Homemade Vanilla Extract

This is one of the recipes that proves that ingredients can make all the difference. Using homemade vanilla extract is extremely cost effective compared to store bought vanilla extract (even the giant bottles from warehouse stores, which are, objectively, not awful), but more importantly, it’s an easy way to customize your baked goods with a unique touch all your own. This recipe takes next to no active prep time, but packs a big flavor punch.


  • Five vanilla beans (take your time to find ethically sourced ones). Also experiment with vanilla of different origins:
    • Madagascar: creamy and traditional flavor
    • Tahitian: spicy and floral
    • Mexican: bold and rich
  • Your favorite alcohol, at least 35% ABV/70 proof. Nothing with artificial flavors.
    • Vodka is the traditional choice, will not interfere with the vanilla flavor. A good, unflavored vodka is a great choice for really premium vanilla beans
    • Rum is sweet and a *great* pairing with Tahitian vanilla
    • Brandy, whisky, and bourbon are fast becoming popular choices, if a bit unconventional. These may limit what you can use them in–bold flavors will overpower a lighter dish.
    • If you want to be sassy, try some interesting. I plan on experimenting with Kirschwasser and Fireball for a cherry-vanilla and cinnamon-vanilla twist to use in baked goods with a chocolate base.
    • General note: don’t waste top shelf liquor on this (unless you’re just not going to use it), but don’t go for bargain basement either. Even the best vanilla won’t cover the taste of inferior vodka.

Slit the five vanilla beans lengthwise, and add to cute gift-able bottle. Use a funnel to add in roughly 8oz of liquor. Seal bottle well, store in a cool, dark place for 6 months or more, shaking occasionally. You can occasionally top off with more of the same liquor, shake, and *boom* more vanilla extract. Great for gifting with cure labels, and great for keeping in your own kitchen!

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