How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract and Flavored Extracts


I just finished making homemade vanilla extract and flavored extracts for holiday gifts. They are so easy to make, inexpensive, and taste great.

I love vanilla. I cook with it often and put it in my coffee all the time. Last year I had a brilliant idea to make homemade vanilla extract for Christmas gifts. The only problem is I started too late and it wasn’t ready in time.

Homemade Extracts
What's Cooking?
Homemade Extract Gifts

This year I am starting early and I decided to make some other homemade extract flavorings. Don’t these look amazing?

If you make homemade vanilla and other flavored extracts this week, they will be ready to gift at Christmas. Of course, you also can keep them for yourself and use them while you are cooking for the holidays.

It’s up to you.

Either way, make them now. Don’t wait!

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

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Homemade Extracts

Six Homemade Extracts

I made homemade vanilla extract, orange extract, lemon extract, almond extract, coconut extract, and cinnamon extract.  I  think there is a pretty good chance I will be keeping these. Even after one day, the cinnamon extract smells amazing.

We all know how to use homemade vanilla extract. But how can you use the other flavored extracts?

Add a drop of lemon or orange extract to 8 ounces of cold water.

Add a few drops of almond, vanilla, or cinnamon extract to your pot or cup of coffee.

You can also add a few drops of vanilla, coconut, almond, or cinnamon extract to your milk when making a latte.

Add lemon, orange, coconut, or vanilla to cakes, bread, and cookie dough.

How about adding vanilla, almond, or coconut your favorite flavor to oatmeal or smoothies?

Homemade Vanilla Extract Cinnamon Extract

Let’s start off with how easy it is to make pure Vanilla Extract.

Why Should You Make Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract?

First off, it is cheaper.  I make homemade vanilla extract because the flavor is so much better than regular extract. Making your own vanilla extract is one of the easiest things you can do, and it can save you loads of money versus the stuff sold in stores.

Have you ever bought Imitation Vanilla Extract?

I have bought the “fake stuff” because pure vanilla is very expensive. I stopped buying it once I learned that artificial vanilla flavor is made from vanillin, a chemical synthesized in a lab. There is no vanilla whatsoever in imitation vanilla. Also, many of the imitation vanilla have corn syrup in them. Yikes!

I should also mention homemade vanilla extract is sugar-free.

Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract

What You Need To Make Homemade Vanilla

Small bottles (I used these 8.5 oz. bottles.)

Vodka (Use one cup per bottle or one 750ML bottle to make four 8.5 oz. bottles.)

4 – 6  Tahitian or Madagascar fresh vanilla beans. ( I used these Tahitian vanilla beans.) Grade B is best.

Labels – You can make them on your computer.

What kind of vodka should you use to make vanilla extract?

I  use whatever non-flavored vodka we have in the house. I would suggest that you use the best vodka you can but it really doesn’t matter. (Typically I save the better vodka for cocktails.) I think the difference in the quality of vodkas is not that noticeable in your vanilla.

What kind of vanilla beans should you use?

Although you can buy vanilla beans at the grocery store, they are much cheaper if you buy them online. There are a lot of different kinds of vanilla beans you can buy and I highly recommend Tahitian Vanilla Beans and/or Madagascar Vanilla Beans. Grade B is best.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

How to Make Homemade Vanilla

Cut the beans down to fit the height of the jar.

Slice the beans lengthwise and scrape some of the fresh vanilla into the jar. Add the rest of the whole beans into the jars.

Fill the vodka to at least 1″ higher than the vanilla bean. The amount of vodka should be approximately one cup. If you use more or less, adjust the number of beans you use. If the vodka does not cover the bean, the bean will likely mold.

Screw the lid on and give it a good shake. Cover and store in a dark cool place for 6 – 8 weeks.

The longer the vanilla sits, the stronger the flavor will be. While it’s sitting, give the jar a shake every week, or as often as you can remember.

Over time, the vanilla will seep into the vodka and the vodka will turn dark brown. You can turn the bottle occasionally but that’s about all you need to do until it’s ready!

How to Store Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is best stored at cool room temperature and in a dark environment. This means your pantry is probably a great spot. You don’t want to store it in the refrigerator as it may turn cloudy.

How to Make Alcohol-Free Homemade Vanilla

The ingredients you need to make alcohol-free vanilla are vanilla beans, vegetable-grade glycerin, and water. To make one 8.5 oz. bottle, mix together 3/4 cup glycerin with 1/4 cup water, and place in the jar. Slice the 4 – 6 vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape some of the fresh vanilla into the jar. Add the rest of the beans. Screw the lid on and give it a good shake. Cover and store in a dark cool place for 6 – 8 weeks.

How to Make Flavored Extract

Once I made homemade vanilla extract I decided it was time to make more flavored extracts. I love to cook and having some homemade extract flavorings in my pantry is exciting.

Homemade Flavored Extracts

From left to right, I made homemade cinnamon extract, lemon extract, vanilla extract, orange extract, almond extract, and coconut extract.

Flavored Vanilla Extract

Flavored extracts are so easy to make!

Vanilla Extract – See the recipe above and use 4 – 6 whole vanilla beans and 8 ounces of vodka.

Orange Extract – Peel the rind of one orange and place the orange strips in a jar with 8 ounces of vodka.

Lemon Extract – Peel the rind of one large lemon and place the lemon strips in a jar with 8 ounces of vodka.

Almond Extract – Place 1/2 cup of raw unsalted slivered almonds in a jar with 8 ounces of vodka.

Coconut Extract – Place 1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut in a jar with 8 ounces of vodka.

Cinnamon Extract – Place 4 sticks of cinnamon in a jar with 8 ounces of vodka.

Follow the rest of the directions listed above.

Homemade Orange and Lemon Extract

Now you know how easy it is to make homemade vanilla and flavored extracts.

I  hope you will try it yourself!

A Home to Share, by Leslie Saeta

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How to Make Flavored Vanilla and Extracts

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  1. Thank you for the instructions on how to do these extracts! It sounds so easy and I am going to try to make some! Love your blog!

    1. The bottles I used are about four times the size of a bottle of vanilla. So a comparable size to what you can buy is about $3. You might want to make much smaller bottles.

  2. Love this! In the lemon, orange and almond extracts, do the fruits/nuts eventually rot or does the vodka preserve them from rotting?

  3. I’m super excited about making these for gifts. When you said the longer they sit the stronger it gets, how strong exactly do you think it will get? Like with imitation almond extract found at the grocery store, 1/4 tsp. goes a long way because it’s so strong. And did I miss the shelf life of the extract in the bottle? Especially since it’s a big bottle? Thank you!

  4. Great idea! My question is about mould. You say to make sure the vanilla beans are covered with the vodka. What about when you start using the vanilla and the the level goes down below the beans? Is there a chance they may mould then?

  5. I have been making vanilla for many years with vanilla beans. I buy them on Amazon and have always had good success with them. I started making it with vodka and then tried it with bourbon, and ended up liking that better. And it’s true you don’t need the best brands of liquor, I buy it from Trader Joe’s and it’s inexpensive.
    I’m excited to try making your other types of extracts, thanks for the idea 💡 I always enjoy your blog so much !!

  6. I have always wanted to make extracts too. I know that Ina Garten has a huge jar of vanilla that is more than 30+ years old and I have always been fascinated by that idea. I have the beans and bottles in my cart! Thanks for the easy recommendations, much appreciated.

  7. I have made vanilla extract for years for myself and for gifts. Thank you for the other extract recipes! They look delicious. Look forward to making those soon. I’ve always used vodka but read that bourbon works well too. I just ordered the cute labels and may order some of the bottles as well. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Comment on the mold issue: You must keep the liquid (Vodka) above the beans. As you use the extract, add Vodka to keep beans covered. Great idea for gifting! I’ve never considered making lemon and orange extract, but now I’d like to try those. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Any recommendations on cinnamon sticks? Do you typically leave the beans, sticks, etc in the bottle when giving as a gift?

  10. Rounded up my supplies and one of my daughters to try this out. Have wanted to do this for years. Have perfected my home-made Bailey’s and am moving on to vanilla extract. Thanks for the tips—so ez and will use up some vodka!

  11. Typically, how often do the vanilla beans need replacing? I understand with each use, replace the vodka?

    1. Lynette,
      I have read a few blogs on making vanilla over the years and they said add one or two new beans a year. It depends on how big the bottle and how much you use it yearly as to the number of beans and vodka or bourbon needed to be added. Also I read to cut the beans in half so you don’t need to add alcohol every time you use it. The idea is to just keep the beans covered. It all depends on the height of the beans verses the bottle size of alcohol. You get to decided that. I prefer Bourbon it is smooth and all ready has a caramely kinda flavor that works well with vanilla.
      Hope this helps.

  12. The set is nice but one major problem. Almond extract is not made with almonds, it’s made with
    apricot seed.

    1. I made mine with almonds. And, if you google it, there are plenty of recipes made with almonds. I’ll have to try your suggestion.

  13. When making this recipe do you need to sterilize the bottles first or does the alcohol take care of any potential issues? I’m just thinking about making jams or canning when you always sterilize everything. Have you ever tried vanilla extract in bourbon? Did you notice a taste difference?

  14. I’ve made vanilla bean before and know you can keep the vanilla beans in and just keep adding vodka but at some point do I need to remove the mint, orange and lemon? If so I’ll use a wide mouth mason jar and move to a bottle later. I want to keep my extracts for long term storage.

  15. I make vanilla extract and you need a recommended 1oz beans to 8oz alcohol. They also steep for closer to 12-18 months for good quality vanilla.

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