Table of Contents
  1. What is vanilla extract?
  2. What alcohol is used to make vanilla extract?
  3. Watch how to make this homemade vanilla extract:
  4. How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

I have a love-hate relationship with vanilla extract. The smell is amazing and I always end up adding more to every recipe. The little bottles drain much quicker than they should and I’m left with the realization that I buy a lot of vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla works and has some flavor, but I have issues with the “synthetic” flavors and would rather be able to control the strength of my vanilla. This extract is super easy to make as you can control all the ingredients as well as the strength.

What is vanilla extract?

True vanilla extract is made by macerating vanilla beans in alcohol and extracting their flavor. The dark color and deep fragrance come from the vanilla beans themselves. After months of sitting in the alcohol, they leech into the liquid and create the extract we use in most baked goods.

Vanilla extract is probably the easiest thing that can be made at home. It just takes some time and patience. Making vanilla extract at home allows you to create the optimal ratio of beans to alcohol, giving the best flavor. Your baked goods will have never been better!

Large narrow bottle filled with clear alcohol sitting on wood board with vanilla beans inside of bottle

What alcohol is used to make vanilla extract?

Traditionally, vodka is used to make vanilla extract. Vodka is neutral-flavored and allows the vanilla bean flavor to shine.

The important part is the alcohol content. The alcohol should be 70 to 120 proof. Anything less and the beans could spoil. Anything more and the beans could dry out from a high amount of alcohol content.

You can use other alcohols in the same proof range, such as rum, if a slightly different flavor is desired.

Close up view of white bottle filled with vanilla beans and clear alcohol sitting on wood board

Once you try this homemade vanilla, you’ll stop spending so much money on “premium” vanillas and only use this!

Watch how to make this homemade vanilla extract:

YouTube video
Large bottle filled with brown liquid sitting on wood board with vanilla beans sitting beside with crock filled with wooden spoons in background

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

4.94 from 29 votes
Making vanilla extract at home is a pretty simple process with two ingredients! Combine vanilla beans and a strong alcohol and in about a year, there will be plenty of vanilla extract to go around!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 365 days
Servings 48 tsp


  • 3 cups vodka
  • 3 oz vanilla beans


  • Place the beans in a tall glass airtight container. Pour the vodka over the beans, making sure they are completely covered.
  • Place in a cool, dark place, agitating once per week to incorporate the vanilla essence into the vodka. For optimal flavor, it's best if the extract sits for one year before use.


  • Use a cleaned and sterilized jar to make the vanilla.


Serving: 1tspCalories: 3kcalCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Course Baking Component
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Mixing

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I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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  1. Just got some vanilla beans into our gift shop, curious to see if they sell. They come from a fair trade company called Level Ground, 10 beans for $12.50. Crowded Closet

    1. Betsy, How exciting that you are selling Vanilla Beans. They are versatile and must in my kitchen pantry! And that is not a bad price! I may have to come by and try these out!

  2. Kaleb…..I heard about this video and had to come check it out myself…awesome! I want to make my own because I’m too cheap to buy the real stuff and…dare I say it…I purchase imitation. AGH!!! I can hear the horror in your gasp. Haha. One question – I am not an avid purchaser of vodka – what is a “premium” brand you would suggest?

    1. Chris!! Never buy imitation again!!!!! It does make a difference, but I understand. Premium brands can be hard, Grey Goose is one of the top ones I would suggest but it is an “investment” if you are not used to buying better vodkas. Most important is not buying the cheapest option, the flavors are more harsh. If you are more comfortable buy mid priced, somewhere between the higher priced and lower.

      1. Costco also sells their own brand of great vodka that’s as good as Gray Goose. Less expensive but many can’t tell the difference from the expensive Gray Goose. Now, to make some real vanilla extract and also some limencello. Great holiday gifts.

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you Kaleb! Today celebrates my 1st Vanilla Extract Making! Love your videos especially the cookies! Cooking the butter amazing! Using Molasses yummy! I shared your seedling with my husband I don’t have a green thumb. Continue, continue I follow you on FB.

  4. Thanks for this awesome tutorial, for clear and well-tested information, and for advocating for homemade extract with a ratio of 1 oz beans to 1 cup alcohol! As an administrator of a Vanilla bean Co-op, we see a lot of less-than-stellar recipes, so I appreciate yours. Homemade vanilla is the best!

  5. Kaleb, I love your videos! Where did you get your vanilla beans? I made my own vanilla last year, but your beans look way better than mine!!! Thanks for all you do to inspire us! Love your kitchen!!! Judy

  6. 5 stars
    Will you provide a source for good vanilla beans (online preferred) – we live in a small town (57601) and I am not finding any locally.

      1. never trash beans keeps on making vanilla by adding more vodka as you take some out If you feel you need to add some fresh beans after a few yrs take out a few and dry and put into sugar for vanilla sugar

  7. I love your videos and recipes. Where may I purchase vanilla beans in bulk? I would like to make vanilla extract.

      1. Interesting! I see they are located in Auburn Hills, MI. I’m not too far from there, and will check them out.

  8. 5 stars
    I’m so glad I found this and can’t wait to explore the rest of your website. I live in Ireland where all vanilla extract has sugar in the ingredients. (Actually, everything in Ireland has added sugar. It’s mind-boggling.) I ordered a huge bottle of vanilla extract from the States, and now I’ll have this ready when I use that up. I’m off to shop for fun-looking carafes to make this in for myself and for gifts. Thanks!

  9. Just when you think it couldn’t get more interesting, along comes homemade vanilla extract! Never ever crossed my mind, but you have to admit what a brilliant idea. Only way I’d enjoy vodka! I always buy real vanilla but am amazed at the cost. The entire spice aisle has gone the same way as well. Always best to buy quality!

  10. Have a question. In video you said to use 1 oz. vanilla beans but actual recipe calls for 3 oz. which is better to use. I am excited to make for Christmas gifts.

  11. I am going to make your vanilla extract recipe in a flip top bottle like you had in your video. How would I sanitize a flip top bottle? I never canned or sanitized a glass bottle before. If you could guide me in the right direction that would be great!!

  12. Once the year is up to start using the vanilla, I know you can continue to add vodka as you run out but how often do you add fresh vanilla beans to keep this going year after year ?

  13. Hi. Where do you purchase vanilla beans? They are so expensive. How many individual beans per bottle did you use?
    Sandy love your recipes

  14. 5 stars
    Help!! I need you to print a cookbook of your fabulous recipes (or a combo of recipes and gardening hints!).
    For some reason it’s hard for me to print out your recipes & I don’t want to lose them. I’m a mature woman/Grandma who loves to cook and used to garden. I have had some surgeries making it hard for me to garden like I used to, so I do love watching you getting “your hands dirty!”
    I also don’t cook like I used to but your techniques have inspired me to do more cooking.
    Thank you for your inspiration….cookbook please!!
    Sincerely, Susan Bern

  15. 5 stars
    What voka did you use. In one video you said what kind, but in this one it wasn’t there. I do not really drink so know very little about what to buy. I do kniw vika gas many different kinds so all the mire reason I would like to start with the one you used.

  16. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe for vanilla!! Where do you buy your jars? I know this is a very important component for the vanilla. I hate to end up with jars that do not have a proper seal. If you can guide me, I’d be very appreciative!!!
    Love each and every one of your videos!!! I’m making and baking now more than I have in a long time. Thank you!!!!

  17. Hi Kaleb. Can you share where you order vanilla beans from? There are so many online and I am not the best at online shopping. TIA! Pat

  18. Hello!!! Just wondering what it means to sterilize a jar?? Does that just mean to wash it with soap?? And also do you sit it back in the pantry after opening or refrigerate?? Thank you!!

  19. 5 stars
    I truly love watching you & learning!! You are kind, caring, talented, giving & loving! I love everything you do from gardening, cooking, baking & decorating! Thank you for it all. I’m so happy Kip is doing so well, both for you & Kip!! Wishing you a bl seed day! Enjoy your day!! Looking forward to our next meeting!!! 👍😊

  20. Hi!
    Where did you get your vanilla beans from?
    All the ones I see are dried out.
    Need you help on this one!

  21. 5 stars
    I enjoy all your ideas and take a little bit of yours and add onto them thank you so very much you are wonderful.🥰

  22. I want to make vanilla I watched your video. My husband ordered beans from Madagascar. I can’t wait to start I want to give my makings to my sisters.
    Where do you get your beans from? I watch your videos everyday love all your recommendations. Made some of recipes and love the ease of the way you make them.
    Keep on cooking. Sandra Saldana

  23. Once you start using your vanilla do you remove the beans?
    Assuming not when do you add more vodka to keep your extract going?
    Thank you

  24. Hi…I love everything that you post. You need to have your own show. I was wondering where you get your vanilla beans from, and also, where can I find your cucumber recipe….thanks for all you do…it’s fabulous

  25. Today I bought some 80 proof vodka. I ordered vanilla beans online. Now, I just need to find an air-tights tall glass container. Any other options?
    Also, am I correct from your video the ratio of vodka to beans must be the same? I have 5 oz of vanilla beans… 5 cups of vodka? Thanks

  26. How amazingly talented!! Thank you for all the recipes and ideas.. you make me want to dig in and try everything all at once! It’s so fun to watch your videos!
    Quick question is what kind of vanilla bean to use? Tahitian or Madagascar? want to make sure I get a good vanilla bean to soak for a year 🙂

    Thanks for all you do!

  27. 5 stars
    Hi I was wondering where do you buy your Vodka from that 70 to 120 proof I was in Costco looking at all the vodkas there and they’re about only 40 proof I really would like to make this if you can get back with me on the vodka thanks 1 million

  28. 5 stars
    I prefer homemade vanilla and love using the steps you’ve provided. Can I ask where you order your vanilla beans from?

  29. 5 stars
    The last 2 yrs I have made a lot of vanilla. Used vodak, flavored rum, Jim Beam, etc. I prefer to use 5 beans per cup of liquor. There is so many types of flavored beans Mexican, Madagascar, Tahiti, Ugandan etc. The aroma of the Ugandan bean is so heavenly. I do buy my beans from Amazon. I go buy reading the reviews. You can reuse beans. I have a mixture of beans. The best vanilla I have ever made.

  30. I’m going to try making one bottle with vodka, one with bourbon and one with rum. Thanks for your wonderful videos. I learn so much from them.

  31. 5 stars
    Just went on a tour of a vanilla plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii. The owner said to buy three beans and add vodka (as you do), wait 6 months and then bottle half of it and add more vodka to the same bottle. He said you could do this for 3 years 😊

  32. We went on a tour of a vanilla plantation in Hawaii. The owner gave us a similar recipe. They sell vanilla beans in a bottle just for this purpose. However – he told us that you can bottle about half of the well matured villa and then add more vodka to the original bottle – at least 2 or 3 times again. Great tip and from a vanilla expert!

  33. Hi Kaleb, I had watched a video of you making homemade vanilla and you gave a source other than Costco for buying vanilla beans. Can you tell me where that is? Thank you.

  34. 5 stars
    I’ve got my first bottle resting for about 3 months now. Waiting is the hardest part!

    My question is, what can i do with the pods after they’ve done their job for a year?

    1. When we went to a vanilla farm in Hawaii we were told that you only take half of the bottle for vanilla and then add more vodka to the beans and you’ll get more in from 6 mths to a year.

  35. Hello Kaleb

    Thank you for all of your recipe ideas and gardening tips. In enjoy your videos. I am a foodie freak. LOL

    My question is what brands of vanilla beans would you recommend? I just want to be sure I get some really good ones. I thought about ordering on Amazon but wanted to get your opinion first. Might be able to find in my area too, but not sure. I am in Lincoln, NE so hi neighbor.

    Thank you,

  36. 5 stars
    Have you ever made the clear vanilla and how is that done. I usually order it and it’s a Mexican Vanilla but has a cinnamon taste. Love to use it in my whip cream and cheese cakes. I have never seen how to make it. Thank you Ingrid

  37. 5 stars
    Regarding making vanilla extract, I also split the beans in half and scrape the seeds into the bottle of vodka or whatever alcohol I’m using. I believe the vanilla flavor is greatly enhanced.