How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making homemade vanilla extract is so easy and perfect to add to your cookies and cakes. You only need two ingredients to get started.

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I first thought to make homemade vanilla a few years ago when I needed teacher gifts for Christmas.  I wanted something unique AND something they would actually use.  Now, teachers are asking me for it because it’s such a great gift.  They can use it for months and months and it’s so much better than what you get at the grocery stores.

I remember baking when I was little and the smell of vanilla when my Grandma added it to her cookies.  Every time I smell it, it brings back so many memories.  Now my kids always ask for a smell it when we’re making cookies and they’ll have that memory forever too.

hand putting vanilla bean in brown bottle

How to make homemade vanilla

All you need is 2 ingredients: vanilla beans and vodka (80 proof). I have so many people ask how I make homemade vanilla extract so I thought I would just type it up!

I order my vanilla beans online.  There are many different kinds, but I usually just stick with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans.  Tahitian vanilla beans are good too. I use 5 vanilla beans per cup of vodka (8 oz).  I’m sure many of you moms already have this in your cabinet and that’s fine to use. 🙂

vanilla beans and vodka

Learn how to make vanilla extract.

First, you need to split the bean open with a sharp knife.

vanilla bean

Next, you need to scrape out the seeds from the inside.  It’s kind of sticky, but you can just run your knife along the bean and they come right out.

vanilla bean being cut by a knife

Once I’ve done all 5, I cut them in half.  The jar I use is short, so I do this so they’ll fit in.  If you have a taller one then you won’t have to do that.  Here’s a pack of cute containers I found that’s the perfect size.

If you don’t want to purchase any new containers, you can just add your split vanilla beans to the bottle of vodka.

Pour your vodka in and close the lid tight. Store in a cool, dark place, like the back of your cabinet or pantry, and let sit for at least 6 weeks.

 That’s it!  It’s really easy. I only make an 8 oz jar at a time, but have two jars that I alternate.  When I’m using one, the other is sitting so I will never run out.

 I leave the beans in and only take them out when it’s completely empty.  They will continue to add flavor.

Vanilla bean being put in a brown bottle

Here are a few of my top baked goods that uses vanilla!

Make pure vanilla extract for gifts.

Vanilla is a GREAT and inexpensive holiday gift for teachers and neighbors. You’ll want to do a large batch and then pour into smaller bottles.

Make sure to start your vanilla right after Halloween and it will be ready to use when you give it to them at Christmas.  They’ll be able to make their Christmas baked goods with it.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making homemade vanilla extract is so easy and perfect to add to your cookies and cakes. You only need two ingredients to get started.
Keyword baking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Author Holly- Keeping Life Sane


  • 1 cup vodka
  • 5 vanilla beans


  • Slice the vanilla beans open with a sharp knife and scrap out the seeds using a sharp knife.
  • Add vanilla beans to jar and pour vodka in jar and close tightly.
  • Store jar in cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks before using.


Tip 1-  Don’t remove the beans until you’ve used all the vanilla.  They will continue to add flavor.

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12 Responses

  1. Ashley Tukiainen says:

    I’ve been wanting to do this for gifts. A friend of mine one time made some with a bottle of spiced rum….HOLY SCHNEIKIES, it was amazing. I put it in a pound cake, it was the best thing ever

  2. I can’t wait to make this! I love to bake but hate paying so much money for good vanilla!

  3. chellie says:

    I have always wanted to make vanilla extract. Thanks for the inspiration! I never would’ve thought to look on Amazon either, nice tip.

  4. Lisa says:

    What do you do with the seeds? Thanks for this idea.

  5. Shantan says:

    Is there a non alcoholic base that could be used to make vanilla extract? Would be helpful 🙂

    • Holly says:

      Vanilla is normally made with an alcohol base, but I just did a quick Google search and found 2 recipes that used food-grade glycerin. I found it on Amazon- (This link is an affiliate link. That means I get a VERY small percentage if you buy using it with no extra cost to you.) If you use it, please let me know how it turns out.

  6. Janet Archuletta says:

    Hello Holly, I was watching my Grandson’s this morning and just had to make chocolate chip cookies for them to take home but saw that I had no eggs. I hit Google for eggless chocolate chip cookies and yours was the first that came up! I did look at a couple others but was drawn back to yours) I LOVE IT! My grandson’s were thrilled that he could eat some of the cookie dough…as was I. I will definitely be coming back to your site to see what else I can cook.

    I have done a luncheon every year close to Valentine’s day for the last “41 years” with my friends and have made them a gifts every year…I saw that you make your own vanilla and am going to make for my Valentines lunch 2019! One question, how long is the timeline that the vanilla will last? Thank you so much and enjoy Memorial weekend.


  7. Isabel Zaldivar says:

    Hi, thank you , now I can make my own vanilla extract, Question, have you tried doing coffee extract?, have a great day and many blessings to you and family

    • Holly says:

      No, I haven’t, but I can think of a million things I can use it for.

      • Isabel Zaldivar says:

        Hi, I tried your eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe, I love it, I can’t have eggs or salt because of an Iodine treatment I’m having and your recipe gives that sweet I needed.
        I’m also going to try your vanilla extract recipe and try it with coffee beans, I will let you know how it goes.
        Have a good night