Make Your Own Vanilla Extract – 2 Ways!

After I learned how easy it is to make vanilla extract, I have never regret taking the little bit of time to make it to keep on hand. Vanilla extract is one of those pantry staples that is just always in our kitchen. When I started making an effort to eliminate processed foods by cooking from scratch, I gained an appreciation for the quality of ingredients used in cooking. The quality of individual ingredients in a simple meal could be the difference between delicious and blah. I don’t know about you but I want to strive for delicious every time! Homemade vanilla extract is delicious.

In addition to keeping a batch (sometimes multiple batches) in our pantry, I have gifted homemade vanilla extract to family and friends. The feedback from them has been fantastic. Everyone has loved the amazing taste of the homemade vanilla. It makes a wonderful gift and I love to tell people how easy it is to make. Here we go!


Vanilla Extract - E. Jean Homestead

Notes on the ingredients:

Vanilla Beans

  • Most popular varieties for vanilla are Madagascar, Tahitian and Mexican. Each giving the own unique flavorings.
  • Opt for Grade B beans over Grade A. Grade A beans are considered the “prime” or “gourmet” vanilla beans. Grade B therefore is typically less expensive. Since the Grade B beans contain less moisture, they are said to have more of a concentrated flavor. More concentrated flavor means better extract!


  • I have read recommendations for anywhere from 40 proof to 70 proof vodka (or any liquor with a minimum 35% alcohol)
  • Personally, I have used Smirnoff Vodka (red label), Grey Goose and Jim Beam Bourbon to make vanilla extract. All of which resulted in fantastic extract.

Alternative to Alcohol

Conventional Method To Make Vanilla Extract

The conventional method for making vanilla extract requires much time and patience. From my research I have found that most people use on average 5-8 beans per cup of alcohol. It is up to you to find what ratio you like. There is however an overwhelming consensus that the longer your vanilla extract sits, the better flavor you get.

  1. With a paring knife, starting an inch from the end, split vanilla beans down the middle.
  2. Add vanilla beans and vodka to a clean jar or bottle with lid.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. Shake every week or so.
  4. As you use your extract, refill bottle with alcohol to keep the process going.


Pressure Cooker Method To Make Vanilla Extract

This method came from Tidbits and I highly suggest that you go over and thoroughly read through her walk through as there is much more information provided. This is just a summary. I am purposely leaving out details so that you can head over to Tidbits for specifics including safety details, measurements, etc.

  1. With a paring knife, starting an inch from the end, split vanilla beans down the middle.
  2. Add vanilla beans and vodka to a clean CANNING jar with a lid leaving 1 inch headspace. Note: Is is important to use proper jars!
  3. To pressure cooker, add water, a trivet and canning jars on top of the trivet. Cook at high pressure.
  4. After allowing natural release, remove jars. Swirl jars and allow to cool overnight.


Cami’s Method 

I like to combine both the traditional and the pressure cooker methods . Is it over doing it? Quite possibly. There is reasonably good rationale behind it though. Using the pressure cooker method allows you to have a finished product more quickly. If I’m in a pinch, the finished vanilla extract is there for use. Allowing the already finished product to infuse even longer creates a deeper, richer flavor.

Add a little homemade vanilla to your cold brew coffee! Find the recipe HERE

As I mentioned previously, homemade vanilla extract makes a fantastic gift. I like to use these 5 oz bottles from Ikea. I have found that buying vanilla beans in bulk online is the most cost effective route. Buying vanilla beans from the spice aisle grocery store will add up quickly. You usually only get one or two beans per jar and from what I have seen, each jar can run $12-$15 each!


After you try this out, be sure to come back to share your thoughts with us!

Make Vanilla Extract - E. Jean Homestead


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