To observe, enjoy and create in everyday life

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Over the years, I have begun to make or bake many of my own things for our family. I bake our bread for sandwiches, make yogurt, soap, jams, pickles, household cleaners etc. Some of these I make because it's less expensive than buying it from the store, or because it tastes/works better, or just because I enjoy the process. Making my own vanilla extract fits just about all of these categories. 


For the last few years, I have made a big batch of vanilla extract at the end of each summer so that it will be ready in time for the Christmas baking season. One year, I made a doubly big batch so that we would have some to give as gifts at Christmas. Giving someone homemade vanilla along with your favorite recipe to use the vanilla is a perfect gift. And, it's so easy to make!


You can purchase vanilla beans from many online retailers, and that is how I recommend you find your vanilla beans. Many grocery stores sell them, but they are quite expensive if you go this route. I bought a package of ten, grade B Madagascar vanilla beans from Amazon for about $23. This is enough to make 16 ounces of vanilla extract. The price of vanilla beans fluctuates, but most run about this price.
You will also need some vodka for the extract. I don't spend a lot of money on this purchase. If you plan on drinking the leftover vodka after you pour what you need for your vanilla, you may want to splurge for a nicer brand. The cost for 16 ounces of the vodka I purchased was $6.50. It may seem that these two ingredients make this project quite expensive, but the reality is you are saving money. For this batch of vanilla extract (16 ounces total), I spent $29.50. A 4 ounce jar of pure vanilla extract at my local grocery store is $16.89. Can you see the difference? If I had bought the equivalent 16 ounces from the grocery store, I would have spent $67.56! 


So how do you make this lovely concoction for your own use or for gifts? It's simple. Cut your vanilla beans into one inch pieces. You will use five vanilla beans for every 8 ounces of vodka. I split my ten vanilla beans between two 8 ounce jars. Place the beans in the bottom of the jar, pour in 8 ounces of vodka, and put a lid on it. You're done with the hands on part. Now just shake the jar every couple of days (or, if you're like me, whenever you remember to do it) and wait 8 weeks. Once the beans have soaked in the vodka for at least 8 weeks, it is finished. Various websites say you can use a little less or a little more vanilla beans with the 8 ounces of vodka, and I have found that 5 is just right. Fewer than that and the vanilla extract is too week, more than that and the cost per ounce goes up.


If you plan on  making this as a gift, you may want to pour your finished vanilla into smaller jars. You have about ten weeks until Christmas, so just enough time to order some vanilla beans and make this simple gift! And if you need a recipe to use some of the vanilla you make, I suggest my Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

Happy Baking!

6 comments:

  1. What a lovely homemade gift idea for bakers, Bekah! Thank you for sharing and providing instructions, too. I probably won't do it this year, but I will "pinterest" this page so I have it in my recipes to try category!

    Mr. Gordon and I make "44" - a coffee and orange flavored cordial. It's called "44" because it takes 44 days to make. It's wonderful. Pop over here for a photo and a link to the actual recipe: https://gardencookeatrepeat.com/blog/finishing-touches-holiday-gifts/

    We're testing a "cheaper" vodka right now to see if we notice a difference. (The jar is actually in my closet now - ha!) It will be ready on this coming Tuesday and if the result tastes good, we still have time to make batches for holiday gifts.

    Here's to happy homemade gifting season!

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    1. I bet that is tasty...and what a fun name! I will check it out. Each year the four of us put our heads together to come up with gifts to make for our family members (grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc), so I am always on the lookout for a new gift making idea! My guys tend to make something with wood (trivets, coasters, candle holders, etc) and I usually make something from the kitchen or sew/crochet something. I still haven't decided what to make this year. I better decide soon!

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  2. Ah! I love making my own extracts. You are much better at keeping track of your ingredients and ratios! I just do a little of this, a little of that. I started with making vanilla and have also made orange and lemon. All are so super easy and cost effective. Nicely laid out post. And thank you for reminding me that I need to make more before holiday baking begins!

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    1. I haven't tried lemon or orange extracts. I bet they are yummy! Do you have a favorite recipe you use them in?

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    2. In one of our previous pie alongs, we made a walnut orange pie and it called for orange extract. I didn't have any so I made my own. Unfortunately it wasn't ready in time to use in the pie but I decided right then and there that I wouldn't be without extracts any more! So I made the orange and then made lemon. I haven't used either but I have them. And if I make the walnut orange pie again, I'll be ready!

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    3. A walnut orange pie sounds perfect for the holidays!

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