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.

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644 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Vanilla is the NEW chocolate in my house right now! I have a bunch of recipe’s I’ve been trying out, and have to say panna cotta is my new favorite! It’s so simple, yet so amazing!

  2. I love making whipped cream for strawberry shortcake – heavy cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Amazing every time!

  3. I also follow on Twitter and Facebook!

  4. I think I’d have to say creme brulee is currently my favorite vanilla recipe.

  5. Vanilla creme brulee with raspberries!

  6. What a cleaver and inventive idea – just love it! Your photo is beautiful. My favorite vanilla recipe is classic creme brulee using the vanilla bean. The richness of the flavors so shines through.

  7. Homemade creamy vanilla bean icecream.

  8. I love to make Joy of Cooking’s Waffle recipe (with two sticks of butter!!) and add a teaspoon and a half or so of organic vanilla extract– it adds a whole other layer of flavor to an already delicious recipe.

  9. I made a large batch of vanilla extract 2 years ago, giving most of it away as Christmas gifts. Usually, I’ll finish up tapioca pudding with a capful of vanilla extract.

  10. And I’m a fan on Facebook :)

  11. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream is hard to top

  12. Now I’m a fan on facebook too.

  13. vanilla custard

  14. fan on facebook :)

  15. Vanilla french toast!

  16. I’m a fbook fan!

  17. vanilla bean scones

  18. My favorite vanilla recipe is: EVERYTHING! I use vanilla extract or paste several times a day. I splash some in my smoothie, pour a little on top of creamy squash soup….it goes into everything! :)

  19. Vanilla Belgian Waffles!!! Topped with vanilla whipped cream and fresh strawberries! Oh, so yummy!

  20. I already like Love & Olive Oil on Facebook!!

  21. Vanilla bubble Milk Tea is the best :-)

  22. Standard tollhouse chocolate chip cookies was my first brush with vanilla, and since then we have been inseparable.

  23. I also follow you guys on facebook!!

  24. Vanilla Bean ice cream. I love the simplicity of it.

  25. It’s gotta be the ce cream!

  26. Vanilla bean icecream with a drizzle of honey

  27. I love vanilla and make my own extract as well! I love to use vanilla in almost anything I can, including my favorite vanilla cupcakes with vanilla bean caramel buttercream!

  28. All time-favorite? My favorites change pretty often … so I’d say my favorite for now is vanilla pastry cream. I could just eat that stuff with a spoon (and I have ;) )

  29. My fave vanilla recipe would be for vanilla bean creme brulee. Mmmmm mmmmm. Love it.

  30. I “like” you on Facebook.

  31. I generally put double the vanilla in any recipe vanilla is called for :) Cupcakes especially!

    I love your labels!! My mom makes all my vanilla and I’ve been wanting to have her do a tutorial for a long time. Yours are so pretty :)

  32. I am following Love and Olive Oil on twitter (tjbugnet) and I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/tjbugnet/status/22634879678152704

  33. I like vanilla so many ways! But a favorite is vanilla french toast

  34. Favorite recipe ever: Mixed Fruit Vanilla Cake – it’s a fruitcake, but instead of candied fruit, this one uses dried fruits, including cranberries, cherries, strawberries and blueberries plus vanilla!

  35. I love vanilla bean ice cream!

  36. I am a fan on facebook.

  37. yummy, creme brule is my fav!

  38. I love good vanilla ice cream.

  39. I am “LIKE” you on FB.

  40. this post is making so hungry for something yummy! i love homemade vanilla bean ice cream. so glad to find this bean source and a chance to win! thank you!

  41. also i am a facebook fan of yours!

  42. I think my fave is vanilla buttercream. Sooo good!

  43. I tweeted the giveaway!

  44. vanilla anything….ice cream, lattes…love it all!

  45. Vanilla sugar just makes everything better.

  46. favorite vanilla recipe would have to be the caramel sauce i made last halloween. mmm. and i’m almost out of vanilla so it’s nice to have a chance to win some. :) thanks!

  47. i tweeted (@jayemkae)

  48. and i’m a fan on facebook too!

  49. Vanilla pastry cream. Just try not to eat it with a spoon.

  50. The classic, vanilla ice cream!

  51. My favorite way to use vanilla is to make vanilla sugar.

  52. My favorite vanilla recipe is David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream. it’s super vanilla-y and is like a dream from when I was a kid. fantabulous.

  53. oh and i’m a fan on facebook.

  54. I think my favorite is just simple warm vanilla milk. It’s so good and comforting.

  55. Vanilla ice cream – so many uses!

  56. MMMM, creme brulee.

  57. vanilla bean cheesecake!!

  58. I bake for my son’s restaurant and my favorite item that contains vanilla is a glazed coconut pound cake……….takes lots of vanila extract, my favorite flavor of all time. I make homemade vanilla bean ice cream for my grandbabies………they love it and so do I ! Thanks for the recipe. Love your blog.

  59. creme brulee hands down!!

  60. didn’t realize you had a FB page, I liked it :)

  61. I love using vanilla bean to make vanilla ice cream. thanks for the posting – I hope to do this!

  62. What a lovely idea! I am going to HAVE to try it. My favorite vanilla recipe, or one of them, is simply making vanilla flavored sugar. I give it away as little hostess gifts, and it’s always a hit. :)

  63. I love chocolate brownies with home made vanilla ice cream on top! Yum! :)

    I’m also a fan of Love & Olive Oil on Facebook.

  64. The vanilla pudding for homemade Banana Pudding

  65. Liked you on Facebook

  66. I love vanilla shortbread

  67. Love & Olive Oil on Facebook

  68. Vanilla bean ice cream – the first time I used a real vanilla bean! mmmmm!

  69. By far, my favorite vanilla use is in homemade creme fraiche & vanilla bean scones. They are so simple, but SOO good. I make the creme fraiche myself (it’s so easy!), then scrape out a vanilla bean into the scone batter. I’m happy to share the recipe! As a scone connoisseur, I can safely say they are some of the best ever. / Thanks for such a fun giveaway!

  70. My favorite use of vanilla these days is in a homemade vanilla latte – steamed milk, strong coffee, and vanilla extract. Yummy!

  71. This is going to be odd but chocolate chip cookies. I have this recipe that the vanilla really is the star.

  72. I so just tweeted right now.

  73. My favorite vanilla recipe is petite vanilla scones. Similar to the ones you can buy at Starbucks. Yum!

  74. Lately i have been putting vanilla in steel cut oats for breakfast…delicious!

  75. I am a fan on facebook.

  76. I love vanilla anything! Especially love adding it to my egg mixture when making french toast! Now off to facebook! ;-)

  77. Love to make vanilla ice cream!!

  78. The deliciousness that is vanilla bean cheesecake. So decadent and rich but lighter than normal cheesecake and just that pure vanilla taste. YUM.

  79. Not too original, but homemade vanilla ice cream…. yum.

  80. My daughter’s vanilla buttercream frosting.

  81. I also follow you on facebook. :)

  82. Vanilla pudding. There’s nothing like homemade pudding, warm and straight from the pot!

  83. I’m also a fan on facebook!

  84. Vanilla bean ice cream!

    I have been meaning to make my own extract for awhile – thanks for the suggestion on where to buy the beans. I will get it started this month!

  85. Vanilla ice cream, a classic!

  86. Vanilla Creme Brulee!

  87. I really love shortbread and vanilla ice cream.

  88. My daughters and I love vanilla ice cream, my husband love the vanilla sugar I make.

  89. Vanilla sugar — which I then use for just about EVERYTHING: cookies, in my coffee/tea, cakes, etc.

  90. I’m a Facebook fan!

  91. My favorite is a really good, simple vanilla cupcake.

  92. I work at a coffee shop so I start out my day making myself a vanilla latte. We make our own vanilla syrup with good vanilla extract and simple syrup.

  93. You can never go wrong with classic vanilla cupcakes!

  94. So excited about making my own Vanilla Extract! Do you have a favorite bean??

    My fave vanilla recipe of all time is my grandmother’s vanilla sauce. It’s not caramelized; just a gorgeous creamy white vanilla infused sweetness that is perfect over fruit pies and cobblers. ( I eat it by the spoonful!)

  95. My favorite vanilla recipe is homemade vanilla ice cream! Looking forward to summer now! Maybe it will snow enough here in TN so that we can make snow cream, but I can’t count on that!

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