DIY Vanilla Extract

Music Credit: Zachary Friederich – Little Ray of Sun (Instrumental)

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract takes just two simple ingredients to make. Great to use or to gift.

DIY Vanilla Extract

Did you know that you can make your own homemade vanilla extract? You absolutely can and it only takes TWO ingredients.  Which means: 1.It’s ridiculously easy and 2. You should really use the highest quality ingredients you can find. Quality counts. These make amazing gifts this time of year and who wouldn’t appreciate a bottle of homemade vanilla extract?

You can send me a case of it if you like and I would be a very happy camper. Now that I know you want to make your own, let’s talk about the three B’s that you’ll need to get started: Bottles, Beans and Booze.
DIY Vanilla Extract

BOTTLES. Bottles come in all shapes and sizes. Go ahead and find the ones that you like. I picked these Italian square glass bottles with clamp stoppers at World Market for $5.99 each (ehem World Market doesn’t have a clue who I am although they would probably recognize my debit card number, just saying.) I like these bottles because once they are sealed, they are airtight and you don’t have to worry about spills.

BEANS. Vanilla beans should 1. smell like vanilla and 2. Be plump and supple. Take a hard pass on any shriveled up beans. Vanilla beans can be pricey but I’ve found an awesome deal on AMAZON for vanilla beans (see the bottom of post for shopping links). They also happen to be a PRIME purchase which means they’ll be delivered to your door within days. I am admittedly a Prime snob and am incredibly spoiled by their quick deliveries and all the movies I have access to on my kindle.

BOOZE. You can use Bourbon or Vodka. For these I used Makers Mark and Smirnoff Triple Distilled Vodka. I also like Tito’s Vodka. It’s what we had handy in the house.

DIY Vanilla Extract
DIY Vanilla Extract.

The longer you let your vanilla steep, sit a spell, mix and mingle (whichever phrase you like best) the better it will be. Because I know you’re going to open it to smell it just know that the first week or so it will have a strong alcohol smell to it as it ages it the vanilla will marry with the alcohol and smell like, you guessed it, vanilla.

DIY Vanilla Extract

If you’re giving these as gifts adding a printable tag would be a nice finishing touch. If you need my address just let me know.






DIY Vanilla Extract

DIY Vanilla Extract is made using 2 simple ingredients.


  • vanilla beans, 3-4 per bottle (depending on your bottle size)
  • High quality bourbon or vodka


  1. Clean your bottles. Set aside.
  2. Carefully slice down vanilla beans using a pairing knife so that seeds are exposed. Place 3-4 vanilla beans into each bottle.
  3. Fill bottles with your choice of bourbon of vodka making sure that liquid is covering beans. Seal bottles and place in a cool dark place.
  4. Shake bottles once a week. Allow bottles to steep for approximately 6-8 weeks before using.


  1. 1

    Why aren’t we neighbors yet? I would love to bring a bottle of this to your house and bake together 🙂

  2. 2

    I can not believe I didn’t know vanilla extract was alcohol based!!! Now I know why I love it ;}
    So fun and lovely.

  3. 3

    What pretty photos! Can’t wait to make some of this for myself.

  4. 4
    solita /

    Hi, there! Long time fan of your blog. I was windering how long is the shelf life of this? Thanks!

  5. 5

    Love this. Perfect for a homemade holiday gift!

  6. 6

    Paula, I haven’t done this in so long. Time to try it again!

  7. 7
    Janet /

    I have been making my own vanilla for years. It’s so wonderful compared to what you buy in the stores. I use Cognac for mine and it’s fabulous but maybe I should try making it with Bourbon and just drink the Cognac!

  8. 8

    Making DIY extracts have been on my to-do list for awhile. I even bought some bottles from Crate and Barrel! I just need to get around to…actually doing it.

  9. 9

    This is one of those thing I would buy, and never think to make. I will have to give this a try. What sorts of recipes do you use vanilla extract with?

  10. 10

    I totally need to do this. I always think about it and then forget. I love those bottles, so cute!

  11. 11
    Pam /

    Can you say what the shelf life would be? i’m wondering if we started making this in the summer and let them sit til Christas for gift giving?

  12. 12

    Wouldn’t this make a great gift for someone special? Homemade vanilla? Love it!


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