Only two ingredients!
This year I wanted to try my hand at some homemade Christmas gifts for friends and family. I found a vanilla extract recipe that was simple and easy and with small children here at home, I’m all about that! Get it done quickly and with minimal effort… but with love of course! I won’t make you read through a long intro like most recipe pages do so here it is—
What are the two magical ingredients? Vanilla beans and vodka! Some let them infuse for as little as 8 weeks but 6-12 months is ideal.
Homemade vanilla extract is easy to make. It tastes WAY better than store-bought too, because it’s pure and strong and it’s not filled with artificial additives.
1. Vanilla Beans. You can find vanilla beans at most grocery stores in the spice aisle. I called around my area to see what the stores had to offer and a few places carried them but they were $$$. One of my local spice shops was selling them for $10+ PER BEAN. That wasn’t going to work. I needed at least 30 beans! You’re going to want Madagascar or Tahitian beans when picking some out. Look for the label “Grade B” because they are sold specifically for extracting purposes. Grade A will work fine if you can’t find B. I highly recommend these beans. They’re long and plump and the price is excellent. I got 3 packs for a total of 30 beans.
Madagascar Vanilla – very common and has a creamy and rich flavor
Mexican Vanilla – has a darker, almost smoky flavor
Tahitian Vanilla – also very common and has a rich floral flavor
2. Vodka. Vodka is most commonly used for making vanilla extract but you can also use bourbon, brandy or even rum! It’s rare that people suggest buying the cheap stuff but in this case, it really doesn’t matter what kind of vodka you use because the vanilla flavor takes right over. Just make sure it is 80 proof. Avoid flavored vodka because it uses artificial flavors which kind of defeats the purpose of making this recipe. We used Smirnoff and got the big 1.5L bottle.
3. Glass jars. If you’re keeping this for personal use, I suppose you could just use the vodka bottle, however if you’re making gifts you’ll need some jars to put them in. Glass is best! I chose these because of the rubber seal and style of the bottle.
4. A Funnel. Completely optional. I didn’t use one but I imagine it would be very helpful!
I like to cut the beans in half before placing in the bottles.
Store the infusing vanilla out of direct sunlight and give it a little shake once per week.
5-6 beans makes 8 ounces of vanilla extract. I purchased six 8.5oz bottles, a 1.5L bottle of vodka, 30 vanilla beans and then we were all set!
While not necessary, if you let the vanilla sit 12+ months, it’s is incredible! If you have the patience, let it sit!!
As you begin to use your vanilla, you can refill with vodka each time. Give it a shake after you refill and before each use. (Beans will become a little slimy if they’re not fully submerged). If gifting, you can remove the beans beforehand. Unused aged vanilla extract (with beans fully submerged) will last several years. Without the beans, it will last almost indefinitely! If it smells good, it’s good to use. Eventually the flavor will start to weaken and you can just add new beans!
Did you make this recipe? Tag me @candidlykatelyn on Instagram so I can see!
Stay tuned because I plan to try some homemade soaps and beeswax candles soon!