Pure Vanilla Extract made in my own kitchen! It’s easy. It tastes infinitely better. You will never go back after using homemade vanilla in your favorite recipes.
DIY Vanilla Extract is a must in my kitchen, now. Certain recipes will never have the rich, depth of flavor we recognize and love, without the addition of vanilla. That the flavor difference between “Imitation” Vanilla and “Pure” Vanilla Extracts is so incredibly significant is hardly something we have to discuss, here. I think it’s a fairly universal piece of knowledge. What I didn’t realize is that even when I was buying “pure” vanilla extract, some brands were adding water, sugar or other ingredients. Read your labels, next time. You might be as surprised as I was.
With the significant difference in quality and flavor, comes a significant difference in cost. So, when I pay the extra for a “pure” product, that’s exactly what I want it to be. I’ve decided the one way to be certain I get the best value for my extract dollars is to make my own. When you see how easy, and taste how wonderful, this DIY Vanilla Extract Recipe is, you’re going to want to make your own, too.
The recipe I’m sharing will make EIGHT 1/2 cup bottles of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract. It’s the vanilla bomb! You’ll have plenty for your own kitchen and some for gifting. What a great addition to gift baskets you make for Christmas! Anyone would love to receive this wonderful baking elixir, fashioned by your very own hands. (This post contains affiliate links.)
How to Make DIY Vanilla Extract
- Clean and sterilize the bottles and lids you’ll be using by running them through the hottest cycle on your dishwasher. I prefer these dark bottles when I make extracts. I like the “vintage-y” look of them, plus dark bottles help to keep the light from degrading your extract. Like high-quality oils and vinegars, always store vanilla extract in a cool, dark cabinet or pantry. These bottles are a perfect 1/2 cup (4 oz) size, that’s great for gifting or for use in your own kitchen, too. The nice thing is that bottles are a one-time purchase, if you are making this recipe just for yourself.
- Cut the vanilla beans into 1-inch pieces. I use 3 whole beans for each 4-ounce bottle. I buy Grade A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. Grade A beans should be soft, flexible and moist. The vanilla oil from the beans should be obvious on the outsides of the skin. High-quality beans produce extraordinarily flavorful extract. Madagascar Bourbon beans produce a rich, dark and creamy flavor with sweet and buttery undertones that are superior for baking and drink recipes. The beans are wonderfully fragrant and your luscious vanilla extract will be, too.
- Place the beans in bottles and cover with alcohol. You can use different kinds of alcohol to make vanilla. Vodka, bourbon, brandy, or even rum, should work. Whatever alcohol you choose should be between 70 and 90 proof to make the best vanilla. I, personally, prefer vodka. I’ve used brandy before and felt that the alcohol’s flavor overwhelmed the vanilla aroma and taste I wanted. Bourbon made fabulous vanilla, but it was not appreciably different from the vodka and vodka is much less expensive. I have never tried rum, but if you do, I would love to hear your experiences. The nice thing about the alcohol for extracts is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to make high-quality vanilla. I buy the bottom-shelf, cheapest brand I can find at Walmart and my vanilla is always spectacular.
- Now, just screw the lids on your bottles. I do add one more step for me. I like to add pretty labels, so my family always knows what’s inside. Also, if I grab a bottle for gifting, it’s already labeled.
You can download the pdf file with my label design and decorate your own bottles, too. I printed them on Avery Peel and Stick Name Badge Label Sheets. Print them and adhere them to the bottles. To download the labels and print them at home, Click on The Image Above. It will open the full-sized pdf file for you to download and or print. Be sure to uncheck the Fit to Page Box if your printer defaults to that and you want to print on the Avery labels I used. Otherwise, you can print on plain paper and use clear tape or contact paper to adhere your labels to the bottles.
Set your lovely, decorated bottles at the back of a nice, dark cabinet and forget about them for six weeks. When your waiting is finished, you will have premium, scrumptious DIY Vanilla Extract to use in your own kitchen or to give as a gift. (Get busy! There are only 8 more weeks until Christmas!)
If all the bottles you’re making are for gifts, I factor in the cost of the actual bottle. That puts me at about $7.00 per bottle. That’s an inexpensive holiday gift that will be received with great enthusiasm.
If all the bottles you’re making are for your own kitchen, it will be a little more difficult to calculate total cost, because it will depend alot on how much vanilla you use. I still include the cost of the bottle, but calculate the per bottle cost by expecting to refill each bottle two times in the year. I won’t need new beans to do that, just the vodka. So, I will make 24 bottles of vanilla for around $62, bringing my per bottle cost down to only $2.70 per bottle! Try to find 4 oz bottles of Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, anywhere, for that price. I don’t think you will! This is one more frugal and simple way to know exactly what you’re using in your favorite recipes!
- Cut three vanilla beans into one-inch pieces. Put the pieces into one of the bottles. Repeat this step to fill the remaining bottles.
- Pour ½ cup of vodka into each bottle.
- Close lids tightly.
- Optionally, you can label the bottles for easy identification, later, and for gifting.
- Place the filled bottles at the back of a dark cabinet and let them sit at least six weeks. It's ok to take them out and give the bottles a shake every couple of weeks, if you want.
- At the end of six weeks, your vanilla will be ready to use. When a bottle is empty, refill it with vodka and rotate it to the back of the cabinet. Vanilla beans can be re-used for one year, before needing to be replaced. Use one of your already aged bottles, while the newly refilled one matures.
- Fully matured vanilla, should be a rich, dark brown color, similar to the beans that you used.
Looking for more easy DIY holiday gifting ideas? You might like these posts.