How to Make Vanilla Extract

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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


8 oz



  • 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 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.


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.

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

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.


99 responses to “How to Make Vanilla Extract”

  1. Kennedy Avatar

    I’m a fan of your recipes, but this one is off! Vanilla beans come in a variety of sizes so they need to be measured by weight. For a single fold it’s 8 oz alcohol to 1 oz beans, for a double fold it’s 2 oz of beans. 1 oz of beans can be 1-11 beans. And it takes WAY longer than 2-3 months, although of course you can use it when you are happy with the flavor. For clear, neutral spirits it’s typically 12 months minimum. For a dark alcohol, like spiced rum, it’s typically 18-24 months. Worth the wait!

  2. Pat Avatar

    5 stars
    Thank you for the great article!
    Can I ask where you got the great flip-top bottle with the glass handle built in?
    Beautiful! And the vanilla turned out best-ever!

  3. Josh Avatar

    How long can you keep reusing the vanilla beans before losing flavor?

  4. Nancy Avatar

    Will a quart jar work or does it need to be a dark colored glass for making vanilla?

  5. Aleycia Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I recently needed to buy more vanilla beans to make fresh vanilla extract. I last bought vanilla beans in 2014 (1lb. Grade B Tahitian beans on Amazon for $50.) The prices I am finding now are $300-500+ for 1lb. of vanilla beans (Tahitian and Madagascar varieties). Holy Smokes! Is it better to make my own, or purchase high quality already made? Do you have a more affordable source you recommend? I am all about Fair Trade, but I can’t afford these prices.

    1. Venus Childress Avatar
      Venus Childress

      Apparently the many storms last year damaged the vanilla drops all over the world. This is what has caused the enormous price increase in vanilla.
      At least, this is what my friend told me.

4.89 from 18 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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