Homemade Vanilla Extract

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract | chocolateandcarrots.com

It’s always been a mystery to me as to how vanilla extract is made.

Mystery no more!

It’s so easy and makes a great gift. It takes 6+ weeks to sit and relax, so you’ll need to get started this week to make it just in time for Christmas!

If you’re my family, SURPRISE, you’re getting this for Christmas! ;-)

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First, you’ll need to collect your ingredients and supplies:

  • Bottles – You can use any size and you can use clear or dark bottles. I purchased mine from Specialty Bottle. I purchased and used 20 bottles.
  • Vanilla Beans – Any variety you’d like to use is fine. I purchased mine from Beanilla. I purchased 1/2 pound of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans.
  • Alcohol – You can use vodka or bourbon. I filled half of my bottles with vodka and half with bourbon.

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Before you begin, you’ll want to wash the bottles and caps with warm soapy water, rinse and allow to air dry.

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Now, it’s time to set up your vanilla extract. You’ll follow the rule of putting at least 2 vanilla beans to every 5 ounces (the more the better!). I’ve seen other recipes use 5 whole beans for every 8 ounces. So, whatever you feel comfortable doing is fine.

You’ll cut each whole bean in half.

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Then, cut each half in half (longways), leaving the ends in tact.

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Place the bean pieces into your prepared bottles.

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Now, you’re ready for the alcohol. Like I said, I did a variety of bourbon and vodka in my bottles.

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Fill the bottles with the alcohol of your choosing!

Vodka:

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Bourbon:

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Top the bottles with their caps or plugs and place in a cool, dark and dry place for 6 or more weeks. You’ll bring them out just to gently shake them every week until you’re ready to gift them.

Here’s the time-lapse of my 6 weeks:

Homemade Vanilla Extract | chocolateandcarrots.com

Start this process as soon as you can, so they’ll be ready to gift when Christmas comes around. I’m gifting them with the vanilla beans in the bottles, with the instructions to continue to shake every week or so to continue to soak up the flavors and make it amazing!

You can also make the vanilla extract by just popping a TON of split vanilla beans into the alcohol jars that you purchased, shaking every week. Then, once it’s dark enough for your taste, filter with cheesecloth and funnel into the bottles.

Make Homemade Vanilla Extract for Christmas | chocolateandcarrots.com

Throughout this process, you’ll want to make cute little labels. Here’s how:

It’s as simple as that! You can tie ribbons around the bottles, attach removable tags to the tops to show who it’s from and give it just like that!

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how to make your own homemade vanilla extract! Below are close ups of the pretty labeled bottles. :)

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This post was not sponsored. I purchased all of these products because I enjoy them. There is one affiliate link within the post, where a small percentage of purchases made through that amazon link goes back to help support my store.

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38 comments

  1. First off I just want to say that all your photography in this post is amazing! Wow! I wish I could come over to your house for pointers…just beautiful. So did you find that you liked one over the other…vodka vs bourbon? Also is it just as good as what we buy…just as strong? Thanks!

    1. Aww, thank you Kristin! You’re too kind. :) So, I’m liking bourbon better. It’s a little stronger than the vodka and that’s just my taste. As far as being as strong, that’s all dependent on how long you let it sit to absorb the vanilla beans and how many vanilla beans you put in the alcohol. I’ve heard of people putting 1/2 pound of vanilla beans in a bottle of the bourbon or vodka like I purchased and letting it sit for a full year, shaking it every few weeks. I don’t have that patience, so that’s why I’m leaving the vanilla beans in the bottles when I gift them, so the flavor just keeps developing. :D I hope that helps! And if you ever need photo pointers, just email me. :-) I’m self taught, so I’m not very technical with photography, but I love sharing with friends.

    1. Not a dumb question it all, Sharon! You made me curious and I found one that doesn’t contain alcohol, but vegetable glycerine instead. Never heard of vegetable glycerine, but it’s worth researching! Here’s the recipe without alcohol. Great question Sharon!

  2. Such a great post…love all the photos!! This is one of my favorite homemade gifts. I had really good intentions of doing this for my family this year, but never got around to it. This is great motivation for next year though. Gorgeous labels, by the way….the go perfect with those jars!

    1. Thank you Kelli! :D Love a good homemade gift. You’ll definitely have to make it for next year. I mean, shoot, you could probably go ahead and start for next year right after the holidays and it’ll be SUPER good. :)

  3. I love this! I am wondering if there are any concerns with mold or germs etc? I wanted to do infused olive oil as gifts for my wedding and I read it can get icky after like a week. I’d live to do this vanilla… Do you know if that’s a problem for this? Thanks!!! :)

    1. I wouldn’t think that it would have any sort of susceptibility to germs or mold, especially if the vanilla beans are completely submerged in the alcohol. I think alcohol kills bacteria, actually. Right? Totally not a doctor, but I couldn’t find anything in my research that says that homemade vanilla extract would lead to mold or germs. Hope that helps! Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials! :D

      1. I’ve done this for myself and to give as presents a number of times and it will not go bad. The alcohol kills germs. I have to say, mine were in plain bottles and nowhere as cute as these. These labels are adorable and I love the photography in this post! (Also, I hope you don’t mind me jumping into another person’s question, no need to buy amber bottles if you keep the bottles in a cabinet away from light.)

  4. Wow. This is such a great gift idea. You have a lucky family…and if they are not happy to get this gift you can send it to me ;) I have wanted to make my own extract for a while one of these days I’m gonna do it too.

    1. From what I’ve read, it will last years and years (on par of 30+ years)! As long as the beans continue to stay covered with the alcohol (just keep adding more on top), you’ll be good to go! The flavor will just keep getting better and better. :D

  5. I am wondering if the amber tinted glass bottles preserve the vanilla any better than the clear glass bottles? Just curious as the store bought bottles are never clear.

    1. Yes, I believe you are correct. I’ll buy the amber tinted glasses, when I make it again. I just knew it’d be hard to show you all what I did and how it developed with the darker bottles. :D All for a good photograph, right? ;-)

    1. Excellent! I’m not sure how strong the vanilla flavor is in vanilla vodka, but I would think it would be okay to use. Can’t go wrong with extra flavor, right? ;-)

    1. I used 5 ounce bottles. I like to them in the post, too, if you want the exact same ones. :D So glad to hear you’re going to give it a try!

  6. I definitely NEED to try this. I love the idea of making your own vanilla extract, and what a perfect gift idea :) And can we just talk about your stunning photography?! How did you set up that first photo on the top of your post? Is the background just a black foam core board? And is it naturally lit from the right? Absolutely gorgeous!

    1. You got it! And thank you! :D Yes, I shot it in my sunroom with black foam board on the back and left sides. Natural light came from the top and right side. I used a white foam board in front of me to reflect back the light on the left side. :D Yay! Thanks again Chris!

  7. Love your post but have never made enough to gift, just personal use. Also, I don’t like Bourbon or Vodka so I use Brandy with great results.

  8. I started mine this year right after Thanksgiving. I am trying Bourbon, Rum & Brandy. With my rum I cut up the beans and blended them in my vita-mix blender. I will see how that works out.

      1. Hi again! To tell you the truth, I’m still letting my vanilla extract collect more flavor (in the midst of moving). But, as soon as I get my own kitchen again, I’m breaking those bottles out and doing a taste test. :D Great question!

  9. What do you use it for? Is it alcohol for drinking out of shot glasses, say, or vanilla extract for flavouring/baking!?!!

  10. no more makers mark or jim beam, the parent co. of makers mark, they are now owned by Suntory of japan.
    good bye jim its been a long run and a lot of fun…………hello jack

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