Vanilla Extract Recipe | How to make Vanilla Extract

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When it comes to baking and making pastries at home, there’s no better way to add depth and complexity than by adding pure Vanilla Extract. While it can sometimes be difficult to source here in India, I’m happy to mention that homemade vanilla extract is super simple to make and requires just 2 basic ingredients!

vanilla extract

About Vanilla Extract Recipe

Living in India, it is difficult to get pure vanilla extract, so I used to resort to buying either organic vanilla beans or vanilla powder from super stores and add them to my bakes. Then my sis gifted me a high-quality pure vanilla extract from United States. One whiff and I was hooked.

Once I used the last precious drops of my liquid gold, I decided to make vanilla extract at home. Since vanilla beans are easily available both in superstores as well as online, I started making homemade extract and I’ve never looked back!

All you need are two ingredients — vanilla beans and liquor — and a little patience to make the best, purest vanilla extract around. No more messing around with artificial vanillin or using expensive vanilla beans to get gorgeous vanilla flavor!

Ingredients & Equipment

Making vanilla extract at home is very easy. You only need two ingredients

  • Vanilla Beans – The quality and flavor of the vanilla extract largely depends on the type of vanilla beans you buy. I used prime vanilla beans (also called “gourmet” or “grade A” vanilla beans. I used some grown in God’s own country – Kerala.
  • Alcohol – Use any high ABV liquor like vodka, rum, whisky, or brandy. I used vodka because it has the purest flavor, letting all of the complexity of the vanilla beans shine through unimpeded.

As far as equipment is concerned, you just need a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. I told you this was an easy recipe!

Step-by-Step Guide

How To Make Vanilla Extract At Home

1. You will need 4 to 5 vanilla beans, ¾ cup vodka (6.4 ounces or 0.4 pint) and a glass jar or bottle.

vanilla beans and a bottle of vodka.

2. On a cutting board, slit the vanilla beans into two to expose the tiny seeds inside.

cutting vanilla bean in half vertically.


3. You can also slit and then chop them in small sticks.

slit and chopped vanilla beans for making vanilla extract.

4. Add the vanilla beans to a clean glass jar or bottle. Be sure to scrape off the vanilla seeds from the cutting board and add them to the jar; don’t waste any of their magical flavor!

Now pour in the vodka and seal the lid. Shake the jar lightly. The vanilla beans need to be completely immersed in the liquor to extract all the good flavor. Keep the jar in a cool, dry place at room temperature.

pouring vodka into jar with cut vanilla beans.

5. Once a week, shake the jar to ensure you’re steeping the entire bean. Allow the vanilla beans to steep in the liquor for at least a month so that the alcohol extracts the flavors from the vanilla beans.

overhead shot of vanilla beans steeping in vodka for making homemade vanilla extract.

6. I kept this batch for more than 5 months, and it only got better with time.

vanilla beans steeping in vodka after just a week - the vodka is still pretty clear with just a hint of a golden hue.

7. After a period of time, you will see the transparency of the vodka changes to a deep dark brown color, which is a great indication that it is ready to be used.

Add this real, pure, homemade vanilla extract to all your favorite bakes and desserts!

homemade vanilla extract is now a very dark brown and ready for using!

Tips & Tricks

  • The longer you allow the vanilla beans to steep, the better and more potent the flavors become. 
  • The vanilla beans continue to flavor the liquor, even after you start using the extract. Just make sure that the beans are always submerged inside the liquor.
  • Once the extract has been used enough to leave some vanilla beans exposed to the air, you can remove them, pat the beans dry, and then add them to a sugar jar or container to get vanilla-flavored sugar. You can even make vanilla-flavored salt using this method!
  • Did you use the seeds from a vanilla bean in another recipe? Keep the pod and use it for making vanilla extract!

Recipes Using Vanilla Extract

If you bake much, you probably already know: vanilla extract is in a LOT of recipes! Here are some of my favorites:

This is only a small sampling of a few recipes on the site that use vanilla extract. Once you make this delectable flavoring potion, I have a feeling you’ll find plenty of excuses to use it.

FAQs

How long does homemade vanilla extract last?

You can keep the vanilla extract at room temperature easily. You could also opt to keep in the fridge.

What is the best alcohol for making vanilla extract?

So long as you are using a liquor that is 40% ABV (80-proof), anything will work. I personally prefer using vodka because it is neutral in flavor and lets the real flavor of the vanilla beans shine through. Whiskey, brandy, or rum are all perfectly acceptable, too!

How long can I keep vanilla beans in the extract?

So long as they are fully submerged, I’d say they should stay good for 6 months or more. The alcohol acts as an excellent preservative.

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homemade vanilla extract recipe

Vanilla Extract Recipe | How to make Vanilla Extract

When it comes to baking and making pastries at home, there's no better way to add depth and complexity than by adding pure Vanilla Extract. Homemade vanilla extract recipe is super simple to make and requires just 2 basic ingredients.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Cuisine World
Course Condiment
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Easy
Servings 1 small bottle
Units

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 vanilla beans
  • ¾ cup vodka (6 ounces or 0.38 pint)
  • a clean glass bottle or glass jar

Instructions
 

  • You will need 4 to 5 vanilla beans, ¾ cup vodka (7.6 ounces or ½ pint) and a clean, dry glass jar or bottle
  • Now slit the vanilla beans and halve them into two using a knife. You can also slit and then chop them in small sticks.
  • Add them to a clean glass jar/bottle and then pour vodka. Shake the jar lightly. The chopped vanilla beans needs to completely immersed in the vodka.
    Cover tightly with the lid and keep in a cool dry place.
  • Once in a week shake the jar. Let the vanilla beans to steep in the vodka for at least a month. The more you keep longer, the better and potent the flavors will be.
  • After a month or so, you can also strain the extract. The vanilla beans can be pat dried and then added to a sugar jar or container to get vanilla flavored sugar.
  • When the vanilla beans are soaked for a month or so, you will see the transparency of vodka changes to a deep dark brown color.
    Later add the homemade Vanilla Extract as required to your bakes and desserts. You can keep the extract at room temperature or refrigerate it.

Notes

  • The longer you allow the vanilla beans to steep, the better and more potent the flavors become.
  • Make sure to good quality and a higher grade of vanilla beans as the flavor of the vanilla extract largely depends on the type of vanilla beans you use.
  • Use any of your preferred high ABV liquor like vodka, rum, whiskey, or brandy.
  • Keep in mind that the chopped vanilla beans continue to flavor the liquor, even after you start using the extract. Always ensure that the beans are always submerged inside the liquor.
  • Once the extract has been used enough to leave some vanilla beans exposed to the air, you can remove them, pat the beans dry, and then add them to a sugar jar or container to get vanilla-flavored sugar.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Extract Recipe | How to make Vanilla Extract
Amount Per Serving
Calories 463 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 2mg0%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.01mg1%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.01mg1%
Iron 0.02mg0%
Phosphorus 9mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Vanilla Extract Recipe from the archives, originally published in April 2015 has been updated and republished on January 2023.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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26 Comments

  1. Hi…please tell if we use vanilla essence instead of vanilla extract in chocolate cake(pressure cooker), will it be fine? Here at my place availability of vanilla beans is rare almost impossible.

    1. you can use vanilla essence, but let me tell you vanilla essence is chemically made. you can always order online for vanilla beans or real vanilla extract from amazon.in. but still if you do not vanilla beans or real vanilla extract, then use vanilla essence. but halve its quantity eg if 1 teaspoon vanilla extract is used, then add half a teaspoon of vanilla essence in place of it. more can make the cake have some slight bitter tones.

    1. the vanilla beans used in the recipe, i did not get from kerala. i got from super store near my place. but on a visit to kerala, i did get some more vanilla beans from the spice shops in broadway in kochi (cochin).

  2. hi, right now here i get whisky, so can i make vanilla extract from it. in my state it’s hard to get alcohol, but love to get homemade product5 stars

  3. First of all let me thank you for the almost foolproof dishes I have made from the recipes posted by you. Especially the eggless cakes have been a great savior!
    I have got vanilla paste – can the above method be used to make it into vanilla extract.

    1. thanks sanjyot. glad to read your positive feedback. i don’t know whether it will work or not. you will have to search in web to get some idea.

  4. Heya! Is there a substitute for alcohol (rum, brandy, vodka) just in case I want to prepare vanilla extract at home because being a Muslim I keep myself off alcoholic products.

    1. maria, thats good to know and i appreciate it. i don’t know any alternative for alcohol. i suggest you to just use vanilla beans directly in the bakes and desserts.

        1. I think you can make it with vegetable glycerin. I did not know pure non-alcoholic vanilla extract existed till I visited Trader Joe’s recently in the US. They have it there.

        2. jyothsna, even i didn’t know. from your comment i came to know. thanks for sharing the info.

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