Homemade Vanilla Extract

Knowing how to make homemade vanilla extract from vanilla beans is soooo simple and creates something that’s soooo complex. You may never go back to store-bought.

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Knowing how to make homemade vanilla extract isn’t so much a talent as it is a simple necessity if you’re a home baker. Whereas most homemade vanilla extracts draw on either brandy or vodka to soak the vanilla beans, this draws on both for an unparalleled measure of complexity—which may initially be mistaken for boozy intensity if you happen to take a whiff too early in the extract’s existence. Rest assured, the booziness will mellow with time and, consequently, the vanilla notes will slowly but surely become more prominent. Trust us. The only trick to this little DIY project is that patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a vital component. If you’re gifting bottles of the extract before its time is nigh, jot down a “Do not open until [INSERT A DATE THREE MONTHS HENCE]” note on a tag and attach it to the jar or write it on a sticker and affix it to the bottle. It just builds the anticipation. This recipe has been updated. Originally published November 26, 2012.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • 1-quart glass jar with lid


  • 1 2/3 cups brandy
  • 1 2/3 cups vodka
  • 5 vanilla beans, preferably Tahitian or Bourbon, split and seeds scraped
  • 3 ounces vanilla extract, preferably Tahitian or Bourbon (optional)


  • 1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine the brandy, vodka, vanilla pods and seeds, and vanilla extract, if using. Place the lid on the jar and let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months. [Editor’s Note: The optional vanilla extract boosts the flavor quickly, but it’s by no means necessary. Another way to intensify the vanilla flavor is to save vanilla pods whose seeds you’ve scraped for another recipe and occasionally toss them in the jar.]
  • 2. If gifting, decant the extract into small bottles and screw on the lid or insert a cork or find some other way to tightly seal the bottle. Homemade vanilla extract will last indefinitely when kept tightly covered at room temperature.
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