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DIY Time: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Attention bakers: stop wasting your hard-earned money on tasteless, expensive vanilla extract! I’m here to save you money and show you that with about 5 minutes of active time, you can make incredibly delicious and fragrant homemade vanilla extract that will cost about 40% less than the store-bought crap stuff!

Ahu Eats Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract Day 1

All you bakers out there probably cringe every month (or more often) when stocking up on vanilla extract – because the bottle is SO TINY yet the price tag is SO BIG! What is up with that?! It is so painful and I shudder every time I buy it! Well, never cringe (for that reason) anymore. Stay with me while I take you through some culinary math!

Store Bought Vanilla Extract: $9 for a 4 ounce bottle = $2.25 per ounce = sad face 🙁

Home Made Vanilla Extract: $20 for 40 Vanilla Beans + $15 for the cheapest vodka you can find (750 mL) makes 25 ounces of vanilla extract = $1.40 an ounce = almost a 40% savings = happy face 🙂

Ahu Eats Homemade Vanilla Extract - Beans

Homemade Vanilla Extract

OK enough with the math – the point is you’re saving a lot and you have the pleasure of knowing you’re using something homemade! If you get to the dollar store, pick up a some little bottles and make the extract into holiday gifts (yes, I said the h-word!). If you start now, they’ll be ready by mid November or so, just in time for the slew of holiday parties. Combine a small bottle with some cookie mix for a cute gift basket, or bring along a large bottle as a hostess gift!

Ahu Eats Homemade Vanilla Extract Ingredients

Homemade Vanilla Extract Ingredients – just add vodka!

This is barely a recipe… and at the end you get some incredibly delicious vanilla extract – store bought vanilla doesn’t even come close to the flavor and deliciousness of the homemade stuff – trust me! The longer you let the vanilla steep, the deeper the flavor will be (and more beautiful the color!). Here’s mine, 5 weeks (and a new apartment) later – you can see the dark, caramel-y color.

Ahu Eats: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract … with a View!

Some like to play around with the type of alcohol you add – try whiskey or bourbon for a flavorful twist! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use the vanilla extract: 1-2-3-4 cake, Orange Olive Oil Cake, Shirini Keshmeshi, and Caramelized Brown Sugar Cookies.

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract
Recipe type: Baking Ingredients
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Homemade vanilla extract - low effort, big savings!
  • 1 bottle of vodka *750 mL - use the cheapest vodka you can find
  • About 30-40 vanilla beans
  • 1 or 2 glass bottles with a rubber stopper (depending on the size of your bottle)... or simply reuse your vodka bottle.
  1. Carefully split your vanilla beans with the tip of a sharp knife to expose the oily seeds.
  2. Place your split vanilla pods into the empty bottle(s).
  3. Pour the vodka over until the vanilla beans are covered.
  4. Give the bottle a little shake to make sure everything is nicely co-mingled.
  5. Wait at least 4-6 weeks, shaking occasionally – then enjoy!


{ 15 comments… add one }
  • The Unmanly Chef September 24, 2014, 5:57 pm

    I saw this on the Kitchn! I want to do this so bad, I’m so glad you tried it! I can’t wait to do this! Bravo!

    • Ahu Shahrabani September 25, 2014, 12:18 pm

      I saw that too! Perfect timing. It’s so easy – you probably already have the ingredients!

  • Angie@Angie's Recipes September 25, 2014, 8:15 am

    They make a great X’mas gift!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 26, 2014, 2:45 am

    Making your own at home is definitely the way to go. Love this!

  • Tash September 26, 2014, 3:55 am

    Such a useful post! I only recently published a post where I gabbled on and on about how amazing vanilla bean extract is (as opposed to the teeny tiny rip off jars of plainish vanilla-like liquid). I seriously couldn’t believe the difference in quality it made to my recipes! I bought a huuuuge 900ml bottle off the internet, which is way cheaper than anything in the stores. But thanks to you, I will think about making my own next time!

    • Ahu Shahrabani September 26, 2014, 10:31 am

      Thanks for stopping by Tash! And your comment made me chuckle 🙂 Well once you get through your ginormous jug you can make your own 🙂

  • Sippitysup September 26, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Yes indeed. I make it with bourbon. GREG

  • Lisa September 26, 2014, 4:54 pm

    What a great tip!

  • David Scott Allen September 27, 2014, 3:04 pm

    Yep. I am definitely makin this!! I love homemade things like this. I love making my own Worcestershire sauc. Like your vanilla, it is SOOO much better than the store bought stuff. Okay, where on earth did you get those vanilla beans? Online, I hope?

    • Ahu Shahrabani September 27, 2014, 6:21 pm

      Woohoo! Yes I did! In fact the amazon product I have linked to in the ‘Math’ part of the post almost at the top is the exact product I bought. I did a lot of research because apparently vanilla beans mold quickly. I was very happy with the ones I purchased and they even sent me a little pouch of extras! 🙂

      • David Scott Allen September 29, 2014, 9:25 am

        For some reason, it wasn’t showing the link on my iPad, but now on the computer scree it is perfectly visible. I am really excited to try this!

      • David October 2, 2014, 11:32 am

        Vanilla beans are en route!! So excited!

  • Nicky @ Kitchen Sanctuary September 29, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Great idea Ahu, I need to get started before my extract runs out!!

  • ubuntuvps May 18, 2016, 2:00 am

    Matt, My vanilla extract is very alcohol smelling. When I use it in my homemade coffee creamer I can taste the vodka at times. Does this mean that my beans no longer have flavor?

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