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Easy DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

    Making vanilla extract at home isn’t anything new.  In fact there are quite a few recipes already online. But today I thought I would share my version of how to make homemade vanilla extract and why I prefer it over store bought. 🙂

    Homemade Vanilla Extract on a wood platter

    (Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more information see my disclosure, here.)

    If you’ve ever bought vanilla extract at the store, then you know how expensive it can be. I first discovered the concept of DIY homemade vanilla because I was tired of wasting money.

    The simple 2-ingredient recipe intrigued me (that’s right, only 2 ingredients!). Now I wouldn’t dream of paying top dollar at the store! This simple recipe is also a wonderful gift idea.

    Last year I made a few small batches and gifted them to my girlfriends for Christmas. They were a huge hit! Everyone was impressed by my homemade efforts and after smelling the sweet aroma they couldn’t wait to get home and bake a holiday treat.

    So if you are looking for a way to cut costs in the kitchen, or needing a simple and meaningful gift idea for a loved one, try out this homemade vanilla recipe for yourself!

    How to make DIY vanilla Extract

    vodka for home made vanilla extract


    • Vodka – (Any unflavored vodka will do, there’s no need to get the really fancy stuff)
    • Vanilla beans – (I order these ones from Amazon)
    • Glass bottles – (If you’re making a large batch, mason jars work great. For gifting, I like to use these 5oz bottles with dripper inserts.)
    • Sharp knife

    The amount you’re making will determine how many beans you’ll need. The package I used came with 10 beans which worked perfectly for four 5oz bottles. It is easy to scale this recipe up or down, the proportions are 3 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 1 1/2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.

    Let’s get started, the steps are simple!

    Homemade Vanilla Extract

    Step 1: Cut The Beans

    Split each bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and add to the empty bottles following the ratio above. If your bottles are short you can first cut the beans down in size so that they fit.

    Cutting vanilla beans for homemade vanilla extract

    Step 2: Add The Vanilla Beans

    Now that you’ve cut the vanilla beans down to size, you can put them in the bottles. Don’t worry too much about being super exact with the number of beans in each bottle, it’s really hard to mess this recipe up (my kind of recipe!!).

    If your ratio of beans to vodka is off by a little bit, the bottles with less vanilla beans will end up taking a little bit longer before they are ready to be used. And likewise, the bottles with more beans will be ready in less time. 

    Step 3: Fill The Bottles With Vodka

    Next, fill your bottles with vodka! If you’ve planned out your ratio properly and added about the right number of beans to each bottle, then this step is super easy. You don’t even need to worry about measuring. Just fill them up!

    Homemade Vanilla, bottled before it has finished extracting

    Step 4: Store / Brew

    Be sure to store in a cool dark place, and give the bottles a shake every so often. After about 2 months, the homemade vanilla extract is ready to use! You can tell when they are ready based on how dark the color of the vanilla extract is getting. 

    Step 5 (Optional): Label The Bottles

    I like to label my vanilla using my trusty DYMO embossed label maker from Amazon. To make them a little fancier, you can add some twine and a gift tag or throw them into a cute gift bag.

    If you’re giving these bottles of home made vanilla extract as a gift, make sure you let the person know when the vanilla will be ready. Or, you can use the embossed label maker to add a date right onto the bottle.

    Homemade Vanilla Extract next to pine needles

    close up of finished DIY homemade vanilla extract

    There you have it! A simple tutorial on how to make homemade vanilla extract (it also makes the prefect thoughtful gift!). I can’t wait for you to try it out for yourself!

    Looking for more homemade gift ideas? I recommend checking out my 5 Minute DIY Sugar Scrub Recipe next!

    DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract