Filed Under: Homemade | How To

How To Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

By Kristin Beischel
June 6th, 2016

Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract?  Not only is it possible, but it couldn’t be simpler.  Kristin from Bake Like A Champ is here today to show us exactly how to do it!

Please welcome back Kristin from Bake Like A Champ as she shares this surprisingly easy guide for How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract! Be sure to show her blog some love for me. -Tessa

Like Tessa, I’ve been baking nearly my whole life. I can’t believe it took me almost 30 years to make my own vanilla extract. Once I did, I decided I’m never going back! Not only is it budget-friendly, it’s fun and produces much better results than anything you can buy at the store.  With the incredible Internet these days, we have access to reasonably-priced vanilla beans unlike ever before. Today I’m sharing with you exactly how to make your own vanilla extract and where I prefer to buy the components.

You’ll need three things:

1. Vanilla beans
2. Neutral-tasting vodka
3. Glass bottle

How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract, it's EASY!

I purchase my vanilla beans from Amazon, but if you have a favorite place in town that you know carries them at a reasonable price, by all means, go there. I bought 10 6-inch beans for $15. As for the vodka, I bought a 750 ml bottle for $12 that should last me at least a year or two’s worth of baking. My only advice for the vodka type is to buy one with a neutral flavor. This is also why we’re not using bourbon, as that has a tendency to overpower the vanilla flavor.  Feel free to use any glass bottle you have at home, but these are the ones I use for vanilla. They run about $3 per bottle. So all in for a 12 oz bottle of vanilla, I’ve spent $15, which is about a third of the price of most vanilla extracts found at grocery stores. And a huge bonus, I don’t have to keep running to the store every other day during holiday baking season to buy another 4 oz bottle!

Here’s how you do it:

For every two liquid ounces of alcohol, use one vanilla bean. So for my 12 oz bottle (pictured), I use 6 vanilla beans. Split each bean lengthwise and place them in your bottle. Fill the bottle with vodka. Twist on your cap and shake. After about a week, the liquid will turn a beautiful amber color, but it’s not ready yet. I wait two weeks minimum, but four to six weeks is best.  Vanilla flavor is most notable in items that aren’t baked, like sauces, custards, pastry creams, ice creams, etc.  If you make any of these things, homemade vanilla extract will WOW you.  And even if you stick with the basics like cookies and cakes, homemade vanilla extract is still sure to impress even the harshest of critics.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Once you’re running low on extract, just add a few more beans and re-fill with vodka. Feel free to leave the old beans in there so it gives it even more flavor. I know some people only add more vodka and no new beans, but the beans won’t be as potent, which is why I add additional beans at that point. You might want to plan ahead for when this happens because you won’t be able to use it for a few weeks until it fully steeps.

If you’re interested in more baking hacks, I’m giving away my 3-Step Guide to Freezer Baking, free for Handle The Heat readers today. You can download it here.

Kristin Beischel
Author: Kristin Beischel

Kristin Beischel is the author of Bake Like A Champ, where she helps people discover a game-changing approach to baking from scratch that actually fits into their busy lives. Download her 3-Step Guide to Freezer Baking, free for Handle The Heat readers, so you can start impressing your friends and family today.

Tessa Arias

About Kristin...

Kristin Beischel is the author of Bake Like A Champ, where she helps people discover a game-changing approach to baking from scratch that actually fits into their busy lives. Download her 3-Step Guide to Freezer Baking, free for Handle The Heat readers, so you can start impressing your friends and family today.

Find Kristin on  

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  1. #
    Thao — April 7, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Can I ask what is neutral-tasting vodka?

  2. #
    Tricia — June 19, 2017 at 2:13 am

    Can I use whisky instead of vodka?

  3. #
    Jenny — February 18, 2017 at 1:08 am

    Dear Kristin,
    Thank you soooo much for this. I live in Germany and it is really hard to find vanilla extract. I will immediately get to this. So much better and so easy. Thank you!!!

  4. #
    Esther Courter — July 13, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Do you leave the beans in after the set time to cure? or do you remove them?

  5. #
    Amy — June 16, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    How long does the bottle of extract last? How long can you keep adding more beans and vanilla before it goes “bad”? I have a bottle I started April 2014 and still continue to use. I’ve thought since it’s alcohol it doesn’t spoil…? Please advise! Thank you!

    • #
      Kristin Beischel — June 21, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Hi Amy! It will last forever! The alcohol won’t spoil. 🙂


  6. #
    JudyB — June 15, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    in response to question/concern of Jean, no question is “dumb.” re the issue of alcohol in homemade vanilla, yes – it will contain alcohol. however, all commercial vanilla products also contain about 35% alcohol – check the labels. even the widely popular Nielsen-Massey and King Arthur Flour vanillas have 35% alcohol. if the vanilla is used in baked products the alcohol will evaporate with the heat. if the vanilla is used in non-baked products there will be a minute amount when you use1/4-1 tsp for the entire recipe.

  7. #
    Jean — June 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I realize this is a dumb question, but, doesn’t the vodka have alcohol? If so, adding this vanilla, aren’t I adding alcohol?

  8. #
    JudyB — June 15, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Enjoyed your posting on making your own vanilla. I have been doing this for about 5 years after buying the beans and bottles from directly. Periodically they have sales (don’t they all?) and the beans and supplies are cheaper. I keep the bottles in a dark cupboard and shake them weekly while they “brew.”

  9. #
    mia — June 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

    this is seriously such a great idea – I would have never known you could make your own vanilla extract.. and so easily! what a great tip to know. thank you!

  10. #
    Eppy — June 8, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Loved the vanilla recipe thanks

  11. #
    Eppy — June 8, 2016 at 6:50 am

    I have some good dishes I can share,Puerto Rican dishes.

  12. #
    marianna — June 7, 2016 at 9:54 am

    do you have to store the vanilla in the fridge or is keeping in the cupboard fine?

    thank you!!!

    • #
      Kristin Beischel — June 7, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Marianna, the cupboard is just fine! 🙂

  13. #
    marianna — June 7, 2016 at 9:14 am

    where do you buy the 12oz bottles?
    thank you!!!

    • #
      Kristin Beischel — June 7, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Marianna, I buy them from Amazon. If you scroll up in the article, I link to them. 🙂

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