 vanilla beans directly to the vodka. I remove about a 1/2 cup first, put in the split vanilla beans, and then put the vodka back into the bottle. I then let it sit in my closet for months until I want to make presents. If needed, I will strain the vanilla as I pour it into the gift bottles, to remove the bits of vanilla bean that fall to the bottom of the bottle. I also put one of these “used” vanilla beans into the gift bottle when I’m done!

    • Tonia says:

      Straining definitely makes it look more store-like, but I love those little bits! When I make cookies with my homemade vanilla, the bits just give it a little “oomph” and look pretty too, if I do say so myself :) I could see how vanilla bits wouldn’t work for certain things though.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha) says:

      Love this idea!

  • JANE says:

    I buy mine at Great stuff.

  • JANE says:

    I buy airline size at the store and use one bean per bottle. That way I can buy a variety of quality liquor. Then gift it to my friends.

  • V says:

    I do this with glycerine and it works fine. I also make vanilla sugar, and vanilla infused jojoba oil to use as a moisturiser.

  • Mandy says:

    If you look in the liquor store for vodka VIKINGFJORD vodka has a great rebate going on till 6/30/2014 $10 rebate when you buy one 1.75L bottle or $25 rebate when you buy two 1.75L. Offer not valid in AL, AR, HI, IN, ME, TX, UT. Limit 6 bottles!

  • AIMEE says:

    I make my own extract and its so easy. I place mine into the fridge for 6 months and give it a shake every so often. Your fridge is dark enough that you don’t have to find a dark bottle and you are constantly opening the fridge and won’t forget to shake it periodically!

  • Alison says:

    If you don’t want to make your own or you are looking for high quality vanilla beans, I highly recommend The Spice House. Their quality is really awesome and worth the extra price.

  • kris says: sells them for a dollar a bean. Used them and loved them. 10 for 10 free shipping! can’t beat it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lauren says:

    Where do we get those awesome bottles?!

  • Nes says:

    Silver tequila is excellent for this.

  • Sophie says:

    I haven’t used pure vanilla extract in years. I switched to pure vanilla bean paste after trying a recipe that called for the paste. The taste is much better and you can see the little black specs of the bean. You can switch it 1 to 1 and I like the Nielsen Massey brand.

  • Tina says:

    Vanilla Saffron carries good beans at great prices
    I buy a lb and share bc it’s a lot of beans.

    Also I cram the bottle full of beans when I make extract. It doesn’t steep faster but the flavor is more intense. I also steep in different liqueurs. Bourbon is my fav but it takes a lot longer to impart good vanilla flavor. My current bottle is about 8 years old and it only really started being good about 4 years ago.

  • Alie says:

    So thr is alchohol in all store brought vanilla extract?thnku.

  • Jane says:

    I got a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff triple filter vodka. I threw in 12 organic extr

  • Janet says:

    Last year around June, I bought a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff Triple filter (red writing bottle). I split and tossed 12 vanilla bean into the bottle! I purchased super cheap organic extract grade vanilla bean (less liquid) from a Facebook coop. Every couple of days gave the bottle a good shake or turn. I was able to use the extract by December. Every time I use a vanilla bean, I just throw the rest of the shell into my bottle. I am about halfway through and thinking about topping it off a bit. Leaving room for expansion. But I LOVE my homemade vanilla extract and will never go back!

  • Amy says:

    Oooh, I’ve thought about making my own extracts, but never really put much effort into researching it. I didn’t realize that many of the recipes for it call for alcohol…a BIG no no for me, as a recovering alcoholic. I’ve made it 7 years now without a drop of alcohol…won’t chance ruining that for anything. So, I found this:

    On, 16 oz. of it would be $5.87 shipped (first time customers get $5 off, so this price reflects that). So, adding in the $8 for 8 pods, I’m at $14 for 16oz…great price! BUT, I found that Big Lots has a 4oz. bottle for $3 and it’s something they always have. So, for 16 oz. of it, it’s only $12…

    My question is, do you think that there’s enough difference in the quality/flavor to warrant spending the extra $2 and the effort?

    Thanks for this post! I’m enjoying the challenge of researching!

    • Emily says:

      Good luck with your recovery and I am happy to hear that you are taking it very seriously and doing the research to stay sober. Nice job!!

  • Patty says:

    Where do you find cheap little bottles maybe 4 or 6oz? We are doing a fundraiser around the holidays and this is something I could do now.

  • paintfrog says:

    I started making my own vanilla a year ago. It’s super easy and I have saved so much money doing so!

  • Hailee says:

    Has anyone ever made vanilla using silver rum? I have some sitting around that I used to make rum cakes. I’m wondering if that will affect the flavor a lot or if I should go get some vodka. I think these would make adorable stocking stuffers!

  • Hailee says:

    Beanilla has a really great selection and the best prices I was able to find. If you’re going to look there, I’d appreciate it if you use my referral link!

  • Patty says:

    Just found a perfect bottle at Michaels on sale for $1.29 with a snap type lid. Also The $1.00 store had nice little bottles for making vinegar or oil

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