Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yes, it’s after Christmas. Yes, I’m posting a holiday gift idea when gift giving is probably the last thing you want to be thinking about. In my defense, I had to wait, otherwise it would have ruined the surprise for our parents, who each received a set of these for Christmas. For what it’s worth, this is not a last minute gift. I let mine steep for about 6 months. So you should be thanking me for giving you such a fabulous gift idea you can get started on so far in advance. You’re welcome.

Homemade vanilla extract. It sounds so… complicated. So involved. Something akin to distilling your own whiskey or something. But you’d be surprised how simple it is. As easy as pouring some booze into a bottle with a few vanilla beans, and then forgetting about it for 6 months. I think we’re all capable of that.

For this particular batch I purchased three different varieties of vanilla beans: Madagascar, Tahitian, and Tonga. I just love the idea of comparing the subtleties present in each variety (obviously, because I’ve done it before with eggplant, summer squash, figs, and garlic) and the three-extract sampler made the gift that much more special. The final product was packaged in 4oz amber bottles and stickered with a lovely designed label indicating the variety. I knew our parents would appreciate them so much more than a store-bought present.

Hooray for planning ahead.

(Psst! If you like the labels I designed here, you can download a free printable pdf of them to use for your very own homemade vanilla extract!)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Makes 16 ounces.


6-10 fresh vanilla beans (more beans will yield a stronger extract in shorter amount of time)

16 oz. (2 cups) vodka or other liquor


Split vanilla beans and scrape out seeds. Cut pods into 1" pieces. Put both seeds and pod pieces into a glass jar or bottle. Fill with vodka and seal. Store jars in a cool dark place, gently shaking the mixture several times a week. For best results, allow to brew for at least two months, if not longer. The extract will get better with age.

Strain out solids prior to using.

You can also refill the bottle with more vodka as it is used. Occasionally you may also want to strain out the old vanilla beans and replace them with fresh beans. This is also a great use for old beans or beans used for other purposes (once you've scraped out the seeds for your other recipe, simply cut up the empty pod and add it to your extract.)

Did you make this recipe?

Let us know what you think!
Leave a Comment or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #loveandoliveoil.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Guess what? I’ve got another giveaway for you! I wanted to include this one in giveaway week, but since these bottles were actually given to family members, that would have ruined the surprise. So I had to wait. Call it a belated Christmas gift, if you will.

Beanilla, online retailer of gourmet vanilla beans and vanilla products and where I purchased my beans for this project, has so kindly offered one lucky reader a gift set that includes 3 Madagascar vanilla beans and 3 Tahitian vanilla beans, plus a 1/2 ounce jar of ground vanilla. I truly believe in having fresh vanilla beans on hand at all times, and Beanilla is a quality and affordable source (ie: not the dry and dull beans that they sell in the grocery stores for $10 a pop). Do yourself a favor, buy a bunch. When the price per bean is so reasonable, you don’t have to treat them like precious objects; you’ll find yourself using them to gussy up your everyday dishes and baked goods.


To Enter:

Simply leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question:
What is your all time favorite vanilla recipe?

Entries open through 1/8/11 at 11:59 CST. I’ll be randomly selecting the winner the morning of Sunday, January 9th. Prize will be shipped to the winner directly from Beanilla. Beanilla is willing to ship this prize internationally.

Want Extra Entries?
Increase your odds of winning! In addition to the main entry comment, leave a separate comment for each bonus entry.
1. Follow @loveandoliveoil on twitter and tweet the following:
I just entered to win a vanilla sampler from @beanilla and @loveandoliveoil! Enter here: http://bit.ly/eHuESh
2. Like Love & Olive Oil on Facebook (or if you are already a fan just say so!)

Be sure you enter a valid email address, because if your name is drawn and I can’t get a hold of you within 48 hours, I will choose an alternate winner. You may also want to add me to your address book (lindsay AT loveandoliveoil DOT com), as I’d hate for your congratulatory email to end up in the spam folder.

That's My Jam: Spring edition Now Available!

644 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Also, have liked on Facebook.

  2. Oh! And I’m a fan on Facebook!

  3. Vanilla Panna Cotta….. mmmmm

  4. Oh man! Hard to pick! Pretty much everything is better with vanilla. ;)

  5. I’ll add vanilla to almost anything sweet- even a glass of warm milk. Ideally served with cookies with a distinct vanilla taste.

  6. And I’m a facebook fan!!

  7. Vanilla Sugar Cookies

  8. I follow you on FB

  9. My fave recipe is vanilla buttercream : )

  10. my favorite vanilla recipe is my mom’s vanilla sugar cookies :)

  11. I follow you already on Twitter and tweeted with Apples2Zucchini

  12. I love vanilla ice cream!

  13. Vanilla bean pudding. :)

  14. Vanilla buttercream!!!!

  15. Simple vanilla bean ice cream, preferably with enough vanilla in it you can smell it across the room!

  16. Vanilla peach jam! I still have a jar or two in my pantry from this summer’s fresh peach picking and canning adventure!

  17. Pan-roasted Duck Breast with Cherry-Vanilla Bean reduction…sweet and savory – oh so delicious!

  18. Hi! I am a new reader, and my favorite vanilla recipe would have to be vanilla pudding.

  19. I love Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  20. My favorite recipe featuring vanilla beans is probably the vanilla bean frosting on your rich chocolate cupcakes, I use it for all sorts of different cupcakes and it’s always delicious.

  21. I’m a fan on facebook!

  22. Definitely vanilla bean ice cream (which seems to be popular from the comments.) It’s simple but, gosh, is it delicious. If I win, maybe I will use my beans to make some homemade!!

    come enter my NIVEA giveaway: http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

  23. it may be boring, but i love vanilla pudding. basic, but delicious! and makes a great pie filling.

  24. I have a recipe for a mixed berry fruit salad with a homemade vanilla syrup – the syrup turns the fruit salad into something extra special

  25. And following you on twitter (booksncooks2)

  26. vanilla bean marshmallows…. mmm! :)

  27. I love homemade creme brulee! I always have vanilla beans on hand when I have a craving for some!

  28. I’m already a fan on Facebook!

  29. Vanilla sugar cookies!

  30. chocolate chip cookies with Mexican vanilla xD

  31. This might sound strange, but my favorite way to use vanilla is to make snow cream in the winter! It reminds me of when I was a kid ;-)

  32. And I am, of course, a FB fan ;-)

  33. I love this idea! My favorite vanilla recipe is a delicious vanilla cupcake. yum :)

  34. Can it be as simple as a vanilla steamer or vanilla whipped cream? It has to be those two things. Simple is best.

    Cheers and happy new year,


  35. I liked you on Facebook.

  36. creme brulee… YUM!

  37. I love the Zucchini bread that I make that calls for 5 tablespoons of vanilla in it. So so good.

  38. mine would have to be vanilla bean ice cream!

  39. Flan with vanilla beans. So is that just Vanilla Flan? xD

  40. I also like you on facebook

  41. My favorite is vanilla buttercream. So good I would probably just eat it with a spoon. Or spatula. Or finger….

  42. And I retweeted the giveaway!

  43. And I’m a fan on Facebook! :)

  44. Vanilla bean ice cream!! Heaven.

  45. Homemade vanilla ice cream. So simple and so decadent!

  46. I have to say a vanilla bean creme burlee.

  47. I like you on Facebook.

  48. My mother’s recipe for VANILLA BREADPUDDING with VANILLA HARD SAUCE is my all time favorite for VANILLA NIRVANA. My husband would be so thrilled if I were to make my own VANILLA extract since he is shocked by how much I use regularly. I use it in savory recipes that don’t even call for it because it adds an intriguing dimension. BTW, I already am a FB fan!

  49. My favorite vanilla recipe has to be just a simple vanilla creme brulee!

  50. And I already Like you on Facebook!

  51. Can I have two favorites? I make a lemon-vanilla buttercream frosting that is to.die.for. I also love vanilla pound cake. So much that I can’t make it because I would eat it all. :)

  52. I’m a fan on facebook!

  53. vanilla ice cream!

  54. homemade vanilla bean ice cream plain and unadulterated – oh yum!

  55. I am a Facebook fan

  56. May absolute fav vanilla recipe is homemade marshmallow!!

  57. I love to make homemade vanilla bean icecream on the 4th of July!

  58. homemade vanilla ice cream

  59. I love cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting.

  60. Vanilla bean ice cream. I always choose it over chocolate.

  61. Fluffy tapioca pudding. Wouldn’t it be fun to make three batches, flavor each with a different vanilla, and then have a tasting party???

  62. Pumpkin Vanilla Bean ice cream. Though I’ve been itching to try a savory vanilla bean risotto.

  63. I love sugar-free vanilla lattes and vanilla ricotta pudding!

  64. the best is really simple, fresh vanilla bean ice cream. With or without some sort of rich and lucious sauce! Yum. :)

  65. I’m also a facebook fan!!

  66. Vanilla in my hot chocolate of course!

  67. My favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla custard! I use it to make banana cream pie, or I just eat it plain like a pudding. sooo good.

    ps that is a great gift idea! I did cranberry and lime infused vodka for gifts this year and they only needed a little over 2 weeks to steep. Maybe i’ll get started early with this gift

  68. Your vanilla sounds amazing – can’t wait to try this and I love your labels. What an excellent gift idea! My favorite vanilla recipe has to be Giada de Laurentiis’ “Vanilla Bean and Butternut Squash Risotto.” I was skeptical about including a vanilla bean in risotto but it came out beautifully.

  69. I love vanilla. My favorite recipe would be vanilla bean ice cream. Can’t go wrong with a classic simple recipe.

  70. Vanilla creme brulee! I “like” your facebook page : )

  71. I’m a fan on Facebook!

  72. It’s not exactly a recipe but my all time favorite use of vanilla extract was one my great grandmother used during WWI, a dab behind each ear just before a date with her sweetie du jour.

  73. I posted on Twitter too I’m @Fettbot

  74. Vanilla pudding is my favorite vanilla recipe. Just found your blog, will now begin to search for recipes.

  75. I love vanilla in stovetop hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon and baileys :-)

  76. now a facebook fan :) (previously just a google reader fan)

  77. I’m a fan on facebook!

  78. My grandma’s recipe for Italian rainbow cookies.

  79. Mmm- French Vanilla Creme Brulee – so delicious!

  80. I am now a follower on twitter! Thanks- so excited :)

  81. …and a fan on facebook :)

  82. Here’s a haiku of my favourite vanilla recipe! Thanks for the extract recipe, awesome.

    Vanilla bean meringues
    Crisp outside, gooey sweet centre
    Flecked with precious black

  83. My mom’s banana bread with vanilla – it really makes it better.

  84. vanilla buttercream

  85. A couple of my favourite uses of vanilla are in yogurt sweetened with honey as a snack, even better with some fresh peaches mixed in and in London Fogs. Mmm.

  86. vanilla makes anything taste good!!! I love it in my oatmeal, coffee, everything…but theres nothing like home made chocolate chip cookies made with extra special vanilla!

  87. Good vanilla buttercream frosting on thick, chewy vanilla sugar cookies!
    I am also a Facebook Fan!

  88. Vanilla pound cake with caramelized bananas on top and a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

  89. Chocoflan or Pastel Impossible – a delicious Mexican dessert comprised of chocolate cake baked with a caramel custard.


  90. I like your blog on Facebook (A. Mace).

  91. Homemade vanilla ice cream!

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