Skip to Content

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

Making vanilla extract is one of the easiest kitchen DIYs. It is a great, quick afternoon project. I don’t know if it’s kid-friendly but that’s up to you.

I couldn’t resist adding another DIY gift to my blog.  My first DIY gift was this melt and pour soap tutorial which, thanks to Pinterest and Mashable, used to get so many visitors. Alas, my photos did not age so well.

Back to the homemade vanilla extract.

I have been wanting to make homemade vanilla extract for a while – and I was really cutting it close getting it ready for Christmas presents. 

It needs about 8 weeks to soak before its ready to use, but I had a plan for that.  And I’ll share that with you at the end of this post in case you come across this tutorial, and you want to make this gift too. Also at the bottom is a printable version with pictures.

Supplies

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

To get started, you only need four things – glass bottles with stoppers, vanilla beans, a sharp knife and vodka.  I also used a funnel and a measuring cup to make pouring the liquid easier, but these two are optional items.  Even with them, there’s a good chance you’ll still spill if you’re not careful.

While shopping at HomeGoods one day, I found the cutest glass bottles so the other day I went and picked up a few.  They aren’t very big – they’ll fit a little over 1 cup of liquid in each bottle.

I figure they are perfect for gifts, just in case someone doesn’t bake as often as I do.  Seriously, I go through a a lot of vanilla extract.

Update 8/7/14: I have switched to using four ounce Boston Round bottles from Amazon – they seal better, which means less spillage when you’re doing your weekly shaking.

Next, you will need vanilla beans.  I almost always get my beans from Amazon – 5 Pack Gourmet Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans 

Update 6/1/20: I have switched to Grade A Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Etsy.

For the size bottles that I bought, I used 2 vanilla beans per bottle.  Adjust accordingly – remember, my bottles hold approximately 1 cup of liquid per bottle.

And the final, but most important touch is the booze. I went with vodka but you can go exotic if you want and do bourbon or whiskey.  Alcohol itself is the key ingredient in this mix.

Because I wanted a vanilla extract that was very… vanilla, I went with the cleanest vodka I could find.

By clean, I meant with the least amount of vodka taste.  Surprisingly, with all my research, it wasn’t Grey Goose or Belvedere or another top-shelf vodka. 

It was Svedka.  You can use whatever vodka you’d like – it was just important to me that the final product tastes as much like vanilla as possible. 🙂

Directions

1.  To start, slice all of your vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Do this slowly so that you don’t cut yourself.  Then cut all your halved vanilla beans in half widthwise.

DIY Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

2.  Place 8 vanilla bean pieces in each bottle.  Remember that you cut your beans up, so this equals 2 beans per bottle.

If you are using a larger or smaller bottle, adjust accordingly.

DIY Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

3.  Fill each bottle with enough vodka (or other liquor if you are going the exotic route) so that the tops of each vanilla bean piece is covered.

This is when a funnel comes in handy.

DIY Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

4.  Close each bottle and store in a cool, dark place for 8 weeks.  Each week shake the bottles once or twice a week. So easy, right?

DIY Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

Now you may be saying to yourself… uh oh, its 4 weeks to Christmas.  Or, uh oh… its 1 week to Christmas.

If that’s the case, don’t worry.  Here’s your solution.

Before I wrap these up for gifts, I am going to include a round label on each bottle.  I plan on including the bottled date, and the date to begin using – 8 weeks from the bottled date.  I may include simple instructions – such as shake once a week, or shake before using – as well.

DIY Vanilla Extract - This easy Kitchen #DIY is great for #gifts. | Honey and Birch

Update 8/7/14 – The picture above shows one of the original bottles after sitting for several months, next to the new bottles.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 56 days
Total Time: 56 days 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $20-30

Making vanilla extract is one of the easiest kitchen DIYs. It is a great, quick afternoon project. I don't know if it's kid-friendly but that's up to you.

Tools

  • Kitchen Knife

Instructions

  1. Slice all of your vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Do this slowly so that you don’t cut yourself. Then cut all your halved vanilla beans in half width-wise.
  2. Place 8 vanilla bean pieces in each bottle. Remember that you cut your beans up, so this equals 2 beans per bottle.
  3. Fill each bottle with enough vodka (or other liquor if you are going the exotic route) so that the tops of each vanilla bean piece is covered.
  4. Close each bottle and store in a cool, dark place for 8 weeks. Each week shake the bottles once or twice.

two glasses of berry rosé sangria
Previous
Berry Rosé Sangria
chicken taco casserole in a white casserole dish
Next
Chicken Taco Casserole

Linda Dooley

Monday 6th of July 2020

Where can I find vanilla beans?

sherri E winther

Sunday 28th of June 2020

Why not put the cut up Vanilla Bean right into the bottle of Vodka?

Fran

Friday 16th of August 2019

After the 8 weeks do you remove the vanilla beans or keep them in the bottle?

Jenny

Monday 19th of August 2019

Hi Fran! I leave the beans in - the vanilla continues to infuse and will make the flavor richer.

Michelle Seymour

Monday 12th of August 2019

How long does the completed product stays safe to use - or what is the shelf life of the finished homemade vanilla...do you need to refrigerate (I know this probably sounds silly to all the bakers) but I am not a seasoned baker but it sounds so wonderful to make for christmas hostess gifts this upcoming holiday..thank you

Jenny

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

Hi Michelle! This is what I've found when researching the shelf-life of vanilla extract - "pure vanilla extract which, if stored in a cool dark place and tightly sealed, can last indefinitely and even improve with age" from The Kitchn.

Memoria

Sunday 10th of August 2014

I've been wanting to make my own vanilla extract too but didn't have the heart or courage to buy a bottle of alcohol (I don't consume alcohol...with the exception of vanilla extract and the batter in fish n chips haha). I'm going to have to just get over it, enter a liquor store, and buy some clean vodka to make this! Thanks for the great details!

Jenny B

Sunday 10th of August 2014

I totally understand! If you want, don't buy a large bottle unless you're making extra for gifts, or if you want to make several bottles for yourself so you only have to do it once.

Thanks for checking out my tutorial!

shares