Imagine the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven and your favorite pie cooling on the counter. Now, imagine the aroma of these desserts when you use homemade vanilla extract. Making homemade vanilla extract is a great gift idea for any time of the year. Gift your homemade vanilla to your favorite baker in your life.

Homemade vanilla extract elevates your baked goods to an entirely new level of delicious. Proudly serve more desserts and baked goods with your very own homemade vanilla extract.

What is Vanilla Extract: 

Vanilla extract is an essential ingredient in most baked goods and desserts

Extracts are made by mixing ingredients like vanilla beans with alcohol then allowing it to steep for several months. The alcohol pulls (or extracts) the flavor out of the vanilla beans. The resulting mixture is an intensely flavored extract that adds depth to your favorite foods.

The best part of making vanilla extract is that you can get different flavor profiles in your vanilla depending on the type of vanilla beans you use. The kind of alcohol you use also impacts the flavor of your vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract is a flavoring made by combining vanilla beans with alcohol and steeping it in a glass jar for 2-3 months.

Different Types of Vanilla Beans for Homemade Vanilla Extract: 

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

Did you know that there are many different types of vanilla beans? There are many varieties of vanilla that have different flavor profiles. I work with three main varieties of vanilla beans.

Madagascar Vanilla: 

These vanilla beans have a strong aroma and flavor. Madagascar vanilla beans add sweetness to your vanilla extract. Madagascar vanilla used in baked goods compliments and supports the other flavors in your batter rather than dominating the dish.

Mexican Vanilla: 

Mexican vanilla beans are more robust in flavor. They have a bold hint of smokiness that comes through in your desserts. Mexican vanilla extract is a strong flavor that dominates your batter. Mexican vanilla is amazing in cookie recipes.

Tahitian Vanilla:

Tahitian vanilla has a floral aspect to it. The floral aroma and flavor come through beautifully in homemade candies and chocolates.

I tend to make all three varieties and keep them in my pantry since I bake all kinds of desserts and candies. In my house, there is no such thing as too much vanilla.

Different Types of Alcohol used in Vanilla Extract: 

There are two main types of alcohols used in making homemade vanilla extract. 


Vodka offers a more neutral base for your vanilla extract. When using vodka, the subtle notes in your vanilla beans are more pronounced. The neutral flavor of the vodka does not overpower the vanilla beans. I prefer making Tahitian vanilla extract using vodka so that the alcohol doesn’t overwhelm the floral notes in the vanilla.


Bourbon is not a neutral-flavored alcohol. The bourbon adds a smoky, sometimes burnt caramel flavor to your vanilla extract. I love making Mexican or Madagascar vanilla using bourbon, especially if I am making cookies. The bourbon complements the boldness of both Madagascar and Mexican vanilla beans.

Play around with your vanilla extract by trying other types of alcohol.

How to Make Vanilla Extract: 

My ratio for making homemade vanilla extract is five vanilla beans for every 8oz of alcohol. If you’re vanilla to give away, 8oz of vanilla extract is a perfect size bottle.

Gather your ingredients: 


  1. Split your vanilla beans down the center to expose the seeds and pulp inside. 
  2. Place your vanilla beans in your glass jar. 
  3. Cover your vanilla beans with either bourbon or vodka. 
  4. Close the jar and shake gently to combine the ingredients. 
  5. Set your jars aside in a cool, dark place for two months*.
  6. Check your jars every couple of days and give them a gentle swirl. 

*If you can wait even longer than two months, the flavor will be more intense.

The two months give the extract enough time for the vanilla beans to release all of its flavors. When your extract is finished, you can leave your vanilla beans in the jars. You can also filter the vanilla out. It’s entirely up to you. I love the look of the jars with the vanilla beans still inside.

Recipes Using Vanilla Extract: 

What are your favorite ways to use vanilla extract? 

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