Melissa's Cuisine: Homemade Vanilla

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Vanilla

Are you looking for a fun homemade Christmas present?  Or maybe you're just looking to save some money in the kitchen.  I have a fun solution for you--homemade vanilla!  As a baker, I would be thrilled to receive a bottle of homemade vanilla from a friend.  It would be even more special knowing that they made something for me!  Plus, making your own vanilla can add up to significant savings. Take a look at these numbers:

One 8oz bottle of good quality pure vanilla extract costs about $14.99!!


One 1.75L (about 60 ounces) of Vodka cost me $11.97 and 40 Vanilla Beans cost me $9.99.  I spent a grand total of $21.96 to make 60 ounces of homemade vanilla.  The cost for 8 ounces works out to be about $2.93!  So very much cheaper than buying it! 

If you start soon, you'll have just enough time to whip up a fabulous homemade Christmas gift.  Vanilla takes about 3 months to reach it's full strength (some people give a shorter period of time, some longer).  Just follow my easy step-by-step directions and you'll be on your way to homemade vanilla in no time!

1.  Gather your ingredients.  One 1.75L bottle of vodka, 40 vanilla beans, and a glass jar big enough to fit it all (I used an empty pickle jar).  You don't want to use the cheapest vodka, nor the most expensive.  Go somewhere in the middle.  I used Madagascar Vanilla Beans. 
2.  Cut your vanilla beans in half down the middle.  I cut mine almost all the way apart, leaving about 1 inch at the top of the bean still intact.

See those beautiful seeds?  That's where the amazing flavor comes from!
3.  Put the sliced vanilla beans into a large glass jar.
4.  Pour vodka over vanilla beans.
5.  Seal the jar and give it a good shake.  Put it in a cool dark place (I put mine in the back of my pantry) and shake it every few days.  I noticed after 2 days that the vodka had already taken on a dark brown color and there were millions of tiny vanilla seeds floating around.
After about 2 months, you'll end up with your own homemade vanilla extract. 

6.  Remove the vanilla beans from the jar.  You can choose to drain the extract, using a coffee filter or paper towel, to strain out the seeds, or you can leave the seeds in the extract.  Pour the vanilla into small jars and store or distribute to your friends.

See, I told you it was easy!  I'm looking forward to giving this gift to my friends and family at Christmas.  I think I'll buy some small amber bottles and make my own labels. 


  1. Awesome post! Don't know if I'll do it but I love the idea.

  2. I might have to try this! How did it taste?

  3. It tastes just like store-bought vanilla...maybe even better ;)

  4. This has been in the back of my mind for quite a while. I really want to try it. I was uncertain as to whether I should use vodka or bourbon. I'll go with the vodka. Thanks for sharing the process on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  5. Oohhh, I could use a whole bottleful of that! Thanks for linking up to Sweets for a Saturday.

  6. I've always wanted to make my own vanilla. Great tutorial.

    Thanks for stopping by Sweet Tooth Friday,

  7. wow! I wish we had 40 vanilla beans for $9.99 here. It costs about $12 for two here! I did find a place where I can get two for $3 but that's still costly. Costco has a huge bottle of Vanilla extract for $4 so for me that's more cost efficient. What about vanilla bean paste? How is that made?

  8. @mamaducky--I buy my vanilla beans online, from ebay actually, they're quite expensive in stores around here! I don't have a Costco membership, but that sounds like an awesome deal!

    I'm not really familiar with vanilla bean paste, but I'm going to start looking into it! Maybe it's something I can make :)

  9. Sorry if this is a crazy question, but i have 6 vanilla beans i ordered. Do i use the same amount of liquid and let them sit longer or reduce the liquid? This would be my fist time. Thanks for the recipe and great pics.

    1. Hi Ashley!
      Since you are using 6 vanilla beans, I would reduce the amount of liquid accordingly. I think if you used about 10 ounces of vodka, it would turn out great for you! Thanks for stopping by!


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