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A jar of vanilla extract next to 2 tins of labels

Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Make a batch of Homemade Vanilla Extract in June and you’ll have an amazing holiday gift for all your friends in December! Or whip up a batch now and add instructions plus the date it will be ready to use!

Learning How to Make Vanilla Extract is a breeze! With only two ingredients, it’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever follow! And your recipients will be thrilled.

Homemade Vanilla Extract in a decorative jar for gifting

Homemade Vanilla Extract

This easy homemade vanilla extract is the perfect gift for any baker you know. Just TWO ingredients! I made my first batch a couple of 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.

5 jars of homemade vanilla extract ready for gift giving

Tips How to Make Vanilla Extract from Scratch

Within minutes, you’ll have this easy recipe ready to steep. It’s the least daunting holiday gift you’ll ever make!

  • Plan ahead. PRO-Tip: It takes 6 months for this pure vanilla extract to mature. If you want to give it as holiday gifts, make your bottle in June.
  • I’ve made this easy homemade vanilla extract with both bourbon and vodka.  Rum works, too. Note that you don’t need to buy top of the line liquor for this recipe. But don’t buy really, really cheap booze, either.
  • Place 12 vanilla beans, each sliced in half from top to bottom, into your 750 ml. bottle of liquor.
  • Store in a dark cabinet for 6 months to let the vanilla infuse into the liquor.
  • Agitate the bottle as directed to help the liquor to extract the vanilla flavor. This will be done daily at first, then every couple of weeks.
  • PRO-Tip: You can certainly give it as a gift before it matures. Make sure each bottle is garnished with 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!
  • I love splurging on labels from Felix Doolittle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Does Vanilla Come From?

The vanilla orchid originated in Mexico and was held sacred by the Aztecs. When their empire fell, Cortez brought the vanilla pods back to Spain and introduced vanilla to the rest of the world. There are five major vanilla growing regions: Mexico, Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, and Uganda. Vanilla from each area has its own flavor characteristics.

What is White Vanilla?

I was given a gift of white vanilla from last Christmas. It can be used to flavor white frostings without altering the color. But is it real vanilla? It’s actually a synthetic version of vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its distinctive flavor. So it can’t be called pure vanilla extract, but it can be useful when a pure white color is preferred.

Does Vanilla Ever Go Bad?

Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life, meaning it won’t go bad. It’s best to store it in a cool dark place or decant into dark bottles. Imitation vanilla will have an expiration date on the box and is best used within 6-12 months, but it won’t harm you to use it if it’s only a month or two past its prime.

A Weck jar filled with homemade vanilla next to 2 tins of labels

More holiday food gifts from the kitchen:

I’m always on the hunt for a new food gift for the holidays. I’ve spied a few across the blogosphere that have caught my attention like these seasonal Pumpkin Pie Spiced Nuts, this festive Cranberry Orange Bread, and the classic Banana Walnut Bread! Remember, it’s all about the presentation, so make sure to add some festive ribbon and a coordinating gift tag!

A Weck jar filled with homemade vanilla next to 2 tins of labels

The Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Only 2 ingredients and some time and you can make homemade vanilla in your own kitchen!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 750 ml vanilla extract


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


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.You may continue to top off the bottle with alcohol, and add more vanilla beans. You will never have to buy vanilla extract again.


*I used vodka with my first batch. It was easy to see the progress of the infusion using a clear color alcohol. This batch was made with bourbon.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 12Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g


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16 comments on “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. I’m down to my last half teaspoon of homemade vanilla and I just bought my cheapo vodka yesterday to make some more. I forgot it took so long, though. I may have to buy a small bottle of extract. 🙁

  2. Wow, I had no idea how long this process was. Good to know! And what a lovely holiday gift this would be! (P.S. Love your personalized labels!) 🙂 ~Valentina

  3. A very welcome gift I’m sure! I’m fond of the vanillas made with bourbon-very nice:@)

  4. The best holiday gift EVER! Homemade is so much better, I prefer to use vodka.

  5. I had no idea that this process took 6 months! Looks amazing, and I love good quality vanilla. Thanks for sharing!

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