How to Make Vanilla Extract – A Holiday Gift Idea


Need a homemade holiday gift idea? Ever wondered how to make vanilla extract? We hadn’t either, until our sister/sister-in-law presented us with this bottle of homemade vanilla extract she’d made herself. Not only does it taste good, but it looks pretty cool, too. Here’s how you can make your own.

Making vanilla extract
Making vanilla extract

Take it away, Ruth.

Take a resealable 8 ounce bottle and fill it most of the way up with vodka. Doesn’t have to be fancy vodka.

Take 2 or 3 vanilla beans and slice them down the middle, long ways, so that they open up but aren’t cut in half. It you want to be efficient and get all that you can from the bean, cut them up into segments about an inch long. If you want to be artsy drop the whole bean in the bottle. Smaller pieces means you get vanilla extract more quickly.

Close the lid tightly and shake the bejesus out of the bottle for a few seconds. Then find a cupboard that you will open periodically and stick the extract in there. Every few days or maybe every week give it a good shake.

Vanilla Extract In the Offing
Vanilla Extract In the Offing

It took over a month before my extract was at the level of vanilliness that I wanted but then I still left the beans in there because I certainly won’t be upset with it increasing in vanilla goodness over time.

Homemade Vanilla Extract & Russian Tea Cakes
Homemade Vanilla Extract & Russian Tea Cakes

Use just as you would regular extract.

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13 thoughts on “How to Make Vanilla Extract – A Holiday Gift Idea”

  1. These would also be fantastic with brandy, rum, bourbon and even spiced rum! I did a batch using these spirits and they were fantastic! I’m set with vanilla extract for life.

  2. This is exactly what some members of family are getting, along with a cookbook and farmers’ market tote bag! My own bottle of vanilla extract is now going on 7 years, gives me the excuse to keep a bottle of Maine-produced vodka in stock…

    1. That sounds like a wonderful gift! We’re still figuring out what our food gift packs will be, and I like your trio.

      Maine-produced vodka, hmm? We have some lovely Washington-produced vodka on hand – will have to use some of that to make our big batches.

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  4. I accidentally bought a bottle of vodka (I know: how do you accidentally buy a bottle of vodka? Well, it should have been gin) so now I know what to do with it. I even have some lovely Fairtrade vanilla beans. Perfect pressie for my foodie bestie. She will swoon 😀 Making this tomorrow. Thanks!

    1. Yeah, those accidental alcohol purchases are hard. “Whoopsy! Looks like I must have accidentally bought 2 bottles of French wine and a locally distilled gin. And two tubs of ice cream.”

      Glad to hear we can help you put it to good use.

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