DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

You might be wondering what business I have posting a tutorial for homemade vanilla extract in March. But if you ask me, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about the delicious nectar that is homemade vanilla. Plus, we are in between holidays so I’m just helping you out so you aren’t bored. Ha. The bonus is that homemade vanilla is probably one of the easiest things you’ll ever make in your kitchen (even easier than that grilled cheese sandwich you made for lunch) – the hardest part is waiting for it to actually become vanilla.

Because you need to plan on a couple months to let that vanilla bean + alcohol mixture actually work its magic, now is definitely the best time to think about it, especially since the longer it sits the better it gets (hello, Christmas gift-giving! done and done).

Let’s get started with the details!


Storebought pure vanilla extract is usually about 35% alcohol (75 proof). I don’t want to get into all the ethics of whether or not you should or should not buy alcohol or drink alcohol or bathe in alcohol. But if you use storebought pure vanilla extract at home, you are using alcohol, plain and simple. I don’t drink alcohol (nor do I bathe in it, if you must know) but I do buy it when making this homemade vanilla extract. And if you’ve ever seen a fish out of water, that would be me in the liquor store; thank goodness for Bill, my liquor store associate who has taken me under his wing and is very gracious in his tutelage when I ask ridiculous questions.

-Homemade vanilla extract will almost always be lighter than storebought. This may be due in part because storebought vanilla extract often has added caramel color, but it also might be because the process used to make storebought extract is completely different, in most cases, than homemade (in extremely large batches, the vanilla beans are mashed and cut and pressed to exude the vanilla paste which creates a darker color in the finished vanilla). My point is, don’t stress about the color. If it infuses for the proper amount of time, you’ll have amazing homemade vanilla no matter if it is lighter than what you are used to.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract
-There are about a million tutorials online for homemade vanilla. I’m basically adding my two cents today because a) free printable! and b) I’ve been making homemade vanilla this way for a while and it works great. If you want to explore different alcohols, types of vanilla beans, etc, feel free to research out other methods online.

Vanilla Beans

You can use many different types of vanilla beans for homemade vanilla but the general thought is you don’t need to spend money on super expensive, prime vanilla beans. Grade A or grade B beans will work; grade B beans are drier but the alcohol will plump them up just fine, and many people swear by them since they have a lower water content than grade A beans can and won’t water down the vanilla (but don’t try and use grade B beans for recipes where you need to split and scrape the vanilla bean; you’ll be pretty angry at the whole situation).

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

I most often use these vanilla beans from Amazon. They are actually quite plump (I use them for baking, too) but they have produced some seriously delicious vanilla extract. Here’s an option for grade B beans which I’ve used with great results, too. If fair-trade, organic vanilla beans are what you are after, you might want to check out Beanilla, Mountain Rose Herbs or look at other similar companies online.


Like I mentioned above, you don’t need to buy the most expensive or highest proof alcohol out there. I’ve made homemade vanilla with both vodka and white rum. Both make wonderful extract and it really boils down to personal preference. Vodka gives a neutral-flavored vanilla extract whereas the white rum tends to be a bit sweeter and more rum-tasting (obvs). I even got all wild and crazy once and made a batch with half vodka and half white rum. Of course I didn’t drink the stuff straight, but I kind of liked the end result in my chocolate chip cookies.

I use 80 proof vodka, whatever brand is the cheapest at the liquor store. For white rum, I usually pick up the Bacardi brand. 


For Personal Use:
I make vanilla in wide-mouth canning quart-size jars and cap them with the handy dandy white lids. It’s much easier than pouring the alcohol or finished vanilla into tiny-mouthed jars, especially if you are using it personally and not giving it away in a cute jar. When I use the vanilla for baking, I just dip my clean measuring spoon in the jar and get what I need (that’s the one downfall; pouring from mason jars is messy). I keep two quart jars of vanilla in my pantry cupboard. When I finish one, I leave the vanilla beans in the jar and fill it back up with alcohol, usually adding a couple fresh vanilla beans, too, and slide it to the back of the cupboard. It has time to rest and do it’s thing (i.e. become vanilla) while I use up the other quart jar.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

For Gift-Giving:
There are tons and tons of jar options online and I’m sure locally, depending on where you live. My favorite jars to use for gifting homemade vanilla are these 8.5-ounce beauties (the swing top lid adds a little something special) or the smaller 5-ounce jars (love the shrinking cap that goes on with the heat of a blow dryer; my kids think we’re a regular vanilla extract factory when we line these up and go to town shrinking caps).

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

The Process

Brace yourself…this is almost too easy.

First, decide how many vanilla beans you want to use per 8 ounces of alcohol. You’ll find ranges all over the internet – some claim one vanilla bean will do the trick (don’t listen to them) and others use upwards of eight vanilla beans (go ahead and sell your firstborn child to make your own extract). I’ve settled on a pretty good ratio that works for me:

4 beans for every 8 ounces alcohol

Increase or decrease the number of vanilla beans if you like to live on the edge.

For Personal Use:
Using kitchen shears, cut up the middle of 14-16 vanilla beans about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way (you can chop them up if you want smaller pieces or have smaller jars) and put the vanilla beans in the quart jar.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

Fill the jar with vodka (or whatever alcohol you are using). Try to make sure the beans are completely covered with alcohol to prevent molding/spoiling. Cap the jar and put it in a cool, dark spot for at least six weeks but the longer the better (I shoot for about three months). You’ll know it’s ready when you uncap the jar and it smells, well, like vanilla. You really can tell a difference when it turns from smelling completely like alcohol to developing a strong vanilla aroma.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

For Gift Giving (two methods):
1) Follow the process above filling as many quart jars with cut vanilla beans and alcohol as needed (depending on how many gifts you’ll be giving).

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

Let the vanilla infuse for the allotted time (several weeks to several months) and then fill individual jars (like the ones mentioned above) with the vanilla. If filling narrow jars, a handy dandy (super inexpensive) funnel like this will save lots of wasted vanilla running down the sides of the jars and/or bad words being directed at said vanilla.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

2) cut the vanilla beans as stated above (snipping about 2/3 of the way up the vanilla bean) and depending on the size of your individual jars, put the desired amount of vanilla beans in each jar (again, I use about 4 vanilla beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol).

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

Pour in the alcohol to fill (again, that funnel may come in handy), trying to cover the vanilla beans completely to prevent mold (if the jars are too short, I cut the vanilla beans in half), and seal the bottles. Put the small jars in a cool, dark place and let the vanilla sit for six weeks or up to several months.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

If giving the vanilla before it’s completely ready, consider adding a small note that lets your friend(s) know to let the vanilla sit for another month or two before using.

A Few Extra Notes

-I don’t know if this is really the case but after doing side-by-side vanilla experiments for the last couple years (for personal use and gift-giving), I think the mixture becomes vanilla more quickly (and has a stronger flavor?) when made in the quart jar versus assembling it in individual, small jars. I could be dreaming, but my very unscientific process has led me to this belief.

-If you want to give your homemade vanilla extract an extra dose of love, you can shake it up once or twice a day (and maybe even give it a little hug). I wish I could say I’ve done that but usually, I stick it up in a cupboard and forget about it. And you know what? It still turns into vanilla. Amazing.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

-If you don’t want flecks of vanilla seeds, you can strain the vanilla through a sieve or strainer before using/giving (I think the seeds are pretty, personally).

-There are so, so many opinions, ideas, posts, forums, thoughts about making homemade vanilla. It’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole that is The Best Way to Make Homemade Vanilla. Start somewhere and improve or change each time you make it! The fun of projects like this is finding your own perfect recipe.

-Last time I made vanilla, I tried to keep track of how much of everything I used – 50 vanilla beans made about 4 (8.75-ounce) jars, 10 (5-ounce) bottles and 1 (quart-size) mason jar.

And there you have it! Homemade vanilla!


If you are interested, here’s a cute printable you can use for gift giving. I print these labels on white sticker paper, cut them out, peel off the backing, and stick them on the jars I’m giving away (if you want to prevent smears from dribbling vanilla, you could cover the label with a large clear sticker or piece of packing tape). Click on the picture below to download the file.Vanilla Extract Lables copy

Please ask any questions below in the comments and I’ll get to them as soon as I can!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

81 Responses to DIY Vanilla Extract {With a Free + Cute Printable Label}

  1. Deb W says:

    I’m getting ready to make some vanilla but was wondering if you sterilize your jars in boiling water or if you just wash them in hot soapy water?

  2. Katie says:

    Curious if you’ve tried making this in your pressure cooker yet?

  3. Darlene says:

    Love the label but I can’t get it to download page stays blank help! thanks Darlene

    • Mel says:

      What browser are you using, Darlene? If it’s Internet Explorer, you might try Safari or Firefox or Chrome – I just checked and the file is still there and I’m able to view it (using Safari and Chrome).

  4. Vanessa Barben says:

    I’m wanting to make this vanilla so bad! Amazon no longer carries that brand of vanilla beans – the other options are quite spendy! Do you have any other sites you purchase your beans from?

    • Mel says:

      Oh darn, Vanessa. I’ve heard there’s a shortage of vanilla beans and prices may go up…not sure if that’s why Amazon isn’t carrying those anymore. Other sites highly recommend – you might check them out. I have no idea what the cost is.

  5. Lori says:

    Hi Mel! Wondering how I get on the gift list to receive one of your gift bottles? 🙂
    Or how about you ship and I would totally pay for one!

    I would like to try this but would prefer to purchase a smaller portion of vanilla beans, and the link only shows a large amount. I’m thinking my husband would kill me if he saw I spent that much on vanilla beans! lol they just don’t understand. Have you purchased a smaller amount from another vendor?

    Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Lori! I hear you on the vanilla beans. I’ve never bought them in a smaller quantity but if there are some with good reviews on Amazon, I’d go for it!

  6. Shaylene says:

    Hi Mel, I had a quick question. I have been very excited to try out this home made vanilla. I ordered the beans that you recommended and was surprised when they came in the mail and there were over 100 beans which are about 6.5in in length. The website mentions that there should only be about 50-60 beans. They did smell amazing and my whole house smelled of vanilla ( I had no complaints about that).

    Here is my question, Should I add more then 4 beans per 8oz of alcohol? I have a feeling that the beans I got are a little smaller then normal.

    Thanks for all your amazing dedicated time to help people like me feel like rockstar’s in the kitchen!

    • Shaylene says:

      I am sorry that this question may have ended up here twice. I was having some computer difficulties and was unsure that my first attempt worked.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Shaylene, the vanilla beans I use are about that size so I think you should be good but if you have more than you were planning on, it wouldn’t hurt to throw an extra bean in with the other four.

  7. Shaylene says:

    Hi Mel, I had a quick question. I have been very excited to try out this home made vanilla. I ordered the beans that you recommend and was surprised when they came in the mail and there were over 100 beans and are about 6.5 in in length . The website says that there should be only about 50-60 beans. They did smell amazing and my my whole house smelled amazing. So here is my question, Should I add more then 4 beans per 8oz of alcohol? I have a feeling that the beans I got are a little smaller then normal.

    Thanks for all your amazing dedicated time to help people like me feel like rockstar’s in the kitchen!

  8. Marci says:

    After the extraction is complete, can you still smell some alcohol in it? I made ice cream yesterday and used 4 times the vanilla asked for the in the recipe (so this obviously could have been my fault) and it had a strange taste. I don’t drink alcohol, but I’m assuming it was the alcohol I was tasting. Do you use your homemade vanilla in uncooked things like whipped cream and ice cream?

    • Mel says:

      It shouldn’t be really strong smelling of alcohol still, Marci. If so, there’s a good chance it needs to steep longer. I’m guessing, though, that in an unbaked recipe like ice cream, using that much vanilla might have been the culprit (even if you had used storebought pure vanilla). I use my homemade vanilla in everything and haven’t noticed a strange taste but when I open the jar and smell it, it smells very, very strongly of vanilla. Does yours?

      • Marci says:

        If I smell my vodka it smells like hardly anything, but my vanilla is VERY strong. I guess I’m confused about what I’m smelling exactly. I wish I had someone’s to compare to. I’m just a bit weary after the ice cream. I wanted to make something that really let the vanilla shine to see how strong it really was. I guess 4x was a bit far. What’s something you make that you can really taste the vanilla in?

        • Mel says:

          Hi Marci – pure vanilla extract (storebought or homemade) is going to be quite a strong flavor. I’ve actually felt as I’ve used my homemade vanilla that a little goes a long way – I like it to enhance the flavor but not overpower it. I think it really shines in creamy desserts (like rice pudding, vanilla pudding, etc). I like to use it just when I’m whipping cream for desserts (just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon), also. Sorry the ice cream was a bummer – I know how frustrating that can be hoping for a stellar pop of flavor only to be disappointed.

  9. Amanda says:

    Sorry, I feel like lots have asked a similar question about reusing the beans…but, I was wondering if you poured the original batch out into a different jar and filled a new jar with the old beans/a couple new ones. i have read that people say they just keep topping off their vanilla with more vodka as they go, but then you would have a mix of really good vanilla and just fresh vodka. Seems strange. (My first batch is about to finish up and currently have a new one brewing…didn’t have the old beans anymore as that batch was made a while back. I assume vanilla stays “fresh” for a while.)



    • Mel says:

      Hi Amanda – I use the vanilla extract up completely (or pour it into a new jar, leaving the vanilla beans in the old jar) before adding more alcohol because I agree, just topping it off seems weird to me and would dilute the vanilla.

  10. Erin says:

    How do you store beans that aren’t being used? Or do you just make enough vanilla to use all the beans you have? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I put them in a sealed ziploc bag (double bag if it’s not a freezer bag) and keep them in a cool, dry spot. I’ve never frozen them but often I keep them in the refrigerator or up in a cool spot in my pantry.

  11. Teri says:

    I bought the grade B vanilla beans from your link. I cut many of them in half as they were too dry to split. It’s only been a few days and the vodka is smelling like vanilla and is turning darker. I have enough beans to do a second batch so I’m off to the store to get another fifth of vodka while it is on sale.

  12. Sharon says:

    Thank you Mel. I had no idea that you could make your own extract. Mine is just made and put in the garage to develop. Vanilla pods are so expensive in the UK that I stock up when travelling. This is a fantastic way to preserve them. They had a hint of the other spices in the drawer so the finished extract could be ‘interesting’. I also tend to stock up on saffron when travelling- any ideas anyone for preserving this?

    • Melanie says:

      When I lived in Spain, I bought a bunch of saffron and brought it back with me to the US. I stored it in my freezer for years and years in a plastic freezer container. It probably wasn’t the best way to preserve it, but it worked. The color stayed nice and vibrant. Good luck!

  13. R. says:

    Ok…here’s the skinny on the C@##$%-C%$#. See that, I can’t even say the words. I don’t want to see, hear, or eat…em, you know for a long time! It was excellent! Even though I didn’t have enough C’s to shred and used frozen C’s that were in my stash of frozen veggies, the CC turned out scrumptious – so much so, that I ate way too much of it. After eating very thin slices along the edge of the pan (the pan was too little and had to cook it 10mins longer) I wanted to see if it was too crisp along the edges. I could tell after one bite that it wasn’t. I kept eating along the one edge it was so good, but it had to cool. I put tinfoil over it and left it out to cool. I could see the chunks of C’s in it and could tell every now and then that I was eating a little tender chunk, but it was delish! It did look like a mouse (a big one) had been at it. I left it overnight and whipped up the frosting (excellent frosting also – Yum!) this morning in my kitchen aid. Spread it on and then ate a piece, and then another. I figure with the thin slices I ate along the edges last night and then the two pieces this morning it came out to the equivalent of four pieces. The real test will be at coffee time at the back of the garden when I give some to HIM. He is not really a dessert person – for that matter neither am I – but I know he will like this. Really a forgiving recipe Mel. This will be my go to cake for company. Lovely – oh no, I am getting myself all wound up again…

    • R. says:

      10am coffee time. He said it was really really good. That is high praise from a Scotsman! I’m not telling whether or not I had another piece?

  14. R. says:

    Hi Mel! Love your tutorial on Vanilla Extract. I made it a long time ago via Barefoot Contessa recipe (I have several of her cookbooks). I buy the little bottles of Absolut Vodka – stuff them with vanilla beans, let them set for a few months, then give them away to family. I have not done that for a long time – this has me excited about vanilla extract all over again.
    On a side note: I am making your Carrot cake right now…heh heh, talk about living on the edge, I didn’t have enough big carrots (or little ones – only about a cup) so I hand-picked the little frozen carrots out of my frozen peas and corn and carrot stash. We will see how this works??? If it doesn’t I will do it right next time.

  15. Carrie says:

    I looked at the reviews on Amazon for the “Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans – 1/2 lb (50 to 60 beans) JR Mushrooms Brand
    from S&W” that you linked to, and one review said what they received didn’t look normal and actually smelled similar to Formaldehyde! Apparently, many reviewers (usually the 5-star variety) are paid and some don’t even actually get the product! Have you ever received a bad batch?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve bought them several times with no issues but it’s been a while since I bought a new batch so I’m not sure if the quality has changed. Definitely something to keep in mind, though! I’ve always received great quality vanilla beans from that particular listing.

    • Jill says:

      I saw that same review Carrie, and although I was a little nervous I ordered them anyway. They came yesterday and smell delicious, just like vanilla (they are very fragrant!):)

  16. Old Man Dave says:

    I bought the very cheapest brand of vodka for this and it comes in a clear plastic bottle that I reuse to make the vanilla. I do store it in a dark cabinet. Cheap. Doesn’t seem to affect the favor although I use small 4oz. brown Boston Round bottles from Amazon for gifting.

  17. Michelle G says:

    I have everything ready to make vanilla – maybe your post will push me to actually get the ingredients in the jars this week! I heard on the radio just this morning about a vanilla shortage that should be affecting the price of vanilla by summer! Great timing!

  18. Katie says:

    I made my own vanilla extract for Christmas gifts last year and I used Brandy. It turned out wonderfull after only 6 weeks and was a beautiful rich dark brown. It was so easy and tastes great, I won’t ever buy pre made again.

  19. Liz says:

    Good grief – did you see the news article about a vanilla shortage ??? I couldn’t believe it – I still wonder if the story(ies) are accurate but they allude to a poor harvest in Madagascar in 2015 causing rising vanilla bean prices. So, not due to MKC readers rushing to order vanilla beans, but kind of funny!

    • Mel says:

      I’m just barely hearing about this, Liz. I always wonder if these types of things are scare tactics (so we’ll all stock up!) or if it’s real. Either way, I’m probably going to buy some vanilla beans this week. 🙂

  20. Julianne says:

    I made vanilla for the first time in December. First time I’d bought alcohol, and it was a giant bottle of vodka because I had a lot of beans to use. I was 7 months pregnant and I’m Mormon. It gave me and the cashier a good chuckle as she rang me up.

    As for the vanilla itself, it is fantastic. It is 3 months old now and getting better and better. I use the measuring method you do to get it out of my mason jar. I think it is significantly better than the store-bought stuff (and cheaper).

  21. Marci says:

    I have been waiting for this post! So informative, thank you! I fully plan on doing this, but I just wanted to know your opinion. Is homemade vanilla worlds better than store bought? I splurged on an expensive bottle of Nielsen-Massey thinking my world was gonna be rocked, and while it was good, i doubt I’ll spend the extra cash on it again. So I guess what I’m asking is, is it better than cheap Walmart vanilla and comparable to expensive brands of vanilla?

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t done a true side-by-side comparison but I really do think that homemade vanilla (if made with enough vanilla beans and left to infuse long enough) really is better than a cheap store brand pure vanilla extract. Having said that, I really like the Kirkland brand of vanilla, too. I’m definitely not a true vanilla snob – but homemade vanilla definitely rocks.

  22. Christine says:

    I’ve been making vanilla extract for a year now but I am wondering….how many times do you reuse the vanilla beans? I hate to throw them out if I can use them again!

    • Mel says:

      I don’t keep track officially but I reuse the vanilla beans for several months, adding fresh ones to the batch (but if I’m making vanilla for gifts, I start with all new vanilla beans – I just reuse them for my own personal vanilla stash).

  23. Daryle in VT says:

    I’m a retired bartender who always bit my tongue when a customer said they couldn’t taste the vodka in their drink. Vodka has no taste, so buy the cheapest, 100 Proof stuff you can find. This story was so good, I thought I could smell vanilla vapors as I was reading. I’m relieved that you did mention the occasional shaking to squeeze out the last bit of flavor. Just tap the bottle/jar lightly to be sure the beans are submerged. You probably won’t get much more flavor after two months. Strain off the liquid into a very clean jar. Squeeze the ‘spent’ beans with a potato ricer to get all the flavor out. Put a couple of layers of cheese cloth over the jar, tying it on well. Put the jar in the attic for the summer. The vanilla extract will mellow and concentrate by late fall. If you need a note at the foot of the attic stairs …

    • Melanie says:

      Yes! I love this post! I agonize every year about what small gifts to give all of the “important-but-not-family” people in our lives (Sunday school teachers, teachers, MOPS leaders, etc.), and this year I am making them THIS!!! Thank you!

  24. tiffany says:

    Definitely rock star status! So cool to know, thanks for all of your research!

  25. amy says:

    I have fallen in love with vanilla paste this year. Any idea on how this is made? I saw the one comment about adding the seeds to make a paste but I don’t think that is quite right, is it? Something is making it thick, I think…

  26. Becky says:

    In your post you say to “try to make sure the beans are completely covered with alcohol to prevent molding/spoiling.” Is this just when you are first making the vanilla before the beans are saturated with alcohol? Do you leave the beans in the jar as you use the extract? Do you constantly have to push them down into the alcohol so they are always covered? You said once you use a jar you usually keep the old beans in and add a couple fresh ones, how may times can you use beans?
    Thanks for your help to a newbie vanilla maker! Love your site and use it on a very regular basis!

    • Mel says:

      Good questions, Becky! So yes, definitely cover the vanilla beans when you first make the vanilla and make sure they are covered as the vanilla infuses for the 6 weeks (up to several months and beyond). Once I start using it, I don’t worry about the vanilla level dropping below the level of the vanilla beans. Having said that, I do use it up quite fast so I haven’t let a half jar of vanilla, with beans sticking above the top of the liquid, sit that way for months and months. But I also don’t try to push the vanilla beans down constantly. Once I start adding a few fresh beans to my quart jar with the old beans – and continuing that process, it does get a little hard to figure out which are the really old beans and which aren’t. Eventually, I end up taking out all the beans once the vanilla is gone so I can give the jar a good washing. At that point, I throw away all the beans that seem past their prime, keep the ones that still have a lot of vanilla smell and seeds to them and add more fresh beans. Does that help?

  27. Sandra says:

    Hi Mel, love your post haven’t ever given any thought to making my own vanilla, but since I’m sparingly using up my last bottle of the real deal from Mexico I just might give it a try. My question is do you always leave the vanilla bean in your jars — gifts as well?

    • Mel says:

      Yep! I’ve always done it that way because I like the authentic look (plus if they don’t use it up right away, it will continue to impart great flavor over time)

  28. Heather Spangler says:

    Have you ever tried tequila? I love mexican vanilla for its strong flavor, heard that they use tequila instead of vodka. I don’t drink either, so I’m at a loss for anything related to liquor – I’m the person asking strangers at the store what a dry white wine is, so I can make a recipe.

    • Mel says:

      I’ve never tried tequila, Heather, so I can’t say for sure how it ends up. You might try googling to see if others have used it.

  29. Emily says:

    How does the taste/quality of homemade vanilla compare to say, the Kirkland brand pure vanilla extract? I did some math, and it doesn’t appear to be cheaper to make at home. Is it worth the extra cost to make at home? Is it really that much better? Or is it just fun and good? 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I have used Kirkland in the past and it’s great – homemade vanilla can be more cost effective if you can find vanilla beans, jars and alcohol at good prices. I think homemade vanilla is a little richer but honestly, I think storebought pure vanilla extract is great, too. You’re probably right that some of the homemade vanilla is just the joy of making something like this at home (you know, rock star status and all that). 🙂

  30. Charlotte says:

    This is fabulous!! A friend was also telling me just last week that you can do the same with stevia leaves (an easy-to-grow herb) for a low-glycemic sweetener. And your printables are beyond darling (of course!).

  31. Susan says:

    this is wonderful. I have a lot of vanilla pods that are sitting in my house and always wondered if i could make vanilla with this. Now I just need to buy alcohol.

  32. Tiggerr says:

    Mel, Just an FYI. when you click on the web version link in the emailed version of this recipe, I keep getting the madmimi (godaddy) version which doesn’t include the comments section. i had to type your actual web address into my address bar to get her. (fortunately i come here so often all i have to type is Mel and i get the link 😉

  33. Emily says:

    Yay, homemade vanilla! Just wanted to share a quick story and warning. The only time I gave homemade vanilla as a gift, the bottle tipped in my car and ended up spilling a little. My car instantly smelled strongly of vodka and I realized I was basically driving with an open alcohol container. Oops!

  34. Barb says:

    How expensive is this to make? Around here, I only ever see a few vanilla beans for sale in a small container for like ten dollars. I buy clear vanilla at the amish store, and we really like it.

    • Mel says:

      The cost really depends on how much the vanilla and alcohol costs (and if you can get them on sale). I sourced a couple options for vanilla beans in the post that are much cheaper than buying the one vanilla bean in the jar (vanilla extract would definitely not be cost effective to make yourself if buying those vanilla beans).

  35. Katy says:

    Thank you for the link for the jars and printable!
    I have been making vanilla for a while and like comparing what other people do. I have been using the bottle the alcohol comes in. I just throw the vanilla beans in there. It makes it easy to pour………..makes for some funny conversations when you have people over while you are baking:)

    • Debbie N says:

      I do it this way too.I Have been doing it this way for at least 5 years And l have never have had a problem with it going bad. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

  36. Charlotte Moore says:

    I have been making vanilla for several years. I let mine sit for 6 months or longer if I don’t need it at the end of 6 months. It will keep forever as far as I know since it is alcohol.
    I give some as gifts and I have sold some to co workers. So easy!! I made one batch with rum and one with bourbon. The rest of the time I use vodka. It is much cheaper.

  37. Lindsay says:

    Like you, I don’t drink alcohol, so I laughed when you said you felt like a fish out of water in the liquor store! I felt the same when I first made my own vanilla a couple years ago, rummaging through the newspaper looking for liquor store flyers! And if there’s anything weirder than a Mormon girl in a liquor store, it’s a very pregnant Mormon girl in a liquor store (which I was)! Haha, hopefully no one thought I was drinking my way through my pregnancy!!

  38. Paige says:

    This is such an awesome idea. I like what one reader said about Christmas gifts, but also wonder about botulism like someone else mentioned.


    • Mel says:

      Hi Paige – botulism isn’t an issue with vanilla as far as I know. This isn’t like canning where botulism can be present if the jars aren’t sealed or canned appropriately. The alcohol preserves the vanilla beans – I haven’t had an issue with vanilla going bad ever!

  39. Ellen says:

    Looove!! And if you have soaked beans leftover (say you’re not putting them in with the finished vanilla) you can pinch the bean and slide your fingers down the length, squeezing out the seeds, to use as your very own vanilla bean paste.

  40. Sandra says:

    I can’t wait to try this! If all goes well with a personal batch, I’d like to continue with a large batch to distribute at Christmas time. Does mid-September sound about right to start for completion by December?….and can the solution sit for too long and affect flavor? (I worry about friends who don’t bake as often as I do!) Thanks again.

    • Mel says:

      If I were planning on giving these as Christmas gifts (which I am!), I’d start now, Sandra. Good vanilla extract is like a lot of other foods (cheese??) it gets better the longer it sits and actually tastes better. However, if you want to wait until fall I think September is a good time to start but maybe even August just to make sure the flavor develops fully.

  41. Beth B says:

    So you don’t have to worry about botulism or you don’t have to do the water bath thing? This sounds like my kind of recipe process. I’ve always been put off by getting bacteria in canning and poisoning everyone I share with.

    • Mel says:

      No, not at all. This isn’t canning in any sense (like canning green beans or peaches). The alcohol preserves the vanilla beans – as long as they are fully covered with the alcohol as I mention in the post, you’ll be fine. I’ve been making vanilla for a long time and have never had issues with mold or other bacteria.

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