How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

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Learning how to make homemade vanilla extract is the easiest thing ever. It requires only 2 ingredients and will save you so much money!

Age homemade vanilla extract in a clear plastic bottle.

About homemade vanilla extract

The price for quality pure vanilla extract has gotten outrageous. This is why I have started making my own. And believe it or not, it’s super easy and so much cheaper to make your own vanilla extract.

I like to make a large quantity of vanilla extract because I use it every day in my baking. Small bottles do not last me long and I found myself repurchasing vanilla every couple weeks. That can really add up in cost.

Another great thing about making vanilla at home is you can make double fold vanilla for the price of a store-bought bottle of single fold vanilla.

What is the difference between single and double-fold vanilla extract

  • Single-fold vanilla extract is required to use 13 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol. This is considered commercial grade vanilla extract. Nielson-Massey is an example of a quality commercial brand vanilla and it’s often my go-to when I must purchase extract.
  • Double-fold vanilla extract is what professional bakers use. It uses 23 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol. This rich vanilla flavor can’t be duplicated by doubling the amount of single-fold vanilla you use.

For what you’ll pay for a high-quality single-fold vanilla, you can make your own double-fold vanilla extract at home.

Do keep in mind the cost of vanilla beans will go up and down throughout the year but it is still cheaper to make your own extract.

Four whole vanilla beans laying next to a clear bottle of vodka.

How much does it cost to make your own homemade vanilla extract?

First, let’s consider the cost of a bottle of good-quality extract. An 8-ounce bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract will cost you approximately $39.94 on Amazon. And a 4-ounce bottle of the same vanilla extract will cost you about $24.94.

That’s a lot of money for a small bottle and the way I use vanilla, it won’t last me longer than 2 to 3 weeks. This is the main reason I began making my own.

Now, let’s break down the cost of the two ingredients needed to make homemade vanilla extract.

  • Alcohol – I like to use vodka but you can actually use a variety of different alcohols. Look for the cheapest you can find at 80 proof. I was able to get a 750ml bottle for around $11.
  • Vanilla Beans – I use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans for a rich, dark and creamy with an overwhelming sweet, buttery aroma. It’s my favorite type of vanilla. Currently, you can get 20 beans for $67.90 from Amazon. I need this many beans because I’m making a large batch of vanilla extract and in the long run, it’s going to cost me less.

Now let’s add this up and compare:

  • 750ml of vodka = $11
  • 20 Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans = $67.90
  • Total cost = $78.90

A 750ml bottle of homemade vanilla extract is equivalent to six 4-ounce bottles. If you purchased six 4-ounce bottles of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, it would cost you $149.64. You’re saving $70.74 by making it yourself!

Vanilla beans on a cutting board with a knife next to it.

How to make homemade vanilla extract

Choose your alcohol. I like to use vodka because it’s the most versatile. If you choose to use brandy, bourbon, or rum, the vanilla will have a different flavor that may not be suitable for all recipes.

With the 750ml bottle, you can make the vanilla extract right in the same bottle. There’s no need to spend money on individual 4-ounce bottles unless you really want to. If the bottle contains a speed pourer, the little plastic piece in the neck of the bottle, gently pop it out using a butter knife.

Cut the vanilla beans in half then slice the beans down the center to split them open. If the beans are too dry to split, cut them into 1-inch pieces instead. Place all the beans in the bottle with the alcohol.

Replace the lid and store the bottle in a cool place out of direct sunlight for 2 months. Shake the bottle every couple weeks. The longer you let the vanilla age the stronger the flavor will be.

Vanilla beans inside a clear bottle of vodka for homemade vanilla extract.

How to store homemade vanilla extract?

Keep the vanilla extract out of direct sunlight. I tuck mine away in the pantry for safe keeping.

If you decide to transfer the vanilla extract to smaller jars, these amber-colored jars are great for protecting the vanilla extract from light.

You can use the extract as soon as 8 weeks but it will become more rich and flavorful with age. For optimal flavor, let the vanilla age for about 6 months. If you have the patience, wait 12 months before using it.

Learning how to make homemade vanilla extract is the easiest thing ever. It requires only 2 ingredients and will save you so much money!
5 from 3 votes
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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Learning how to make homemade vanilla extract is the easiest thing ever. It requires only 2 ingredients and will save you so much money!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword vanilla extract
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yields 1 750ml bottle
Calories 12 kcal
Author Jen Sobjack

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut the vanilla beans in half and slice them down the center to split them open.

  2. Combine the alcohol and vanilla in a large, clean jar and seal.

  3. Store the jar in a cool dark place for at least 8 weeks, shaking occasionally.

  4. When the extract is done, you can leave the beans in or remove them but the beans should always remain submerged in the alcohol to prevent them from going rancid.

Recipe Notes

*Grade A or B vanilla beans can be used. The only difference is the grade B beans will not look as pretty but this shouldn't matter since they are only being used to infuse alcohol. Grade B vanilla beans are also cheaper.

**The weight of the beans will vary depending on how dry they are. As long as you have 20 beans that are a good size in length, you will have enough to make vanilla. You can purchase 2 packs of 10 split vanilla beans on Amazon.

***You can use any alcohol you desire but bear in mind that this will also affect the final flavor of the vanilla. Plain vodka will yield the most versatile result.

  1. The longer the vanilla extract ages, the better it will be. 6 months to 1 year will yield optimal results.
  2. If you purchase a 750ml bottle of alcohol, you can drop the beans right in the same bottle without needing to purchase additional bottles for storage.
  3. Re-use the vanilla beans to make a second batch of vanilla by refilling the bottle with alcohol once it's half empty. The flavor may be diluted so longer aging will be required.

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

Jen Sobjack

Jen has a passion for baking and she’s dedicated to bringing you classic dessert recipes filled with more flavor and creativity. When Jen isn’t in the kitchen she’s traveling with her husband in search of the best places with the greatest experiences. You can follow their travel journeys on Instagram and Youtube!

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5 Comments

  • Amanda

    WOW! This is so thoroughly researched and in-depth. You taught me things about vanilla I never even heard of: single-fold, double-fold, alcohol, price breakdowns…AMAZING! Thank you so much, and please consider sending this into Consumer Reports. How professional!

  • Jennifer

    Thank you so much for the detailed info and tips to make homemade vanilla! I was just talking about wanting to try this, and realized how little I knew about this process. I can’t wait to try this thanks to your great post!

  • Cherie

    I am so happy to have found this! I recently moved to Germany, and I am not a fan of the vanilla I have found here(and it is rather expensive compared to in the US). I will be making my own soon!

  • Andrea

    I just started my batch of double-fold today! A gallon of vanilla is a-brewing! Now if I can make myself wait for 12 months 🙂