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DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

02. November 2018

Do you know what the price of gold currently is? Give or take, around $1,200 per ounce. By comparison, do you know what the price of real, quality pure vanilla extract is? $5,263 per fluid ounce, I kid you not. Weeell... maybe a little. For dramatic effect.

It can certainly feel that way when you go to buy vanilla extract at the store and think "Can that price be right?" You may even be tempted to go the "Imitation Vanilla" route, because really, who's gonna know? Your tongue, that's who! You might be cool with lying to your friends or family, but please, don't try to lie to your own flippin' tongue. Not cool.

Good news! You can easily and inexpensively (compared to 5K an ounce) make your own vanilla extract. And it's delicious!!!

DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

Vanilla Extract Supplies: 

  • 80 proof, 40% alcohol vodka (my bottle was 750mL). You can use rum or bourbon instead of vodka.
  • Grade B vanilla beans (3-5 beans per cup)
  • Quart mason jar
  • Small amber bottles
  • Small funnel
  • Vanilla extract bottle labels 

    First, you need Vodka. And not that diluted, 42 proof junk that you use as mouthwash. You need at least 80 proof (40% alcohol) for it to pull the flavor from the vanilla beans. You can also use rum or bourbon, if you want a sweeter vanilla extract. Using the vodka will give you a “true vanilla” flavor. Also, it doesn’t matter what brand of vodka; as long as it is 80 proof, go as cheap as you can.

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    You will also need vanilla beans, of course. The kind you find at the grocery are most likely Grade A beans (meant for use in baking). Ideally, you need Grade B beans. They are meant for this purpose, and you get the most flavor out of them. You may have to search them out online. I purchased mine from a bulk seller on eBay. You need approximately 3-5 beans per cup of vanilla. Since I used a 750 ml bottle of vodka, which translated to a 4/5 full quart jar, I used 15 beans.

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    Okay, this is an extremely complicated & intricate process, so let’s begin.

    Cut your beans down the middle lengthwise and put them into the quart jar filled with vodka. Make sure the beans are completely covered. You may need to cut them down to fit.

    Annnnd, that’s it.

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    No need to scrape out the flecks from the beans, they’ll all come out over time. Shake-shake-shake it once a month to let it know you’re still thinking about it. Technically you can use the vanilla extract after 6 weeks of infusing, but the longer you hold out, the better the flavor will be. If you can hold out for 6 months, it will knock your socks literally off your feet. If you have the will power of Hal Jordan and can make it to 12 months, your head will explode off your neck from how darn delicious this heavenly elixir is.

    Also, you can keep replenishing the mason jar with more vodka as you transfer extract to smaller bottles. After a while, you can replace the beans to freshen it up. Some folks also add bits of the bean to their smaller amber bottles.

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    Homemade vanilla extract makes a great holiday gift. Just transfer the liquid to small amber bottles decorated with our Vanilla Extract Bottle labels.

    Now think of all those delicious Christmas cookies that you can bake with this homemade potion. And for a fraction of the price!

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    If you want to make your holiday extract gifts stand out, see our custom vintage rectangle extract bottle labels. These labels can be customized for vanilla, almond, orange, mint, maple, or other extracts. 

    Custom vintage rectangle almond, mint, & vanilla extract bottle labels |

    Sign up for our newsletter to get more tutorialsgardening tipsrecipes, product updates, & a 10% off coupon on your first order of canning labels in our shop.

    DIY homemade vanilla extract recipe |

    Do you make your own vanilla extract? If so, have you experimented with different alcohols? Have you made any other types of extracts? Let us know in the comments below.


    Comments (30)

    Jean on September 06, 2019

    After the extract is ready to use, what do you do with the beans? Leave the beans in? Strain it?

    CanningCrafts on September 08, 2019

    Jean, yes I leave the beans in. If you do that, the vanilla will only get better & stronger. You can reuse the beans for multiple batches of extract too.

    Beth on October 13, 2019

    Does it have to stored in a dark bottles – or are clear glass bottles ok?

    CanningCrafts on October 14, 2019

    You can leave the extract in a clear jar or bottle, but it needs to be kept out of sunlight. So store it in a cool dark place like inside your cabinet or pantry. Amber bottles are great because it blocks the light which can cause evaporation & damage.

    Taylor on November 10, 2019

    Hi! Where do you get your beans exactly? Organic beans I have been researching are very expensive. 😬 how much should I expect to spend on enough beans ? Thank you!

    CanningCrafts on November 11, 2019

    No, I don’t get organic beans. I buy mine on Ebay. I recently got 15 beans for $26. There’s a vendor on Ebay that sells beans in bulk packs & you can also get as little as 5 beans which would be enough for a batch of extract (plus you can reuse the beans on subsequent batches). If you buy in a grocery store, you’ll pay a ton more. I’ve seen 2 beans for $10 in stores. Also, you can get Grade B beans which will be less expensive than Grade A beans which are used for cooking.

    Carol on November 13, 2019

    I have made my with vodka, bourbon & rum. I really like
    The rum vanilla, then the vodka vanilla. I give this for Christmas gifts to family & friends.

    CanningCrafts on November 14, 2019

    Hi Carol,
    Homemade extract makes a great Christmas gift! I’m glad you give it to family & friends. I personally have only made it with vodka, so one day I will try the other alcohols too.

    Annette on January 09, 2020

    Where do you get your amber bottles from?

    CanningCrafts on January 10, 2020

    Annette ,
    I’ve gotten amber Boston round bottles individually on . You can also get them by the case on or Amazon.

    Joy on January 20, 2020

    I made Homemade Vanilla for Christmas gifts this year. For people who like to cook…it was a huge hit! For those who dont really cook or bake…they didnt get how neat this was. As it can get expensive if you make a large batch….In future, I will only make and give to those who I know will appreciate the significance of this gift. However, I had a lot of people comment on the labels I got from you all! I gave all the credit to you!
    Also…..I got this idea from watching Ina Garten one day. She mentioned that she had her vanilla for something like 20(?) years. As she used it, she just topped off with more vodka. This just kept her batch going! WOW! I made each of my kids a large jar for Christmas….hoping when Im long gone they will remember the love!

    CanningCrafts on January 20, 2020


    I’m so glad to hear that your homemade vanilla was a big hit with most of your gift recipients. I completely hear you when you say that not everyone will use it as much. My mother-in-law had used her entire bottle from the previous Christmas, but my brother-in-law had only used his a few times. So naturally I didn’t give him a replacement bottle this year. I go through vanilla very quickly in my kitchen… and I believe it’s because I don’t use measuring spoons. I like to DUMP in the vanilla :D It’s impossible to use too much vanilla!

    I’ve been topping my mason jar off with vodka for a few years now. If I make it to 20 years, it will be brown gold!!! The longer it sits, the better it gets :)

    Thanks so much for your label purchase!

    Lisa Quay on August 06, 2020

    I made a 750 ml of extract. I would lime to put in jars and make more in the 750ml bottle. Do you water bath the jars to seal them to make shelf Stable? Or just pour in and screw lid on and put away? Thank you

    CanningCrafts on August 06, 2020

    Lisa, you do not water bath process extract bottles. This is alcohol & already shelf stable. Just screw the caps on :)

    Shari on August 18, 2020

    Do I need to strain the extract when putting it into smaller bottles?

    CanningCrafts on August 18, 2020

    You don’t want to “strain” the vanilla bean specs out of the vanilla. Just pull the large beans out so it’s easy to funnel the extract into the bottles. Then if you want, you can put a small piece of vanilla bean back into each small bottle. Then it will keep getting better as it sits.

    Cheryl Shields on August 24, 2020

    How do I get your labels for vanilla ?

    CanningCrafts on August 24, 2020


    All of the vanilla labels shown in our blog post can be purchased in our shop:


    Amy on October 11, 2020

    Is there a specific #bean/vodka (or bourbon) ratio to follow? We have 12-8 oz bottles to make. Would you make 12 individual, 8oz batches by filling the bottles with Vodka and adding 2-3 beans per bottle?

    CanningCrafts on October 11, 2020

    I use 15 beans in my quart jar. I use a 750mL bottle of vodka which fills the quart jar about 3/4 full.
    You could also do individual bottles. If you have 8oz jars, you could do about 3 beans per jar. Some people add less beans than I do when I make my vanilla. You can reuse your beans for multiple batches of vanilla later too.

    Tracy Aust on August 30, 2021

    If you keep “topping off” your vanilla, how often do you replace the beans?

    CanningCrafts on August 30, 2021

    Tracy, I usually make a mason jar full of vanilla once a year. I have left the same beans in for several years.

    Randy on December 22, 2021

    I started my batch November 19, 2019. I’ve only used it twice and it was good. Shortly I will be bottling it up. I made up 1 gallon with Absolute vodka into 2 half gallons jars with 25 beans in each. It has a nice color and flavor. Thanks for the other answers especially about it being shelf stable. I was afraid it would had expired.

    Joanna Walker on October 28, 2022

    I made homemade vanilla in April. I used good vodka and split the beans making sure they stayed submerged and shook them weekly. It’s been 6 months & I noticed floaters and white stuff on the beans. They are in swing top bottles and stored in a dark pantry. Did I do something wrong, should I strain it and replenish it with fresh beans?

    CanningCrafts on October 28, 2022

    Homemade vanilla extract will have a lot of brown vanilla bean flecks floating in it. I’m not sure what the white stuff you have in your bottle would be other than mold. It’s important to keep beans submerged, but you’ve said you did that. So it’s possible there was an issue with the vanilla beans to begin with. Please refer to this article to read more about mold on vanilla beans:


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