How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract.

If you’re thinking about doing some DIY presents this year think HARD about making homemade vanilla extract. Just don’t think too long, because in order for it to be ready by Christmas – you need to start it now. 

Calm down, it’ll only take you two minutes to make homemade vanilla extract so there’s no need to get anxious. Unless you accidentally forget to put clothes on when you run to the grocery store for a vanilla bean.  That’s something to get a bit anxious about. Especially if they’re out of vanilla beans

Homemade vanilla extract requires 2 ingredients.

A Vanilla Bean & Booze

A bit about each.

What’s The Difference in Vanilla Beans?

There are 2 main types of Vanilla beans: Tahitian and Madagascar.

Tahitian vanilla beans are apparently more “floral” tasting and smelling than the standard Madagascar vanilla bean.

Where are Vanilla Beans Grown?: Madagascar (75% of all beans grow here), Mexico and Tahiti (the other 25%)  Little bits come from other countries but not a significant amount.

How do Vanilla Beans Grow? On a tree?  A vine? : Vanilla beans are actually pods that grow on a rare ORCHID.  That’s right. Vanilla beans grow on orchids.  Orchids that can only be pollinated by hummingbirds or some other rare, weird bird.  So any commercially grown vanilla orchids have to be hand pollinated.  That partly explains the expensive price of the bean.

Which Vanilla beans should you buy? :

  • Madagascar vanilla beans are the most readily available and commonly used.  They’re the ones you’d be used to the taste of.
  • Tahitian vanilla beans are a newer introduction into the vanilla world and apparently have more floral notes.
  • Mexican vanilla beans are hard to find but apparently have heavy chocolate, earthy tones.

All this to say you should just go with Madagascar vanilla beans. They’re the least expensive, the easiest to find and are probably what you think of when you think of vanilla.

The great thing about homemade vanilla is it’s the gift that *literally* keeps on giving.  As you use the vanilla just top it up with more booze and it’ll continue to provide you with extract for years.

I did this 6 years ago and I’ve only just decided to start new again.  So I was SHOCKED to see the price of vanilla beans when I looked them up.  Apparently a cyclone hit Madagascar this March and almost wiped out the world’s vanilla bean supply.  Luckily it only takes one vanilla bean to make a jar of vanilla extract.

Which Booze should you use?

You can use anything, but the standard is Vodka because it doesn’t interfere with the vanilla flavour.

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

  1. Slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, exposing the soft, seed filled interior.
  2. Place the bean in a 4 ounce (118 ml) glass bottle.
  3. Fill the jar with a neutral tasting alcohol. I use Vodka.
  4. Allow the vanilla bean to steep for 4-6 weeks before using.

The longer the vanilla steeps the stronger the extract will be.  You can also use 2 vanilla beans instead of one to make it stronger. There’s no need to remove the vanilla bean from the jar once you start using it. Keeping it in there just improves the flavour and allows you to top up the jar with more vodka without diluting the flavour.



Don’t use the good vodka!  Just the cheapest stuff you can buy or steal.

Extract Supplies


Buy your amber glass bottles →  12 bottles on Amazon ($15). ← here.

Buy your Vanilla beans →  10 beans, on Amazon ($35). ← here.



Buy your amber glass bottles →12 bottles on Amazon ($17). ← here.

10 Madagascar Vanilla beans – WAY too expensive to buy online in Canada.  Try Bulk Barn or President’s Choice grocery stores.

If you want to make the bottle fancy head on over to the Graphics Fairy which is where I got this Vanilla label that I personalized a bit.

Get your →  Vanilla Extract Label  ← here.

At the prices I’ve listed each bottle of Vanilla extract will cost you around $10 to gift including the vanilla bean, the bottle and the vodka.

The vanilla on the left has been steeping for a couple of months. The vanilla on the right was just made the day I took the photo.  As it infuses the liquid will get darker and darker.

Looking back on this post it’s a whole lot of words to say –  if you want to DIY some homemade vanilla extract, cut a bean in half, stick it in a little jar and the fill it with a few ounces of vodka.

And don’t forget to get dressed before you go to the grocery store.


→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract.