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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract

All right, everyone.  How would you like a non-recipe?  This is something that is so embarrassingly easy that it makes me want to jump for joy.  But the fruits of your non-labor will be great.  This is something you can use again and again throughout the year.  Homemade vanilla extract, be still my heart!

Before I started cooking and baking regularly I never really spent much time thinking about the vanilla extract I was using.  I didn’t care.  I pretty much only used it for oatmeal or French toast.  Then the magical transformation occurred and baking became fun to me.  Huzzah!  That’s when I realized that imitation vanilla just wasn’t cutting it.  And I really didn’t like buying those teeny tiny bottles of vanilla either.

Why make your own vanilla extract?  It’s easy enough to buy a bottle at the store or get a huge bottle on Amazon.  The answer may be that I’m just a little weird. 😉  I like making my own earrings, I’ve made my own scented room spray, I’ve been known to make a huge vat of ketchup now and again, and I like to make my own vanilla.  It makes me feel old timey.  Just me and Laura Ingalls Wilder running down the rolling hills outside Walnut Grove. 🙂  (By the way, there are no huge hills outside Walnut Grove.  I live not very far from there and it’s all as flat as flat can be.  And that’s why old episodes of Little House on the Prairie drive me bonkers).

Vanilla extract

So if you like to put on your mad scientist cap every once in a while, you might like making this too.  Plus how cute would it be give a fancy glass jar of homemade vanilla extract to your favorite food lover on his or her birthday?

Another fun aspect of making your own vanilla extract is you get to decide what alcohol to have your vanilla beans swim around in.  At first I used vodka because it’s a pretty blank slate and the flavor of whatever kind of vanilla bean you use really shines through. Then I branched out.  You can use vodka, rum, or bourbon.  My person favorite is bourbon.  It really gives recipes a lil something, especially when you use it in chocolate.  Let your vanilla beans steep in the alcohol of your choice for a month, then it’s ready to use…BUT if you have the patience to let it steep for six months you will have a really deep, rich vanilla extract.  Let the good times roll!

Happy baking!

Vanilla extract

(Adapted from a vanilla extract recipe on Food Network)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • 1 750 ml bottle of vodka, rum, or bourbon
  • 12 vanilla beans
  1. Pour about a tablespoon of the alcohol into a cup and set aside so the bottle doesn't overflow when you put in the vanilla beans.
  2. Put the vanilla beans into the bottle of alcohol, then put as much of the reserved alcohol back into the bottle that will fit.
  3. Let the vanilla beans steep for at least one month, but six months is best.
  4. Remove the beans and use them in whatever recipe you want.
  5. Pour the vanilla into any fancy bottle you want, or keep it in the original alcohol bottle.


{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel January 31, 2016, 1:03 pm

    I’ve never done this, but I think it’s really cool! I love that you can use different kinds of alcohol. I definitely need to try!!

    • Amanda January 31, 2016, 3:53 pm

      Thanks! The smell is great too! Sometimes I like to put a few drops in boiling water on the stove as an air freshener.

  • Kate @ Framed Cooks January 31, 2016, 3:24 pm

    I love that you did this – I have to try it! I’m all about making your own staples – just made mayo today, as a matter of fact! 🙂

    • Amanda January 31, 2016, 3:54 pm

      I love that you make your own mayo! I have to try that sometime too. 🙂

  • Mir February 1, 2016, 7:19 am

    It’s so cool that you’re near Walnut Grove! I used to love that show. I’m also from the Midwest, and yeah, it’s flat as a pancake out there.
    This is a great idea! I’ve never made my own vanilla before!

    • Amanda February 1, 2016, 1:47 pm

      Thanks! Once you make it once it can be a little addicting. I love running across vanilla beans that taste slightly different and mixing them with different alcohols. Fun!

  • Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary February 1, 2016, 10:13 am

    Vanilla extract is almost stupid easy to make! The first time I made it I totally wondered why I had been wasting my money on the store bought kind! Love that you posted this, my dear! Cheers!

    • Amanda February 1, 2016, 1:48 pm

      Thanks much! That is the first thing I thought too. Who ever knew it was so easy? They shall not have my money again! 🙂

  • Ashley | The Recipe Rebel February 1, 2016, 10:38 am

    I am all about non recipes! Lol. This is such a great idea — homemade is definitely better!

    • Amanda February 1, 2016, 1:49 pm

      Thanks, Ashley. I love recipes that are so easy that you almost laugh when you’re done because it required so little effort. That’s how I know I’ve succeeded! 🙂

  • annie@ciaochowbambina February 1, 2016, 4:34 pm

    Hahaha! I guess you and Laura wouldn’t have to fear heights if you got together…I love that(!) and this non-recipe! I’ve made it before and I feel old-timey when I do things like this too! Love it!

    • Amanda February 2, 2016, 2:32 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels old timey when I do this. After I’m done I kind of always want to say “All right, let’s can a hundred pounds of applesauce! I’m on a roll!” 😉

  • Lisa @ Chocolate Meets Strawberry February 2, 2016, 12:58 am

    Such a fantastic idea, Amanda! I used to make homemade vanilla essence all the time using this method using the homemade spirits my brother used to make (which tasted more or less like vodka and were a great neutral base for the vanilla). This reminds me that I really must start doing that again! Thanks for the inspo!!

    • Amanda February 2, 2016, 2:33 pm

      Thanks! And I think it’s great that you made yours with homemade alcohol. Amazing! That’s really taking it to the next level. 🙂

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