Homemade Vanilla Extract

This easy, two-ingredient recipe will yield the most amazing, high-quality vanilla you’ve ever tasted! I’ve also included an adorable free label printable for you below.

Homemade vanilla extract is made with just vodka and vanilla beans. The kind you purchase in the store is almost always filled with extra sugars and dyes that we as a family avoid when we can. Not only that but it’s incredibly expensive, especially if you want to purchase a quality brand without all the extra junk. 

By making your own, you’ll have a quality product that will transform the taste of your baked goods. The best part is that your vanilla will last indefinitely with just a quick top-off when the bottle is low. You can also tailor the flavor of your vanilla to your own personal taste by mixing and matching different types of vanilla beans.

Vanilla Beans

There are many options when it comes to purchasing vanilla beans. You will want to go with something that is classified as Grade B, otherwise known as “extract quality.” Spending a little more on quality beans will pay off in the long run because remember, your beans will last you indefinitely as long as you keep your bottle topped off!

I purchase mine from Vanilla products USA (not an affiliate link, I just really love the beans) on Amazon. Their beans are triple screened for quality and arrive vacuum sealed. If you would rather grab something local, most grocery chains carry them in the spice aisle.

As I said earlier, there are several different variations you can purchase when it comes to type. Some of the most popular include Mexican, Bourbon, and Tahitian. Each will have its own subtle flavor profile but any choice you make will provide you with an amazing end result.

Alcohol

You want to use a neutral flavored alcohol like vodka or light rum. Many people use bourbon because they want to make Bourbon Vanilla, but that is actually referring to the type of bean and not the alcohol used. Bourbon is going to completely overwhelm the delicate flavor profile of those beautiful vanilla beans you bought!

I went with Frankly Organic vodka because it is a local Texas distillery and I like their products. I also had it on hand. You don’t HAVE to buy a top-shelf brand, but do buy the best you can within your budget. Remember, you’re saving money in the long run here!

Ingredients

  • Glass Bottle
  • 8 oz Vodka or Light Rum
  • 5-6 Vanilla Beans

Instructions

  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the beans down the middle length-wise.
  2. Stick your sliced beans into the bottle.
  3. Fill the bottle with your chosen liquor to the top of your beans.
  4. Store in a cool dark place and make sure to shake your extract 1-2 times per week. 
  5. Vanilla will be dark brown ready to use after 4-6 weeks.

Each time your bottle gets low, top off with your chosen liquor and add a new bean if you feel like it needs a stronger flavor. Keep in mind that the longer it sits, the better the favor will be so you may want to make a few bottles at a time to keep in the rotation.

Pro tip: Many recipes tell you to strain your vanilla extract to remove the tiny vanilla beans but I find that they add an extra dimension of flavor when baked into cakes and other baked goods. Leave those beans in there!

This simple vanilla extract makes for adorable and unique gifts and stocking stuffers! In fact, I just made a fresh batch to give out to family and friends for Christmas this year as part of a “baking basket”. 

If you are interested in giving them as gifts, or just want one for your own bottle, you can click below to print the labels. They can be printed on normal copy paper or card-stock. I used super glue to stick them on and they have held up well.

I promise once you taste your homemade vanilla you will never want to go back to the store-bought kind again! Follow me on Instagram for more recipes like this and to follow along with what’s happening on the Homestead!

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