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. Can’t wait to make these, I use vanilla all the time. What a wonderful site you have here, looking forward to future post and tweets and newsletters!

  2. White Brownies!!
    So yummy.

  3. Ice cream!

  4. I have yet to find a good source for vanilla beans that doesn’t break the bank. Any suggestions?

    My favorite vanilla recipe is vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. yum!

  5. Vanilla bean creme brulee!

  6. My Fav Recipe to make with Beanilla Beans is def Ice Cream….makes the best ice cream ever!

  7. My absolute favorite vanilla recipe has to be vanilla buttercream icing. I’ve been making it ever since I was a little girl. No store-bought icing can compare!

  8. And def like you on FB! LOL

  9. Vanilla Pound Cake!

  10. I recently made a coffee liqueur, which called for vanilla bean. It was delish. Had to wait for 6 weeks while it steeped, but it was worth it!

  11. Love, love, love my vanilla!! Too many uses to choose a favorite! My daughter loves when I make vanilla bean sugar, homemade vanilla bean ice cream ~ the old fashioned way, my Grandma’s vanilla custard or Grammies Cold Oven Pound Cake!!! Mmmm, Yummy!!

  12. I liked Love & OO on FB as well!

  13. Homemade vanilla ICE CREAM!!! Yummo!

  14. I love vanilla bean and Cinnamon bread pudding!

  15. My fav vanilla recipe is vanilla coffee or tea. Simple, just sprinkile extract on your coffee grinds when you put them in your coffee maker or sprinkle on ypour tea leaves all before you brew. Delish, but we drink lots of coffee so go thru la lot of extract. Thnx for this recipe as I would prefer to make my own extract rather than buy it.

  16. I love to make a vanilla custard for my cream puffs.

  17. I can not WAIT to try making my own vanilla!!
    My favorite vanilla recipe is creme brulee (but really-anything with vanilla in it is a winner with me!!)

  18. My favorite is vanilla ice cream. YUMMY!!

  19. Homemade vanilla ice cream!

  20. love every thing sweet with vanilla, there all my favorites

  21. I just made a wonder custard based ice cream with fresh vanilla. It tastes just like Butter pecan ice cream without the pecans. YUMMY!

  22. I’m also a fan on facebook.

  23. FaceBook fan also!!

  24. Vanilla pudding. I finally got my mom’s recipe. She always used to make it Sundays when I was little. Love it!! Nothing else comes close!

  25. Apple crisp using fresh vanilla beans! I’ve made lots of apple crisp, but the one recipe I followed that used fresh vanilla beans was the absolutely best!

  26. Giant Spice Cookies, I’m also a fan on facebook.

  27. I am a facebook follower!

  28. Ohhhh…and just became a fan on FB! Love it!

  29. I think this is going to be my favorite vanilla recipe! My other favorite vanilla recipe is my great-aunt June’s sugar cookie recipe which is a family favorite and Christmas tradition.

  30. Russian Tea cakes

  31. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  32. Vanilla Bean French Toast…YUM!

  33. I love homemade hot fudge sauce which uses vanilla extract.

  34. My fav vanilla recipe is homemade cherry-vanilla ice cream.

  35. I do not have a favorite recipie yet as I have never used vanilla beans, But after taking a look @ your website I’m sure I’m going to find more than one!

  36. my favorite is vanilla bean ice cream

  37. I love vanilla in my coffee in the mornings!

  38. This is such a cool idea!! My fave: Vanilla bean ice cream atop peach cobbler!!

  39. Vanilla custard

  40. I “Like” Love & Olive Oil on Facebook!

  41. My all time fave vanilla recipe is old fashioned Boiled Custard. It’s not unlike Creme Anglaise, though probably not quite as rich. We use it here in the south to pour over vanilla wafers & sliced banana for a homemade Banana Pudding, but I always make extra ’cause I like to sip on some while it’s still warm, then chill whatever might be left for a later treat. Cold, it’s like drinking eggnog…

  42. I would love to make home made vanilla extract to use in my cupcakes!

  43. Vanilla Creme Brulee with vanilla sugar, I also love vanilla yogurt with homemade granola.

  44. I like you on facebook.

  45. My favorite is vanilla cream for filling my chocolate cakes.

  46. Follow on fb

  47. I like you on facebook!

  48. Homemade Vanilla Icecream.

  49. Homemade vanilla ice cream!

  50. Vanilla sugar to use in Christmas baking.

  51. Vanilla ice cream

  52. I love, love, love fresh vanilla homemade ice cream!

  53. my fav- homemade vanilla custard ice cream, learned from my ice cream connisseur in-laws yum yum!!!

  54. I love vanilla bean cake! That’s what my wedding cake was and it was delish!

  55. Homemade Kahlua. Good for gifts to others. I also “gift” myself some. Yummmm.

  56. No Bake Cookies! And I would love to try your homemade vanilla in some receipes! It sounds scrumptious.

  57. my favorite vanilla recipe would be sugar cookies with pure vanilla and frosting nothing beats fresh vanilla with almonds. thanks

  58. I too like Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  59. I like to add vanilla to boxed cake, cookie or muffin mixes to make them taste more home made.

  60. Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies! Yummy!

  61. My Spring Breeze Cheesecake. YUM! : )

  62. I like (love) on Facebook!!!!

  63. White chocolate breadpudding

  64. Love this idea, always looking for great homemade gifts for Christmas. I think next Christmas just got easier. Thanks

  65. what a great gift idea! Thanks for the recipe and for a chance to win!

    My all time favorite vanilla recipe?!? Can you believe it? Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.. Yep! Tha’s my all time favorite. LOL!

  66. Like you on Facebook!!! I mean Love!!

  67. PS thanks for the second chance at wining! I just Liked you on FB

  68. Im a fan on FB.
    Love vanilla bean icecream sandwiched between homemade chocalate chip cookies. YUM!!!

  69. I LOVE vanilla bean ice cream,but I also like to put vanilla in a Dr. Pepper! I am also a fan on facebook. Bless You

  70. I have to say Pioneer Woman’s vanilla bean scones Yummy!

  71. Great post! My favorite vanilla recipe would have to be plain-old vanilla sugar. Great to have on hand to perk up some wheat toast in the morning.

  72. Salted Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cookies that I found on Joy the Baker!

    I would love to make the cookies with the vanilla from one of your adorable bottles! Such DIY’er! :)

  73. I love Taste of Home’s Vanilla Wafers! My husband tells me every time I make them that they taste like cookies he had in elementary school. (I think they are waaaay better than that)

    I friended you on facebook

  74. My favorite is vanilla ice cream…then the pods go into vanilla sugar… but this sounds like much more useful!!! I would be interested in knowing where you bought your vanilla… my local sources only sell by the bean and aren’t always identified by location… love the bottles and love the idea… I’m going to start gathering ingredients and bottls and make for next year… thanks so much for sharing… now to find you on facebook…

  75. I use my vanilla in everything. My favorite use is homemade Vanilla frozen yogart. And my Banana Bread recipe.

  76. I am your facebook friend

  77. I absolutely love vanilla bean cheesecake!! Using a combination of extract and the seed pods bumps up the vanilla intensity–and I am all about intense vanilla flavor!

  78. Love the labels and love vanlla! Cranberry sauce with cassis and vanilla bean was my new obsession this holiday season!

  79. I am a fan on facebook.

  80. Anything with vanilla is my favorite! Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing would be at the top of my list though.

  81. We make the best eggnog using fresh vanilla bean.

  82. Friending you on Facebook too!

  83. This is the first time I’ve been to your site, and I’m in love! We make home-made syrup to go with our home made pancakes, one of my faves we’ve experimented with is Vanilla-Maple. Yummy!

  84. Yummy…all these posts have made me hungry for something vanilla!
    My favorite way to use vanilla is to make homemade kahlua with lots of vanilla bean…I’ll have to go make some now!

  85. I am now a facebook follower!

  86. I love vanilla! I use it in baked carrots, baked sweet potatoes, pies and cakes. I have to admit though that my favorite is homeade vanilla ice cream :)

  87. Homemade icecream.Also brownies

  88. Love vanilla in my coffee with cream!

  89. I think my favorite recipe is Philadelphia Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I know you can get VB ice cream just about anywhere nowadays, but back in the 70s when Baskin Robbins just started selling it, it was something none of us in So Cal had ever had. I found a recipe for it a few years later in an out of print cookbook, made it, and fell in love all over again. I think the vanilla bean imparts a slight “woodsy” taste to it, but that is part of its charm. It was my mom’s favorite (along with Meyer Lemon Ice), so just the thought of it evokes happy memories.

  90. I love vanilla almonds.
    Just made my first bottle. Waiting is going to be awful. Used madagasgar beans.

  91. Chocolate chip cookies with a good splash of homemade vanilla!

  92. I follow you on Google, so thnx for the second chance

  93. Like you on FB!

  94. Chocolate Chip Cookies!

  95. I love the flavor vanilla in everything!

  96. I enjoy the vanilla flavor in simple sand dollar cookies which I make every Christmas.

  97. Buckwheat pancakes with a splash of vanilla, some nutmeg and cinnamon, and a hint of orange zest. I always add everything to taste so they’re a little different every time but always SOOOOO good. :)

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