DIY Vanilla Extract

  • Food
  • ~4 minutes

One of the most recent DIY projects that happened in my local crunchy mom group was DIY Vanilla Extract.  This is a perfect hostess gift item to whip up for those holiday parties you’ll be going to or to have on hand when you need an impromptu gift.  Everyone loves homemade edibles, especially when it involves the intoxicating scent of vanilla.  Homemade Vanilla Extract is so easy and quick to make, but looks like such an impressive, time consuming gift!

My friend Anna hosted a bulk buy through Beanilla so everyone in our group could buy vanilla beans at a lower cost and save on shipping.  There are many different types of vanilla beans and they each have their own unique flavor profile.  Make sure you read the descriptions to find the flavor that you prefer most.  For this tutorial, the Grade B Mexican Vanilla Beans were used.  The Grade B beans are less attractive, but their appearance doesn’t affect the amazing flavor.

It is suggested that you use about five vanilla beans for every eight ounces of alcohol.  You can use an inexpensive alcohol, such as a 35-40% (70-80 proof) vodka.  You can also use other types of alcohol such as brandy or rum if you’d like to experiment with your flavors.  For this tutorial, a 1.75 L bottle of 40% Absolut was used along with 30 of the Mexican Vanilla Beans.  You can make your extract all in one bottle and then divvy it up into smaller bottles.  Or if you won’t have time to let the extract age for eight weeks, you can create it in smaller, gift-giving sized bottles along with instructions on how to let the mixture mature before use.


1.75 L bottle of vodka (or other alcohol)

30 vanilla beans

or if making a smaller amount, 5 beans to every 8 ounces of alcohol


Cutting board


Smaller bottles (optional)

Funnel (optional)

Cheesecloth or coffee filter (optional)


STEP ONE – Cut the ends off of the vanilla beans.



STEP TWO – Slice the bean open, not cutting all the way through the bean.



STEP THREE – You can cut the beans into smaller (1.5″) pieces if you plan to strain them out in the end.  If you plan to leave the beans in, you can leave them whole.



STEP FOUR – Place all of your beans into your bottle of vodka after pouring yourself a shot or two for all of your hard work (plus, those beans need room!)  This would be where you can divvy up your beans and alcohol into smaller bottles using your funnel if you will be giving these as gift before the infusion process is complete.  Give the bottle(s) a good shake and place them, covered, in a dark place.



STEP FIVE – Make sure to shake your bottle(s) once a week so the flavors can mix well into the vodka.  You want to let the beans stay in for at least 8 weeks.  The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be.  After the beans have sat for at least 8 weeks, the vodka can be strained to remove the pods and any vanilla bean bits floating around.  You can also leave them in so the flavor can continue to mature and because it flecks of vanilla bean makes your DIY extract look WAY more cool.  Strain the liquid through a piece of cheese cloth or a coffee filter if you’d like.



After you’ve got your yummy vanilla extract bottled up and ready to go to new homes, you can dress it up any way you’d like.  Tie a tag on it with some baker’s twine or use some funky washi tape to make a label that can be easily removed after the extract is all gone!  This vanilla extract is not only fun and easy to make, it is cheaper and tastier than store bought vanilla extract! 

Thank you to Anna Hulse for the tutorial and pictures!  Let us know if you make your own to give as gifts this holiday season!