Sunday, January 1, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have always wanted to make my own vanilla.  Recently a reader asked me if I had a recipe.  I didn't at the time, but I decided to see what I could come up with.  These are the results. 

- 1 oz (about 6) vanilla beans, halved
- 1 cup bourbon or vodka

Other Supplies:
- sharp knife
- cutting board
- 1 - 8 oz mason jar, or other glass jar(s)

Sterilize mason jar(s) by running through the dishwasher, or soaking in an extremely hot water bath.

Cut vanilla beans in half and scrape seeds out using a spoon.

I personally love the look of vanilla beans in a recipe, so almost didn't scrape the bean.  I'm glad I did though for two reasons.  1) There were still quite a few beans floating around in the jar even after I scraped the beans, and 2) I was able to use the scrapings (vanilla seeds) in another recipe, vanilla sugar

Reserve vanilla beans for vanilla sugar, or other recipes if desired. 

Pour bourbon or vodka over beans and seal mason jar.  It is important to completely cover the vanilla beans with alcohol to prevent them from moulding.

The extract is usable after 4 weeks, but will continue extracting for 6 months. 

Bourbon Extract:

Vodka Extract:


* Update - As of the date of this posting (day 5/28 of the process), both vodka and the bourbon extracts are almost the exact same colour!  The vanilla infused bourbon has a strong bourbon scent that overpowers the vanilla, whereas the vanilla infused vodka both looks and smells like vanilla extract you would find in a store.  I will post an update at the end of 4 weeks, so be sure to check back!  

4 WEEK UPDATE - Vodka is defiantly the way to go for your extract!  While the bourbon is still use-able, it still has a STRONG bourbon scent whereas the vodka vanilla smells just like vanilla extract!  The original recipe called for 3 vanilla beans, but I think it would be safe to double that amount for a stronger vanilla flavour.   I recently ordered just over a pound of Madigascar vanilla beans, and the order came with a recipe which says to use 1/4 lb of beans per quart of cheap vodka.  I have adjusted the recipe accordingly! 

- Nutritional Info (per tsp) -
Calories - 15    Fat - 0     Carbs - 0     Protein - 0    Fibre - 0


  1. Will be making this ASAP! Where do you order your Madagascar vanilla beans from?

    1. If you send me an e-mail at, I can send you the info. :)

  2. The use of Bourbon in the name merely refers to the island (formerly known as Ile Bourbon, now Reunion) where the most common variety is/was grown. Usually a neutral spirit, like vodka, is used to extract the essence!

  3. You may want to run your vodka through a water filter a couple times; it will remove any impurities in the vodka and increase its quality without increasing the cost. The Mythbusters did a blind taste test with a higher quality vodka vs a filtered lower quality and it came out pretty even.


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