Homemade Vanilla Extract

Neighbor gifts are one of my favorite things to do this time of year. It involves my love for baking and gifting. I’ve always been meaning to make some homemade vanilla extract, I have friends that swear by it! I think it would make a really special neighbor gift.

Keep reading to see how to make vanilla extract (you’ll never believe how easy it is), and also how to make the mini felt bow too!


This post is sponsored by Safeway stores-Safeway, Dominicks, Tom Thumb, Vons, Randalls. Tastier for the holidays!


Ingredients for Homemade Vanilla Extract:

3 vanilla beans per jar

1 cup of vodka

Pretty jar and lid (I bought a case of them here for under $1.29 each)

Labels (buy these label sheets here and then you can download my ‘handmade’ design right here and print it out on them)


1. Cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise to reveal the beans inside


2. Place inside a clean jar

3. Fill up carefully with about a cup of vodka (you may have to use a funnel, and have a towel handy). Now it just needs to sit for at least two months  in a cool, dark place (like a cupboard) before using it. Once it gets down to about 1/4 full, you can add more vodka and let is site again for 6-8 weeks. You can continue doing that a couple more times but I haven’t gotten that far yet!

4. Print out labels. I stamped ‘vanilla extract’ on them but you can also write on them if you have pretty handwriting (which I do not).

5. Stick labels on jar and be sure to put a small label on the back indicating to wait at least 2 months to use it.

Now to make the cute little felt bow…

Steps: Cut out strips as shown in the first image. Hot glue the big piece together to make a loop. Place the long piece on the back in the middle. The medium piece will be wrapped around the hot glued together. Trim and tie around your bottle.


I am definitely doing this! How did you make the vanilla extract stamp? My handwriting isn’t the best either 🙁

I’ve done this a few times (and in fact just started a new batch tonight), and just have a few pieces of advice from my experience:

– the cheaper the vodka, the better. I use regular ol’ Smirnoff (red bottle; 40% alcohol content) and have the best results with that. I’ve tried it with better vodkas, and the vanilla flavor was not as strong, and had a bit of an aftertaste. Better vodkas tend to have unique flavorings to set them apart from others. You just want the alcohol, nothing fancy.

– As pretty as they are, cork-topped bottles are not a great idea. I did this the first time and regretted it. Since you have to shake the mixture up (daily for a week, then once every week or so until it’s ready), the mixture of course touches the lid, which in my case led to mold. The best bottles are the most simple – glass amber bottles with screwtops. Second best would be hermetic bottles, but those are almost always clear and not the best option, unless your extract is always in the dark anyway.

– 2 months is simply not long enough for a good extract. 6 months minimum, in my opinion. The longer, the better. Mine is usually best at around 10 months. I know that’s no fun, but unless the vanilla will be buried by a ton of other flavors, it won’t be good at the 2 month mark. 2 months will give you vanilla flavored vodka.

Is it three half beans or 6 half beans per jar? Sorry – just want to make sure it has the right flavor!!

Okay – I am being totally serious when I ask this silly question. I made vanilla extract last year for christmas presents and then at the last minute decided not to give it to my mormon family members (i am not mormon) because I was scared they wouldn’t be able to enjoy it or even worse (!) that they would be offended…because of the vodka used to make it. Is that REALLY stupid? Can morms use this real deal vodka?

Not silly at all! I think it’s a good question, and clearly you are trying to be sensitive to them but i can’t imagine it would be an issue, it didn’t really occur to me since that’s what vanilla extract is and we use so little of it in cooking (although I guess it depends on how much you were planning on using? haa)

Such a great idea! How long will it keep for once the 2 months is up?

So apparently once it’s almost out, about 1/4th full, you can add more vodka and let it sit for another month or so. I haven’t read anything about shelf life but I’m assuming similar to store bought vanilla extract? Not sure!

A. I had no idea that’s how vanilla extract was made (or that it’s so easy!). B. That bow is darling, thanks for the instructions.

I love this Idea, never thought of it, but as I have a friend how really loves baking with vanilla, this is a perfect personal gift.



thank you, that’s nice of you to say! it is pretty easy. i felt silly taking pictures of the process “put vanilla beans in jar. fill with vodka”.

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