5 Minutes or Less: Homemade Vanilla Extract

May 17, 2012 | by Jocie (email) |

“5 Minutes or Less”  is an on-going series dedicated to quick and fun crafts and DIY projects that you can do in five minutes or less. This segment came to being because in our busy life it was difficult making the time for the involved and time-consuming projects that I love. We would love to feature your ideas too, so don’t forget to take lots of pictures of your next “5 Minutes or Less” DIY and send ‘em our way!

“5 Minutes or Less” is a little misleading on this one. What I should have said was 5 Minutes or Less…and then wait 2 -3 months! This project almost killed my patience. The first couple weeks, I checked it daily, obsessed with it miraculously being done. Now that it is, let the baking begin!

My cousin told me awhile ago that making your own vanilla extract is super easy and cheap, comparatively speaking. I looked up recipes and found that it is WAY easy and quick. You do spend a bit of money up front, but it will last forever and makes great gifts. I adapted the recipe I found because the original did not add enough beans and it took much longer than it should have. Hope you enjoy making your own.


  • 18-20 Vanilla Beans
  • 32 oz Vodka
  • 32oz Ball Jar

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

I bought my Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla beans from Amazon since I wasn’t sure where else to buy them, but was very pleased. They came plump and moist which I imagine is key. I’m not a vodka drinker so I just bought a middle of the road Vodka – not too expensive but not too cheap. Finally, I used Ball jars to store the vanilla since you will need to store it for 2 -3 months in an air-tight container.

Step 2: Slice the Beans

Slice each bean lengthwise using a sharp knife. This is important otherwise the vodka can not penetrate the vanilla bean skin and will not infuse. The recipe I saw called for 12 beans, but after 3 months, mine still was really weak so I added more beans.

Step 3: Combine

Put your beans in your jar and pour in 32 oz of vodka.


Seal the lid tight and shake those beans! Store in a cool, dry place (I put mine in the bottom of my pantry) and shake once per week to speed up the infusing process.

Step 5: Divide (optional)

I divided my vanilla extract using a small funnel into smaller container to make pouring easier and to give as gifts. So cute!


What do you think? What will you make with your homemade Vanilla Extract

As Always, thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to check out our weekly Link-up Parties on Fridays, where you can submit your own DIY projects and crafts!

17 Responses
  1. Icarus says:

    Nice. could you share how much this cost you to make to compare to store bought ready made vanilla extract?

    • Jocie says:

      you know, i bought the ingredients so long ago that i can’t remember the exact cost, plus i’m not great at math… i read somewhere that store bought vanilla extract costs more than 5x making your own. I think i spent maybe $35 on ingredients for 64 oz. You will pay maybe $3 for 2 oz in the store.

  2. Wait, that’s all there is to it? Why does that stuff cost a fortune at the store for pure VE?

    • Jocie says:

      Seriously, thats all there is to it! so easy. Also, the longer you let it sit, the more “potent” it gets, like some of the higher end vanilla extracts.

  3. Karah @ thespacebetweenblog says:

    Vanilla extract is made with Vodka??? That really is so easy, I’m pinning this. 🙂

  4. NicF says:

    This is a fantastic idea – thank you – definitely going to try this out, we go through a lot of vanilla, as I make my own ice cream and it’s so expensive in the stores.

  5. Fargin says:

    I don’t use enough vanilla to justify making my own but it is cool to know how easy it is to make. I would like to know where you got the small bottles with the cork stopper though. Those could be really handy

    • Jocie says:

      Hi Fargin! I don’t use a ton either but I thought it would make for cute presents, you just have to think WAY ahead! lol! I got the glass bottle at Hobby Lobby. I looked LOTS of places for small bottles and this was the best i found. it only cost maybe $2.

  6. Paul&Aundrea says:

    Are the store bought versions made with Vodka too or do they use some other liquid? I remember when we did a cooking segment in Kindergarten to learn about our 5 senses, and the teacher passed around the bottle so we could all smell how good the VE was. Then she had all of us taste it…obviously not so good by itself. Is your homemade/vodka version just as bitter?

    • Jocie says:

      i’m not sure how the store made is bought, but this tastes the same as far as i can tell. plus you can make it more potent if you want. 🙂 funny the things we remember from school, sounds like you had a good, hands-on teacher!

  7. Blondeerin79 says:

    great idea! We are always running out of vanilla… and this would be a great teacher gift! They sure wouldn’t get two of the same!

  8. poiboybf says:

    Hi there! Have you tried baking with it yet? Any differences between store bought and your version there? Also, how many vanilla beans did you end up using to get the right potency? Thanks for the great project idea I am definitely going to try this!

    • Jocie says:

      Hey! I’ve used it for cooking lots and have noticed NO difference. Its wonderful and I have a ton now, so I don’t feel like I’m always buying a new bottle. 🙂 its great!

  9. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Suppose they’d believe me if I went to the local wine and spirits shop, asked for vodka to make vanilla extract?!

  10. Brady says:

    This is a great idea I’ve looked into before but never imagined to check Amazon for the beans. The only place I’d seen the beans was in the expensive spice containers at the grocery. They were $12 per bean!!! That took all the steam out of my attempt to make my own. Thanks for posting a link to cheaper beans!

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