How to Make Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

Homemade pure vanilla extract is so easy and inexpensive to make at yourself, with no added chemicals, dyes, and artificial flavorings! It makes a beautiful gift, even for the person who’s not easy to shop for. Here’s my free and easy tutorial!

Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract Recipe

Believe it or not the holidays are upon us, breathing down our necks! I always find myself cringing when I see Christmas decor in stores in September and then scramble for thoughtful (and affordable) gifts once the holidays are here. Somehow I’m surprised each and every year. I imagine I’m not the only one, right?

As a wanna-be minimalist, I always appreciate getting gifts that are useful so I try to give the same. Gift cards, cash, memberships, movie tickets, homemade scrub, lunch with a friend and a massage are just a few ideas of gifts that are useful and take up zero to little space in our homes. One of my favorite gifts to give and receive is consumables (i.e. yummy food stuff).  I love fancy balsamic vinegar, cooking oils, nuts, dark chocolate and teas to name a few. Today I’m sharing a super simple and inexpensive recipe that I think would make a great gift for yourself and any other foodies in your life.  And spoiler alert, all of my friends and family will be getting a jar this Christmas. Lucky ducks!

Homemade vanilla extract is a delicious addition to muffins, pancakes, coffee, hot chocolate, and even body scrub recipes!  And it couldn’t be easier to make. Really. But time is of the essence so you need to get this started as soon as possible for it to be ready for the holidays. The longer this sits the better it gets.

Gather your ingredients and let’s get started.

Homemade Vanilla Extract Ingredients

Vanilla Extract Recipe

You’re going to spend all day at the grocery store buying the ingredients to make this…not! All you need is vodka and vanilla beans. That’s it! I always thought vanilla extract was some mysterious concoction full of hard to find ingredients. Silly me. I already had the ingredients on-hand.

You’ll want to get a medium-high grade vodka (gin also works and can add a different depth of flavor) and vanilla beans. Try to get a high quality vanilla bean as this is the star of the show.  You’ll end up with a tastier extract if you start with better beans. I have not yet found an affordable source for vanilla beans locally. I found these online and am extremely happy with the quality.  They were super moist, plump and chock full of beans. Sometimes I just open the bag and smell them because they are just so yummy. I know my foodie friends will understand.

Vanilla Beans for Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

Instructions – How to Make

  • Fill your jar(s) about 2/3 full with vodka. Next slice the beans in half lengthwise and scrape out the beans – it will be sort of like a paste. I keep the beans in a small glass jar and add them to baked goods like muffins and pancakes. The beans have amazing flavor and so do the pods, so nothing gets wasted!
  • Next place the pods into your jar.  There is no real recipe here, I added about 10-15 bean halves to the jar shown above.  If you’re filling smaller or larger jars adjust the number of beans accordingly.
  • Top off the jars with vodka and let them sit in a dark, cool spot for 2-6 months or more.
  • You can smell the vanilla extract as you go and you’ll be able to tell when it’s strong enough. I have had my batch going for about a month and a half and I’ve already used it successfully in several recipes.

Since I’m keeping a jar for myself I haven’t removed the beans.  I think I’m just going to keep it going by topping off the jar and adding the occasional bean.  Never ending homemade pure vanilla extract perhaps.  I’ll take it!

If you’d like to give this as a gift then you can strain the beans and fill small jars.  I plan to keep at least one bean in each of the jars to keep it authentic looking and add to the flavor.  I will be using jars like these and adding a cute tag.

I cannot wait to give these as gifts and hope that you will give this a try as well!



About Julie Quates

Julie is a naturally minded momma to a sweet one year old boy. She discovered Paleo in 2012 and used real food to conquer several health challenges. Julie shares her passion for sustainability, homesteading, gentle parenting and natural motherhood on Instagram and Facebook .


  1. I have a question on the Homemade Vanilla Extract. I am kinda confused on the direction. I understand the vanilla bean but the inside is called pods or beans as well? I thought maybe I was to set the seeds(pods) a side and just s the Bean in the vodka or do the pods/paste go in and then the beans as well? I was a little confused and would like to make this as gifts. Please reply back,

  2. Susan Starke says:

    We are alcohol free everything at my house-is there any way to make real vanilla extract without the vodka? Currently I buy alcohol free extract from a company called Olive Nation but I would love to be able to make it myself. Just curious.

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