Tuesday’s Tips: Homemade Vanilla Extract*

Are you the person who buys 2 oz of Vanilla Extract for $8? No more! You are now the person who keeps a jug of alcohol in a dark secret cabinet waiting for magic to happen.

I hate paying the exorbitant prices for crappy vanilla extract at the grocery store. Instead I like to do it like those country folks that still make their own moonshine. Sure I can buy beer at the store…but I can make triple, of a higher quality product at home, all for an 8th of the cost.

How I save on Vanilla Extract:

5 Vanilla Beans: $8.25
— 1 large jar: Free -steal your Dad’s bourbon jar! ;-)
— 1 liter bottle vodka (4 times distilled or more): $18
— Time: Free

1 liter of Vanilla Extract will cost only $26.25! Which equals $1.64 per 2 ounces…and when it is compared to $8 per 2 oz at the store, it’s a freakin’ steal!




How to make the magic happen:

1. Split Vanilla Beans down side with a sharp knife.
2. Add beans to vodka.
3. Seal lid and place in dark, cool place away from light.
4. Give it a shake once a week or so.
5. In 2 months, use your amazing homemade Vanilla Extract!

Your homemade Vanilla Extract will stay good for years. You can keep adding more vodka and vanilla beans to the bottle as it gets low to keep your supply going.

It makes excellent gifts to friends who are bakers…and is especially cute when given in these jars!

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29 Responses to “Tuesday’s Tips: Homemade Vanilla Extract”

  1. 1

    Alaina — January 10, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    I just made homemade vanilla extract this past fall, in time to make all my holiday baked goods..amazing. This is perrrrfect…and like you said, SO much cheaper!

  2. 2

    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — January 10, 2012 @ 2:49 am

    this is crazy. i went to the groc store today and after seeing another blogger’s post on vanilla sugar I was going to pick up a vanilla bean to make some. ONE vanilla bean was $11.99 at my local Ralph’s groc store in San Diego. Ummm, no. So no vanilla sugar or vanilla extract for me til I order my beans online.

    Ironically, i found the Spice Islands brand of real vanilla extract on sale and with a coupon from 9.99 down to 3.99. God I love a good sale :)

    And this homemade ‘nilla of yours. Awesome.

  3. 3

    Kathryn — January 10, 2012 @ 4:21 am

    This is *such* a good idea. I go through vanilla like it’s going out of style!

  4. 4

    Katrina — January 10, 2012 @ 7:24 am

    I need to get on this DIY train! Vanilla rocks my world!

  5. 5

    Brent — January 10, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    Love it! And I love Beanilla! I have been shopping with them for several years and can not imagine what I have saved by not buying in the grocery store. Plus, the quality of their beans is top notch!

    I spoke with somebody at Beanilla last fall about making extract. The nice customer service representative said that we should be using at least 5 vanilla beans per cup of vodka. She said that ratio was based on the FDA requirement for commercial production of extract. Just thought I would share!

  6. 6

    Eva @ Eva Bakes — January 10, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Thanks for the tips! I need to make this soon. And you’re right – it’s ridiculous to pay $8 for a tiny bottle of vanilla.

  7. 7

    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — January 10, 2012 @ 8:54 am

    What a great idea! I’m always so annoyed by how expensive extracts are. Thanks for sharing :)

  8. 8

    Erin — January 10, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    I love making my own vanilla extract, but have only used vodka so far, I want to try bourbon!

  9. 9

    Cassie — January 10, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    I love homemade extracts. I love the re-used bourbon bottle too!

  10. 10

    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh — January 10, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    I made my own 2 years ago and never went back. I even gave some as a gift for Christmas for a new family member who was duly impressed!

  11. 11

    Amy's Cooking Adventures — January 10, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    I’m definitely doing this…soon!

  12. 12

    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — January 10, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    I seriously had no idea it was that simple… or that those were the only ingredients needed! Fascinating.

  13. 13

    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — January 10, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    I have wanted to make my own vanilla extract for quite some time but just haven’t done it yet. After seeing this post reminding me to make it I want to run out and buy everything right now!

  14. 14

    Rachael — January 10, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    This is so nice! I’ve never actually tried pure vanilla extract in cooking as the cheapo that I am but now I can! hooray.
    ps. You probably already have your Tuesday Tips planned out but I am desperate to understand how whole wheat flour and white flour change things in cooking? Can I simply substitute whole wheat or does that change the consistency and yummy-ness? So just a thought, if you run out of ideas…Thanks again for sharing with this Oh-so-novice Chef.

  15. 15

    Robyn | Add a Pinch — January 10, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

    It’s like the most amazing thing evah, isn’t it? I always try to keep a stock of my own homemade as well as some of that delicious Nielson-Massey. Yummo! Can you tell I love vanilla! :)

  16. 16

    Joanne — January 10, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

    Doing this. I have spent WAY too much money on vanilla in my life. And WAY too little money on alcohol in comparison.

  17. 17

    Laura — January 10, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

    Girl, you know I gots the goods in my basement! Love that bourbon jar.

  18. 18

    Krissy @ Krissy's Creations — January 11, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    I have some homemade vanilla in my dark closet right now. Just waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Love the picture of your vanilla! And that breakdown of the savings is great!

  19. 19

    Maria — January 11, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

    On my to do list!

  20. 20

    ErinsFoodFiles — January 11, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    #1 Your dad has good taste in bourbon
    #2 Did you know you can make vanilla with bourbon too? I use the bourbon vanilla (*definitely not the same as “bourbon vanilla” if that makes sense), in all my fall baking. I LOVE the different essence it brings!

  21. 21

    Ann — January 12, 2012 @ 3:34 am

    LOVE homemade extract – and it makes THE best gift for your baker friends!

  22. 22

    Karin — January 12, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

    I actually made some over the Christmas holiday! Someone gave me a gift of a bottle with vanilla bean… love love love it.

  23. 23

    Sues — January 12, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

    Yes! My mom’s been making her own vanilla for years and it’s ALL I’ll use. The only confusion it causes is when I have it in my ingredients photo and people ask “what did you use vodka for?!?!” :)

  24. 24

    Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) — January 13, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    OMG! This is such a fantastic idea! Not sure where I’d get vanilla beans, but I definitely must try this! :)

  25. 25

    Weekend Love: 1/15/12 | Baked by Rachel — January 15, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    [...] love: Homemade vanilla extract – The Novice Chef – I never knew homemade vanilla was so simple! I definitely want to try this sometime. Have [...]

  26. 26

    Michelle — January 16, 2012 @ 12:02 am

    I made some with bourbon and it was SO good. I’m going to try the vodka one next.

  27. 27

    Dianne Unterbrink — January 17, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    Doggone you!! You have given away my secret. I made vanilla every year (except I steep mine for 6 months or more) and give it away to family and friends instead of making them cookies or breads. It has been a HUGE hit and everybody has begged me for more. Each year I make another batch and never let on just how easy it has been. I also use organic vanilla beans so I can say it’s 100% organic (is Vodka organic?). But now my gig is up because you gave away the secret of just how easy it is to make. Now everyone will be making their own and they won’t want mine next year. I’ll have to come up with another super-simple idea that I can make instead. thanks alot!! :)

  28. 28

    Sierra — May 27, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    Tip: buy your vanilla beans on saffron.com! I got a pound of chef quality beans (which just means they aren’t quite as moist and plump as premium beans, but they are not dry by ANY means) for…$20!! A pound of beans will last you a loooong time and you don’t have to feel guilty about using more in your extract (the 5 beans per cup is a good guideline to go by). I’ve also made vanilla with honey bourbon, regular bourbon, and vodka…all delicious!

  29. 29

    The Novice Chef » Vanilla Dream Cake — August 28, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    […] know that the color of the vanilla cake is pretty yellow, but that’s from all my homemade vanilla extract! If you want the whitest cake possible, make sure and use the clear colored vanilla (found at […]

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