Vanilla Extract Recipe
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Learning how to make vanilla extract is the easiest thing ever. It requires only 2 ingredients and makes all of your baked goods taste and smell incredible. Homemade vanilla extract will be your secret ingredient for baking! Once you make your own homemade vanilla extract, there’s just no going back to the store-bought version. As a bonus, you can refill real vanilla extract with more vodka as it runs out so it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
These make for darling and thoughtful DIY Christmas gifts (see tutorial below). My cousin’s wife, Alla, shared this awesome idea with me for gifting homemade vanilla extract and now all my sisters and friends know exactly what they’re getting for Christmas! lol.
I included links to all of the tools and resources that I used to make these from the sweet little glass bottles on Amazon to the free labels I designed which you can print at home. There’s also a full visual tutorial on wrapping these in kitchen towels. I really enjoyed making these and I will enjoy giving them away even more!
Vanilla Extract Ingredients (makes 12 (4oz) jars):
18-20 vanilla beans
48 oz plain vodka* (80 proof works great)
It’s easy to scale this recipe up or down, the proportions are 3 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 1 1/2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.
*It’s not necessary to get the most expensive brand of vodka; something middle of the road like Smirnoff triple distilled 80 proof will work just fine. I found this at the liquor store and paid $25 for a giant jug. I’ll be refilling my vanilla a long time :). My cousin used the Vodka sold at Costco (Washington Costco’s carry liquor, but Idaho’s don’t).
Tools you’ll need for Homemade Vanilla Extract:
Small funnel or measuring cup with pouring lip
12 (4oz) clear bottles with lids (avoid cork lids – alcohol evaporates through the cork)
Labels (click here to save and print the labels I designed FREE!)
Kitchen scissors or sharp knife
How to Make Vanilla Extract:
1. Wash and sanitize bottles and lids. I washed with mild soapy water, rinsed then swirled with boiling hot water to sanitize them.
2. Cut beans in half then Split beans. I found this is easiest with kitchen scissors. Cutting them about halfway down the stem. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1″ pieces. Place a total of 1 1/2 whole beans in each jar (or 3 split halves).
3. Use a funnel or measuring cup to pour vodka to the top of the jar. Cover tightly with lid and let them brew for 2 months, shaking occasionally.
Apply the FREE vanilla extract labels by printing them on label paper or by gluing them onto the bottles. If printing on the labels, make sure your printer is set to 100% and not “fit to page” which make shrink or stretch labels.
You should give the vanilla a little shake every now and then for the next couple of months as it sits. It will turn a beautiful amber color when it’s ready to use. The instructions are right on the label so you don’t have to wait that long to gift them ;).
For Creative Gifting:
12 yards of yarn or kitchen string
12 kitchen towels for gifting, preferably tea towel style
12 small/medium cookie cutters
How to Wrap a Gift With a Kitchen Towel:
Fold a kitchen towel in half lengthwise and then in half again lengthwise. Place vanilla in the upper left corner, fold over the bottom flap, roll into a log and tie the top with a string or ribbon directly over the next of where the bottle is sitting inside the towel.
How to Store Vanilla Extract
Keep your homemade vanilla extract in a cool dry place. Heat and light can cause it to turn cloudy.
If it does turn cloudy, murky, or muddy-looking, do the smell test and if it still smells good, it should be fine to use. Using 80 proof vodka, it is highly unlikely there is bacterial growth.
Sometimes the type of beans you get can leach pulp into the alcohol and you can strain out sediment if desired.
Vanilla Extract Recipe
Vanilla Extract Ingredients (makes 12 (4oz) jars):
- 18-20 vanilla beans, I used Grade B Bourbon
- 48 oz plain vodka*, 80 proof works great
Tools you'll need for Homemade Vanilla Extract:
- Small funnel or measuring cup with pouring lip
- 12 4oz clear bottles with lids (avoid cork lids)
- Labels, click here to save and print the labels
- Kitchen scissors or sharp knife
Wash and sanitize bottles and lids: Wash with mild soapy water, rinse, then carefully swirl with boiling hot water to sanitize them.
Cut beans in half then Split beans (it's easiest with kitchen scissors), cutting them about halfway down the stem. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1" pieces. Place a total of 1 1/2 whole beans in each jar (or 3 split halves).
Use a funnel to pour vodka to the top of jar. Cover tightly with lid and let them brew for 2 months, shaking occasionally.
It's easy to scale this recipe up or down, the proportions are 3 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 1 1/2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Thank you Natasha. I’m using Russian Standard. I cannot wait until these are ready.
You’re welcome, Blair! Enjoy. 🙂
FDA standard for pure vanilla extract is .83 ounces of beans for every cup of liquor. Most people will round up to a full ounce of beans for simplicity. Beans can vary a lot in size and weight so it’s necessary to weigh beans and not use a certain number of them. It’s highly unlikely though, that 3 beans would weigh enough. The average time for a full extraction using vodka is around a year. My extracts have never been finished much earlier than that.💖
Hi Natasha – great way to prepared the real vanilla extract, is there a way to replace vine with a nonalcoholic beverage?
Hi Maria! No there is not a substitute for it in this recipe.
Hi Natasha. I did some research before finding your recipe and a lot of places (like the FDA?) for instance, recommend far more beans.
So I bought 3 bottles totalling 78 ounces. For a lot of these other recipes I was ready to use 18 beans per 26oz?!
Using your recipe I need only 9 or 10 beans per 26 ounce bottle at 3 beans per 8oz. is that correct?
Because I’m thinking, since I have 52 grade B beans, I could get a fourth 26oz. bottle and I’d still have enough for 13 beans in each 26oz bottle!? This would still give me more beans per bottle than your recipe so I’d still end up with a wonderful extract.
Am I figuring this right? I hope that’s not too confusing….I have foggy head cold. 😀
Hi Regina! The proportions are 3 whole vanilla beans per 1 cup (8 oz) vodka, or 1 1/2 vanilla beans per 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka.
This is far better than store bought. My question is, when you add vodka to it when it’s almost gone, do you have to wait another 2 months to use it?
Hi Betty! It’s hard to give a specific amount/time, it depends on how much you are using and refilling. If it’s almost gone, you’d have to wait some time before using it again so that it has enough time to infuse. You can also top it off each time you use it and give it a little swirl. It’s actually better for the vanilla beans to remain submerged. As it ages, the flavor will only improve and you can continue to use this without waiting periods in between refills as long as you don’t let it get to the bottom. You’ll notice after about 6-12months of frequent use and refills, the vanilla flavor is less intense and the color is lighter. You can add more vanilla beans or remove the old beans and add fresh ones. I hope that helps
Should I drain the tiny seeds and “floaters” out before I give away?
Hi Kim! This is normal, depending on the beans used. You can strain it if you’d like. I like to keep the beans in to keep on infusing and refilling it.
I made the recipe for vanilla and am excited to gift my family and friends at Christmas. There seems to be a problem however. In looking at the finished bottles of vanilla, I am seeing tiny vanilla seeds floating in the liquid. Should I have scraped the seeds out before using the whole bean? Should I now filter the seeds out? Please advise. Many thanks.
Hi Peg, are you using a soft Grade A vanilla bean? Those would be more likely to release seeds and seeds can be scraped out and used for baking. My Grade B beans were so dry, I would have had a hard time trying to scrape out any seeds. That could be why there are seeds floating around.
Natasha, When you say add Vodka as you use it. How exactly do you measure that so you don’t disturb the integrity of the extract. Like would you take it about half empty and than top up with vodka than leave it brew for a time before you can use it again?!
Hi Stacy! It’s hard to give a specific amount/time, it depends on how much you are using and refilling. You can also top it off each time you use it and give it a little swirl. It’s actually better for the vanilla beans to remain submerged. As it ages, the flavor will only improve and you can continue to use this without waiting periods in between refills as long as you don’t let it get to the bottom. You’ll notice after about 6-12months of frequent use and refills, the vanilla flavor is less intense and the color is lighter. You can add more vanilla beans or remove the old beans and add fresh ones. I hope that helps.
My labels were too small.
I used 2” labels.
Natasha did you use 2.25” labels?
Any info helps.
Hi Rita! I don’t recall the exact size but 2” sounds about right, the whole sheet prints 12 labels, which may help give you a point of reference. You can also go to the Avery website to create your own labels, they are a great resource and are user-friendly.
I can’t get the labels for the vanilla extract, there is no ability to “click here”
I like these over others available, I would buy them if I know where to look for them
Hi Yvonne! If you click on “free labels” in red font in my blog notes above, it is a link. Here is the PDF file for the vanilla labels.
I have not made vanilla from vodka for several years, What I have done is to buy whiskey or Brandy in nip bottles, open them and put a vanilla bean cut in half then split and put into the bottle. Really easy and fast for a cute gift. The longer it ages, the better. Never thought to refill the bottles.
Loving the look of this and have bottled but having difficulty printing with Avery in Australia ? Closest size for labels was 60mm template code L7105. It just doesn’t line up perfectly in label circles stickers no matter following your directions or trying alternatives. If I had the image of one circle only in the right format I could upload it in the Avery perhaps ? Would love some help on this.
Hi Wendy! Unfortunately, there’s no way to edit the label since it is a static image that we saved. I am not sure about the size difference in Australia, however, you can go directly to the Avery label website and custom-make a label. Their website is pretty user-friendly, and I hope that helps!
Love all of your recipes and how thoroughly you explain them!
I followed this recipe to the T using the exact same ingredients. I know the little brown flecks are the vanilla beans, but I’m also getting white floaters. I’ve tried to research it and am just concerned as I’m giving this for gifts.
Hi Rhonda, I haven’t had that experience. Using the correct proof of vodka would inhibit any kind of growth or floaters, but make sure to use very clean bottles for the process. Some people have reported a cloudy extract but from what I understand that is typically due to the vanilla bean (age, quality, sourcing). Also, here is what one of our readers wrote, however, I haven’t done my own research to know if this is accurate: “I did a little research and found out that this is normal and that the white fuzzy stuff that’s growing around the pods is vanillin seeping out, it’s mentioned that this is a sign of good quality beans, I hope that this information is correct, as it’s the only website that had any real answers about this. I’m so greatful that I don’t need to throw my batch away. Thank you so much for your quick response!” I hope that helps
Thanks! I just found this… White fur = sugar crystals
Also, don’t worry if your vanilla beans develop a thin coating of whitish “fur.” It’s not mold — it’s simply some of the sugar in the bean that’s begun to crystallize. It won’t change the flavor or degrade your extract in any way.
On the contrary, it’s actually a sign that the beans are fresh and full of natural sugars. Applaud yourself for choosing a good source of vanilla beans if you see sugar starting to crystallize. (source: kingarthurbaking.com)
Does it go through a murky phase? Mine has been brewing about a month, and it doesn’t look as clear as your pictures. Have you filtered yours? Thanks
If it turns cloudy, murky, or muddy-looking, do the smell test and if it still smells good, it should be fine. Using 80-proof vodka, it is highly unlikely there is bacterial growth. Sometimes the type of beans you get can leach pulp into the alcohol and you can strain out sediment if desired. Heat and light can cause it to turn cloudy. Keep it in a cool dry place.
My bottles have been fermenting for 2 months. There is a lot of sediment from the beans. The beans are kind of mushy. Is that normal?
Hi Cathy! Sometimes the type of beans you get can leak pulp into the alcohol and you can strain out sediment if desired.
I’ve made many of your recipes and all have been great! Thanks for a great and EASY homemade gift idea! Your links to all the supplies made it even simpler. I can’t wait to wrap up the finished product for the holiday gifts.
You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, April! Happy Holidays!
Can you provide the link for the labels, please? I made the vanilla extract per your recipe and want to give as gifts for Christmas.
Hi Sharon! Yes, I linked it in my blog notes above. The “free labels” in red font is a link if you click on it but I’ll attach the vanilla label template HERE
what is the Number for Avery labels that go with your template . Thank you
Hi Susan, I used these exact labels HERE. The number is (5294). I hope this helps!
Any recommendations for purchasing the jars with lids? Can’t wait to try this out! Thanks
Hi Meaghan! I provided links to all the supplies in my notes above. I used these glass jars from amazon. 🙂
I followed your recipes exact to make extract as a gift for holidays. I noticed today that there is some type of white stuff coming out the cut beans in the jar. Is this something I should be worried about? Does it mean to toss it? Any advice would be really appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Nina, I haven’t had that experience. Using the correct proof of vodka would inhibit any kind of growth, but make sure to use very clean bottles for the process. Some people have reported a cloudy extract but from what I understand that is typically due to the vanilla bean (age, quality, sourcing). Also, here is what one of our readers wrote, however, I haven’t done my own research to know if this is accurate: “I did a little research and found out that this is normal and that the white fuzzy stuff that’s growing around the pods is vanillin seeping out, it’s mentioned that this is a sign of good quality beans, I hope that this information is correct, as it’s the only website that had any real answers about this. I’m so greatful that I don’t need to throw my batch away. Thank you so much for your quick response!” I hope that helps
I’m excited to make vanilla but wondering if it is necessary to strain once it is done?
Hi Susan. I do not strain in.
Great stuff…. I made a large batch and after 6 months I shared it with my daughter….Should I have left the beans in there after the six months? I used to get my vanilla from Mexico…. but this stuff is just as good…. maybe better…. Thank you for all of your great recipes…
Hi Gayl! I’m glad you love this recipe. I leave the beans in, that way when it gets low you can add more alcohol and it continues to make the extract. If it remains too light, then you can add more beans.
Will this taste like alcohol? I don’t drink alcohol so I wouldn’t like to have the alcohol taste. I figure that there will be no actual alcohol if I use it to bake, but what happens if I use it for something that doesn’t require baking, like frosting?
Hi Gabriela, it will not taste like alcohol but it helps a lot to make this recipe work. I’ve heard people using glycerine to make it alcohol-free but don’t have any personal experience with that.
Looks so easy. But isn’t it alcoholic then? Can kids have it in an uncooked dish? I add in milk shakes sometimes
Vanilla extract should be made by weight instead of number of beans. Beans differ very much in size. I have some beans 4” and some 9” – Single fold is 1 oz of beans to 1 cup of “liquid.” Double fold is 2 oz of beans to 1 cup of liquid. Triple fold is 3 oz of beans to 1 cup of liquid. Liquid could be vodka, diluted everclear, rum, bourbon, etc. it takes a full year to extract as well, not just based on color. Just some food for thought.
I’m confused by the folds. So what would you consider true store bought vanilla, 1,2 or 3 fold. I would like to have a stronger vanilla taste than store bought.The comparison would help me to know what fold to go by. Thank you.
Such an incredible idea! Just completed assembly and couldn’t be more pleased. Love the labels and how you provided all necessary links. Can’t wait to give as gifts! Thank you so much.
They are perfect as gifts! I’m sure they will love it!
I love this but is it better to use a dark bottle?Do you have to wait 2 months to use?
I love your recipes!!
Hi Deb! I keep it stored in a dark and cool place so the clear bottles work fine for me. The darker the color, the more flavor it will have. I’m afraid you won’t get much of the vanilla taste if it’s too light.
Hello! How timely, I am going to do this for gifts this year. Thanks for the labels! Question: isn’t vanilla supposed to be stored in a dark bottle? I got the brown ones
Hi Arlene! You’re welcome! They’re so neat and fun to make for the holidays. The dark bottles work great but I just store them in a cool and dark cupboard so this helps.
I want to make but where do you get the vanilla beans reasonable? My local supermarket wants $19.79 for two beans! This price is way above my means since being on a fixed income social security.
Hi Howie! I put my amazon link for the vanilla beans in the blog post above (the red words are a link).
I love this recipe!
I made a gallon of this in July 2013, for Xmas gifts and me. You are right I have a large jar like a quart and a half size that I keep going, I add some vodka to it and a new bean every once in awhile. The best tasting vanilla ever!!! I might have to put it in my will as to who gets it when I gone🤣.
Yes, that’s right. Good to hear that you love this recipe a lot too!
Hi Natasha. I love your videos and the recipes. I’m ordering the bottles and beans in just a moment. I look forward to more fun videos and great recipes. Thank you and take care.
Thank you, Patti! 🙂 I hope you love this recipe.
Had a mostly full bottle of Tito’s Homemade Vodka (80 proof) chilling. Came across this Homemade Vanilla Extract recipe and got excited. I love making homemade gifts for my daughters for Christmas. Looked at Natasha’s links for all the needed supplies and then headed to eBay to source identical in the exact quantities needed. Six 4-oz Boston Round Bottles $14.99. Ten yards Red Bakers Twine $3.50. Five sheets Avery 5294 Round Labels $5.50. Ten Madagascar Grade A Organic Vanilla Beans $11.49. Two Poinsettia Tea Towels $1.95. All in, excluding the Vodka, I was able to make five 4-oz Vanilla Extract for $7.49 per bottle. Smells amazing and looks beautiful! Thank you, Natasha for sharing this awesome recipe!
You’re welcome! 🙂
Hi, While I wait for bottles, etc., to get here, can I just stuff the vanilla beans into the bottle of vodka so as to start the process? Thanks!
Hi! I think you could. Several of my readers have mentioned making this in bulk and them adding it to the bottles when it’s done. I like to make these individually because you can add Vodka to the beans as the extract starts to run low.
Thank you Natasha for the fun project. Also thanks to all for sharing their experiences.
I made my batch with bourbon, not vodka, however. Any chance you have a label for bourbon?
Your labels are next level and I do not have those skills to make anything as lovely.
Hi Pam, Unfortunately, there’s no way to edit the label since it is a static image that we saved. However, you can go directly to the Avery label website and custom make a label. Their website is pretty user-friendly, and I hope that helps!
I just made this recipe and I used Smirnoff thinking it was 80 proof and I did not check it. I just noticed it says 40 proof. Will this not turn out the same or as good?
Hi Debra, you might need to google search that and see if that is acceptable for making vanilla. An 80 proof vodka is 40% alcohol and 60% water. If you have 40% alcohol, that is the same thing as 80 proof.
Have you ever made vanilla paste? What’s your opinion on using that vs extract? I’ve not tried the paste but am intrigued 🙂
Hi Lisa, I have not tried that but I think that’s a good recipe to try in the future!
I have made vanilla in the last few years and In my experience – it’s not ready to use for almost 6-9 months. I typically make this a new year (Jan/Feb) project to get started for the next holiday season. That said, even if you gift it early this year, it’s fun for the recipient to be involved with their vanilla process by shaking and smelling from time to time 🙂
For ease (if you start at least 6-9 months before gifting), I make the vanilla directly in the vodka bottle (you need a lot of beans) and then fill gift bottles when ready (adding some of the vanilla beans from the bottle). Hopefully you will have you will then have plenty leftover for yourself to enjoy! The labels, recipe and gifting wrapping idea are fabulous!!!!
Thanks a lot for sharing that with us, Debbie!
I think I will try your method. Can you share the brand of vodka you used?
Hi Brooke, yes, it is in the photo above.
Having made vanilla for years I would advise 1 cup of vodka for 1 0z of vanilla beans to make a proper single fold extract as beans can vary in size. Make a large batch in advance of gifting.
I’m eager to try this. I’m confused, though, about the bourbon in the ingredients list. At what point does that get used?
Edit: The way my monitor showed it, Bourbon was on the 2nd line so looked like a separate ingredient. But now I see that it says “Grade B Bourbon” about the beans. However, the beans in y0our link say nothing about Bourbon. Could you please clarify?
Hi Vicki, the variety can change online based on what the seller is selling or what is available. I know vanilla has had some supply issues in the last couple of years so maybe that is why?
Thanks, Natasha – looking forward to trying it! Buying the beans today.
How fun! I hope you love the process and the result. Enjoy!
“Bourbon” refers to the cure of the bean- it is either bourbon cured (with steam) or Mexican cured (dried in sun).
Hi Vickie, it reads “18-20 vanilla beans, I used Grade B Bourbon”
Where do you get the grade b Bourbon to make vanilla you have all the stuff to make it but the bourbon vanilla
Hi Linda, we have a link to it in our recipe! You can also find it HERE.
What is the difference between vanilla essence and the extract, and when would you use is? Could I use the extract in normal cakes? Thank you for all you recipies.
Hi Val, the extract is a natural product, whereas essence is synthetic. The extract is less processed and provides a stronger vanilla flavor, so we always use extract.
I just ordered the stuff! $4.20/bottle (not including the vodka). What a GREAT gift idea! THANK YOU!
You’re welcome. They make a great gift! 🙂
Your amazing in everything you do your a great person
I don’t miss anything you make
I love all your recipes
I’m going to make this vanilla extract.
Thank you for that wonderful compliment, Rosanna! I’m smiling big reading this comment and so happy to hear you’re loving my recipes!
I feel this recipe would make pretty weak vanilla extract, I make mine 750ml (25 oz) with 15 vanilla bean and its great
Did you use 750 ml of vodka to 15 vainilla beans? Also, did you let it sit for 2 months like Natasha recommends?
I look forward to hearing from you Norma!
I’m doing exactly that right now. I hope the result is good! Do you like it read for 2 months or longer??
Where did you get the jars to use for the home made vanilla? Are clear jars recommended?
Hi Barbara, I linked them in my blog notes under “Tools You’ll Need…” Click on the red lettering.
I do not see a link for the labels. Could you send it me me please. Great Idea!
Hi Pam, I have the printout linked to the recipe, but you can also find it HERE for the printable PDF and you can find the exact label I used HERE. I hope it works great for you!.
This is amazing! Such a cute and easy gift idea as well.
But where can I find vanilla beans?? I don’t recall seeing it anywhere.
Hi Amanda! I linked it in the notes, the red letter is a link if you click on it. 🙂
Here is my link for the vanilla beans.
I made this vanilla extract last November, and I’m just now using it. It is absolutely fantastic! Thank you for the recipe! My question is once I use a complete bottle of it and the old vanilla beans are still left inside, can I just pour more Vodka inside of it and leave another year? Or do I need to start the process all over with new vanilla beans. Thank you, Lori
Hi Lori, I refill them continuously as they are depleted and I start fresh when the color is no longer deep in amber.
Hi Natasha. I just want to clarify what you’re saying about refilling them continuously. Are you saying you use a bottle entirely and then refill it? Or are you using a portion of the bottle and then refilling it with Vodka so that the old mixed with the new? If you are doing that, do you need it to sit for a certain amount of time after you fill it?I’m excited to try this. Just waiting for the bottles to be delivered. Could I make any extra with what I have left over and place it in a mason jar? Or would that jar not be good enough? Thanks!!
HI Karen, I add more as I use it – I like to keep enough in there to keep the beans submerged in liquid and this way I don’t have to wait to use it again. If I keep adding it over time, I can use it the next time I’m baking. I keep a mason jar of vanilla extract also and I use that for refilling. I make a big batch and as I refill my mini jars with it, I add more vodka to the large jar. It works well for me.
This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and tips. Any chance you can share where to buy the little lidded bottles for the vanilla extract?
Hi Ana! Glad you enjoy this recipe. I provided the links to the bottles and tools you’ll need in my notes above. Anything in red lettering is a link. 🙂
I have a bit of vodka and a bit of rum. Would it be okay to mix the two alcohols for this vanilla extract recipe, or would it be better to separately ferment one with vodka and one with rum?
Thank you in advance.
Hi Angelina, I haven’t tested that to advise. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.
Because I am in Vanilla groups and have researched quite a bit, Vanilla Beans should be weighed, not counted, because different beans weigh different amounts. The rule of thumb is to use 1 Oz of beans per 1 cup of alcohol of at least 80 proof of you want a “single fold” vanilla extract. That said, Grade A beans have more moisture, so if using Grade A, you can use alcohol up to 100 proof. Many use 190 proof grain alcohol mixed with equal parts Distilled Water, making your proof 95 or 47.5% alcohol. It needs to mature for around 1 year. At that time, you can decant and use your vanilla beans again in half the amount of alcohol for the same amount of beans. Your end result should be at least 35% alcohol per the FDA.
Thank you so much for sharing that with me!
We love your recipes. Do you know how to make vanilla bean paste Thankyou.
Hi Colleen. So glad you love my recipes. No, I do not have a recipe for vanilla bean paste.
Made this in June for Christmas gifts and the vanilla is quite transparent. Will this be good? Should I add more vanilla beans?
Hi Jo! It may still need time, but it could also depend on the types or size of beans used. If it is still too light for your liking, you can definitely add more beans to darken the color.
Love your recipes and your videos. This vanilla extract recipe inspires me to start thinking about food gifts for Christmas even though it’s about four months away. What do you think about doing a segment on holiday food gifts, labeling, wrapping? Vanilla extract, caramel sauce? What else? Thank you!
Thank you so much for that suggestion, Bobbie!
I have made vanilla using the same amounts of vanilla beans and vodka you give in your recipe, but the extract is MUCH better if you give it at least 6 months to a year before you use it! I prefer waiting a year, so when I know I plan on gifting it, I keep a good rotation going and label the bottles with the date I started them. I’m about to bottle some vanilla I’ve had going since last September. They are two 16 oz. jars that I will divide between 8 four oz. bottles. I have another batch that will be ready in December – also will be a year to develop awesome flavor and darkness! It makes a big difference if you have patience! Also, if you do have a bottle you are using that has some beans inside, adding some vodka to replace what you use can only be satisfactory for so long– you need to add a new vanilla bean from time to time, and remember to shake! Do not let vanilla beans stick out above the extract. This can cause them to mold!
Thank you for your tips and suggestions, Kathy.
I put up several bottles of extract using this recipe in fall of 2020. Could not give them out at that time due to Covid. I wondered if it would still be ok to give them out this year. They have been stored in a dark room in my house. Still good?
Hi Linda, from what I have read, vanilla extract doesn’t really expire so expiration would not be a concern for me.
Natasha, can you please let us know what and where you get your vanilla beans! I’ve read so many negative comments on Amazon regarding different beans, I don’t know which to buy!
Hi Laurie, here’s the amazon affiliate link for the beans that I use.
I would love to have the link to print the label for homemade vanilla extract. Thank you in advance. It said to click here for label but it doesn’t work.
Hi Mandy, I have the printout linked to the recipe, but you can also find it HERE.
Hi Natasha. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I made the vanilla recipe exactly as described. I was able to get the jars and vanilla beans from Amazon. I’ve kept the bottles in a dark, cool place for 6 weeks, and I have shaken them lightly as suggested. At this point, the color is a very light amber. Will the color darken over time, or is this the color it’s supposed to be?
Hi Beth! I’m glad you tried this recipe. It may still need some time, but it could also depend on the types or size of beans used. If it is still too light for your liking, you can definitely add more beans to darken the color.
Hi Natasha, how many times can you keep refilling with the vodka, before the vanilla beans lose their fragrance? Hope this question makes sense, lol
Hi Suzie, I refill them continuously as they are depleted and I start fresh when the color is no longer deep in amber.
I really liked your site. Thanks for the information.
You’re very welcome!
I use 1 vanilla bean per ounce,28 ozs. 28 beans. I make 56 ozs. of Voda, sometimes 80 Proof, sometimes 100 Proof (still experimenting but can’t tell too much difference) at one time (of course I sell it also). I let it marinate 6 months (like fine wine) of course I will start using it at about 4 months…
Thank you so much for sharing that with me! I hope you try and like our recipe soon!
My question is can you use Jack Daniel whisky to make the vanilla this is my first time.I don’t want to mess up the first time
Hi Phyllis, I would only make this recipe as written.
I have never made my own vanilla before and I Love Vanilla and always end up adding more than the recipe calls for. Therefore, is it okay to use 2 whole vanilla beans per 4 oz vodka or 4 whole vanilla beans per 8 oz of vodka?
Thanks so much!
Hi Robin, I have not tested that but I think it could work.
Just love your recipes! Especially, your New York
I have seen that Ina Gartener has a jar of vanilla beans for 25 years. She doesn’t say how to do it. In my research you can reuse beans – count 25% of them “as new.” Some sites say don’t keep them longer than a year.
I use about 5 beans per each cup. Other sites say 10 per each cup. $$$$ Now you prefer 3 per cup.
I think how you wrap them are way cute.
Instead of waiting for your vanilla to cure give them uncured so the person can watch it cure.
Continuing to pray for your family and the Ukraine.
Thanks for sharing that with us, Jean. There are different varieties but this is the recipe that we love and what works best for us. Thank you too for your prayers for the people in Ukraine, it means a lot to us.
Is it worth spending the few extra dollars for Madagascar Vanilla Bean vs Vanilla Bean?
Any advice appreciated!
Hi C.J. Yes, that is my preference, but you could opt to use just vanilla bean. Madagascar vanilla beans are considered to be the best due to their quality and flavor profile.
I just made some of these vanilla bottles.. Wish me luck..
Thanks for all your time and giving us all these great recipes!!
Hi Natasha I made the vanilla extract and used it to make your blueberry muffins again. It tastes amazing . Will add more vodka as it starts to decrease. The colour of the vanilla extract is lovely just like yours & the aroma is soothing. Thank you so much.
You’re very welcome, Sania. So happy you enjoyed this recipe.
I’m currently using a glass bottle with a flip top. It was cheap $2.99. I wouldn’t take it on adventures, but to have while sitting at my desk – it’s great!
I love all your recipes!!!! I am on limited income and your vanilla extract I am going to try. Thanks for the free labels. I will be making for Christmas presents this year! Thank you so much. When would be best time to make vanilla for December. How long does it keep!
Hi Bernadette! The shelf life will continue for a very long time since vodka preserves the beans. If you are making these for a gift, they need to brew for 2 months before they are ready to use so keep that in mind and start early or you can write the date on the bottle of when they will be ready to use. The labels include a spot for this.
Ms Natasha, what is the size of the labels so the proper Avery blanks can be purchased. I never did this before so i little anxious. . I appreciate all your delicious recipes and your lovely personality. Prayers with all in Ukraine and your family .
Hi Susan, this is the exact label I used HERE. I hope it works great for you!
Thank you so much Natasha ! I was cutting the label from the sheet and taping it and it just really needs to have a regular glue on label.
Looks easy to make. Do you have the print out for the labels ? I don’t see Thanks
Hi Celia, yes, you can print them. I have the printout linked to the recipe, but you can also find it HERE.
Will start on another batch of vanilla sugar with 1 plump long vanilla bean. Want to see which one tastes better . Will let you know how it goes after a month .
Sounds like a great plan. Please share with us how it goes, we’d love to know too!
Hi Natasha I just made the vanilla sugar using white sugar approx 500gms in a glass jar. I used 2 beans because they were very small & dry . Otherwise 1 bean for 500gms sugar would be fine . It has been few days but it has a lovely aroma already. The vanilla extract I made using your recipe has got a beautiful colour .1 month more to go to start using the extract.
Sounds great! Please update us on how it goes, we’ve love to hear your feedback.
When I click on the link for Vanilla Bean in Amazon, this is what it came up – (10 Vanilla Beans – Whole Extract Grade B Pods for Baking, Homemade Extract, Brewing, Coffee, Cooking – (Tahitian) ) Can I still use it to make Vanilla Extract?
Hi Maribel, those are the beans we used following this link! I hope you love this recipe!
I mistakenly purchased the 9 per page labels. Do you have a template for those?
Hi Cindy, these are the labels that I used (also linked in the post above). I don’t have a way to re-design these for a set of 9 labels, but you might be able to do something on the Avery website where you can build labels to print.
Hi Natasha I have made the vanilla extract. The colour is looking beautiful. So excited waiting for 2 months to start using it. I made it in the 350 ml vodka bottle itself . Wanted to ask you if you have tried making vanilla sugar . Would like to know if you have . Thanks
Sounds great! I haven’t tried making vanilla sugar yet but if you do it as an experiment, please share with us how it goes. I hope you love this vanilla extract recipe!
All your recipes I have tried are fabulous. Will definitely let you know when I try making the vanilla sugar. I am sure the vanilla extract will be amazing . Keep up the good work. Thanks
Thank you and yes, please do!
Hi Natasha I just made the vanilla sugar using white sugar approx 500gms in a glass jar. I used 2 beans because they were very small & dry . Otherwise 1 bean for 500gms sugar would be fine . It has been few days but it has a lovely aroma already. The vanilla extract I made using your recipe had got a beautiful colour .1 month more to go to start using the extract. Will let you know after a month how it tastes. Thank you have a wonderful day.
Do you leave the vanilla beans in forever?
How long does the vanilla last?
Hi Kymber, I refill them continuously as they are depleted and I start fresh when the color is no longer deep in amber.
Is there any way I can edit your labels? I would like to try making your vanilla with Bourbon rather than Vodka. Love to make this!
Thanks in advance!
Hi Kathy, Unfortunately, there’s no way to edit the label since it is a static image that we saved. However, you can go directly to the Avery label website, and custom make a label. Their website is pretty user-friendly, and I hope that helps!
I purchased my vanilla beans through Amazon and they are much smaller than the ones I usually see in the grocery store. What length (and how many) should I use for each 4 oz. bottle. Second question…can I make the vanilla in one large jar and when ready, pour into individual bottles?
Hi Karen, we used these vanilla beans HERE. They are about 5-6 inches long each.
Thank you for asking that question. I’ve been looking online trying to find the same answer!
Natasha… what happens if I forgot to split the vanilla beans?
Ohh noooo¡ 🙁
Hi Carolina, I have always split the bean. If you don’t split it will take a much longer time to extract.
Is the vanilla taste sweet or boozie? My tastes like vodka boozie. Do I need more vanilla beans? I used the same ingredients you used.
Hi Karen, it should not taste boozy once it sits for the allotted time.
Thanks for answering my question. I started this batch Feb. of this year. 16 oz bottles. 7 beans per bottle. Any suggestions on how to fix it or should I start over?
Hi Karen, the color and aroma are pretty good indicators. If it hasn’t gotten enough color, you could add more beans, but if it has a rich amber color, it should be great. Since the main ingredient is alcohol, that will still come through even when it’s done.
Update: I’ve completed all my vanilla and gave them away for for gifts! They came out beautifully and looked just like yours! Everyone loved them! Thank you for this great gift idea! Can’t wait to use mine when it’s ready.
Aaaw that is nice to know! I’m really happy to hear that your friends and family enjoyed their Vanilla Extract!
Hi Natasha, I was wondering if you could explain why this recipe is ready in 3 months and others I have seen take a year. I’ve never made it but plan to so I wondered why it the length of time is so different. Thanks!
Hi Lynda, I’m curious if they use a different method or ingredients? Since we split the beans that helps that process to be quicker.
In my research the longer the time you cure them the better the flavor. I also have seen, but haven’t done it to add some sugar in the bottle to increase flavor. To me that doesn’t sound like a good idea.
I appreciate what you wrote about the time to extract being different information. I am following one recipe that says 1 oz beans to 8 oz’s spirits. Vodka has shorter extracting time. White Rum is at least half as much time more. Everclear vodka is too strong concentration so 1/2 spirits to 1/2 water is best.I am learning. i have heard if you add a little extract to the vanilla sugar and then put into small chocolate molds in different shapes it is a very nice touch.
Hi Natasha, I was very excited to do this recipe and gift them as presents for Christmas. I did exactly as was instructed but my extract looks quite pale. Could it be because of a different variety of bean? It’s been two months already. Would it still taste the same? I’m afraid to try. Thanks for help and suggestions. Denise
Could be because of the bean, was there anything that you substituted from the recipe?
Hi Natasha, Thank you for the great recipe. I used split vanilla beans and the seeds are floating in the vodka. I used it and it tasted fine and smelled great. Just wanted to see if other people have the same thing.
Hi Jill, seeing some seeds in the jar is normal – there are some in mine and it makes desserts look nicer having those little flecks of vanilla seeds in real vanilla.
One month in and I’m seeing flakes in my bottles as well. Color is nice so far and smells good.
Avid fan right here. We absolutely love your recipes. I made 6 bottles 3 days ago and i noticed there are some whitish floating (kinda like dust/lint)? What could it be? Should I just tossed them away? Can I wash the bottles and reuse them?
Hi Jane, I haven’t had that experience. Using the correct proof of vodka would inhibit any kind of growth, but make sure to use very clean bottles for the process. Some people have reported a cloudy extract but from what I understand that is typically due to the vanilla bean (age, quality, sourcing).
Hi, I had exactly the same problem with Jane. My vanilla beans were grade A and has some moist, not dried out ones. Should I use less moist beans? Should I toss out those extract that have dust looking things on them?
Hi Michelle, if there is some residue, you could strain it out. It may just be the type of beans. I haven’t had that issue but I would probably choose a different source for beans next time.
Imade 6 bottles of vanilla about 3 months ago. I shake like you said, have them in a dark place, but they are still light in color. I used the same size glass bottles and vanilla beans you did. Do I need to add more vanilla beans?
Hi Carole, it could depend on the types or size of beans used. If it is still too light for your liking, you can definitely add more beans to darken the color.
I forgot that I had read you handwashed the lids…I washed mine in the dishwasher and now they have moisture under the plastic dome inside the lid. 🙁 Would you recommend I ask the company for more lids?
Hi Katie, I haven’t had that experience; if they’re compromised, you can try with the manufacturer. I would also see if the plastic dome is removable to sanitize properly.
The company got right back to me and the tops do come off! They dried great and popped right back on. Now patiently (?) waiting for the vanilla beans to brew!
Wondering how long I can continue to “feed” the vanilla beans in the bottles with more vodka? Like what’s the shelf life of the beans starting from when it’s made? Looking forward to making my 1st batch of vanilla!
Hi Katie, the shelf life will continue for a very long time since vodka preserves the beans. I continuously refill (don’t wait until it gets low or you’ll have to wait for it to deepen in color in flavor again). As soon as the color starts getting too light, you can add more beans.
Thanks…first time doing this; eager to see and taste the results! Thanks for all your help!
I have tried both Firefox and Chrome and am unable to get a link for the label you have for the vanilla. There is no link. I have made vanilla for years and love your idea of it as a gift.
I have tried many of your recipes and love them.
Hi Christine, these are the labels that I used (also linked in the post above). You might be able to do something on the Avery website where you can build labels to print.
Thank you for sharing these amazing recipes ! I am trying them one by one, and it’s a win all the time!
I am not sure what it’s 80 proof for vodka but I have 96deg. alcohol. I should combine it with water or how I could use it instead of vodka? Thank you much !
Hi Camelia, I would not recommend water. I recommend making the recipe as written if you can.
Can I add more vanilla beans than the recipe asks for? Your jars look like they have more than 1 1/2. Will this speed the process up? Also, was I supposed to open up the split bean?
Hi Robin, this will depend on the types or size of beans used. If it is still too light for your liking, you can definitely add more beans to darken the color.
Hi Natasha, If I want to make a smaller batch.. I have 4 bottles to make what would you recommend?
Hi Maria, that should be fairly easy to do for this recipe. I recommend clicking “Jump to recipe” at the top of the post, it will take you to our printable recipe where you’ll have the option to change the number of servings (bottles in this case). Hover over the number of servings highlighted in red and slide it to how many servings you would like to make. I hope that helps!
The vanilla extract stickers what do you use to stick them on the bottles
Hi Donna, we buy labels that are already stickers, simply peel off the back and stick them on!
I have been making my own vanilla and giving it away.. I found a bottle in my cupboard way in the back. must be a least 5 years old and boy does it smell good. I am going to use it this year for my baking.. can’t wait.. Love your website.
I bet it smells amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that with us!
Do I take the vanilla beans out after 2 months? If I add more vodka at that point, do I add more vanilla bean, and if so, how many? Making my little gifts today…too late for Christmas baking but that’s ok.
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!! Haven’t been disappointed with any of them!
Hi Robin, we leave the vanilla beans in the jars. Once the vodka gets low, we add more vodka and keep the original vanilla beans. I hope that helps!
Last year Feb 29th to be exact my daughter was married. We had a great deal of vodka left over so I took it as a challenge to find a way to use it. When I found your recipe for Vanilla it was an aaah moment.
Aah perfect! Please share with us how it goes, I hope you’ll find a new favorite in this recipe.
I havec5 green beer bottles with white closures..they take approx 3 c of vodka. Can I just use 2 c of vodka to cover 6 beans? I would like to make all 5 bottles to keep & gift.
Also, when the bottle gets low, are you justvadfing more vodka or also more beans?
Hi Barbara, yes, once the bottle gets low, we simply add more vodka to it.
Thank you for the great recipes!
I am looking forward to making the vanilla extract. My question is, if I use say 1/2 a bottle then add more vodka what is the “cure” time that topped off batch is ready for use?
Hi John, I like to refill it when it’s about 1/4 gone so there really is no waiting time. There is no set time, its really when you’re comfortable with the color. It will have that vanilla flavor infused by the time you’re ready for your next baking project.
Do you slice the bean down the centre…..and then scrap it? What do you do with the stuff (seed?) that you scrap?
Hi Janet, I do not scrape out the vanilla seeds but I put that into the jar. If I were using a high-grade bean, I would probably scrape out the seeds and use them for baking and then just add the rest of the pod into making vanilla.
Hi Natasha.. I’m your fan from Malaysia.. Thank you for always sharing such a detailed steps on each recipes..
Can I know whether I can make that vanilla extract using Cognac rather than Vodka?
Hello Thang, you’re always welcome and thank you too for your support. I haven’t tried using cognac for this recipe as I always just use vodka so I cannot advise how it would turn out.
I read you can use ‘Bourbon’ and ‘Rum’ .. it does give a different taste, but still very good.
Natasha, I bought the Avery labels 2 1/2 in but after I printed from your template and only 6 are useable, I then realized your template is set for 12 labels the Avery 2 1/2 in label are for 9 labels. Not sure what labels to get. Any suggestion?
Hi Sondra, these are the labels that I used (also linked in the post above). I don’t have a way to re-design these for a set of 9 labels, but you might be able to do something on the Avery website where you can build labels to print.
Thank you, I have since found the correct Avery labels with 12 per sheet.
Thank you again !
When you say “Split beans”, do you mean slice down the center to open the pod?
Can this be made in the Vodka bottle and then poured into the smaller bottles after it turns amber?
Hi Monica, a few of my readers have mentioned using one large bottle to make the vanilla, so I bet that could work! I hope you love this recipe!
thank you for sharing! will be making this vanilla. I’ve made vanilla before but with bourbon. I looked at the bottles you linked to, but some reviews left by others who have purchased them make me weary. They complain about the tops not screwing on, etc. Did you experience any problems with the bottle caps?
Hi Becca, I haven’t had that experience, fortunately. I recommend checking each once they arrive to be sure they screw on properly.
Hi, how many times can you refill with vodka with the same vanilla beans? Thank you.
Hi Madeleine, I refill it slowly as it empties so I don’t have to wait for too long for it to darken in color. I refill a couple of times before the color becomes too light then I’ll add some beans.
Can I just buy a bottle instead of making all of the recipe ?
Hi Dave, I don’t sell the made vanilla. You can make it following this recipe 🙂
Is there an alcohol substitute? For alcohol free extract ?
Hi Faseeha, I’ve heard people using glycerine to make it alcohol-free but don’t have any personal experience with that.
Cannot wait to taste the Vanilla Extract!! I made it today!!! The vanilla beans smelled so good!
The most rewarding feeling once it’s all bottled up! I’m glad you gave this recipe a try!
Oh Natasha, I am sooooo excited! I am in a gift exchange party where I have to make ten gifts all the same (good thing is I get ten gifts back from the other folks)! Anyhow….you just solved my dilemma of what to make! I love this idea! Who doesn’t love vanilla?? Thanks so much!
You’re so welcome, Janet. I hope they will all love this gift!
Made my first batch of vanilla today. I’m anxious to see how it comes out. Wished I would have started it earlier.
Do you use a laser printer to print your labels? When I bought my labels I noticed that the labels you use said for laser printers. Well I have an ink jet so I purchased the Avery 22830 for inkjet printers. Same Sure Feed Tech. 2 1/2″ round label. The top row and the bottom row lined up ok but the two rows in the middle did not.
Hi Peggy, I’m not well versed in inkjet printers. Maybe they have instructions on the Avery site for your printer?
Can vanilla paste be substituted for vanilla beans? If so, what would be the amount?
Hi Betty, unfortunately, that would not work well here. The paste is usually a substitution for vanilla extract but it isn’t normally used to make vanilla extract.
My vanilla has floating cloudy substance in it. Reminds me of mold. What is it and do I need to start over??? It smells fine but I don’t understand what the floating/cloudy substance is?? Help!!
Hi Heather, I haven’t had that experience. Using the correct proof of vodka would inhibit any kind of growth, but make sure to use very clean bottles for the process. Some people have reported a cloudy extract but from what I understand that is typically due to the vanilla bean (age, quality, sourcing).
Hello Heather and Natasha,
I also have a floating cloudy substance that resembling mold or dust bunnies. Hopefully it’s just the membrane of the vanilla sticks. I have made 24 bottles as gifts and followed Natasha’s recipe instructions exactly. Purchased everything linked. Please let me know if you have received confirmation that the vanilla extract is okay! This is my first time making it. Thank you!
Heather- I also have some floating pieces. I wonder if it could be wax from the vanilla beans? I used the exact grade beans and followed the recipe.
Same cloudy floating substance. It appeared at about 1 month.
I’m looking forward to make this Can you link the bottles please?
Hi Augustine, I have them linked in the recipe post. You can also find our favorite kitchen tools in our Amazon Affiliate Shop HERE.
I see that amber-colored bottles are also available on Amazon. Would they be preferable to the clear bottles?
Hi Roseann, we use clear jars and amber is not necessary if you are storing them in a dark place like a cupboard.
Is it possible to get a video of you making the vanilla extract?
Hi Antonella, I don’t have a video of this yet, but thank you for that suggestion!