Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract | The Baking Beauties


Baking is a science. While cooking, you can do a pinch of this, and a dash of that, but when it comes to baking, it involves precise measurements. You have to be sure that your dry ingredient and wet ingredient ratio remains the same, or you may end up with a very different product than you were aiming for. I always measure everything carefully when I’m baking.

Everything except the vanilla.

I just can’t help myself. I just add a good splash of vanilla. It has never harmed any recipe. I’ve never said, after testing the cake or cookie, “Boy, this really has too much vanilla in it” and I love the undertone that homemade vanilla extract gives to baked goods.

Now, not all vanilla extracts are equal. There is a reason that some cost only a dollar or two, and the next bottle costs upwards of $15. Some of the vanilla extracts on the store shelves aren’t really vanilla at all. They have such a weak flavour to them, that they really won’t do anything to enhance the flavour of your baking. Personally, I’ve become accustom to using Mexican Vanilla. My in-laws have brought me vanilla from Mexico for years already, although it has now become available on the shelves in stores locally as well.

My love for vanilla has also driven me to purchase whole vanilla beans. The grocery store prices have always prevented me from buying vanilla beans, since the prices in the grocery stores is ridiculous! Instead, I purchase mine online, either through Amazon or Ebay. You can purchase 25 vanilla beans for $20, which is much cheaper than the four or five dollars per bean I’ve seen in the grocery stores. In addition to being used to make homemade vanilla extract, vanilla beans can also be scraped out, and you can use the paste in your baking or in making custards. If you love the flavour of vanilla, you have got to try that at least once.

I began experimenting with making my own homemade vanilla extract, and I have to say, I LOVE it! The smell that wafts from the goods baked with this vanilla is amazing. And the extract is so easy to make, you really just put it together, and forget about it. Homemade vanilla extract makes a great gift, and if you are thinking this might be something you’d like to gift to someone on your list, you’d better start making it now! It takes about 8 weeks to get a good flavoured vanilla extract.


Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • whole vanilla beans
  • gluten-free vodka
  • glass jar or bottle
  1. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, leaving one end attached.
  2. Place vanilla beans in glass jar or bottle. Use 5 beans per 8 oz of vodka. Cover the beans with vodka, and store in a dark place, giving the bottle a shake every week or so.
  3. Let the vanilla extract sit for at least 8 weeks before using. At that point, you can remove the beans if you wish, or you can just keep adding more vodka as you are using it. You just want the beans to stay submerged in the vodka.
Using different types of vanilla beans will give you a different flavour vanilla extract. Mexican vanilla beans will give you a bold and smokey flavour. Madagascar beans will produce a rich and creamy vanilla, while Tahitian beans will give you a floral aroma with a chocolate-cherry undertone. Bourbon beans will give your vanilla extract a nutty-chocolate character. You can even use a variety of beans to give your vanilla extract a unique flavour.


Note: The vodka level doesn’t drop on it’s own while the vanilla beans are soaking. I started to use this vanilla in recipes before taking an ‘after’ picture.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links – your cost remains the same, but I earn a small percentage to help support this blog. Thank you!

43 Responses to Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Charlotte Moore September 18, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    I leave mine for 6 months.

  2. Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    The longer it lingers, the stronger, and more flavourful, it’ll be! I bet it smells wonderful. what kind of beans do you use?

    • Charlotte Moore September 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      I use the Madagascar. I also tried a little with rum and some with bourbon.

  3. Teri September 18, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    I make my own all the time. I leave mine to sit a minimum of 3 months. For fun I used Vanilla Vodka this time and it’s extra yummy!

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Oh – vanilla vodka! That’s a great place to start. All the flavoured vodkas, you could make a variety of flavours!

  4. Teri September 18, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Oh forgot to say that in Canada a good place to buy bulk vanilla beans is:


    Happy Vanilla Extract Making.

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Yes, it is! I follow them on Facebook. :) Thanks, Teri!

  5. Michelle September 18, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    What brand of Vodka do you use? I find that I do better with certain vodka’s than others, for instance SKYY vodka seems to bother me (not sure if it has anything to do with being GF but it felt like it). I really want to try your recipe!

    • Golden1 September 18, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Smirnoff vodka is GF. But not the flavoured ones.

      • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 9:05 am #

        Thanks for sharing, I had no idea the flavoured ones weren’t. Odd. I think most vodkas are GF, but Smirnoff is the first to label it as so, right?

      • Teri September 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

        Vanilla Twist Smirnoff is GF it is vodka & Madagascar Vanilla Extract.

        • Jeanine Friesen September 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

          Thanks or looking into that, Teri! I have flavoured run, but no flavoured vodka at home.

      • Teri September 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

        Here are the ingredients in Smirnoff Vanilla Twist, right off the bottle:

        vodka, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, citric acid and sodium citrate.

        No gluten.

        • Jeanine Friesen September 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

          I’ve only found that Smirnoff Ice is NOT gluten-free, haven’t found anything about the flavoured ones though. By reading the label it looks good!

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Hi Michelle, if you’re finding that some vodkas are bothering you, be sure to use a potato vodka. It ‘shouldn’t be bothering you, but it still does some people. Mine was just a cheap bottle of 80 proof vodka.

  6. Barbara R. Briody September 18, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I live in South Texas where it is possible to buy a liter of Mexican vanilla [dark or clear] for under $10 – it lasts so long I don’t really remember exactly what I paid last time, but it seems to me it was closer to $6 a bottle. I visit family in Illinois and Wisconsin every few years, and have found this to be a very welcome hostess gift. The recipient then shares out the bottle in the extended family, and everyone gets that great aroma and flavor.
    Remember the “housekeeping” hints about using a drop of perfume on a light bulb before a party? I use a few drops of vanilla on a cotton ball tucked into the after-filter of my vacuum cleaner to make the house smell like I’ve just baked up a storm.

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Oh, that is the PERFECT hostess gift, Barbara! I have the clear vanilla from Mexico in my cupboard right now. I just don’t share – I keep the whole bottle for me. 😉

  7. allyson September 18, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Jeanine – do you have to be careful about the type of bottle used and how it seals? And how long does the vanilla last or does it not really go bad? Do you fish the beans out after the 8 or so weeks or leave them in there when gifting? I’m intrigued as you can see! Seems like the perfect gift for that person that has everything! :)

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Ah, great questions, Allyson! :) As long as it’s a glass jar that can be sealed, it’s good. A regular canning jar works too. I’m not sure how plastic would hold up though, unless it’s a special plastic. Since you should store it in a dark place, a clear bottle is OK. If you want to store it on the counter, you would probably need a dark amber coloured bottle.
      I don’t believe the vanilla will ever go bad – too much alcohol for that. 😉 If you want, you can fish the beans out, or you can leave them in there, the flavour will intensify, or you can top it up with fresh vodka as you use it. I’d leave the beans in when gifting, I think they add more than they take away. :)

  8. Elizabeth September 18, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Thank you for a wonderful Holiday gift idea! I’m using Internet Explorer on Windows 8 and when I click on the affiliate links it takes me to what looks like some kind of back page for Baking Beauties’ website. I could just be more Win 8 issues, but I will come back later and will buy through your affiliate link.
    I use Chopin potato vodka–the flavor is super clean and mild.

    • Jeanine Friesen September 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      Sorry, Elizabeth, that wasn’t a “Win 8″ error, that was a “Jeanine before caffeine” error. :) It’s all fixed now – thanks! :)

  9. Penny Calhoun September 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    So will potato vodka work. I have Celiac and regular vodka an flavored vodkas have wheat.

  10. Meg @ Sweet Twist September 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Oh I have always wanted to try this….

    • Jeanine Friesen September 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      I’d always wanted to do it too, Meg! Now’s your chance. :)

  11. NA September 21, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I’ve had really good success with the vanilla beans I buy from Mountain Rose Herbs. We use a lot of them in things we make to sell, as does a fellow Market vendor, so we often buy a larger amount and split it, which helps save on the price. These beans smell so good that when I have been using them and had some extra vanilla bean goo stay on the knife at end of session, I’ve rubbed it on as perfume! Of course, then my husband had to ask me what the little brown flecks all over my neck were, but it was worth it. Their vanilla smells heavenly!

    • Jeanine Friesen September 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Ha, little brown flecks. :) It does smell SO good though!

  12. NA September 21, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Here’s the Mountain Rose write up on Vanilla. http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/vanilla_bean.php

  13. Candi September 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Thanks for posting this early. I always see a post like this at Christmas where its too late to make as a gift. I think I will get this ready for my gift giving this year. Where would I look for cute bottles like yours?

    • Jeanine Friesen September 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      My pleasure, Candi! I found bottles like this at Winners, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, I’ve heard Hobby Lobby has some really cute ones too (like this, but smaller, great for gifts). Hope this gives you a few ideas.

  14. Lisa September 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    I’m planning on making this for Christmas gifts this year. Any suggestions for baked goods that I could put with the extract that ‘celebrate’ the vanilla flavor? I’ve done some online searches, but most recipes call for VE. I’m looking for something that you would definitely taste the vanilla. Thanks in advance!!

  15. leslie October 3, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Hello Jeanine, I’ve been experimenting with GF bread recipes and generally get an edible product but my last attempt had large holes in it? Could you give me an educated guess as to why I got the holes? (Thanks for the vanilla recipe and also the cinnamon buns !!) Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • Jeanine Friesen October 9, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      Hmm… I’m not sure what would cause the holes, Leslie. Did you do the mixing any differently than normal?

  16. Cassidy October 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    How many beans do you use? Or is it up to me? I’m thinking about mixing Tahitian and Madagascar beans for a unqiue flavor.

    • Jeanine Friesen October 9, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      You use about 5 beans per 8 ounces of vodka, so you can batch up the recipe as you see fit, or make it in smaller batches. Blending the vanilla beans works really well also! Makes for great, custom flavours.

  17. Katrina January 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    My vanilla beans just arrived today. I can’t wait to try this out.

    • Jeanine Friesen January 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      And now starts the long wait… Have patience, Katrina, it’ll be worth it. 😉

  18. Nathan Whitmire September 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    I am making some now! I can’t wait to try it. I have a big gallon jar steeping the beans. I watched YouTube vids and read a lot of blogs. (I used the one ounce of beans to 8oz vodka) I hope it’s good! Can not wait! I used 1 pound of Madagascar-vanilla-beans-extract-grade-b from http://www.beanilla.com they shipped fast and price was great. After I ordered I found another site http://www.worldclassvanilla.com which has a better price, I’ll try that next time. :-).

    I’m also making cinnamon extract and coffee extract the same way. Can’t wait to try them all.

    Happy baking everyone.


  1. Gluten Free Vanilla Bundt Cake {and a giveaway} - The Baking Beauties - October 9, 2013

    […] Who can resist new measuring spoons, whisk, and baking pans? Not me! Since I had a full bottle of Homemade Vanilla Extract that I couldn’t wait to use, I decided to create the perfect gluten free Vanilla Bundt Cake. […]

  2. Gluten Free Baked Vanilla Doughnuts - The Baking Beauties - April 26, 2014

    […] the best tasting vanilla flavour, you can easily make your own vanilla extract. If you don’t want to make your own (or don’t want to wait months to make these […]

Leave a Reply