DIY: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Various iterations of this have been circulating the internet for a while, because it is that fantastic. Seriously, good, organic vanilla extract is not cheap. While this isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective method, it is fun. Since I like to DIY a bit for Christmas presents, I decided to show you how I make vanilla extract. Without further ado —

You’ll need:

  • Around 10 oz. of vodka. You’re probably going to have to translate ml. into oz. because alcohol companies are obstinate and only want to see us fail.
  • 5-6 vanilla beans. Resist the urge to cut them open and rub them all over yourself because it smells so heavenly.
  • An empty, resealable glass bottle that holds more than your original liquor bottle. Glass, because plastic shoots toxins into all the things. A bigger bottle because you will be adding things and science suggests that displacement is imminent.
  • A knife. Make it look threatening in case of visitors or Instagram.
  • Cutting board. Obviously. Check out all the scarring on my table. That could happen to you.

PicMonkey Collage11

Left: This is everything you’ll need. Please see above for specifics. Gather all of these things into your
Top Right:
 First, cut each bean lengthwise. If your knife is sharp, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Middle Right:
Open each bean like a book, so the delicious smelling microscopic bits of wonder can be infiltrated by the imminent vodka. Then cut them in half so everything will be covered by the aforementioned vodka.
Bottom Right:
Sometimes, when it comes to plants, I make very obvious discoveries. For instance, I was amazed to find out that those bits of debris in my ice cream are actual vanilla molecules. I don’t know what I thought they were before, but this floored me. They’re so tiny! It made me feel really good about ice cream.


Because I am a total nerd, I remembered the part of the Half-Blood Prince where Harry discovers that crushing the beans, instead of cutting, yields better results. I had to try that for myself.

PicMonkey Collage122

Left: Once cut vertically and horizontally, stick your beans in your new, larger bottle. Then pour the vodka inside. 
Top Right: 
I recommend not trying to take a picture of the vodka pouring portion of this DIY. You will spill it and no one likes wasted booze.
Bottom Right:
Pop the top on that sucker and you’re finished. Note that all the beans are submerged. That’s important to your success.

But, wait! Your vodka didn’t immediately turn into vanilla extract? Oh, that’s because you have to wait 6-8 weeks for the delicious vanilla to work it’s magic by seeping into the alcohol. Believe me, I am the worst at waiting, but this is worth it. To occupy your time, shake the concoction once daily to make sure it mixes properly and to show it your latent rage that you didn’t have immediate results.


That amber color is my everything right now. Four more weeks!

I started mine on November 5th, so it should be ready just in time for Christmas/Yule/Festivus. I had originally intended to share it, but we shall see if I find appropriate bottles (read: decide not to keep it all for myself) in time.


And there you have it! Pretty simple, right? If you’re feeling bold, you can try using rum or bourbon for different flavors. I used vodka as kind of a control for future experiments.

Have you ever made vanilla extract? Have you been experimenting with other tonics, recipes, or tinctures? Let me know in the comments!


11 thoughts on “DIY: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

  1. Pingback: DIY: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract | Life By U Living

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