Homemade Vanilla Extract

This vanilla extract is the perfect gift for any baker you know. So easy, too. I made my first batch a couple years ago, divvied it up, and gave it out to my book club friends at our holiday celebration. It takes a little planning as the alcohol needs about six months to completely extract the vanilla flavoring…oops, I’m a little late for this Christmas! But it’s one of the simplest things you’ll ever prepare.

I’ve made this with both bourbon and vodka. You whip this up in just minutes…and you can even give it as a gift before it matures. Make sure each bottle as a vanilla bean or two.  Just attach a note letting the recipient know when their batch will reach its peak. They will be so impressed this came from your kitchen!

Homemade Vanilla Extract


  • 750 ml bottle of vodka, rum or bourbon*
  • 12 vanilla beans (I use Penzey's Madagascar vanilla beans)


  1. Pour out a couple tablespoons of your liquor of choice to make room for the vanilla beans. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise. You may want to scrape out some of the seeds to add to the bottle, but this is not necessary. Put all 12 split vanilla beans into the bottle. Gently agitate, then place in a dark cabinet. Give it a shake every day for the first week, then once every couple weeks. Peak flavor occurs at 6 months and after, but it is usable before that. Strain vanilla at the 6 month mark, and store in a dark colored bottle.
  2. You may continue to top off the bottle with alcohol, and add more vanilla beans. You will never have to buy vanilla extract again.

Yield: 750 ml vanilla extract

    Total time: 6 months

      *I used vodka with my first attempt...it's easy to see your progress as the vodka darkens. This batch was made with bourbon.


        Nutrition Facts
        Serving Size
        Amount Per Serving As Served
        Calories 1801kcal Calories from fat
        % Daily Value
        Total Fat 0g 0%
        Saturated Fat 0g 0%
        Sodium 12mg 1%
        Carbohydrate 8g 3%
        Sugars 8g
        Protein 0g

        Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:

        Calories 2000
        Total Fat Less than 65g
        Sat Fat Less than 25g
        Cholesterol Less than 300mg
        Sodium Less than 2,400mg
        Total Carbohydrate 300g
        Dietary Fiber 25g
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        1. What a great idea! Love all your yummy goodies!

        2. Lizzy…….I love your bottle. You know I never made any of my own before but as usual you have inspired me…….so maybe I can do it this year. Thanks for sharing…….Lambeau:-)

        3. Thanks, Ali 🙂

        4. How did you like it? Is it comparable to vanilla extract you buy? Gosh, didn’t know vanilla had so much alcohol in it. No wonder it tastes and smells so good.

        5. Lee, I thought I gave all my first batch away, but found that one container in my baking cupboard. It smells fabulous…so next time I whip up some chocolate chip bars, I’ll use it instead of my Nielsen-Massey and let you know.

          Erica, I knew you’d like that Lambeau picture!

        6. Looks great Lizzy…I have had a bottle in my cupboard for several years…I just keep topping it off and adding more beans. I have only tried it with vodka. Curious to know how you like it with bourbon or brandy.

        7. These are my sources for the amber bottles and labels~



        8. Rustywvu says:

          Liz, I’m enjoying your site. I’ve copies several recipies (with liquor) lol to make for next Christmas.

          Our daughter made us Kahlua one year and I still have it. On cold mornings I add some to my coffee. BTW, which do you like better, Vodka or Bourbon?

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