How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract (Full Guide)

A full guide on how to make homemade vanilla extract right at home with just a few simple ingredients.

jars of vanilla bean pods in vodka

With fall quickly approaching and our first day of homeschooling under our belt. I have slowly begun transitioning into cold weather mode. Although not exactly ready to bust out the warm sweaters, I am looking forward to baking days on rainy afternoons. 

This week I am stocking up the vanilla extract as it is a staple in our house during these months. I wanted to share this simple process here with you. As not only are the baking months just around the corner. This tutorial for how to make vanilla extract will show you exactly how to make batches of vanilla extract right at home.

Truth be told I opt to make my own vanilla extract as it is quite expensive when purchasing the organic pure vanilla extract at the grocery store. In the past, we’d buy a bottle which usually comes in a tiny amount we would sparingly use. However, when you make your own, you will find yourself adding it to everything!

Once you make it, you will likely ask yourself why you didn’t do it sooner. It is such a simple process. I will warn you that the cure time for this is about 4 months so it is not a quick process. However, with each batch, you can make an entire year’s worth. You can even time it out so you stock up when halfway through your batches so you never run out. 

Might I also add that a bottle of vanilla extract makes a lovely homemade gift during the holiday season ahead.

What is Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is a delicious vanilla flavored liquid that is made through a simple extraction process that involves extracting the vanilla flavor from vanilla bean pods. Vanilla extract can be used in just about anything you can think of from baked goods to smoothies to your morning pancake batter. Enhancing the flavors and giving a mild vanilla essence.

Make Vanilla With Me

This Homemade Vanilla Extract Is…

  • Simple to make with an easy extraction process.
  • Much more affordable than store-bought vanilla extract.
  • ​A DIY vanilla extract that makes great holiday gifts.
  • ​Able to be made in a large batch.
  • Made with fresh vanilla beans and the end result is a real vanilla extract. 
  • The easiest way to have good vanilla extract without spending a lot of money.
  • Filled with the best flavor, the finished extract is high quality and great for any baking recipe.

Why I Love This Method

Having good quality ingredients can be expensive. Especially when wanting the real thing. Sure, there are lots of substitutions available for pretty much any sort of ingredient you can think of. But the ability to take a few minutes and make something so simple. Something in pure form that would cost more than 3 times the amount to purchase.

Well, that is enough reason to finally learn How to Make Vanilla Extract. Having a mason jar filled and sitting in the cupboard at all times is somewhat of a luxury these days. The pure smell when you open it and the ability to not have to skimp when using. Awe, the joy of it all. Why not make a few extra jars for friends and family while you are at it?

What You Will Need To Make It

Madagascar Vanilla Pods

Bottle of vodka or rum

mason jar or jars with lids

Larger Batches

For making a larger batch of vanilla extract for gifts of stocking up. This quantity will make 8-8oz jars of vanilla extract or 4-pint-sized jars. For even larger batches, you can double this amount, and so on.

12 pods Madagascar Vanilla Pods

1-750 ml bottle of vodka or rum

Set of 8-8oz mason jars or a set of 4- pint-sized mason jars


Taking a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife cut the vanilla pod down the center to help it release its flavor.

woman cutting open vanilla bean pods
kitchen scissors cutting through a vanilla pod

If using a shorter mason jar go ahead and snip it in half to fit the jar. You will need 1 1/2 per 8 oz mason jar. For pint-size mason jars, you will need 3 pods per jar.

Fill the jar with vodka.

Allow this to sit at room temperature checking it occasionally by smell. The liquid will darken and the vodka smell will be much less pungent when it is ready for use. I find that the 3-4-month mark is usually when it is ready for me. But it depends on the time of year you make it. The warmer your kitchen, the quicker the vanilla extract will be ready. Check it monthly. During really warm months, it can be ready in as little as 2 months.

Once it is ready you will use it just like your would the store-bought. I remove my vanilla bean after it’s done and ready to use.

homemade vanilla extract


  • You can use rum instead of vodka. I like swapping out the vodka at times as the rum adds a nice flavor.
  • Make sure to use fresh vanilla pods.
  • I use Madagascar vanilla pods for the best results.
  • The recipe can be easily doubled to make larger batches.

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Vanilla Pods I Use

8 oz Mason Jars Set of 8

Pint-Sized Mason Jars Set of 4

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

Madagascar Pods Vs. Tahitian Pods

There are a few different varieties of vanilla beans and there is a good reason to know about them when purchasing for baking or extracts. Flavor. Madagascar beans, also known as Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans are considered the gold standard of vanilla. They are similar to Mexican vanilla beans as far as their flavor notes go but they are grown outside of their native region, Mexico.

These beans are hand-pollinated by humans in a short window of time once the pods bloom. This is the reason why they are more expensive than other pods that are pollinated by bees. The reason behind this is that these vanilla beans contain more of the organic compound known as vanillin. Which is what gives vanilla beans that signature warm flavor and sweet notes.

For this, Madagascar beans are much richer than Mexican vanilla beans so you will need much fewer pods to produce the pure vanilla extract. Tahitian vanilla beans on the other hand are more often used for aroma, not actual flavor.

This is not to say they don’t have any flavor as they do but it is more of a fruity note with anise flavor which is very different from the traditional vanilla extract most of us are familiar with. When making homemade extract, it is important to use a pod that will give you the best flavor which is why I recommend using Madagascar vanilla bean pods over its counterparts. They have a much more condensed flavor that makes them easier to extract.

However, with all this to say, if you want to mix things up with your extract, you might consider using both types. This way you can create your own homemade vanilla extract recipe. 


Where do I store when ready?

This should be stored in a cool, dry place. A normal cupboard should be fine.

Can I use Tahitian vanilla pods instead?

You can but it is recommended to use the Madagascar ones as they are most often used for culinary purposes whereas the Tahitian ones are normally used for aroma and smell.

Where can I find the pods?

Under tools you might need in this blog post, I have a link there where I get them. Which is amazon. You should also be able to find them at any natural food store near you.

How can I speed up the process?

Place the extract near a sunny window for warmth. The temperature in your kitchen is going to determine the length of time this will take to properly extract and be ready for use.

If you are a bit on the impatient side, opt to make your batches during the summer months. I find making it in the summer, I can have vanilla extract in about 2 months. If you can, get into the routine of restocking your vanilla extract batches during those hot months of the year. It will have you enjoying your vanilla extract a lot sooner if you plan accordingly.

Ways To Use

  • Add vanilla to baking items like cookies, cakes, pies, and tarts.
  • It makes a great addition to smoothies, pancake batter, French toast batter, and even iced coffees.
  • I use it to make homemade ice cream, gelato, and simple syrups for desserts.
  • Add to berry compote, homemade frostings, and old-fashioned oatmeal.

More Recipes To Try…

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If you try this recipe and love it, I would appreciate you coming back to give it 5 stars!

Yield: 1-8oz jar of vanilla extract

How To Make Vanilla Extract (Full Guide)

homemade vanilla extract

a delicious solution used for baking, adding to smoothies or anything you'd like to add an essence of vanilla to

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 4 months
Total Time 4 months 10 minutes


  • 1 1/2 Madagascar vanilla bean pods
  • 8 oz vodka or rum


  1. Slice or cut vanilla pod down the center to release flavor.
  2. Slice the pods in half to fit the jar.
  3. Place 1 1/2 into the mason jar. You will need 1 1/2 pods for every 8oz of alcohol.
  4. Fill the jar to the fill line and place the lid on
  5. Place the jar on the countertop or in a room temp area of your kitchen.
  6. Allow the vanilla to soak (extract) for about 2- 4 months
  7. Make sure to check vanilla monthly as it sits as home temperatures vary and you may find it done sooner or later than the 3-4-month mark. The vanilla is ready when it has darkened and it smells of sweet vanilla. The alcohol smell will be much less pungent when it is ready for use.


  • You can use rum instead of vodka. I like swapping out the vodka at times as the rum adds a nice flavor.
  • Make sure to use fresh vanilla pods.
  • I use Madagascar vanilla pods for the best results.
  • The recipe can be easily doubled to make larger batches.

    Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 13Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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