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How to Make Vanilla Extract

Katie Wells Avatar

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Make Your Own Natural Vanilla Extract
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » How to Make Vanilla Extract

I adore the scent of natural vanilla. It can be used in so many recipes and is perfect in my superfood coffee. I even use it as a base for my homemade perfume (recipe coming soon).

Unfortunately, as Food Renegade revealed, store-bought “pure” vanilla extract can often contain corn syrup or sugar. There is also a big difference between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla which usually contains:

Water, Alcohol (26%), Natural Flavorings (Including Extractives Of Cocoa And Extractives Of Tea), Vanillin And Other Artificial Flavorings, Corn Syrup, And Caramel Color.

Homemade Natural Vanilla Extract

I’ve been making my own vanilla extract for years because it is not only less expensive, but the flavor is unbeatable. It is also one of the most simple recipes to make.

Vanilla extract could also be called vanilla tincture, as it is essentially a tincture of food grade liquor and whole vanilla beans.

With just a natural, non-GMO alcohol, some vanilla beans and time, you can create your own vanilla extract.

There are several types of vanilla beans. Any will work, but here’s the difference:

I personally prefer Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, which have a rich and floral flavor and aroma.

You’ll also need a high-quality liquor that is at least 35% alcohol to make the extract. I prefer to use spiced rum, after finding out from Mommypotamus in this post that there is a non-GMO and corn syrup-free spiced rum. Papagayo rum is another great option. From what I’ve read, Four Roses and Wild Turkey bourbons are also non-GMO, but those are the only two I’ve been able to verify. You can also just look for an organic rum, vodka, or bourbon.

Please note that your vanilla will not be ready to use immediately. The vanilla beans need time to soak and flavor the alcohol, so it will take a couple months.

Now that we all know about the differences in organic alcohol and vanilla bean types, here’s the super-easy recipe:

Make Your Own Natural Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract Recipe

Homemade natural vanilla extract with only two ingredients is amazing and fragrant for baking, cooking, or coffee.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Calories 6kcal
Author Katie Wells

Servings

8 oz

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise to reveal inside of beans. Cut if needed to make them fit into your jar.
  • Place them in a tall glass jar.
  • Pour the alcohol of choice over the beans.
  • Cap tightly and shake gently.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month, shaking occasionally. I prefer to leave 2-3 months for best flavor. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Extract Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 6
% Daily Value*
Carbohydrates 0.3g0%
Sugar 0.3g0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notes

I  use my vanilla extract straight from the jar and just replenish the alcohol as I go. You can continue using the same vanilla beans until you notice the extract losing its flavor. 
If you need a sweeter vanilla extract for a recipe, just add a little raw honey or maple syrup for a corn-syrup and refined sugar free option.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Ever made an extract or tincture at home? What did you make?

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

99 responses to “How to Make Vanilla Extract”

  1. Karen Avatar

    This looks amazing! And easy! I’m confused by your comment about adding more alcohol as you do — it sounds like you can keep using the same beans. Is this what you mean? About how many times can you re-use them? Thanks!

  2. Elise Avatar

    Question: I want to make my own vanilla but I don’t drink alcohol so buying a big bottle seems like such a waste. So I was thinking of putting a bunch if vanilla beans in an entire bottle and waiting 6 months. I shouldn’t need as many beans as I would if I was doing a bunch of smaller batches… Right?
    Anyone know if this will work well?

  3. Jan Avatar

    I know this is a bit late in chiming in, but if you have a Costco close by…they sell vanilla beans in long glass sealed tubes at Christmas time. They usually had them near the end cap area in the baking aisle. I can’t remember the price, but I DO remember that it is much, much more inexpensive than anywhere I had ever seen. The first year I made extract, I only bought a few tubes, thinking I could get them anytime. (Can’t remember how many beans in a tube, maybe 5 very long ones.) When I went back to get some more, I was told it was a seasonal item. You can bet the following year I splurged and bought extra! Now I keep extra to add to my vanilla extract jar as I use up my vanilla. I’ve bottled it and given it as gifts for 2 years now. I still have my original beans in my jar, I figure they’re still ok because they’re getting preserved in alcohol! I always strain the extract when I use it, so any bean seeds that are floating around get caught in the cheesecloth.

  4. Sue Morris Avatar
    Sue Morris

    Appleton Estates has about 4 different versions of rum – which one did you use? Thanks 🙂

  5. Lisa Avatar

    I’m having a really hard time finding a spiced rum by Appleton estates, nobody seems to know which is a spiced rum. Is there another brand of spiced rum that you use? Thank you!!

    1. Dee Avatar

      5 stars
      Lisa, that’s the one I use too. When I first started looking for spiced rum, I had the same issue with some people not realizing that Appleton Estates rums are, I believe, all spiced rum. The bottle I have doesn’t say “spiced rum” on it, so I suppose that caused the confusion. My bottle says, “Appleton Estate, Signature Blend, Distilled and Blended in Jamaica.”.

      Wellnessmama, thank you for this recipe. I’m going to try it as soon as I receive my vanilla beans.

      I haven’t commented on here in a while since I first found you and your blog a couple of years ago, but I’m often on the site. I wanted to give you a big Shout Out and a huge hug because you and your blog helped get me back on the track to wellness, Wellnessmama! I am just now seeing the results of eating healthier and cleaner, as well as cleaning with healthier or homemade products and more. I’m finally feeling better and better as time goes by. It’s taken a while, but I was using and consuming toxins (gmos, etc.) for years mostly unbeknownst to me because I was uneducated about so much. Thank you SO MUCH for turning that all around. Now I make sure to learn everything I can before I ingest or use or put anything on my body. YOU ROCK!!! Blessings always!!!

  6. Lisa Avatar

    Hello, Is Appleton Jamaica Rum Special a spiced rum? If not, please give me a name of what is. Thank you very much!!
    Lisa

  7. Olinda Paul Avatar
    Olinda Paul

    Thanks for posting. I used an entire jar of Potato vodka (allergic to others) and 2 beans in each jar (the glass ones for Soja juice). I kept it in a dark place and it just smelled like alcohol so I thought maybe I wasn’t turning it enough, so I turned it more frequently. I started in April…Still at christmas it wasn’t doing much. So I put it away and turned it every week. A year later it started to smell like vanilla but the taste was awful. Very flat. I couldn’t even open the lid as I assume it was fermenting. I finally got the neighbor to open them for me…it still didn’t taste right. I just pasted year 2 and decided to put some sugar in it to see if that helped. It’s starting to taste like Vanilla. It still has a slight off taste to it. I am giving it more time (apparently it needs it) to vanilla up. I must have needed 6 vanilla beans instead of two…I didn’t have much help when I started. So Should I not have put the sugar in? How long is this going to take?

  8. Bonnie Avatar
    Bonnie

    5 stars
    I am new to this but interested in new ideas. Especially if they are concerned with health and conservation. Thank you for providing information about some very relevant issues.

  9. John Avatar

    We make our own vanilla as well but in lager batches; multiple gallons at a time. 64 beans per gallon is what we use and age it for six months. Four roses is a great bourbon to use for the non-gmo and excellent taste. We make most of our’s out of Weiser’s Canadian whiskey. Great ideas, thanks for sharing!

  10. Pocahontas Avatar
    Pocahontas

    5 stars
    Hi Wellness Mama, how many teaspoons/tablespoons are in this particular recipe (finished product)? Also, if I double the recipe, would it mean I would let it sit for double the number of months too? I made it and it tasted wonderful! Thank you so much. Too bad vanilla beans are so expensive in my country.

  11. Dana Avatar

    Ok thanks for getting back so aoon on that! I know you use this sometimes in your coconut cream… And your kids eat that.. So is it ok for kids to consume that small amount I’m guessing..?

  12. Dana Avatar

    Hi there! Just wondering when your done making the tincture is the alcohol still in there or does it become ” non alcoholic “so to speak. I’m nursing and don’t want to take in any alcohol..

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Just like real vanilla you purchase at the store, it will contain trace amounts of alcohol. Check with your OB or midwife, but even alcoholics can typically consume vanilla without issue.

  13. Bekah Avatar

    How long will the beans last as you keep replenishing? I’m sure they eventually run out of flavor and you have to replace them, correct?

  14. Sam A. Avatar

    Just came across this article and I’m inspired and excited about making my first batch of extract. Even thinking who should I gift these gems to.

    One question, I like the swingtop bottle that you have in your picture. Where can I find these?

    Thank you much.

    Sam

      1. Rebekah Avatar

        Sam and Karen – she notes in one of the first comments that (she) found it at a thrift store…bummer I know as I was loving it as well! 🙂

  15. Hayli Avatar

    5 stars
    In Minnesota (and maybe other places) we have Prairie Organic Vodka, and a large bottle is not too expensive!

  16. Kristin Avatar
    Kristin

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a potato vodka that’s non gmo that they use to make their vanilla?

  17. debby Avatar

    I have java organic vanilla pod (22-25 cm/pod) from indonesian.
    How much pod I have use for 1 recipe?
    Thank you.

  18. Tanya Skinner Avatar
    Tanya Skinner

    5 stars
    Wanting to try this 🙂 If I order the 4oz beans…use 1 oz for vanilla extract…and add vodka as I go…how do I store the remaining, unused 3oz vanilla beans until I use them? How long are they good for?

4.89 from 18 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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