How to Make Vanilla Extract

How to Make Vanilla Extract!

About 10 months ago, I made some extracts and I wanted to write a follow-up post on how they turned out! The short version: they turned out really well! I made 2 bottles of vanilla, 1 bottle of mint, and 1 bottle of lemon.Β 

When I made my homemade vanilla extract {and the other extracts} I used a cheap vodka for the base. I let it sit from August until December {5 months} in a dark area, shaking every so often. I found it to have a pretty raw, alcohol flavor after 5 months. It wasn’t apparent in my baked goods, but the vanilla flavor wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked it to be.Β I used the second bottle of vanilla about 8 months after I made it and it was much better! It has a much stronger flavor and smells a lot less like alcohol and a lot more like vanilla.

How to Make Vanilla Extract!

I also had a friend gift me some vanilla she made using bourbon and I LOVED the flavor edge the bourbon gave it. She lets hers sit for a very long time, I can’t remember exactly what she told me but it was close to 9 months or longer.

I thought the mint and lemon extract turned out fantastic as well. Those seemed more ready at the 5 month mark, but did get better by the 8 month mark as well. I haven’t used store bought mint or lemon extract enough to know how potent they are, but these homemade extracts were pretty darn potent! I need to purchase some to compare.

How to Make Vanilla Extract!

Here are my main takeaways:

  1. Let extracts sit in a dark area, shaking periodically, for a minimum of 8 months.
  2. Vodka quality is not important.
  3. Vodka is best for extracts like lemon and mint.
  4. Vanilla extract turns out well when made with vodka, but for additional flavor use bourbon or rum.
  5. I still love the swing top glass bottles I used!
  6. The ratios of vanilla beans, lemon, and mint I used worked well, I’ll put them in the recipe card below!

How to Make Vanilla Extract!

Here is what I plan to test in the future:

  1. Making my own bourbon vanilla extract.
  2. Rum vanilla extract {any takers on the leftover bourbon and rum?! πŸ™‚ }
  3. Reusing the vanilla beans I have in my vanilla bottles currently – I have read this works but I don’t really understand how they continue to give flavor after being used to make vanilla previously.
  4. Different types of vanilla beans.

How to Make Vanilla Extract!

I don’t think I’ll ever buy vanilla extract again! It’s so easy to make and really cost effective. And if you’re wondering why my bottle is partly empty in the photos…it’s because I kept meaning to snap pictures but kept forgetting and I use it all the time! So it really was full when I made it πŸ™‚ .

Serves 2 bottles of Vanilla Extract

How to Make Vanilla Extract

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 8 vanilla beans
  • 16 ounces (or close to it) of vodka (see note)
  • 2 - 8 ounce bottles (or jars)


  1. Slice vanilla beans open by running a sharp knife down the length of the bean.
  2. Place 4 beans in 1-8 ounce bottles with a tight sealing lid.
  3. Pour in 8 ounces of vodka, or enough to mostly cover the vanilla beans.
  4. Repeat with second bottle.
  5. Store in a dark place and shake every few days.
  6. Let sit at minimum 8 months before using.


β€’ When purchasing beans, they need to be soft and pliable. They will be labeled as β€œfresh” or something similar. Don’t use dried vanilla beans.

β€’ The amount of vanilla you make can easily be adjusted, the ratio to use is 2 ounces of vodka per vanilla bean.

β€’ Vodka quality is not important.

β€’ Bourbon or rum can be used in place of vodka, they add a deeper flavor to the vanilla.

β€’ For lemon extract, I used about 1 cup of lemon zest (it was from 2 lemons) and 8 ounces of vodka.

β€’ For the mint extract, I used about 1 cup of fresh mint from my garden (just regular mint, not spearmint) and 8 ounces of vodka.

1714 cal
12 g
224 g
48 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Learn how to make vanilla extract! Very detailed instructions to give you all the information you need. Homemade vanilla extract is easy and fun to make!

FTC Disclosure of Material Connection: The way we provide you with awesome free content is through affiliate links and some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to readers. Read more here.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: