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Make homemade vanilla extract with just two ingredients!

Homemade Vanilla Extract from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipes

Vanilla extract is a pantry staple that most people keep on hand. Really good, authentic vanilla extract is expensive. But making your own vanilla extract is easy and relatively inexpensive.

All you need to make your own vanilla extract are some vanilla beans and vodka.  The ratio of alcohol to vanilla beans is totally up to you.  The more beans that you use, the stronger extract you will get.  We tarted this jar with just two beans in 2013.

In 2014, we added about 6-8 more beans and the vanilla extract got a lot darker and stronger. Since then we have simply refilled the vodka when the bottle gets low. The beans are the same from 2013 and 2014.

Homemade Vanilla Extract from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipes

What Kind of Vodka Do You Use?

We started our vanilla extract using a high end vodka, but you can use any brand or quality – go for the cheapest bottle you can get.  Just stick the beans in the vodka and let it sit.  It’ll take a good 6 months to get nice and dark, but even after a few months you’ll have a decent extract to use. 

You can see the difference in the extract in the photo above – the one on the left is taken a year earlier than the bottle on the right.  Just keep adding vodka to the beans when it gets low.

What Kind of Vanilla Beans Do You Use?

Generally speaking, vanilla beans are the most expensive at the grocery store. Back when we originally made the vanilla extract Ebay was the best place to get vanilla beans. But now you can find them online fairly easily. You may also find them at Trader Joe’s for a good price and sometimes even Costco carries vanilla beans. 

You can use any kind or type of vanilla bean – Madagascar or Tahitian. Our extract has been around for years and the type of bean has not made a huge difference for our baking. 


Yield: 1 bottle

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Homemade Vanilla Extract from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipes

Make homemade vanilla extract with vanilla beans and vodka.

Cook Time 182 days 12 hours
Additional Time 3 minutes
Total Time 182 days 12 hours 3 minutes


  • Vodka (any amount)
  • 6-8 vanilla beans


  1. Place the vanilla beans in the vodka in an air tight container.
  2. Let sit for 3-6 months.
  3. Add more vodka to the original jar to replenish the extract.
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  • Becky
    January 29, 2013

    You have motivated me to try this! Thanks for sharing at Foodtastic Friday!

  • Kelly
    January 29, 2013

    Did you use Vanilla Vodka? Is so, would you recommend it? If not, the same question I guess. :o)

    • Camille
      January 29, 2013

      I did the first time I made it, but it’s not necessary at all. Just get the cheapest vodka you can find and it’ll work great!

  • Miz Helen
    January 25, 2013

    I just love Homemade Vanilla and your recipe looks awesome! Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for sharing your tasty recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Diana Rambles
    January 24, 2013

    WOW! That’s awesome!

  • Nickida
    January 24, 2013

    I’ll be giving this a try. Although I just got to bake with Neilsen Massey and I love it.

    • Camille
      January 24, 2013

      Lucky! I’m dying to try their paste in something.

  • Brett
    January 23, 2013

    this sounds like a fun thing to do for mom’s night — and make a few kinds of extract. how simple- and practical!

    • Camille
      January 23, 2013

      That would be fun! Then you could split them up between all the moms.

  • Ellen Christian
    January 23, 2013

    This definitely sounds like something fun to try!

  • Jessi
    January 23, 2013

    I’ve always wanted to try this! I made my own infused vodka with some raspberries and blackberries, but I haven’t tried the vanilla yet. 🙂

    • Camille
      January 23, 2013

      Oh yum! Now I’m going to have to play with infusing other stuff. Like pears (ha ha)!

  • Dana d
    January 23, 2013

    I get my beans from olive very good prices and excellent quality.

    • Camille
      January 23, 2013

      I’ve never gotten them from Olive Nation, but I hear they are a great source!

  • Tammy
    January 23, 2013

    How do you know when the beans aren’t “working” if you keep adding vodka?

    • Camille
      January 23, 2013

      If the vodka doesn’t start turning a brown color, or as dark of a brown as you want. I’ve personally never had that happen in 3 years. I just keep adding vodka and letting it all sit and I keep getting vanilla. 🙂

  • Chelsea
    January 22, 2013

    I buy my vanilla beans in bulk for various recipes and always have a bunch leftover. I’m totally making this. Thanks for joining in at Teach Me Tuesday!

    • Camille
      January 22, 2013

      I actually threw in a few that were over a year old and drying out! Perfect way to use up beans. Thanks for the great party.

  • Deanna Lyn
    January 22, 2013

    that is amazing

  • Kathe
    January 22, 2013

    You’ve made it look easy Camille. I swear I am going to order some beans and give this a try! Thanks for sharing this at the party this week! I’m featuring it on my Facebook page too 🙂

  • Brandie (
    January 21, 2013

    I still haven’t made my own vanilla extract, but seeing your post has me inspired to give it a try!