Vanilla Extract Recipe with Fresh, Whole Vanilla Beans 39

Whole vanilla beans and booze are all you’ll need to make your own vanilla extract for baking. This vanilla extract recipe is super easy to make and much less expensive than buying vanilla extract.

brown bottle of homemade vanilla with vanilla beans

Here’s how our vanilla cycle goes: Plan to make my own vanilla, but forget.

Then my husband (the baker in the family) sees that we’re low.

He picks up a big bottle at Costco, perpetuating a vicious vanilla cycle.

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Every bottle we get from the store? That’s one more piece of plastic that we have to figure out what to do with.

DIY vanilla extract recipe

Making my own in a reusable glass bottle makes sense from a waste perspective.

But here in Hawaii, it makes sense from a locavore perspective, too. Several small farms grow vanilla right here on the island.

How ridiculous to buy imported vanilla in plastic!

Even if you don’t have access to locally grown vanilla, it makes sense to make it yourself simply because it eliminates waste and a single batch of homemade vanilla can last indefinitely, since you can keep topping off the jar as you use the vanilla.


Inspired to try? Here’s how you do it. I

t’s not really a recipe so much as it is just putting a couple of ingredients in a jar. Then waiting, of course. Once it’s ready, you’ll be off and baking.

Use your homemade vanilla just as you would the store-bought version.

★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

5 from 1 vote
brown bottle of homemade vanilla with vanilla beans
How to make your own vanilla
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

This homemade vanilla is super easy to make and will save you a bundle of money.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 32
Calories: 34 kcal
Author: Kris Bordessa
  • 2 whole vanilla beans
  • 2 cups vodka
  1. Split vanilla beans down the center with a knife or scissors.

  2. Slip the beans into a recycled glass jar or a canning jar. Use a jar that holds two cups of liquid.

  3. Pour vodka into jar and allow it to sit for three to four weeks.

  4. Leave the vanilla bean in the jar and when your supply starts to get low, add more vodka. (Eventually, you may need to start fresh when the vanilla beans start to lose their oomph.)
Homemade vanilla extract is easy to make with whole vanilla beans and some booze. This simple vanilla extract recipe is just a matter of combining two ingredients and allowing the flavors to combine for several weeks. Using your own homemade vanilla extract in baking is a great frugal tactic. #baking #recipe #diypantry

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39 thoughts on “Vanilla Extract Recipe with Fresh, Whole Vanilla Beans

  • Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi

    Don’t forget that when it gets too full of vanilla beans, you can pull out old bean casings and use them to flavor your sugar. Just toss them into a sealed glass jar with sugar and you’ll have gently vanilla flavored sugar in no time. Two for one!

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      Excellent point! Thanks, Melanie.

  • Lisa Carter

    Kris, I must admit I read the title of your post and thought, “Yeah, right.” Make vanilla?! I had no idea it was as easy as this! How very, incredibly cool. I bet it tastes so much better than store-bought as well. I will definitely try it. Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      Lisa, funny. I do aim for *doable* projects. Thanks for sticking with me and realizing that it’s so easy!

  • Elaine

    Thank you! I usually buy high quality vanilla but use it quickly! would you recommend a top shelf, well, or cheap vodka?

      • Kris Bordessa Post author

        And, I’ve read, brandy. Vodka is the only one I’ve tried so far, but I may try a different kind of booze next time. Wonder what would happen with a *mix of alcohol? Hm…

  • Kris Bordessa Post author

    Elaine, honestly I don’t know if it makes a difference. I used cheap, because, well, I’m cheap! The vanilla smells just divine.

  • Patti

    You have a vanilla farm down the road? How cool is that?! I second the suggestion on the vanilla sugar. Yummy on toast!

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      It is very cool! I actually want to try to grow some myself, but that’s still to come.

  • sarah henry

    Who knew it was that easy? Thanks for this. I’ll give it a go.

  • NoPotCooking

    My MIL bought me a “kit” for this once. It always seemed as if the vanilla did not taste as good as the stuff I buy from Penzey’s. Any idea why?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      No idea. Maybe the vanilla wasn’t very fresh or good quality? (It seems like maybe they’d use a 2nd rate vanilla bean for something like this.)

  • MyKidsEatSquid

    I’m going through an ‘I don’t like vanilla’ stage so I’m omitting it when I see it in recipes. That said, I think this is a wonderful idea. My mom used to make her own flavored vinegars. I’ve been meaning to try that myself.

  • Jennifer Margulis

    So cool! Who knew???!!! I love your “vicious vanilla cycle.” I buy organic vanilla in bulk (I think it comes from Madagascar) and bring my own glass jar so I don’t have the plastic or Costco issues. But I want to try this! I think my kids will love doing it too.

    @MyKidsEatSquid, how can anyone go through an I don’t like vanilla stage?! Shocking!!

    • Susan

      I had no either you could make your own vanilla either! Sounds like a cool projec.t

  • Deanna

    I bought one of those kits and it says to let it soak for 4 months…I haven’t opened it yet but it gets darker as time passes. I’m waiting until I run out of store bought to open. The package says the bean can be used to make 2 recipes…we’ll see how it turns out. Thanks for sharing!

  • kath

    made this and love using it- and it is such a conversation starter when I bring it out if I am cooking in front of friends.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      And when you tell your friends about it – and how easy it is – you might have another convert, thus diverting one more plastic bottle from the landfill!

  • Elise Johnston-Agar

    i live in Dominica now where vanilla beans grow, but we’re missing the natural pollinator & have to fertilize the flowers ourselves with a needle (very cool for kids). The local rum is used, which is pretty terrible on its own but fine for the beans,

  • renee

    I made my own vanilla extract 2 yrs ago after reading this post. It has been wonderful and now I am making bottles for family for x-mas. My question is for others who have done this for several years. Mine is ready for new beans. Should I strain out the old tiny seeds from the bottom of my bottle, or leave them in there and just add the new pods?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      Good question. I’ve added a second bean/booze to mine without cleaning out the jar, but I usually rinse it after that. I don’t know if there’s a “right” answer, but that’s what I do!

  • Jackie Patti

    I buy beans in bulk off Amazon cause they’re much cheaper.  At first, I stored them in the freezer until I needed to make extract, but eventually… basically, I put a bag of them in a quart sized jar and fill with vodka (or Everclear when I have it, but it’s illegal in PA, so depends if I’ve been shopping in MD lately).  I didn’t even cut them, on the theory the alcohol would extract stuff eventually anyways.

    I pour that into a more normal sized container for actual use, and like you, top off the original bottle.  With the one batch of beans, I’ve had my extract going for 2 years now.  It’s still darker and more flavorful than the stuff you buy in the stores. 

  • Ashley

    I wish I had a vanilla farm right down the road! So I’ve got a bottle that someone gave me and I’m about half way through. Can I take the beans out and start a new bottle with them? The old bottle will be fine for using right?

  • Tara

    Would you try whiskey, or would that be too flavorful? That’s usually the only liquor in our house.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      What’s the worst that could happen? (I’m a big experimenter!)

  • Kris

    I love this and want to make my own. How do I know where to get good quality vanilla beans? I’ve seen them at world market, whole foods, grocery stores.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      I honestly don’t know how to tell a “good” bean from a bad one. I’m feeling like making sure it’s *fresh would be more important.

  • Michelle

    So easy to make. I will definitely make this again. Great recipe.