Homemade Vanilla Extract & 10 Ways to Use It

Posted on May 11, 2013 in Blog, Fermentation, Recipes | 16 comments

Homemade Vanilla Extract & 10 Ways to Use It

I ran out of vanilla extract a couple of months ago and haven’t been able to bring myself to buy more since discovering this great recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract from the Two Tarts blog.  With the knowledge of a simple and easy vanilla extract recipe that I could prepare at home came the feeling of excitement about the possibility of making it myself. Not only do I love making as many things from scratch as humanly possible, but why buy the stuff at $3.40 per oz when I can make it for almost a third of the price ($1.24 per oz)?!

The whole process is very simple. The prep takes only five minutes after which it needs to steep for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. I intend to use this waiting time to brainstorm all of the delicious uses for vanilla extract that I can think of! So far, I’ve come up with quite a list! Here’s how I’ll be using my homemade vanilla extract:

Cream Soda Water Kefir

Vanilla Whipped Cream

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Salt

Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows

Vanilla Coffee Beans

and of course…

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are not big on the flavor of vanilla but like its scent, you can try dabbing some behind your ears for Vanilla Perfume. There are other home & body uses for homemade vanilla extract such as using it to soothe burns, freshen up your home, as aromatherapy, and for weight loss. Check out these creative in-the-home uses for homemade vanilla extract!

Homemade Vanilla Extract & 10 Ways to Use It - CreativeSimpleLife.com

Most folks like the neutral flavor of vodka when making homemade vanilla extract, but you can also use other alcohols like rum or bourbon. Feel free to experiment! If you are not good at playing the waiting game, you can start using your homemade vanilla extract after 6 weeks even the below recipe calls for 8 weeks.

After that I recommend leaving the beans submerged in the vodka to continue imparting flavor. Keep in mind, however, that if your vanilla beans become exposed to the air, things could get funky. When this happens, either add a bit more vodka to your bottle to keep ’em covered, or strain your homemade vanilla extract for long-term storage and start over with fresh beans!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 Vanilla Beans
  • 1 Cup Vodka (I used organic)
  1. Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise to allow the vodka easier access to the beans.
  2. Place the beans in a glass jar, cutting them in half if necessary so that the vodka will cover them completely.
  3. Pour the vodka over the beans and place a lid on your jar.
  4. Give the jar a shake every day, or whenever you think of it, for at least 6 weeks and then once a week after that.

Homemade Vanilla Extract @ CreativeSimpleLife.com

Need a good source for vanilla beans? Check your local spice shop first. If you don’t have a local spice shop, I have heard good things about Beanilla.com. There is also always Amazon.com. Happy hunting!

Get Started!


  1. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to share this with my readers on Facebook. This is a really great idea for unique gift giving as well! Where did you find the cute bottle for your extract?

  2. This is one of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to, but haven’t yet. It’s so easy, and I have no excuses. Thanks for making it so simple!

  3. When your beans are done, take them out and leave them on the counter to dry for a few hours, then drop them in your sugar container.

  4. I didn’t know vanilla extract was made w/ vodka. What happens to the alcohol in it after all those weeks?

    • The vodka becomes infused with the vanilla and can then be used as vanilla extract.

  5. Organic Vodka? I didn’t know it existed. Please, tell me what the brand name is.

  6. How safe is that for a pregnant woman to use? I’ve never really thought about what was IN vanilla extract and use so little anyway…so I imagine it’s just as good as buying a nice bottle of the stuff…

    • I’m no expert, but vanilla seems to be totally safe for pregnant women in food amounts. It’s still vodka though, so just don’t take shots! ; ) A little bit in cooking should be just fine.

  7. This is awesome. I wondering how it could be made even alcohol free?!

    • The alcohol is what extracts the vanilla flavor from the beans, so it’s kind of essential. However, if you want to avoid even trace amounts of alcohol, make vanilla sugar instead. You can use substitute it in most baking recipes – just be sure to reduce the amount of regular sugar!

  8. I’m a Kentucky Bourbon girl myself and I make mine with Jim Beam and love, love, love it! ; )

  9. Do you ever remove the vanilla bean from the bottle, or just leave it in the bottle during use?

    • I’ve always left mine in but technically it’s more ‘proper’ to remove it and strain out the bits.


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