Homemade vanilla extract in a vodka bottle.

How to Make the Easiest Vanilla Extract

My recipe is not super technical – there are some people who get SUPER into their vanilla extract. I’m just a mom who wants some decent vanilla extract without putting all her mental energy into it.

I use a ‘mother jar’ type method. I can get multiple uses out of one batch of beans.

To make, I use 1 bean per 100ml/4oz of white rum or vodka. Every one will tell you a different amount…this is what works for me. Don’t get fancy but buy a midrange one here. I buy beans off of Amazon. There are obviously fancier places to buy them but…this works for me. How many times can I say “this works for me?”. I’m just trying to keep on plugging along here guys, not win any awards.

Bottle of white rum ready to be made into vanilla extract.

Cut your beans in half lengthwise, I keep intact at one end. Pour off a little bit of alcohol into a cup/jar to make sure you won’t overflow your bottle. Put the beans into the bottle, top up with alcohol. Now put the lid on, give it a good shake and put it somewhere you’ll see it, and occasionally give it a shake. Maybe once a week? I put it by my above fridge chocolate stash because I see that a lot more often than that…

There! You made vanilla extract!

Vanilla beans on a wood cutting board.

The hardest part of making vanilla extract is…waiting six months to use it. Womp womp. So stop putting off making it and just do it so you can enjoy it sooner rather than later! I put it off and “never got around to it” for…years. Don’t be me. Learn from my mistakes. Prime yourself some beans and put vodka on your grocery list (or be like me, who at 8 months pregnant, asks her husband to buy her a bottle of vodka or rum and he goes for what?? Um, for drinking of course! More ?? Looks from the husband. No no no I just need to make more vanilla extract…).

When the extract has aged 6 months, I pour off half the bottle into something easy to use for baking, usually just a pint jar, and refill it with more alcohol. It’s okay if you had rum and then refilled it with vodka or vice versa. Heck, use whiskey if you want. Nobody is going to call the vanilla police on you. (And if they do…you get to say “thats cool, but this works for me…”)

Vanilla beans in a new bottle of rum to make vanilla extract.

By the time I have used my pint jar of vanilla extract…the original bottle with the beans has been sitting for months now! I do one more round of pour off half, refill it again. I feel the beans are exhausted at this point, and by the time I am done my second pint jar pour off, I then begin using the original jar. This is what my bottle of vanilla extract looks like now (below), it’s not as potent as the first round, but still absolutely delicious. This is my cue to get a new round going so by the time this is all done, I’ve got another batch ready to start enjoying. 

What about using this in things for kids and pregnant woman?? Well, alcohol cooks off in cooking and baking, leaving you with the vanilla flavour. Even in something like uncooked ice cream, I am not worried about 2 tsp of alcohol over 5-6 cups of milk/cream…but thats a decision you get to decide for your own family.

Homemade vanilla extract in a vodka bottle.

If you don’t keep alcohol in the house, I’ve heard of making vanilla glycerite as an alcohol-free option. I’ve never made it but a quick Google search tells me it’s out there.

Homemade vanilla extract in a vodka bottle.
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract is super easy. Grab a bottle of rum and some vanilla beans and all that's left is the waiting.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 bottle
Calories: 10kcal


  • 1 bottle white rum or vodka 750 ml
  • 8 vanilla beans *one bean per 100 ml/4 oz


  • Cut your beans in half lengthwise, I keep intact at one end. Pour off a little bit of alcohol into a cup/jar to make sure you won't overflow your bottle. I had a 750ml bottle of white rum, and I used 8 beans, and didn't overflow it, although it was very full.
  • Store out of direct sunlight and somewhere you will remember to give it a shake once a week or so.
  • After six months, I like to pour about half of the finished bottle into a jar for easy use. I then top off the bottle with more alcohol. By the time I need to dip into it again it has aged enough.
  • I will top it off one more time after emptying half, and I feel that's about as much as my vanilla beans can handle. So essentially you are getting 2 full 750 bottles of vanilla extract with your original beans.


Serving: 1tsp | Calories: 10kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

Use up that vanilla!


  • Wendy

    I need to make some vanilla again. I use about a liter a year so I should probably get onto it. Pre-restrictions my in-laws would bring me a bottle of mexican vanilla when they went on vacation. I wonder if I can get mexican vanilla beans.

  • swienerts

    I have been wanting to make my own vanilla for years. So….. with the encouragement of restrictions I finally jumped on that train and got it done….Now……we wait.?

    • Julia

      You actually need to weigh your beans. To get a true extract you need 1oz of beans to 8oz of alcohol. The reason you need to weigh the beans is because beans come in all sizes and you might need as little as 3 beans and as many as 12 beans, otherwise you are getting vanilla flavor not extract.

  • Jan

    5 stars
    I made vanilla from another recipe and didn’t split open the beans! It’s been sitting for 6 months should I split the beans now for a 2nd round and pour off half? Or is it wasted? Looks brown but light. Taste okay but not strong.

    • karenmouat@gmail.com

      I would take out the vanilla beans, split them and put them back in. The alcohol is a preservative so it should be just fine.

  • Alexis S

    I used 190 proof vodka due to not being used up for tinctures. 10 beans were put in; should the alcohol content be brought down a little by adding some water? Or is it not a concern? Would the higher alcohol content change the steeping time before use?

    They have been steeping for about a month.

    • karenmouat@gmail.com

      It shouldn’t change anything for making vanilla. It will just be really potent and good!

  • Cindy Mandernach

    I just made vanilla in my instant pot last Saturday. One hour in the instant pot and natural release and done and dark. Darker than the bottle that I started in October. No wait!! ?

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