Homemade Vanilla Extract

15 Aug
Homemade Vanilla Extract

This recipe is so simple it hardly seems worth posting.  But this little recipe has enormous value; imagine never having to buy vanilla extract again!  Once you’ve whipped up your first batch, you can simply add more bourbon as the extract dwindles, but remember to also occasionally toss in another bean.  Every time I use vanilla beans for another purpose, instead of discarding the used beans, I simply rinse them and add them to my vanilla extract.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Yield: vanilla extract for life


  • 3 vanilla beans
  • bourbon*
  • a dark bottle, 3-8 ounces

*Many people prefer to use vodka as it lends no extra flavor, but I find that bourbon (and, to a lesser extent, other whiskey) has very complementary flavors to the vanilla and yields a slightly more complex extract that has still worked well in every application I’ve tried.


  1. Split 3 vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  2. Combine the seeds and scraped beans in a dark bottle, 3-8 ounces, and fill the rest of the bottle with bourbon.
  3. Store the bottle in a dark place, shaking occasionally.  The vanilla extract is ready to use in about a month.
  4. Add more bourbon as needed, and occasionally add an extra vanilla bean.


4 Responses to “Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. sarah August 19, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    This is awesome. Bonus points for tips on where to buy cute brown bottles.

    • Claire August 19, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      Pictured is actually a small clear jar bought from IKEA (so long as it’s stored in a dark place, a clear jar shouldn’t be an issue), but the best source of darker bottles that I’ve found is actually store-bought vanilla extract! Once you’ve used all of that extract, repurpose the bottle for your own homemade extract – conveniently already labeled.

  2. Michael Philippone August 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Can’t wait to test it out!

    • Claire August 20, 2011 at 10:39 am #

      Let me know how it goes! And if you need help drinking any leftover bourbon, you know where to find me . . .

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