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. What about making a large jar and pouring the vanilla into smaller jars as gifts? Does the vanilla bean need to go in the smaller jars to maintain or improve flavor? So excited to try the lemon!! Thank you for

    1. yes, you can do that. Be sure to strain it and seal it, keeping it stored in a dark cupboard. You need to wait 6 months to a year before using it to get full flavor.

  2. you are giving wrong information on vanilla extra. You need to 1 oz beans to 8 oz alcohol. Beans vary to much in size to give as an amount of beans, and need to split them and they need and about 12 months to sit in dark area and shake every so often.
    Look up Making Vanilla Extract by VanillaPura Group or others on Facebook.

  3. I bought back a huge amount of vanilla from Madagascar. Unfortunately these have dried out. Can I use these dried pods? I must have around 500g of pods.


  4. How can we make other extracts alcohol free?
    I want to try almond extract but can’t use vodka or any other form of alcohol

  5. Thanks so much for reminding me of this process! On a recent trip to French Polynesia, I bought a bunch of vanilla beans in Tahiti and was wondering what to do with them, so this is perfect! (Although when I read a bit more about the process, it seems like the standard time to wait is a year. This Christmas may be a bit too soon to use.)

    1. Hi Marti! This is the perfect use for those Tahitian beans ☺️ longer is great but 6-8 weeks will do the trick!

  6. Are the ingredients left in the jar as you use it? Thinking of the cinnamon stick or almonds? What happens to the vanilla pod or other things after the liquid is below them? Will they turn moldy?
    Thanks for the update.

  7. Hi Leslie , I bought your book last year when you were having the launch party at your home. I was planning on being there. I signed up to pick my book up there. I wasn’t able to attend. I live in Texas but had a trip planned there.
    In your note to everyone, you said you would mail books to those who didn’t make it. I never received my book.
    Could you send me my book? You should still have my information.
    . I can send money to you if I need to.
    Thanks so much

  8. Hi Leslie,
    One more flavor you may want to try is chocolate extract made with cacao nibs. I am working on mine now. I have one going in Brandy and one in vodka. I am also making almond, and vanilla. Should be ready in time for Christmas!! I can’t wait!!

  9. Please update your recipe for Vanilla Extract to reflect the USDA guidelines. 1oz Vanilla Beans weighed on a kitchen scale to 8 fluid oz of either Vodka, Rum, Bourbon, or Brandy.

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