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. And tweeted also!

  2. And like on FB too! :)

  3. My favorite vanilla is from Mexico, but I can’t wait to try making my own. I do follow you on Facebook as well.

  4. Yay finally an international giveaway, sometimes it seems Canada is so close to the US but yet so far away :)

  5. What a sweet and thoughtful gift…something I’m sure any baker would just adore! I love your labels, they’re adorable!

  6. Vanilla bean cheesecake is amazing! This is a great giveaway. Thanks for sharing! I’m also going to try making my own vanilla…great idea!

  7. I love alot of vanilla in my crepes that I make:)

  8. I love making rice pudding with lots of vanilla!

  9. Homemade vanilla creme brulee! And where did you get the labels for the jars? They are adorable!

  10. I’ve been itching to make vanilla extract for a long time! I’m a big baker and I love using quality vanilla extract in all of my recipes!

  11. Facebook fan as well!

  12. vanilla meringue cookies, so simple and delicious!

  13. Vainilla ice cream with macadamia nuts!!!!!

  14. vanilla bean creme brulee!! mmm!

  15. Vanilla bean ice cream! Mmmmm

  16. Like you on FB. Can’t believe I hadn’t done so earlier. Better late than never, eh?!

  17. Creme Brulee, particularly if someone less cack-handed than me in the kitchen has made it!

  18. Vanilla Steamer: Milk vanilla and Splenda :) super yum
    Already Like you on Facebook and tweeted :)

  19. My favorite use of vanilla is in my mother’s pound cake!

  20. A basic vanilla cupcake. Its a great test of a bakery/baker if they are moist and fluffy. Not as easy as it sounds.

  21. I love Creme Brulee and vanilla bean ice cream!!!!!!

  22. Today my favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla marshmallows. I just made a batch and the vanilla flavor is just so amazing. Dang it…now I want more marshmallows! Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. love, love, LOVE Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Does it get any better?? It’s perfect by itself or with any sauce or topping!

  24. My favorite vanilla recipe (so far) is tapioca pudding, but I’m intrigued by a lot of these posts! Yum.

  25. I’m already a fan on facebook.

  26. croissant bread pudding.

  27. I love Vanilla Frosting on Chocolate Cake.

  28. I love vanilla bean ice cream.

  29. Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate mousse frosting and rainbow sprinkles!

  30. Any kind of vanilla custard that can be eaten alone, paired with berries or anything else. Mmh.

  31. I love simmering vanilla and cloves on the stove…not quite a recipe but it is still my favorite use of vanilla in the kitchen!

  32. I tweeted the message.

  33. And I liked you on facebook.

  34. Hands down…vanilla ice cream!!

  35. wow! thanks for sharing the website for those plastic bottles. I have some homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar and want to give it away for the next holiday season, but no way to package it. Thanks for the links :)

    i think my #1 favorite vanilla recipe is for vanilla extract. so cool, like a science experiment in my kitchen :D

  36. My all time favorite vanilla recipe is one i can’t have! there is a cupcakery called Sift where I live and their Vanilla cupcakes (with cinnamon cream cheese icing) are to die for!!! They are seriously giong to be a problem with my new years resolution ;)

  37. i’d have to say that my all time favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla bean scones!!:)

  38. and i’m a facebook fan!!:)

  39. I love Home Made vanilla bean ice cream.

  40. My favorite vanilla recipe is a Vanilla Bean Martini (check it out on my blog). Pretty easy since I make my own vanilla with vodka anyway, and a dab of Godiva Liquor or peppermint extract makes it a perfect holiday drink!

  41. simple sugar cookies with vanilla! but everyone else’s ideas are so lovely…now i’d like to make vanilla anything.

  42. if i won some beans, I’ll come up with a favorite.

  43. I made homemade butterscotch pudding with vanilla once, it was great.

  44. I also like you on Facebook :)

  45. Vanilla bean ice cream! And I’ve decided to buy an ice cream maker this year, so I will finally be able to make my own :)

  46. Thanks for posting this! I meant to do this for Christmas this year, but changed my mind because I wasn’t sure I felt good about shipping glass bottles with my precious vanilla extract across the country. I love making ice cream using fun kinds of vanilla extract.

  47. I’m also making my own vanilla extract..started just around Thanksgiving so that it’ll be ready with plenty of time to package before the holidays (and for all my holiday baking). I just checked it the other day, and it’s already getting that deep amber color.. http://thinktran.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/vanilla-liquor-homemade-extract/

    My favorite vanilla recipe is probably vanilla bean icecream. I love the little flecks of vanilla.

  48. Also.. I’m following you on Twitter and retweeted: @thinktran

  49. AND… i’m a fan on FB (Namtran Nguyen)

  50. I’m too busy baking to be a facebooker or tweeter, sorry.
    My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best because it has 2 Tablespoons of vanilla in one batch. Oh sooo delicious.
    I would love to know which of the three beans you preferred for your homemade extract. Please share =) I absolutely loooove this idea, thanks for sharing it!

  51. Favorite Vanilla Recipe- Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookies II

  52. My favorite, often made, vanilla recipe is homemade whipped cream. So simple, but so easy to whip together some heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar (it blends in more nicely and doesn’t cause graininess), and vanilla.

  53. I tweeted for a bonus entry! Thank You.

  54. I just liked you on Facebook! Thanks for the bonus entry.

  55. My favorite vanilla recipe is for a vanilla pound cake that my Grandmother always made when we were kids. She also made a glaze with vanilla beans that she poured over the warm cake so it soaked it up.
    Wow..that cake was great!

  56. Vanilla buttercream frosting :) deeeeeelish!!!!

  57. A fan on Facebook :)

  58. I love to use only pure vanilla extract (now that I have a recipe I will use this) to make my homemade Chocolate Eclairs. I make a custard to go inside the pastry puffs that I also make myself. Yummo!

  59. Absolutely great Idea! can’t wait to make it!

  60. Apple dip – cream cheese, brown sugar and lots of vanilla!

  61. Fantastic gift idea!! This and limoncello are (now) on my list of gifts I need to start preparing several months ahead of time.
    My favorite vanilla recipe is cream cheese ice cream – with vanilla obviously ;)

  62. Facebook Follower!

  63. I would have to say my vanilla sugar cookies, that I make and decorate anytime of the year! I also add double the vanilla! :)

  64. I LOVE and miss my great, great Aunt Lela’s homemade vanilla/butter pound cake. Have never tasted anything like, since then. Am in search of an old fashioned recipe for such. I also now follow you on FB – glad I found you! I love to cook and used to own my own restaurant. The homemade extract is a wonderful idea!!

  65. My favorite recipe using vanilla is Homemade Kahlua.

  66. Chocolate chip muffins and homemade vanillia pudding!

  67. Vanilla sugar! and I Iove the recipe for homemade vanilla extract….can’t wait to try it!

  68. I would have to agree with Beth!! Vanilla in snow ice cream during the long winter months :)

  69. I love vanilla custard and Creme Brulee.

  70. My absolute favorite recipe for using vanilla is my seven minute boiled frosting. It is a family favorite and always requested.

  71. Vanilla Almond Crescent cookies…vanilla in the dough, and they are dipped in vanilla sugar after. YUM!

  72. My favorite Vanilla recipe is my Grandmother’s pound cake recipe!

  73. Homemade Vanilla Snow Ice Cream….
    Just take clean fresh snow and add milk, sugar, vanilla and freeze till solid. Eat. YUMMSY~~~

  74. My favourite is hot milk with a shot of vanilla in it. Nice and relaxing just before bed.

  75. P.S. I should win because Jan 4th was my birthday~! ~^.^~

  76. I love adding vanilla to no bake turtle cookies

  77. My favorite vanilla reicpe is a vanilla cake I make for my son’s birthdays. It is so moist and delicious.

  78. Homemade banana pudding! I just found your blog today via facebook and I LOVE it!!Can`t wait to read more!!

  79. vanilla ice cream. My Mom’s old recipe is the best.

  80. Warm Vanilla pudding :)

  81. I love vanilla bean ice cream and extra vanilla in sugar cookies. Oh YUM!

  82. vanilla… fav. recipe.. wow… that is tuff! i am a huge fan of the smell and taste! Vanilla chai, vanilla icing… you name it – and everything in between!

  83. My favorite vanilla recipe: Vanillekipferl- little vanilla horns. A traditional German recipe. You can’t do better than this at Christmastime.

  84. my favorite vanilla recipe is homemade cream soda.

  85. Homemade Vanilla Pound Cake

  86. Shortbread.. love it’s vanilla creaminess!

  87. Homemade vanilla ice cream!

  88. Vanilla bean ice cream!!!!

  89. I’m now a fan of Love and Olive Oil on Facebook. I’m France Perron

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