How To Make Vanilla Extract With Just Two Ingredients

Heather Dessinger

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Homemade vanilla extract bottles on a table

Have you ever wandered into a liquor store with a toddler in tow at eleven in the morning, plopped down a bottle of vodka on the counter and smiled? It yields quite an interesting response, I assure you.

Of course, I had very different plans than the cashier probably guessed – homemade vanilla extract! Not only is it more delicious than store-bought, it’s far more affordable. I’m planning to give some away for the holidays this year along with homemade lotion bars and a few other goodies.

If you love the idea of a handmade holiday season but dread the thought of a bunch of unfinished projects, homemade vanilla extract is for you!

All you need are four things: 

  • Vanilla beans
  • 80 proof vodka, bourbon, rum, or other alcohol
  • A bottle
  • Time

Later in this article I’ll cover how to package it beautifully for gifting (including links to everything I used), plus answers to FAQs about reusing vanilla beans, making an alcohol-free version, and more. 

First, though, let’s talk about selecting your ingredients. 

Vanilla beans on counter, ready for making extract.

How To Choose Your Vanilla Beans ^

Making your own vanilla extract is a super simple process, but if you’ve ever read up on it before you may have felt overwhelmed by all the different vanilla bean options out there.

You might be wondering if it’s better to go with the creamy, bold Madagascar vanilla bean or the rich, smokey Mexican vanilla bean. Or maybe the sweet, floral Tahitian vanilla bean instead? 

Here’s my take: The rich flavor we associate with vanilla is present in all of them, and while the country of origin does impact the final product it’s a relatively small difference.

Unless you are a supertaster who can distinguish between a cup of coffee from Brazil and one from Ethiopia, I recommend going with whatever beans sound good to you and are within your budget. Most vanilla extracts sold in grocery stores are made from Madagascar beans, but they’re all wonderful. 

Tip: Go With Grade B Beans

Grade A beans are more moist and plump, which makes them ideal for gourmet cooking and pastry making. Grade B beans, on the other hand, have a lower moisture content which makes them ideal for making extract. 

Here are some options to consider: 

Choosing Which Type of Alcohol To Use ^

The most common types of alcohol used to extract the flavor of vanilla beans are:

  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Brandy
  • Bourbon
  • Whiskey

Vodka is probably the most popular because it’s the most neutral in terms of flavor. However, I’ve also made extract with both rum and brandy and they’re absolutely delicious. Other options include bourbon and whiskey. 

Something to keep in mind is that certain types of alcohol – vodka and bourbon, for example – are sometimes made from genetically modified corn and/or enzymes derived from genetically modified organisms.

Manufacturers claim that none of the genetic material makes it through the distilling process to the final product, but to my knowledge that has not been independently verified.

In a report on Kentucky bourbon and GMO’s, author Twilight Greenaway writes:

This question of the genetic material passing through the distillation process came up repeatedly while I was researching the issue, and while it’s an important one, the fact is that neither Brown-Forman, nor the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA), nor The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have made any scientific research public that proves their point. The KDA did not respond to my inquiries either.)” (1)

Organic options are hard to find, but there are certain sources that are still likely to be GMO-free. If you’re looking for vodka, Absolut says they’re non-GMO. For bourbon, here are a few brands to consider.

Rum, which is derived from sugarcane, would not contain genetically engineered ingredients unless they come from enzymes used in the fermentation process. I contacted one brand, Appleton Estate, and they confirmed that their products are non-GMO.

how to make vanilla extract

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract (Infusion Method) ^

Here’s how to make vanilla extract with just five minutes of hands-on time and two ingredients. It’s so delicious you’ll never want to buy store-bought again. 

One quick note before getting started: Some extract makers choose to split the vanilla bean lengthwise to accelerate the infusion process, while others avoid this step because they feel it makes the extract a bit more cloudy. 

splitting vanilla bean for homemade extract

I’ve tried both methods and think they both deliver excellent results, so choose whichever approach you prefer.


  • One 16 ounce jar or two 8 ounce bottles (Scroll to the bottom of this post for where to find some of bottles pictured)
  • Sharp knife (If splitting the beans)



If you’d like to use split vanilla beans, just use a sharp knife to cut them lengthwise before adding them to your container. 

Step 1: Place vanilla beans in a bottle or jar. If your jar is short, cut the vanilla beans in half so that they’ll fit.

Step 2: Pour the liquor over them until they are completely covered. Seal the container and shake well. 

Step 3: Allow the bottle to infuse in a dark place like a cabinet for at least eight weeks. Give it a good shake every couple of weeks or so. The longer you let the vanilla infuse the stronger the flavor will be. 

Step 4: When the extract has reached the depth of flavor that you prefer, remove the vanilla beans and use them to make vanilla sugar – you’ll find instructions in the FAQ section below – or as an addition to your morning coffee. Store your extract in either a dark container or a dark cabinet.

Tips for Packaging DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract As A Gift ^

I love gifting pure vanilla extract in gorgeous bottles that can be repurposed later on. Although it’s ideal for the vanilla to be completely ready when given, sometimes it’s not practical.

If the extract needs a few more weeks, I sometimes give it with “Open me on February 1st” (or whatever date is appropriate) written on the tag.

Regarding packaging, here are three of my favorite options.


Option 2: Swing-Top Bottles ^

The recipe in this article will make two bottles of vanilla extract using these bottles. Just like with the bottles above, if your vanilla beans are not completely under the rum, vodka, etc. after you place everything in the bottle, add enough additional liquid to cover them.

For this project, I used:


Option 3: Boston Round Bottles ^

The recipe in this article will make two bottles of vanilla extract using these bottles. You will need to cut the vanilla beans in half to fit them in.

For this project, I used a bottle that isn’t available right now, so I’ve included similar options in the links below:

The recipe below is intended to fill two 8 ounce bottles. To fill two of these larger bottles, add 1 cup alcohol and 5 vanilla beans to the recipe.

Free Download: “Homemade Vanilla Extract” Label Template ^

If you’d like to recreate the bottles in the photos, I’ve created a free label template for you.

Print Pin
4.67 from 21 votes

How To Make Vanilla Extract ^

Here's how to make vanilla extract with just five minutes of hands-on time and two ingredients. It's so delicious you'll never want to buy store-bought again. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Infusing Time 56 days
Total Time 56 days
Calories 1226kcal
Author Heather Dessinger


  • sharp knife
  • Two 8 ounce jars or one 16 ounce jar



A note before getting started:

  • A note before getting started: Some extract makers choose to split the vanilla bean lengthwise to accelerate the infusion process, while others avoid this step because they feel it makes the extract a bit more cloudy. I've tried both methods and think they both deliver excellent results, so choose whichever approach you prefer.
    If you'd like to use split vanilla beans, just use a sharp knife to cut them lengthwise before adding them to your bottle. 

How to make vanilla extract:

  • Place vanilla beans in a bottle or jar. Pour the liquor over them until they are completely covered. Seal the container and shake well. 
  • Allow the bottle to infuse in a dark cabinet for at least eight weeks. Give it a good shake every couple of weeks or so. The longer you let the vanilla infuse the stronger the flavor will be. I've allowed some of my batches to age for over a year. 
  • When the extract has reached the depth of flavor that you prefer, remove the vanilla beans and use them to make vanilla sugar (you'll find instructions in the FAQ section below) or as an addition to your morning coffee. Store your extract in either a dark container or a dark cabinet.


Calories: 1226kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

Frequently Asked Questions ^

Below are answers to the most common questions I’ve received since I first published this tutorial a few years ago. If you have a question you don’t see covered, please ask in the comments below!

Can I reuse my vanilla beans to make a second batch?

Yes you can, but they’ll be less potent so I recommend using them alongside some fresh ones. I recommend cutting them in half so that you know which ones are on their second run and which ones can still be reused. Another option is to make vanilla sugar with your used beans. (Recipe below)

What can I do with the vanilla beans once I’ve made extract?

I add them to my coffee for an extra special morning brew or make vanilla sugar.

How do I make vanilla sugar?

Place sugar (sucanat, maple sugar, or any kind you like) in a food processor. Slice your beans lengthwise, or if you cut them before making extract find the existing slit. Scoop out the seeds and add them to the food processor. Pulse until the seeds are mixed throughout the sugar, then transfer everything to a jar. Cut the remaining vanilla pods into small pieces and add them to the sugar to continue infusing. Seal the jar with a lid and store in a cool, dark area.

Can I make vanilla extract without alcohol?

Yep. You can use glycerin instead of alcohol, but there are a couple of things you need to know. First, glycerin is naturally sweet, so your final product will be as well. Second, it’s not as powerful of an extraction medium as alcohol, so I recommend warming it up so that it is hot to the touch (but not boiling) and then pouring it over the beans in a heat-proof jar.

Even with that extra step, it will likely take longer than traditional extract to reach the flavor intensity most people expect. When I tested this recipe using glycerin, I allowed it to infuse for a year.

What is the shelf life?

It should last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dark, dry place.

Is homemade vanilla extract gluten-free?

Yes, as long as the alcohol you use is gluten-free. From what I’ve ready, all distilled liquors should be gluten-free due to the processing, but some add mash containing gluten back into their finished product to enhance the flavor. Also, some liquors may be stored in barrels that use wheat paste in the wood and such, so it’s best to ask the manufacturer if you’re avoiding gluten.

Is this a single-fold or double-fold extraction?

Vanilla extract comes in many strengths. Single-fold is what you find in most grocery stores. It made by infusing 13 ounces (by weight) of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol. Double-fold needs at least 23 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon.

My recipe goes by number of beans rather than weight for two reasons. First, it’s easier. Second, in my experience there’s some variation in flavor intensity between beans, so sometimes smaller ones pack a bigger flavor punch. For that reason, I just keep infusing until the extract is as strong as I want it to be. Sometimes that takes less time than usual, sometimes it takes more.

Since I don’t use weight as my measurement this recipe is not exact, but it’s closer to a single-fold. If you want to a stronger extract, just add more. 🙂

All you need are vanilla beans, rum (or vodka or bourbon), and a glass bottle. It's easy, affordable, and makes a gorgeous gift! Free printable template in the post.

Some of My Favorite Recipes That Use Vanilla Extract ^

1. Grist (2012) Bourbon of Proof: Is Kentucky’s heritage spirit compromised by GMO corn?

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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150 thoughts on “How To Make Vanilla Extract With Just Two Ingredients”

  1. I found an organic vodka that I am going to make vanilla with. Ocean Vodka is made from sugar can and good mineral water. It is a new company, I was at their “plant” and saw the cane sugar growing.

        • Wait I’m super confused.. so the instructions consist all of TWO simple steps??? Please let me know as soon as possible please! It’s something I always seem to forget when I’m at the store and I’ve been thinking about trying to make my own but if I’m reading this right and it’s just the two steps and time, then I have got to get on it stat!

      • 5 stars
        Heather, I have made my own vanilla before but found that 6 wks was not long enough. Not sure if that was because of the liquor that I used (bourbon) I think or what. It was good but tasted to much like the liquor but after about 3 mos it was wonderful. Need to make more for I am almost out. BTW, my beans are still in the bottle. lol Have you ever had that happen?

        • I’ve made homemade vanilla for Christmas gifts for years. My gramma showed me how to do this years ago, when only the beans (not the stalky, full “bean”) was available. But I use Everclear, slightly bruise the vanilla beans and put them into about a pint jar, and as they soften I push the beans down into the liquid. I also start it in July so it’s ready for Christmas! This is a superb way to do it. I bought my beans this year from our local health food store and I don’t know what kind they were, but I think they were Tahitian.

          I use my homemade vanilla mixed with warmed milk (from the farm) for a wonderful, warming drink on cold days. My sister always adds a dollop of maple syrup to her cup of milk, but that was too sweet for me.

    • Normally I want to go ahead and experiment, but I would hate to waste alcohol and vanilla beans in this case 🙂 I have a question on if anyone has tried to use half vodka and half bourbon. I like the thought of having a bourbon infused flavor but just a slight one and not have it so overpowering by using it solely as the main alcohol. Has anyone mixed light and dark alcohols and had it taste OK?

  2. Thank you for sharing your recipe for vanilla along with information (and source links) about GMOs. It is nice to see that information side-by-side with recipes. Can you please provide a resource link for those adorable bottles.

  3. Mine still tastes so strongly like vodka. I got expensive vodka because I needed it gluten free. I use it for cooking but I am hesitant to use it in frosting (or anything that I don’t bake). It’s been a few months. Does that taste/smell ever go away?

    • Hmmm, I haven’t had that experience so I’m just guessing here, but it might help to add a few more vanilla beans. Sometimes if they are a little on the dry side they may not impart as much flavor. There could be other factors, too, I’m not sure!

      • I admire beans when using vodka ( you have 6, I’d agree) when using rum I use 3-4 depending on size and type of bean. I also never split the beans so when it runs out I can add more vodka/rum and let it sit. I bake a lot so I normally go through 2 or 3 times before using the bean “caviar” in items. Love it!

    • Info I found on the Internet talked about all distiller liquor being gluten free. The distilling process takes the gluten out of it. But please correct me if I am wrong!

      • While all distilled liquors are gluten free by nature, not all finished products are. Some cheaper whiskeys and bourbons will have a bit of mash added back into the distilled alcohol to improve the depth of flavour. In addition, any alcohols stored in wooden vats, barrels, or casks are suspect unless you have clarity from the manufacturer, as wheat paste is still used in sealing the wood. Contact with the wheat paste is innocuous to non-GF folks, but it means cross-contamination for us. Some information is available online as to which are actually gluten free, but I find it’s always best to contact the manufacturer directly.

    • Most vodka is made with grain. The flavor will vary depending on what grains are used. Potato vodka is your best bet as it is almost flavorless. I have made many recipes of liquor over the years and potato vodka is the best. You can pour any vodka through charcoal and remove most of the off taste. I use the pure water filter , it is a 5 stage filter.

    • You will not notice the liquor, in taste or any other way. I only use Everclear. Who ever heard of gluten-free alcohols??? I think we’ve taken this gluten free thing just a bit too far.

    • here is the thing I found out in culinary school about many small chocolate producers that also applies to these vanilla beans. Many if not most growers can’t be organically certified, for many reasons, and none to do with pesticides. First is money, depending on size and type of farm it can cost as much as the mortgage on your house to get properly certified. Second is time/documentation of the land, it can take YEARS to get certified, sometimes well over a decade. You also have to prove the land you use has never had disqualifying chemicals used on it in the last 7 years. That leads to the third point, many vanilla and chocolate producers who use third world labor send that labor into untamed lands, forest, jungles, whatever. It can take vehicles and boats, and hiking to get to their source plants (they showed us videos of the chocolate harvest, they canoed and hiked 6 hours to find trees sitting on a flood plain just above the flood waters on a patch of dirt no larger than 5 square feet.). There is no way to prove that has never been touched while at the same time it obviously hasn’t been.

      all that being said, organic vrs conventional is purely up to your own desires. Remember a few truths about organic, it doesn’t mean GMO free, and it doesn’t mean pesticide/fertilizer free. there are actually organic pesticides and fertilizers that do not negate an organic certification. Always wash your produce.

      • 4 stars
        I have been an organic eater and enthusiast for 35 years. I have always trusted that organic is about the only way you can ensure that you are getting non-GMO unless it is specifically non-GMO certified. Why do you say that organic does not mean non-GMO?

  4. Since I don’t drink the ‘hard’ stuff, can you explain how the different vanilla extracts are likely to taste when made with the various spirits? I’d like to try this, but want to like it when it’s done! Thanks.

    • I’m not much of a drinker myself but personally I would go for vodka for most things. If you’ve ever tried pure vanilla extract you buy from the store it taste over powering of alcohol (I found that out when I was a kid trying to make a vanilla coke “like waffle house”). Vodka will have a more neutral taste in the end. Whiskey family alcohol will add some flavor that would muddy up what you’re trying to achieve. That being said, when you use it to bake youll never taste a difference, making icings and other products where the vanilla flavor is prominent, you have a very good chance of noticing other flavors. This might be good, might be bad. Personally as a pastry chef the idea of playing with those flavors intrigues me, but it would have to wait for personal use before I risk a professional blunder.

  5. I did this last year for Christmas presents; so good! I bought a couple of those larger bottles of SKYY Vodka at Costco (before I knew to think about GMO alcohol), so I’m glad to see that it was one of the safe options according the ‘Non GMO Journal’ you linked to. Thanks for that! I still have one almost full SKYY bottle in my pantry with a bunch of the beans and rich extract in it. It’s such a ridiculously huge bottle of extract I have no idea how to use it all! So please share any more great recipes you have to use this in : )

    • Some say you can re-use them, but I have found they don’t create a very strong infusion. I prefer to either add in some fresh ones alongside the ones I’m reusing, or repurpose the used vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar.

  6. I’ve been making home made vanilla for years, using this same process outlined above. It is always delicious and always tastes like the really expensive stuff that one can purchase from places like Penzey’s Spices. My personal favorite, especially for smoothies and homemade icecream, is vanilla made with Brandy. Brandy somehow makes the vanilla taste more like vanilla. It is reminiscent of vanilla aged in old oaken casks. The idea that you wouldn’t like any homemade vanilla, (at least any with enough v. beans) is relatively funny once you have tasted it. The more likely thing is that you will become such a snob you will never like the store-bought kind again!
    Regarding ways to use up extra vanilla. Well, it keeps an awfully long time, I would just look at it as something that I did not need to buy for awhile. But if you are really looking…. It is delicious added to a glass of full-fat raw grass-fed milk with a small amount of honey or maple syrup. Hot or cold it tastes like white chocolate cocoa. For extra nutrition, add a pastured egg yolk to above and give it a quick whirl in the blender. Talk about silky!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I’ m in Australia and I love using bunderberg rum. I use the vanilla beans over and over and just leave them in the bottle while using. Homemade vanilla just gets better with age. Great in cake mixes, junkets, icecream, milk, and yogurt. Love simple recipes like this especially when they last forever.

  8. After reading all the comments I did some research into the differences in the types of alcohol. Vodka and Whisky are grain alcohols while Brandy is made from grapes/wine. (The original name is “brandywine”) Some of them appear to be made with Madagascar Vanilla…. I am intrigued, and am going to try making some using brandy! 🙂

  9. I’ve bought vodka and brandy. I’m going to try them both. I have pint mason jars. How many vanilla beans to the jar should I put? I know the recipe calls for 4, but you used small jars. I’m about to head to the store for the organic vanilla beans and making th vanilla tonight. I’m excited!!

  10. I started some vanilla about 4-5 weeks ago but it seems like it’s hit a plataue and is not getting any darker. I didn’t split the beans and I do shake it from time to time. And it does smell amazing but I was really hoping for it to turn that deep rich brown color. Do you think if I added more beans it would help the color get darker?

  11. Its been about 7 weeks for me and my vanilla hasn’t gotten darker and it still tastes like alcohol… I also didn’t split the beans..what should i do?

  12. Hi, I’m trying to find a gmo free rum in North Carolina and it is so hard! I prefer the taste of vanilla from St. Martin and they use rum 😉

    Thanks so much for this recipe!

    • Thanks! Will try that since I can’t get the rum. Am used to being near NYC – in North Carolina can’t buy certain alcohol that I could even buy in Tennessee.

  13. what exactly do the three different liquors differ in the final taste of the the vanilla extract? and can i replace one teaspoon for one teaspoon of the store bought vanilla extract and this homemade one?

    • Hey Joyce, the liquors are totally different. Have you ever had Rum Cake? or Bourbon Pecan Pie? Or a Vodka Martini? They all taste very different. Vodka is considered tasteless, but in all honesty tastes like alcohol. At a cooler temp, not as nasty. 🙂 Rum is darker in color and is regional in flavor… meaning each region that makes it imparts its own flavor. While these flavors are nuanced, they are more like burnt caramel and warm wood. Of course each type of rum tastes different. I recommend getting the tiny bottles, like 4 of them and tasting them. Bourbon is delicious and has many different flavors like sweet, leathery, smoky, cinnamon, woody, caramely… etc. each bourbon has a flavor profile all its own… If I were you, I would buy the small 3-4 ounce tiny cute sampler bottles and make extract with those. They range in price, but are definitely the cheapest for experimenting! Buy Absolute Vodka, Captain Morgan’s White Rum, Myer’s Dark Rum, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Make Vanilla with each of these. Then make a small vanilla cookie recipe with each one. That will give you the best idea of exactly how each one will taste in a recipe with the smallest amount of money. As Heather said this would be a really nice gift! Especially if they got a vanilla sampler pack each made with 3 or 4 different alcohols! I’m going to do this too! Happy Extracting!

      • I love this idea! Giving a sample pack of 3 – 4 different vanilla extracts, using the small “airline – size” bottles.

  14. I think this is among the most important info for me. And i’m glad reading your article.
    But should remark on few general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great :
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  15. I pinned this one on Pinterest! I used it to make Christmas gifts this year. I got the variety pack of beans, and tried each of the different types of alcohol. My favorite? RUM!

  16. Hello! I have a quart sized ball jar that I used to make vanilla. I left the beans in the jar and have been using it a little at a time. It is about half way gone now. The last time I tried to use it, it smelled so strongly and tasted so strongly of alcohol. What would cause this to turn back from vanilla to a more alcohol taste? Do I need to just add more beans and fill it up with vodka? Or should I start over completely? What do I do with the liquid I already have in there? Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Julie, I’ve not heard of this kind of issue before so unfortunately I’m not sure what to advise. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

    • add more beans and shake the jar occasionally especially before use. I would expect what is happening is something akin to settling. The flavors being extracted from the beans are likely the essential oils, or fats, of the beans. Given time and enough rest the flavors would naturally rise above the alcohol. It would be a slow process though, and the bigger the container, the more agitation is needed to properly mix the flavor.

  17. Last year I decided to make my own vanilla extract. I walked into the liquor store 8 months pregnant and told the cashier “I need the biggest bottle of your cheapest vodka.” He just stared.

  18. Does anyone know what exactly do the three different liquors differ in the final taste of the the vanilla extract? Thanks.

  19. I put four vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka about a month ago, and it still doesn’t seem vanilla-y. It has turned gold in color, but when I smell it, I’m not getting much vanilla scent. But I haven’t been shaking the bottle, so maybe I just need to start doing that–loosening up that flavor. 🙂

  20. Hi, I have been making homemade vanilla extract for years now. I made it with rum and it wasn’t quite the same as with vodka. I make mine with 6-8 beans and 8oz of a good vodka. Store in a dark place for 2 months and shake now and then. Yum!

  21. Hi Heather 🙂 thanks for the In depth GMO info on the booze. Question: can the Unsplit vanilla bean be reused after the six week soaking time or will it not yield enough flavor to do another batch? Thanks!

  22. Hi! I love this idea!
    Do you leave the vanilla beans in the bottles when giving as gifts? Also, if you make the vanilla extract in the actual vodka bottle, then pour into ‘gift’ bottles, you will not have any beans in the gift bottles, correct?

  23. Heather, if I’m making 4 oz bottles as Christmas gifts, how many beans would you suggest? Could I get away with 2 beans if I suggest leaving it an extra couple weeks before using it?

    • Hi Emily,
      I am just wondering how your 4oz bottles of homemade vanilla turned out? I am wanting to do the same for Christmas this year and wanted to give them in 4oz. Also, did you use vodka and approximately how much was your total cost per 4oz bottle if you happen to have calculated that part out?!
      Thank you,

  24. I made some several months ago and didn’t quite completely cover the beans. Maybe less than a cm exposed. Does that pose any sort of problem?

        • Hello Heather, (a terrific post!)

          There’s a global shortage of vanilla beans which is why the pure extract and paste have skyrocketed in price and some shelves are bare of the bean.

          Off topic – I read a cookie recipe recently (Jacque Torres) which called for one cup of water but to halve that and add a half cup of vodka. The alcohol won’t be a factor and this lessons the gluten and helps what gluten is in the dough to relax making it softer.

          Has anyone tried to advance the infusion by putting the in a vacuum chamber?


          Steve S.

  25. I just returned home (Pittsburgh) from Madagascar where it was explained to my tour group a recent large crop of vanilla bean was destroyed. Mada is well known for the best & largest amounts of vanilla growth world-wide, hence Amazon and others being sold out. Local prices here at home have exceeded $27 for store bought pure extract because of this reason.

    While I purchased eight grade B beans at $3 American dollars each, I wish I had brought home more. Requesting beans from a reputable “spice” enthusiast in Mada may be the way to go. Weight is extremely low for postage. They will arrive individually wrapped in cellophane to preserve freshness. These folks are extremely proud of their product and more than willing to sell at a very fair price especially following the bad season they endured.

    Good luck and happy extracting!

  26. Hello,
    A question for you? Why when I open your articles the page keeps scrolling up very slowly?

    I receive tons of healthy emails I have never come across this problem.

    Thanks for all your information

  27. I have done this for years and it is a hit with friends and family. The only problem I have had is that those cute bottles with the cork do not stand up well to the spirits. Over time they disintegrate and fall into the vanilla. I think a screw on or the flip top bottles would be best

  28. Hi! I made this for Christmas two years ago and forgot to give it away – so it’s been sitting in my dark cabinet, beans still in, for almost two years. How long will it stay good? It’s probably amazing vanilla extract, if I can actually use it! Need advice, please! Thanks!!

    • This past Thanksgiving we made our deserts using vanilla extract I’ve had over 10 years and every thing was great. We used it up, but luckily I made some more about 3 years and can’t wait to start using it.

    • I had some I made and forgot for decades. Literally. It was heavenly! NO alcohol taste, just pure vanilla taste. I almost just drank it it was so good. I also recommend that you leave it for a year at least. That is why I make mine in succession: make one on Jan 1 and start another on June 1, than again on Jan 1 and so on. I also purchased a ‘case’ of vanilla beans in glass tubes that were being discontinued from a drug store I worked in in a very small town. They were about 50cents each, and I stored them for a long time before using them. They made the BEST vanilla! (Mind you, this was in the 80’s, so it was awhile ago!)

    • 5 stars
      I have made many gift bottles of vanilla with Everclear over the years. They were greatly appreciated. Eventually I just started 2 bottles with used beans and added new beans. Then found recipients did not use as much vanilla as we do. We are using vanilla made in 2009! Have 1 bottle from 2011, and 1 bottle from 2013, in the back of the bottom cupboard – in waiting! Have used this method using star anise to use in sugar cookies back in 2009. That bottle keeps the ’11 & ’13 vanilla company. These last a very long time kept in dark cool cupboard!
      2 years ago I experimented. Using a small bottle, I added cut vanilla beans, then filled the bottle with fractionated coconut oil. Put it in the cupboard with the alcohol based extracts. 3 weeks ago I decided to try it in pancakes. They were heavenly. A new and larger jar of vanilla beans and fractionation coconut oil is infusing in the cupboard! I like the option of the glycerin method when sweetness does not matter. And the option of less sweetness of the FCO when it does. And the option of alcohol free for when that matters. I know the alcohol cooked away, but I can still taste the difference in our French Toast. I can not wait to try the FCO vanilla in alcohol free eggnog this year.

  29. Any Canadian readers who have found a good source to buy vanilla beans in Canada? Prices are quite high right now everywhere I look…

  30. If I use my homemade vanilla to make something like ice cream or something that doesn’t get cooked, will it make me (or my kids) intoxicated? Please explain…

  31. I made vanilla extract and I see little white stuff floating in it. Is that part of the process? It’s only been 5 days. I can not find any information on it?

  32. 5 stars
    What will happen if I use less vanilla bean, per bottle? The price of them is way up right now. Would it make the vanilla weak? Could I get by with using less than 5, per bottle? Has anyone tried using less vanilla beans per recipe?

  33. 5 stars
    I love your packaging designs for the vanilla thank you for sharing them! I am looking at your links for the bottles you use and they weren’t available on amazon last time I needed them! THanks again.

  34. I scrape out the seeds and mix with sugar (for vanilla sugar) or blend into tea or coffee with cream or coconut milk.

    The extract should infuse for at least six weeks. Glycerin can be used instead of alcohol but it takes much, much longer to extract.

  35. 5 stars
    The recipe itself is great. I make vanilla extract that way too. However, as a food technology engineer, I must warn that recommended ”non-alcoholic” version with Glycerine is not non-alcoholic at all. Glycerine is trivalent alcohol with correct chemical name Glycerol. You won’t get intoxicated the way you get by drinking regular alcohol (Ethanol) but it burdens your liver just as much. People allergic to all kinds of alcohol (someone mentioned it earlier) should not use Glycerine version either.

  36. This may be a silly question but do you make the extract in a large bottle and then pour it into 2 small co trainers when it is ready?

  37. I love this as a gift idea!! Question: you mention to be sure that the vodka covers the top of the beans (my guess is that is to avoid mold?)–if I give these as a gift but with the beans still inside, does the recipient need to remove the beans when they use the liquid? Or will it be okay for the beans not to be covered once they’ve been soaked in the vodka for 2ish months? (I mean, will the beans get moldy if left in the jar once the liquid is being used/not fully covering the beans?)

    • Hi Sarah! I usually include them and just tell my gift recipient to remove them and make vanilla sugar (if they want to) when the beans are no longer covered. In full disclosure sometimes I have **meant** to remove the beans and then put them back in the cabinet without actually doing it. None have ever molded, but to be on the safe side I definitely advise removing them if not fully submerged.

  38. D Smith:
    “You will not notice the liquor, in taste or any other way. I only use Everclear. Who ever heard of gluten-free alcohols??? I think we’ve taken this gluten free thing just a bit too far.”
    Taken this gluten free thing too far??? You would not be so callous or free with your judgement if you consumed a tiny amount of gluten and then had massive stomach pain for days! I wish you could just feel what my daughter feels when she consumes even a speck of gluten in foods and how she suffers for it. Show a bit of compassion. Just because YOU don’t have issues with gluten, doesn’t mean others don’t.

    • I’m just saying a lot of things are blamed on gluten that don’t have anything to do with it. Doctors/nutritionists are finding it’s a lot smaller problem that our society is making it out to be.

  39. My Mom always put waxed paper over the tops of bottles with corks or even tin lids because she always said they affected the flavors of whatever was in the jar. Apparently the effect was not good! Even today, I do that without thinking, I guess. Amazing how much we learned from watching our ancestors.

    • 1/4 pound beans per quart of alcohol. Government regulations say 13 ounces per gallon, but that’s for commercial purposes which have much better extraction techniques. This info is from Vanilla Products USA.

      • Thank you.
        That comes to approximately 7 to 10 beans per 8 fld oz, or between 21 to 30 beans per fifth. depending on the size of bean one uses.

  40. Hi, Heather—

    I’m a longtime reader and greatly enjoy your ideas and recipes! Have you read reports on the danger of pressure cooking alcohol? I was looking into how the alcohol content is affected differently when pressure cooked, and I found a number of articles on this. For example:

    Just wondered if you’d read much about this and what you think.

  41. Hi Heather,
    When reading ingredients on vanilla bottles, water is the first ingredient. Is this why our homemade version is so much better? ( mine is infusing in Four Roses Bourbon, thank you!)

  42. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for the recipe on how to make your own Vanilla extract. I was wondering if you have ever made Vanilla paste? My thoughts are that you would likely need to use the Grade A Vanilla beans, but thought I would ask the question.

  43. I just tried the instant pot method twice and the bottom broke out of my jars before even getting up to pressure. Any suggestions??

  44. 5 stars
    Made some with vodka Christmas of 2020. Bottled it up as gifts for Christmas 2021. Kept a few for myself 😉. This year it’s going to be made with bourbon. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Was asked…..Grandma why do you have a bottle of alcohol hiding in your closet? Lol.

  45. 5 stars
    I just have to thank you sooo much!! You are so knowledgeable and I am learning so much from you. I had no idea that so many healthy things can be made at home without all the spending at the stores. I love saving money that I have not really had enough of these days to buy so many things that I need. I’m excited about getting all stocked up and counting the money that I will save in the long run. You are a blessing and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge. God bless

  46. I love the taste of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Do you think the addition of the honey infused in the whiskey will effect the quality of the final product of the vanilla extract in any way?

  47. Hi! I just got the alcohol and vanilla beans to make extract.
    There’s a Texas distillery, Frankly Organic, that makes vodka, from non-gmo corn – and it says so right on the label. The bottle does have the USDA Organic stamp.

    The ingredients listed: organic corn vodka, then it says “distilled from corn.”

    On the label, it says “ Produced and bottled by Be In Good Spirits, LLC Austin, Tx. Certified organic by Oregon Tilth.”

    It was a little over $27 for the 1.75 liter bottle; the 750 ml bottle was almost $21. Yeah, I bought the 1.75 liter bottle!

    I don’t know whether it’s sold outside of Tx., but folks can find out from the link. I just asked whether the store sold any organic vodka when I went. This brand cost less than other brands.

    Their site is:

  48. Hello Heather. Love your ideas. I have a question. Where do I find 80 proof alcohol? the liquor stores around here only have like 40%

  49. I’ve tried close to 100 of Heather’s recipes with good results, but this recipe wasn’t successful for me. I’m part of Vanilla Bean Kings FB group and there are a few food scientists that have been doing a lot of experiments and education for the rest of us. I have been using VBK extract methods for a year now and have been thrilled with the results. For people who want consistent results with high quality yield, I suggest their FB group.