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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Category Spices
Vanilla extract has many uses, especially for baking. Making your own will allow you to have fresh vanilla extract whenever you need it. This is a page about making vanilla extract.


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February 28, 2011


  • 1 quart of good 80-proof brandy
  • 2 vanilla beans, split


Add the two split vanilla beans to the brandy. Cork it/put lid back on. Let sit for 2 months before using.

By Irishwitch from Aurora, CO

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By 11 found this helpful
October 9, 2009

Vanilla extract gets expensive if you bake a lot and, with the holidays approaching, there is always that annoying discovery of an empty extract bottle. Never fear, you can easily make a cheap and never-ending bottle of vanilla extract!



Just score the vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle, put into the bottle and fill with alcohol of your choice and close. Let it sit for a few weeks for the flavor to absorb into the liquid, then just top off with more liquor when it gets to half empty. No waiting necessary after the initial set time.

Way cheaper since you will never have to buy vanilla extract again and I think it has a better flavor. This is a great gift for cooks and housewarming. I make these up in fancy bottles and add a pretty tag, sometimes all by itself or add to a basket with other cooking supplies.


By Ruby Cakes from Chattanooga, TN

Editor's Note: Periodically check to see if vanilla pods still have an aroma. If not, discard and replace with fresh vanilla pods.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
July 27, 2009

I want to purchase vanilla beans to make my own vanilla extract. I do not like imitation vanilla. I'm not sure of the quantity of beans to purchase so I was wondering what are other uses for these beans?

By Judy from Mt. Pleasant, MI


July 29, 20090 found this helpful

Various recipes here to choose from ;-) I am not sure what you would be able to use the beans for after you make the extract though :-(

http://tipnut.c  vanilla-extract/

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 2, 20090 found this helpful

You leave the beans in the extract so you can make more! They will not go bad as the alcohol serves as a preservative. When I make it I use a 1/2 pint of vodka or very good brandy. Split 3 vanilla beans longwise but not all of the way through. Add to the liquor & shake. Put the bottle where you will see it & shake well a few times a week. It will take 2 to 6 months (sometimes longer) for your vanilla to 'make'.


I made 2 bottles for my own use because when the 1st bottle gets low I can add more liquor to it & still have homemade vanilla to use while the 1st one 'makes' again. You can use the vanilla beans over & over again. So far, I have used the 1st bottle for 4 years, & the 2nd for 3 years. I have made a lot of homemade vanilla for Christmas & housewarmings & always get raves!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 27, 20090 found this helpful

I always make my own Vanilla extract. It's much tastier and when I make in bulk, I give away the extra as Christmas gifts in bottles I get at the Dollar store. Just go to the liquor store and buy a fifth of Everclear. Buy 3 vanilla beans, split them down the middle and open a bit and drop them in the bottle. Keep in a cool dry place. I keep mine in our cold room. Shake the bottle every week.


It usually takes about 3 months for the color and flavor to develop, so make well in advance if you plan on giving as a gift. This makes a very concentrated Vanilla so you only have to use half the amount called for in any recipe. The fragrance is much stronger and smells so good.

Source: I have to give credit to my sis, Pat. She told me how to make it a few years ago and I have been doing it ever since.

By Ragteller from Tofield, Alberta Canada

Editor's Note: Everclear is not available in many parts of the U.S. due to it's high alcohol content. Try substituting a high proof clear alcohol such as 100 proof vodka or ask at your local liquor store.


Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

If you want to buy good quality vanilla beans. I found a website they have the quality Mexican beans, as well as other types. I prefer the Mexican bean over the others. (05/12/2008)


By Bryce

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April 21, 20080 found this helpful

Has anyone made their own Vanilla Extract? I read somewhere that you can soak Vanilla beans in Rum and that does it, but I am wondering if anyone has had experience with this and what the proportions would be? My husband brought me a bottle one year ago from Mexico (organic) and it is great! I refuse to use artificial because of quality and I bake A LOT for my kids. Plus, I use it as mosquito repellent (no joke!). I don't mind the investment for high quality.

camo_angels from Willamina, OR


Making Vanilla Extract

Try your hand at making your own vanilla extract. Take a clean jar & pour into it 3/4 cup. vodka & 1 split vanilla bean. Seal the jar & allow to stand for six months, before using.

By Terri H.

Making Vanilla Extract

I use a one liter bottle of vodka and add 2-3 vanilla beans, let it sit for one month, the longer the better. As you use it, keep the bottle full by adding more vodka. You will never run out of vanilla. I keep a small bottle (I reused a vanilla extract bottle) in my pantry for my baking needs. My friends and I have been doing this for over ten years.


Making Vanilla Extract

Where is the best place to get the beans?

Making Vanilla Extract

I have had the same beans for years. The last place I bought them was at a supermarket. They are expensive but you only buy them once. (04/18/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Thanks for that! I wasn't sure if you had to replace the beans or not. Does the quality of vodka make a difference? (03/10/2006)

By Kelly

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I too will never sacrifice taste and quality for cost, however this recipe is time consuming not expensive. Just be sure to use premium spirits for best quality. Vodka is fairly neutral, rum sweet and brandy pungent.


5 vanilla beans
1 pint good quality alcohol (vodka, rum, or brandy. They all have their own charms so make some of each or blend and experiment!)

Split the vanilla beans lengthwise, exposing the seeds but keeping the ends intact. Place the beans in the alcohol and cap the jar tightly. Store in a cool, dark place (the bottom of your pantry closet is a good choice), removing to shake the jar a couple of times a week. The extract must remain in the dark for at least four weeks, but four months make it even better, the longer it stands, the stronger it gets.

Pour the extract through cheese cloth into a large pitcher and then into bottles, placing one bean in each. Cork tightly, label and date. Use for your own baking or slap on a pretty label and give as a gift.


By saminalistaphoxe

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I have had this recipe for years, but have never tried it.
1 vanilla bean (4"-6" long)
1/4 cup dark rum or vodka

Chop up vanilla bean & put it in a small jar or bottle; pour in rum or vodka; tightly screw lid on jar so alcohol will not evaporate. Put in a warm cupboard for 2 months. Use as for regular vanilla extract. If extract is too strong, dilute with more rum or vodka. Makes 1/4 cup. (03/11/2006)

By Shirley

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I make my own on a small scale. I took an old vanilla bottle and placed 2 whole vanilla beans (from my bulk healthfood store- which are a lot cheaper) and filled the bottle up with at least 80 proof vodka (I happen to use Popov). Shake it everyday for about a month. I use it after a month, and though I have had the beans for about 4 years now, I think they are loosing their potency, as it takes longer to make the same tint in the bottle as when i first got them.
I still buy the imitation from the store when it goes on sale, and I save the homemade for the really good stuff for special occasions because it is so much more delicate in flavor. HTH- Jamie (03/11/2006)

By Jamie

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Chemistry question: would the molasses from the rum cause the vanilla to spoil? (03/11/2006)

By Kelly

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Buy Watkins Vanilla. You won"t be sorry. (03/12/2006)

By Carol

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Penzey's Spices ( sells vanilla beans and many other top-quality spices. If there is a Penzey's shop near you, stop by and smell the spices before you buy -- it's fantastic stuff. (03/13/2006)

By Robin M

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract sells great beans and they are a lot cheaper than the supermarket (04/16/2006)

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I buy all my vanilla beans from HR Spices. I make vanilla extract using 2 beans per 1/2 cup of rum. I just let the vanilla beans sit in the rum for about two months and use as needed. The beans are always plump and shinny, the extract always come out great. I also make vanilla sugar by leaving the beans in a container of sugar. Delicious! (05/10/2006)

By Gwen

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Gwen - I really would like to try with the rum, and my Yummy Mexican Vanilla has a month left....(wow, I have had it for 16 months!) How long does it need to steep? And have you ever had a problem with the bean going "bad" with the molasses, or I assume the alcohol would preserve it to some point. What I am looking at doing is steeping in a bottle to pour into my original bottle. (05/11/2006)

By Kelly

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Don't worry about the molasses of rum going bad, it's a natural preservative. (01/06/2007)

By Steph

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

It's one cup of rum per every 3 vanilla beans. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor and the darker the color of the liquid. (03/20/2008)

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