Homemade Vanilla: The Big Bottle Method


I know, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and Christmas is too scary to think about, but I want to post about Homemade Vanilla Extract while you still have time to make it! Since I started making my own vanilla in the past year, I never use anything else. I love it! How many things can you do that are easy and involve alcohol without ending up in jail? (Don’t answer that question!)

In my original post about making vanilla, I demonstrated the recipe for one small bottle. If you don’t use much vanilla regularly, this works fine, but if you do a lot of baking (like I do), more is better–and especially if you are making it for gifts. I now make vanilla by the 750 ml bottle. In one fell swoop, you can make a large quantity of vanilla, and since the entire bottle steeps longer with more vanilla beans, the end result is a stronger extract.

Read here for the 2-ounce bottle method. In this post, I’m translating that smaller recipe to a big batch, using a 750 milliliter bottle of vodka. (750 ml is roughly just over 3 cups, so I’m multiplying the original recipe by 12.)

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How to make Homemade Vanilla Extract: The Big Bottle Method

750 ml bottle of vodka
12 whole vanilla beans
dark rum (optional)

Using kitchen scissors, cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch connected (not cut) at one end, as shown here.

Now simply push the beans into the bottle. The beans are going to displace some of the vodka. This is not a problem! Get some orange juice and drink it! (I’m just kidding! Maybe.)

Screw lid on tightly and store in a cool, dry location. Shake the bottle once or twice a day at first, then just whenever you think about it. It will take a month or two to steep good, but you can use it sooner if you’re in a rush. Stored properly, it will be good for years, and in fact, get better all the time as it grows stronger.

Use a small funnel to transfer the extract to smaller bottles.

I like the extra kick of dark rum in my vanilla extract, so when I poured the first small bottle out, I added rum to the big bottle, using a funnel. The first few times you take out from the big bottle, it doesn’t hurt to add some extra rum or vodka to stretch your vanilla beans–if you let it steep again, it will be just as strong.

Tie raffia or ribbons around small bottles to give as Christmas gifts. Add a handmade or home-printed label. Or, if an avid baker is on your list, they’d love an entire big bottle, and be sure to make one for yourself!

So you can….

….make lots of cookies.

(Note: You can find whole vanilla beans at farmer’s markets, whole foods stores, etc, and there are also many places to order them online.)

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

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  1. Cathy says:

    I’ve heard that once youve had the home made vanilla, you will never go back to store boght. I’d love to try it myself sometime. Those cookiew sure look yummy! Now I’m hungry.

  2. LatigoLiz says:

    Oh man! Now I HAVE to make this!!!!! It never ends!

  3. MissyinWV says:

    Thank You! I was going to make small bottles for Christmas presents now I can do it all at once!! Love it!!! :thumbsup:

  4. Kathie says:

    I am actually going to get all the ingredients after work and make this. I have always refused to buy that imitation stuff, and I am always running out anyway. I will also send some belated Christmas gifts of it in January. Thanks, what a great idea!

  5. anne says:

    This is what they are getting for Christmas ! Thanks, Suzanne.

  6. Kathie says:

    I was just thinking (always dangerous)that I could start it in the large bottle, and in the middle of December I could transfer it to smaller gift bottles. I would make sure I made a note to the receiver not to use it for a month. That would save me a whole lot of postage.

    Thanks again.

  7. m says:

    I use Bourbon instead of Vodka. A neighbor had a very large bottle of JB Bourbon with over 1 qt left over. He didn’t drink it himself and gave me the entire bottle! I was only looking for about 1/2 cup at the time to add to an existing bottle.

    Anyway, same procedure …

    Cut vanilla beans in a mason jar
    Cover with liquor of your choice (bourbon)
    Sometimes I add a tsp of sugar
    Use a good canning lid if you are using a canning jar. Label jar with date.
    Store in a cool dry place, shaking occasionally.
    The beans need at least a month to begin flavoring the liquor. More time is better.

    The date on the jar lets you know when you made your last additions of liquor and or beans.
    You can keep using the same beans, adding some new ones when needed.

    I pour off the ‘finished’ vanilla into a smaller vanilla jar to store in the cupboard. The mason jar is stored with the canned pickles.


  8. Sarita says:

    You make me smile…get orange juice to mix with the overflow! No waste, right?

    Just want to say I love reading about your farm adventures. I enjoy it so much that I gave you a blog award at my blog. (www.saritaleone.blogspot)

    Have a nice day!

  9. Mental P Mama says:

    Thank you for posting this one again! I was going to look for it. What a wonderful Christmas gift this makes :snoopy:

  10. FringeGirl says:

    SOOOO interesting. I’m going to do this. My neighbor is a pastry chef and she would love this.

  11. Dru says:

    Boy, I wish I had all the talents you have for cooking.

  12. beth says:

    WooHoo!! :bananadance:https://chickensintheroad.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_bananadance.gif
    :bananadance: I’m so green! I never knew you could make homemade vanilla!

    We were going to have a lean Christmas this year, but now I feel like I can at least add this to some folks stockings!(not the kids!!)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  13. Amanda T. says:

    I was looking at the daily farm photo and thinking what a wonderful view. I had originally voted not to remove those trees but you definately made the right choice. I am definately making the vanilla. I bet a little of that vanilla would taste wonderful in my coffee. Mmmmm.

  14. MARY says:

    :biggrin: Yum!! I’ve made homemade “everything”, but not vanilla! Sounds yummy, and may encourage me to do lots of baking!! Have a great weekend! :butterfly:

  15. Shari C says:

    What a clever and unique gift to give.

  16. Becky says:

    This would also make a great hostess gift.
    I’ve gotta stop at the “red dot” (that’s what they call the liquor store, here in the south) store on the way home.
    Thanks for all your ideas, Suzanne!

  17. Matthew Burns says:

    I’ve made vanilla extract like this for years. I used 3 beans for every quart of good quality vodka and let it sit for 6 weeks before using. It is better than anything you can find in a store, and soooooo much cheaper. The best part, as you mentioned, is you can reuse the vanilla beans for years as long as you let it steep again. Right now, they have 5 vanilla beans at TJ Maxx for $3.99. I stocked up because that’s the cheapest price I have ever saw Vanilla beans. That is the normal price there, I’d say the will have them until Christmas.

    It never fails that you have great idea’s on Chickens in the Road (why isn’t it Goats in the Road?)lol.

  18. Summer says:

    omg…this is GREAT!! and now everyone is getting this for Yule..THANK YOU


  19. Amy Addison says:

    I’ve never used rum in my vanilla making. I’m going to have to try that. I like rum. :friday:

  20. Donna says:

    That presentation was so funny Suzanne…about “get yourself some orange juice” LOL LOL LOL How interesting!!! I would love to make this sometime. The only OTHER vanilla I have had besides grocery store vanilla was Mexican Vanilla that my mother had – stronger. Okay, maybe Lavender vanilla Recchuiti chocolates – I think that was the name of one. LOL What a nice gift to make for yourself and others!!!!
    I really enjoy rum. I just ordered a fruitcake from Williams-Sanoma that has rum in it (and wine) from the Franciscan Monks that make it yearly in some monastary (think I have that info correct – anyway, it’s in that catalogue and I have wanted to try one for years).
    I LOVE your view in the other picture! You know, I think I DO LOVE that better with the trees out of the way! Enjoy! Wish I were sitting there by ya, with my decaf. LOL

  21. Donna says:

    Now that I think of it…I think Wally Amos (online) uses Bourbon vanilla :mrgreen: in his cookies – now there is an idea…

  22. Kris says:

    This is SOOOOO cool I cannot wait to try it out for gifts.
    I was thinking of leaving a vanilla bean in each small bottle I give as a gift – would that be OK to do?? I thought it would look kind of cool.

  23. Rebecca says:

    I’m going to try this one!!! By the way….where is the recipe for those cookies? They look delish!!!!

  24. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Matthew, but Goats in the Road doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, LOL.

    Kris, yes! Leave a bean in the small bottles. That way it can continue to steep plus it looks cool. I always keep a vanilla bean in my little bottle.

    Rebecca–those are snickerdoodles!

  25. Pam says:

    My sister makes homemade vanilla. There’s nothing like it, and we all can’t wait to get a bottle on our birthdays and for Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Estella says:

    What a great idea for Christmas!

  27. Laura says:

    I just found a bean supplier, now I just have to visit Larry’s Liquor (which is connected to Darryl and Darryl’s drive-thru) for the vodka. Can’t you tell I’m a good time girl for a Friday night?


  28. Brandy says:

    Where was I the last time you talked about homemade vanilla? Hmm, I love this idea and will have to try it!

  29. Susan says:

    What a unique gift!

  30. Patty says:

    I’m definitely doing this for Christmas gifts! I was wondering how I was going to get gifts for everyone I want to give a gift to. I think I saw some cute decorative bottles at the dollar store. I’ll definitely make a bunch for me too, we are always running our of vanilla.

  31. catslady says:

    Oh goodness, I haven’t had snickerdoodles since I was a kid. Have you ever made them with a marshmellow in the middle?

  32. Maria Muscarella says:

    Mmmm, I love making my own vanilla! Don’t think I’ve bought the store kind in years! One fun thing to add is cocoa nibs. It give the vanilla extract just the slightest hint of chocolate, and goes nicely with most recipes.

  33. Lisa says:

    I love this idea. This post came at a great time and I agree with a previous comment, this would make fantastic gifts!!

  34. Kathie says:

    First of all, how ironic, I am posting after one of my only neighbors up the mountain. Who knew she was here too?!

    Secondly, I made the extract last night. I only found very expensive vanilla beans at our local whole food store, but next time I would plan ahead and order them on line. I did add some rum, and now will wait patiently.

  35. Laura says:

    Yeah! I have drunk beans in my kitchen!!! Now I just have to wait 6 weeks.

    This could be hard. :heart:

  36. Alicia says:

    This sounds very fun and easy to make! I put a post on my blog linking to your blog and some of your recipes. Thanks for all the yummy ideas!

  37. Chris says:

    Oh yes! Thank you Suzanne for the recipe, I have had some beans in my pantry for a year or two and now i can use ALL of
    them and get some fresh ones. This will make great gifts
    this year! :flying:

  38. Marybeth says:

    I’ve been making my own vanilla this way for a couple of years. You can buy some reasonably priced beans on eBay, if you can’t find them locally. Try putting some in your hot chocolate. It’s delicious. :hungry:

  39. lori says:

    My god, THANK YOU for posting this! I live in the Philippines and large-volume vanilla extract isn’t easy to come by. But we do have good vanilla beans here and good vodka so I’m going to make this now.

  40. Patricia says:

    Suzanne, I just found a pound of organic grown vanilla beans – extract grade for 15.97 plus 5.00 shipping & handling on eBay. Can’t wait for them… I want to make plenty of your extract for holiday baking. Here’s the eBay link: https://cgi.ebay.com/1-ONE-LB-Extract-Grade-B-Bourbon-Vanilla-Beans-6-7_W0QQitemZ250324561805QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a4881af8d&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14

  41. jon says:

    :shimmy: I love reading what you have to say. Brings me back to the country.

  42. pdelainey says:

    If you have time, you can buy a cheaper vodka and filter it yourself. I used Wyborowa vodka and a Brita filter. If you filter it through the brita filter 2 or 3 times you get a much better vodka without spending alot of money for the premium vodka.
    Pat :happyflower:

  43. callista says:

    i just did this tonight ๐Ÿ™‚ got a bottle of vodka and a bottle of rum. “drained” out a little. added a tiny bottle of dark rum to each large bottle and put 12 beans in each ๐Ÿ™‚ i cant wait to see how this turns out!!

  44. Christine Beal says:

    where can I find the small bottles for gifts?

  45. Sheila says:

    If you happen to come up with a recipe for strawberry , cherry and / or almond extract please let me know ๐Ÿ™‚ , I’m gonna try this vanilla extract sometime.

  46. Candace says:

    What is the difference in your homemade vanilla and madagascar bourbon vanilla? Is it just the alcohol base? Just asking I guess mostly can this be made successfully with bourbon as opposed to vodka? I am a follow the directions type but after a time or 2 i try to vary and I bake a lot to supplement my income and wouldn’t want to change the flavors boldly. Love this site my sister just introduced us.

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