Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

This is my vanilla extract.  The larger bottle is vodka (1.75 Liters to be exact) with approximately 45-50 vanilla beans steeping.  And in the long run it’s more economical (and better tasting) to make my own.  I go through 2 of these bottles a year!  Yikes!

So let’s get to making our vanilla extract!  This is 1/2 pound of Madagascar vanilla beans that I purchased from Beanilla*, aren’t they gorgeous?!  They’re nice and oily – not dry like some you might find in your local grocery store.

I cut directly down the center of the each vanilla bean for two reasons.  First, I like to see flecks of vanilla seed in my vanilla extract, and second, because a lot of the flavor of the vanilla bean is actually inside the bean.

Next, I drop them directly into my vodka bottle (after removing the plastic guard first) and when the last bean is in, I screw the cap back on and shake well.  Let your vanilla sit for at least 3 months (preferably more) in a cool place, such as your pantry, before using.

I always keep two of these large bottles of vanilla extract in my pantry – one using Madagascar vanilla beans, the other using Bourbon vanilla beans.  I write with sharpie on the top of the caps (“M” for Madagascar and “B” for Bourbon) to make distinguishing them easier.

That way, when I’ve completely drained one bottle I can pull the other one from my pantry and use it, while starting the whole process over again.  You can still use the “old” vanilla beans for making vanilla sugar (just gently pat the beans dry and add them to your sugar container).

You can also make your own vanilla bean paste (seen here) by scraping any seeds that are remaining inside each bean and mixing them with corn syrup until desired consistency – store in a small plastic container with a lid in your pantry.  I personally haven’t tried making my own paste, but I plan on it when I’ve drained my next batch of beans to see if it’ll work with “used” beans – I’m all about repurposing!

This smaller jar is simply some good bourbon with vanilla beans halfed (with the half-side facing down) in order to “plump” the vanilla beans.  This method was mentioned in a cookbook called Sarabeth’s Bakery, and she does this in order to scrap the vanilla seeds out and use them in her baked goods.

No worries, I also plan on using the vanilla-flavored bourbon when I’ve used all my “plumped” beans, and at this rate it should be nice and strong because I don’t scrape out vanilla bean seeds often!

*This is where I purchase my vanilla beans from and I’ve had great experiences with them over the years.  I haven’t been paid (or compensated in any form) for this endorsement – feel free to use whomever you deem worthy!


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