Homemade Vanilla Extract


Make homemade vanilla extract! Yes, you can! And it’s so easy and fun! You will feel so handy and survivalist afterward! It makes me feel like a pioneer!!!! And it’s fun, did I mention that part? It’s stronger, it’s cheaper, and you can avoid preservatives and artificial flavorings. It also puts you completely in control of your vanilla extract supply and you can make all the cookies you want.

To prepare, start saving your vanilla bottles now. Don’t throw your vanilla bottles away! Save them. Ask your friends, neighbors, and family to save their vanilla bottles and give them to you. Collect vanilla bottles. Dark, glass vanilla bottles are best. You want all the bottles you can get people to give you because homemade vanilla extract makes great gifts. Using hot water, dish soap, and a scrubber pad, scrub off the labels and wash the bottle. Next, order vanilla beans in bulk for the best price. Here is a great place to order Madagascar vanilla beans, which are the premium beans for making vanilla extract.

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How to make Homemade Vanilla Extract:

For each 2-ounce jar of vanilla extract–

1 2-ounce vanilla jar
slightly less than 1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 vanilla bean

With kitchen scissors, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch connected (not cut) at one end. (Does that vanilla bean look like a worm or what?) Combine the vodka and rum. Using either a funnel or a measuring cup with a pouring spout, add alcohol to the washed and dried vanilla jar.

Push cut vanilla bean down into jar. Close lid tightly. That is it, people!!! Could anything be simpler? Add twine, raffia or ribbon, and stick on a pretty hand-lettered or printed label if you choose (and particularly if you are planning to give your jars as gifts). Store the jars for two months in a cool, dry place (like your kitchen cabinets, away from your oven). Occasionally, reach in and shake the jar a bit. The extract will be ready in two months, and will remain good for years. (If 2 ounces of vanilla extract lasts years, you aren’t making enough cookies!) In the meantime, keep collecting vanilla bottles from your friends, neighbors, and family, and make more–for yourself, and for gifts. Re-use the jars you keep–always have one jar ready to use while another jar is maturing. Never run out of vanilla again! :heart:


1. The recipe can be easily adjusted according to the size of bottles you have available.
2. Shake before each use. Don’t worry about the little bean specks in the liquid. That is good stuff! You know how when you see real vanilla bean ice cream and there are dark specks in it? That’s the real vanilla bean in the extract used to make the ice cream. You want those specks!

(Need something else to do with your rum? Try Drunken Rum Cookie Logs!)

**Also see Homemade Vanilla: The Big Bottle Method.

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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  1. Kim A. says:

    I had no idea that making vanilla extract was that easy. Even *I* could manage this! Though I don’t make cookies anymore (because I eat them all myself).

    And bonus, I could drink the rest of the vodka (don’t like rum, but could force myself — lol).

    BTW, why is it called a “bean” when it doesn’t look bean-like at all? Inquiring minds want to know!


  2. Kim A. says:

    Oh, well, I was thinking kidney beans, black beans, etc. But I guess it could resemble an odd looking string-bean.

    -Kim…and yes, it’s still snowing here. 😥

  3. Minna says:

    You need vodka for Vanilla Extract, too? I was wathing the Mythbusters the other day and among other things they made mouth wash out of vodka.

  4. Suzanne McMinn says:

    I don’t know why they call it a bean, LOL. It looks like a worm to me! It’s actually a seed pod from a vanilla orchid.

    Re rum and vodka, you can make vanilla extract with vodka alone, but it adds some extra flavor to use a tablespoon of rum (or brandy).

  5. Nicole Reising says:

    WOW Suzanne! This is really neat! I love to make things from scratch but never thought to try vanilla! I’m definitely going to have to give it a whirl. :sheepjump:


  6. lintys says:

    what a great idea!

  7. Mental Pause Mama says:

    That really is a fabulous gift idea…and you could collect other small bottles for it as well. I am not the least bit crafty, but for some reason, this has piqued my interest. Maybe it’s the vodka.

  8. Maria says:

    I think it was survivalist that caught my eye on this one. And “great gift idea!” was the other. I’m not a cook. I hate being in the kitchen, but I know good ingredients when I see them.
    I may just have to try this…

  9. sandyc says:

    Home made vanilla is the best. I have been making it for many years. It got to be such a popular gift for family and friends, I now just add the beans into the original vodka bottle and set it aside in a dark cupboard until I need it. I usually leave it for 6 months or so before using it. I have never thought of adding rum. What a great idea, I’m going to have to try this.

    Everything we buy in the store can be made at home. I even make my marshmallows. Although, I haven’t quite perfected the recipe for roasting them. They melt right away and are lost to the glowing orange embers.

  10. Jill says:

    I have no problem figuring out what to do with my vodka or run, but this would be nice to try given that the other day I had to buy some vanilla extract and it was a small fortune!

  11. Baby Island says:

    WOW, what a super idea!! Two things I love as much as my children, booze and vanilla!! Thank you for this it’s a keeper! :thumbsup:

  12. heidi says:

    I love making my own vanilla(of course, we had to try out the vodkas first to get the right flavor and found Grey Goose to make the smoothest vanilla.) The Mexican beans seem to have almost a cinnamon flavor that ,added to the rum and vodka ,could become addictive. I also just add the beans to the bottle of vodka- but it makes my son wince at the waste of good vodka(not a big cookie man, my son).

  13. shirley says:

    Just dropping by to say HI. I love your site and all the great photos. I was born and raised in the coal fields of West Virginia. I now live in the south west part of VA I’m retired now and stay home a lot so I love finding new interesting blogs. Love the photos.

  14. Tori Lennox says:

    Where are you finding all these cool, handy ideas???

  15. catslady says:

    That’s really interesting! You wouldn’t happen to know how to make almond extract would you?? 😕

  16. Suzanne McMinn says:

    I don’t know how to make almond extract! I believe it’s made with almond oil and alcohol, but that’s all I know.

  17. annbb says:

    Wow! That’s much easier than I thought it would be! I’ll have to try that.

    I too love Penzey’s and am lucky to live within 10 miles of a Penzey’s store. I think the only seasonings we have that aren’t from Penzey’s are McCormick’s Montreal Grill steak seasoning and Madras curry powder. They’re the BEST (and some of the cheapest)!

    Thanks for the recipe, Suzanne.


  18. annbb says:

    OOPS – I meant Penzey’s seasonings are the best… :mrgreen:


  19. Karen says:

    I can not believe that you wrote about this today ,because yesterday I was mulling over in my mind, “How can get myself a good source of vanilla extract?” Seriously, I have had the real deal from South Amarica from friends who have traveled down there but my supply is running low. I am so excited to make this, only I’m too busy to make 2 oz bottles soI’m going to use my empty Bailey’s bottle!!Onward and forward, let’s empty the Bailey’s…. Gotta go!!
    How did you know about this?

  20. Karen says:

    I’m love’n my Kitchen Aid. Bread,cookies,and more bread on these cold winter day’s.

  21. kazari says:

    i’ve made vanilla extract before, but only using vodka and vanilla beans. do you know why you add rum to your recipe?

  22. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Hi, kazari! You can make it with just vodka. The rum (or even brandy) is just for extra flavor. I like it that way.

  23. Becky says:

    Yeah, I’ve always done mine with just vodka, too. Hmmm… will have to try it with rum, next time. I bet it would give it a little extra somethin’. Except I have no rum. :friday:

    But why is the rum gone?

  24. Mokihana says:

    Wow!! I can’t wait to make my own vanilla!! Thank you so much for posting this!! :flying:

  25. Linda in San Diego says:

    :sheepjump: Wow :sheepjump:

  26. Sue says:

    Suzanne, this is just what I have trying to tell my parents about.I get a funny look from them.One day out shopping at “Marshalls”(a discount store), I came across a bottle with vanilla beans inside and the instructions written on the label.Aha. I bought 2,one for me,one for them and gave it to them with the condition that they swap me some bourbon from their stash of Jim Beam collector bottles. Hurray I now have a bottle perculating; busy making geniune Madigaster Bourbon vanilla! My dad said,”Well that sure beats the bourbon evaporating out of the bottles!” The bourbon we used came from a 1969 bottle! Thanks for the tip, and kudos for your interesting blog. :thumbsup:

  27. Dawn says:

    Hi do you know a recipie that for vanilla extract that doesn’t use vodka or rum “m allergic.

  28. springinhetveld says:

    Really good description on how to make vanilla extract using real vanilla beans. True vanilla is so much better then the artifical one. It is really a shame that most people do not really enjoy their food.
    In case you want to learn more about vanilla visit my vanilla web site, I tried to make it really informative!
    Vanilla Beans.

  29. Sarah Lynne says:

    Great site!! I searched high and low for a vanilla extract recipe…..then searched even harder for a good price on vanilla beans. Might I suggest Ebay? I got a great quality bean at an excellent price. I don’t want to post the sellers name (from Ebay) unless ok with Suzanne?????

  30. Suzanne McMinn says:

    If you know where to get a great price on vanilla beans, feel free to post. I got mine this last time at bulkfoods.com, by the way.

  31. Sarah Lynne says:

    Great price on amber bottles at..
    and wonderful price on vanilla beans at..
    Both have great prices and very fast shipping! Just in time for the holidays! Just wish I could find cheap bottles for Kaluha! :thumbsup:
    You should be very proud of this site, I only discovered it a week ago and have told everyone I know to check it out!

  32. Mea says:

    I made Vanilla Extract a few months ago, I planned to give some of the jars away for X-mas. I then took it out to be wrapped and noticed some white, fuzzy stuff floating around in it. Could it be mold? I used vodka and didn’t think it could grow in that stuff.

  33. Candace says:

    Guess I should have read this page before commenting. Boy is my face red.

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