Thursday, August 1, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract--The Quick & Super Easy Version

Making vanilla extract is probably the easiest do-it-yourself project you can do. If you like to give bottles away at Christmas time, then this recipe is for you! That is, unless you're super-planner-woman who can make a huge batch of vanilla in plenty of time to let it set for 2 months before distributing it to family and friends.

Alas, I am not that woman, which I realized because I haven't made my own vanilla since 2011, the last time I used my vanilla extract recipe


Because I detest waiting for the vanilla to infuse. I'm like a hungry toddler. Gimme gimme.

In my original recipe, the vanilla beans have to infuse for 8 whole weeks before you can use it. I can't wait 8 weeks!

This recipe from the May 2013 Southern Living is perfect for the impatient (or the last minute Christmas gift giver) because 7-14 days is all the time it takes to make your own vanilla extract.

Wanna know the trick?

You cook the vodka or bourbon, and pour it over the vanilla beans. Voila! Instant infusion! 

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Southern Living:


3 vanilla beans
3 cups bourbon or vodka


1. Split 1 vanilla bean and scrape seeds into a clean 1/2-pint jar. You can cut bean crosswise. Place in jar. Repeat with remaining beans and 2 (1/2-pint) jars.

2. Cook bourbon or vodka in a large saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes. (Do not cook longer than 5 minutes or it can overheat and ignite.) Pour 1 cup bourbon or vodka into each jar. Cool mixture to room temperature (about 30 minutes).

3. Cover jars tightly, and let stand at room temperature 1-2 weeks before using. Shake jars once a day. The longer the mixture steeps, the better the flavor!

4. After 1-2 weeks, pour liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into clean bottles with tight-fitting lids; discard solids.) Store in a cool, dark place up to 1 year. 

Some Helpful Notes:

  • You can double the recipe. That's why I ended up with 2 pint jars, which is 1 quart or 4 cups.
  • You need to be very careful when cooking alcohol as vapors can ignite. I used a large saucepan to contain vapors. Be sure not to heat it longer than 5 minutes.
  • For a pure vanilla flavor use vodka. I believe the bourbon version will be slightly darker and have a "different" flavor.

    Making homemade vanilla extract is very easy. This recipe speeds up the process. I hope you will enjoy it! Happy baking!!

    The final product: Two Pints of Pure 100% Vanilla Extract

    What are your favorite uses for vanilla extract? Have you ever made your own?

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    1. Ooo! Thank you for posting this! I've had some bottles of vanilla beans just waiting to be processed and now I know how! Only thing is I detest buying the alcohol; the looks I get are priceless! ;)

    2. Cheryl, I have had the same experience! Lots of vanilla beans but no gumption to go to the liquor store! Ha! I like that you can use even the cheapest bottle of alcohol and it still turns out wonderfully!

      But the looks from other people are pretty funny. I do wonder what they're thinking when I bring in a brood of little kids. Our liquor store has a kids section with toys -- even a shopping cart -- for children to play with while parents shop. Funny or scary? I'm not sure.

    3. Can i use something other than alcohol in this recipe. I don't mind alcohol, but I don't like the taste too much. Thanks,

      1. I have never tried this method but apparently you can make vanilla extract without alcohol. Instead, you use water and food-grade glycerin. For the recipe, you can check here: or here:

        If you do it, please let me know how it turns out. I am VERY curious!

    4. I had NO idea you could make your own. I need to try this for sure, what a great gift giving idea.

      1. Oh, yes, and it's so much cheaper than buying it at the store, especially if you use Swagbucks to buy the vanilla beans.