This post was originally published on September 28, 2018 and was updated on October 22, 2020. Learn how to make homemade vanilla extract with just two ingredients! It’s great for enthusiastic home bakers and makes for a wonderful holiday gift. Plus! Download the free printable to make your own gift labels right at home!
This homemade vanilla extract could not be easier. Or more delicious! I use it almost every day. From baked goods to coffee to cocktails, it’s perfect in every way! And way better than anything that comes from a store.
Supplies needed for homemade vanilla extract:
- Grade B Vanilla Beans (I buy mine off of Amazon)
- Bourbon (good quality, but still affordable)
- Paring Knife
- Apothecary Bottles (or some other small glass bottles if you intend to gift the extract)
- Small Funnel
- Adhesive Labels
I have been using this method for making my own vanilla extract at home for years now. Almost five! I have made batches and batches and have figured out the best way to get a quality vanilla extract at home.
What does “Grade B” Vanilla Bean mean?
Basically, the grade of B on a vanilla bean means that it contains less moisture and more imperfections than one that would be labeled Grade A. There may be knicks, splits, cracks or shape irregularities in a Grade B vanilla bean. A Grade A will be a beautifully smooth, straight bean that is over 14 centimeters long. Grade B beans are much cheaper than Grade A but still have tons of vanilla flavor. Because of this, Grade B beans are often labeled as “extract quality” and are the perfect bean to use for homemade extract!
How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Make space in the booze bottle. Adding vanilla beans to a full bottle of bourbon is going to displace some of the liquid. It’s science! Stuff to do with weight and mass and space. But, all that you need to know to avoid the bourbon spilling out everywhere is to pour out ½ a cup from the full bottle before adding the beans. Maybe make a cocktail? I’m always partial to Old Fashioneds.
- Slice open the vanilla beans. But! Don’t cut them in half. Use a very sharp paring knife to split open one of the long ends of the bean. This exposes those beautiful vanilla bean seeds!
- Place the split beans in the bottle. Shove about 48 of them in there.
- Close the bottle and shake. Make sure it’s sealed tight so booze doesn’t leak out everywhere!
- Store in a cool, dark place. I always keep my bottles of steeping vanilla extract in the back of the liquor cabinet. Just make sure your husband and/or roommates know it is OFF LIMITS for drinking.
- Shake the bottle. Once a week. For at least the next two months. Three is even better. Six is just out of this world!
- Pour into individual bottles. Once the extract is sufficiently potent, pour some into a glass measuring cup (make sure to shake the bottle first, all those vanilla bean seeds will have settled to the bottom). Place another split bean in the jars you plan on gifting and then use a small funnel to pour the extract into the prepared bottle.
- Seal and sticker. You can download my FREE PRINTABLE for these absolutely adorable gift labels right here! Now you’re ready for gifting!
How do you use homemade vanilla extract?
Just like regular vanilla extract! Put it in cookies! Or frosting! Or make a delicious simple syrup for coffee!
Bourbon Vanilla Extract is such an elegant gift. It’s thoughtful and useful and affordable! I highly recommend making a batch for the holiday season! In a cute bottle with an even cuter label? Maybe a festive ribbon wrapped around the top? What a treat!
To print the label: This label was designed to print with the Avery 22808 stickers (the natural round labels). Simply download the printable (click here!), stick the adhesive labels in your printer, and click print! Voila! Homemade gift labels.
Other great homemade gift ideas:
Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Paring Knife
- Glass Measuring Cup
- Small Funnel
- Apothecary Bottles (optional)
- 1 liter good quality bourbon whiskey I like Bulleit and Henry McKenna
- 60 Grade B vanilla beans
- Remove about ½ cup of the bourbon from the bottle.
- Slice 48 of the pods lengthwise and place in bottle. Close bottle tightly and shake well.
- Store bottle in a dark, cool place for at least two months (a little bit under or a lot bit over is ok, I’ve aged bottles up to a year!), shaking once a week.
- When ready to bottle for gifts, split remaining vanilla beans and place in individual apothecary bottles. Pour extract into a glass measuring cup and use a small funnel to fill bottles with extract before sealing and labeling.
- Give with love!
- Find my free printable for the labels right here!
These are so sticking cute!
Thank you Laura <3
Linda M Frank says
This recipe is fun and easy to make. I love having my own homemade vanilla. this is going to be so worth the wait. I love the labels too. Thank you
So happy to hear that Linda! Enjoy your homemade vanilla extract in your baked goods 🙂 <3
Thank you for such detailed instructions! About to get started and have a few questions:
1. How do you store the remaining 12 beans until gifting?
2. Where have you found the bottles that you use for gifts?
3. Can the beans be re-used for a new batch or need to start with fresh beans?
Hi Andi! Great questions! Thank you so much for asking 🙂
1: I have a vacuum sealer that I use to reseal the remaining beans in a small bag until gifting time. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can always place all of the beans in the extract mixture and then when it comes time to give away, just fish out a bean from the larger bottle to place in the individual jars.
2: I found them on Amazon. Just search "amber apothecary jars" to see a bunch of options! I've also seen some that are clear glass with little stoppers attached. I've even picked up bottles at thrift stores too!
3: You'll always want to start with fresh beans as once they've made extract they're kind of "vanilla-ed" out, if that makes sense? It would be like reusing a tea bag. Sure, you can do it. But it'll be weaker and less flavorful the second go-round!
Sure hope this helped, thanks again! <3