Friday, June 19, 2020


For regular readers, this will be familiar.  About every six months or so, I make some homemade vanilla extract for 2nd Man.

We've been doing this for years now.  Once we discovered how easy and how inexpensive it was, it seemed like a no brainer.  Once we used it in baking/cooking, then it became a semi-annual event!
Homemade vanilla extract

It couldn't be easier.  A standard sized 750ml bottle of plain vodka (doesn't require a high end brand, we use Smirnoff).  I also buy all of our beans now from VANILLA BEAN KINGS website.  They have great quality and are always fair in pricing.  I get a package of ten beans and use the "grade B" which are best for the extraction process.

A year or two ago the price of beans was skyrocketing due to worldwide problems in vanilla bean production.  Thankfully the prices have come down quite a bit.

Starting vanilla extract

I pour out a bit of vodka (because of displacement) and then just take the ten beans, slice them in half lengthwise (to expose the tiny black specks of flavor hiding inside) and drop them in the bottle.  Lastly, add as much of the displaced vodka back in as will fit.  What you do with the amount that won't fit is up to you, ha.

Put it in a dark place (we just stick it in the back of the pantry) and every week or so just gently turn it upside down a few times to move the beans around. 

Homemade vanilla extract before and after

It is ready in about three months but we usually wait about six months.  On the left is the batch we did last Fall.  You can see the difference in color.  It goes from clear to rich and brown (and smells amazing).

You can filter it (we've done that when we've put into smaller bottles as gifts) but 2nd Man just uses it as is.

It's a great deal in the long run:

Vodka - $11.49
Ten vanilla beans - $20.00

Total: $31.49 for about 25 ounces.  I checked some websites for pure vanilla extract and an 8 ounce bottle was going for $38.00 and up.  That means we have about $118 worth of homemade extract.

And now we wait!


  1. Nothing better than homemade vanilla instead of the imitation stuff. Sure can tell the difference from the imitation & the real Pure vanilla.
    Thanks for the vanilla bean website.
    Enjoy your evening & have a Great weekend.

  2. Your 6-month-old bottle looks beautiful. And I know it smells and tastes amazing!

  3. I made some with vanilla beans and rum. Rum is great in anything you would put vanilla into. But, vanilla rum is better by far. I used mango rum once--to die for.

  4. Wait what? You can make this? Sharing on the weekend edit! Can't wait to try it too! laura in Colorado

  5. I did this once a few years ago. Definitely at least five years ago because it was in my old apartment. Found the container just recently (it was way too much since I don't actually bake often). Would you use it if you found a bottle you had forgotten to use and it was that old? I haven't thrown it out yet, still haven't decided. :-)

  6. Every year I go to the website you link to and every year I leave without buying any beans. This year is different and now I have beans and vanilla bean paste in my future! I use a lot of vanilla, not just for baking. Have you noticed the quality of the vodka makes any difference?

    1. Yay for you! OK, great question. Again with a lot of research and no, you do not have to use a top quality vodka. We've always used Smirnoff just because it's easy to find, it's American made too and is 10 times filtered. Not sure if that matters but sounds good, ha. The bottle I bought the other day was about $12 so that's way better than a top shelf $25 or $30 bottle. It just seems reasonable. Good luck!!

  7. Should I get Tahitian vanilla beans or Madagascar? Does it matter?


    1. I replied on the other post but in case someone ends up here I'd reply too. From everything we've read, Madagascar is the most preferred and most used to make commercial vanilla extract. It's the only one we've ever used and it's always wonderful for us.


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