Vanilla Extract Recipe - Only TWO ingredients! Easy homemade gift. (2024)

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How to make homemade vanilla extract with just 2 ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka! The vanilla is ready after brewing as little as 12 weeks but optimal flavor at 6 to 9 months. Use in all your recipes calling for vanilla.

You will be surprised at how easy it is to make homemade vanilla extract. With only two ingredients, you can have the best tasting vanilla for your baking recipes! Or, plan to gift them in smaller bottles as a thoughtful homemade gift.

Vanilla Extract Recipe - Only TWO ingredients! Easy homemade gift. (1)

It's September, which means it's time to start brewing your own vanilla extract so they will be ready to gift in Christmas baskets! Actually, you can start any time of the year because it never expires. I'm starting to make mine very soon for teacher Christmas gifts this year!

Why Homemade Vanilla Extract

This vanilla extract recipe is so easy to make and the total time to put together is less than running to the grocery store! We like to make batches of vanilla extract to gift during the holiday season. It smells SO good and tastes amazing in your cookies, muffins, brownies, cakes, anything that calls for vanilla extract!

Lastly, the cost to make vanilla homemade is less than a store-bought jar. And it feels so gourmet!

Ingredients in Vanilla Extract

Store-bought pure vanilla extract is expensive, but you can cut your costs by making it at home. It takes just minutes of your time and it tastes better than store-bought vanilla extracts!

Here's what you need:

  • Vanilla beans (see below for links to where I buy them)
  • 80 proof vodka (or bourbon to make bourbon vanilla)

How to Make Vanilla Extract

  1. First, pour out two shots of vodka from the bottle and reserve for another use. This will allow room for the beans.
  2. Next, use a sharp knife to cut a slice in each vanilla pod in half vertically, leaving both sides attached. Drop split vanilla beans into the bottle of alcohol.
  3. Replace the lid and let the beans steep in the alcohol for at least 12 weeks before use. Shake each time before using.

Christmas Gifts

If you plan to give the vanilla extract away as gifts, I suggest using 4-ounce dark glass bottles, such as these Amber Boston Round Glass bottles. It's best to use dark glass containers like this to preserve the brewing process.

Free Vanilla Extract Labels

I created free labels on my computer and printed them out on sticker paper. If you're not able to design your own personalized labels, click the label icon below for a free printable I created just for you! Or, I found a couple of cute pre-made sticker labels on Amazon here and here.

Vanilla Extract Recipe - Only TWO ingredients! Easy homemade gift. (2)(Click image above for free printable)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best vodka to make vanilla extract?

We use 80 proof vodka, but you can also use bourbon, rum or brandy. Don't spend a ton of money since it's the vanilla flavor you want to shine through. Also do not use flavored types.

What kind of vanilla beans are best?

The first time I made this years ago, I used grade A vanilla beans, but that was totally unnecessary. Grade B beans are perfectly fine for making extract, and are much cheaper. We use Tahitian vanilla beans. This is a good article for learning the difference between grade A and grade b vanilla beans.

What if my vanilla extract isn't done in time for Christmas?

If your vanilla won't be ready by Christmas, just place a "ready by" date on the bottle to inform your recipients when the vanilla is ready for use. Even if your friends can't use it right away, they'll appreciate the gift and be excited to use it later. I've included a space for you to write this date on my free printable labels.

Helpful Tips

  • Amazon is my favorite place to buy vanilla beans.
  • Don't toss out used vanilla beans! Continue to add used vanilla bean pods from other recipes into the brewing extract instead of tossing them out.
  • If using the vodka bottle to brew your vanilla extract, take out 2 shots worth before adding the bean pods so the vodka doesn't overflow.
  • Use a small funnel to help pour the vodka into individual bottles.
  • Store brewing batch in a cool dark place for best results.
  • Homemade vanilla can be used after brewing for as little as 12 weeks, but it gets better the longer it brews. Optimally, it's best to wait 6 to 9 months for best flavor.

Recipes That Use Vanilla Extract

Use your homemade vanilla extract in any recipes that call for vanilla, including these favorites:

Made this recipe?

Leave a star rating and tag me on social media @seededtable so I can see. I love hearing from you!

This article was originally published December 2011 and updated September 2023 with new recipe tips, more vanilla beans per vodka ratio recommended and updated product links.

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Vanilla Extract Recipe - Only TWO ingredients! Easy homemade gift. (3)

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4.67 from 9 votes

Homemade Vanilla Extract

How to make homemade vanilla extract with just 2 ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka! The vanilla is ready after brewing as little as 12 weeks but optimal flavor at 6 to 9 months. Use in all your recipes calling for vanilla.

Prep Time5 minutes mins

Brew Time84 days d

Total Time84 days d 5 minutes mins

Course: Condiment

Cuisine: American

Keyword: homemade vanilla extract, how to make homemade vanilla extract

Servings: 6 4-oz bottles

Calories: 74kcal

Author: Nikki Gladd

Ingredients

  • 750 ml 80 proof bottle vodka
  • 1.5 oz vanilla bean pods (about 18 vanilla beans)

Instructions

If brewing for home use:

  • Pour out 2 shots worth of vodka and store for another use. Slice each vanilla pod in half vertically, leaving one side attached at the end. Drop vanilla pods in the vodka bottle and replace lid.

  • Let steep in a cool area in your pantry for at least 12 weeks, but optimally 6 to 9 months for best flavor. Shake every couple of weeks. Never expires.

If brewing for 4-ounce bottled gifts:

  • Slice each vanilla pod in half vertically and horizontally. Place 3 pods (12 sliced segments) in each 4-ounce bottle. Fill each bottle with vodka and replace lid tightly.

  • Let steep for at least 12 weeks. If giving away as gifts before the 12 weeks is up, include a tag with the bottle that states the "Ready by" date. Never expires. For best flavor, allow to steep 6 to 9 months before first use.

Notes

  • Use a moderately valued vodka, not the most expensive but not the cheapest. Skyy and Members Mark are good brands to use here.
  • You may use bourbon in place of vodka.
  • Amazon is my favorite place to buy vanilla beans.
  • If using the vodka bottle to brew your vanilla extract, take out 2 shots worth before adding the bean pods so the vodka doesn't overflow.
  • Use a small funnel to help pour the vodka into individual bottles.
  • Store brewing batch in a cool dark place for best results.
  • Extract is ready to use after 12 weeks, but the longer it brews the better the flavor. Waiting 6 to 9 months is even better.
  • Nutrition information is an estimate only.

Nutrition

Serving: 1oz. | Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 0.3mg | Potassium: 0.3mg | Iron: 0.003mg

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Vanilla Extract Recipe - Only TWO ingredients! Easy homemade gift. (2024)
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