How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

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I love Penzey’s Spices and spending too much money there to stock my cabinets with herbs, spices, extracts, seasonings and what-have-you. But last time I was there I spent $20 on 8 ounces of high quality vanilla extract. I know how to make vanilla extract at home, so why do I continue to pay so much for vanilla extract when I can make my own?

I used vanilla bean grains to make this “Perfect Pound Cake” from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Mine wasn’t quite perfect (a little overbaked) but you get the idea. It would be a shame to throw away these potent little vanilla bean pods that you can use to make vanilla sugar or vanilla extract with. So if you’re asking, “How do you make your own vanilla extract at home?” I’ve got the step-by-step instructions and photos here for you!

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe Ingredients & Supplies

  • 3 vanilla beans per
  • 1 cup vodka
  • Glass jar with tight fitting lid

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe Directions

  1. Once you’ve already used your vanilla beans for a cake recipe (tutorial on how to use vanilla beans), place the vanilla beans in a glass mason jar or other bottle with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Cover completely with 1 cup of vodka per 3 vanilla beans.
  3. Store for two or more months in a dark, cool place – away from the stove and oven which emit lots of heat.
  4. Occasionally give the bottle a good shake.

Congratulations – you’ve made your own homemade vanilla extract. As my husband likes to say, “Too easy.” You can top this off with vodka once in a while, just make sure to shake it up. I only used two vanilla beans in my last recipe, but I plan to use another two tonight, so I’ll add those into the jar to keep that homemade vanilla extract process going. This jar of vanilla extract can last you for years! I bet it would make good Christmas gifts, too…

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Heather is an advertising professional in Kansas City. She is a vegetarian food-lover who finds joy in cooking, baking and finding new restaurants in new cities. She leads a pack of animals, including her beagle Ford, her shepherd-collie-retriever mix, Otto, and cat, Ahab.

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