How To Make Vanilla Extract

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Shows how to make vanilla extract from start to finish. Includes packaging and tag ideas for gift giving. Definitely a great homemade gift from the heart!

Vanilla extract making supplies | Shows how to make vanilla extract from start to finish. Includes packaging and tag ideas for gift giving. Definitely a great homemade gift from the heart! |

I know we are just starting this glorious season of fall, but I wanted to share this project now so it’s ready for gift giving at Christmas. I wanted to do this last year but did not think ahead (I’m trying to get better at that!) Anyway, here is all the information you need on how to make vanilla extract. This is the perfect, homemade gift to give friends and family for Christmas. I am going to pair mine with a loaf or two of Eggnog Bread. The vanilla takes two months to cure so there is no time to lose. Let’s get started!

Supplies Needed

  • Vodka
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Scissors or a sharp knife
  • Mason jars (optional)
  • Bottles
  • Tags/ribbon
  • (links to all sources at the end)

Vanilla Extract Ratio

3 or 4 vanilla beans per 8 oz. vodka.

How To Make

Option 1: To make the vanilla in the bottles.

Wash your bottles and make sure they are very dry inside. Using a sharp knife, slit your vanilla beans lengthwise leaving one end intact. Place 3 or 4 slit vanilla beans in each 8 oz. bottle. (Use 2 beans for a 4 oz. bottle. You may need to cut the beans in half to make them fit.) Using a funnel, pour vodka into each bottle making sure the beans are covered. Cap the bottles securely. Store them in a convenient place because you need to shake each bottle about once a week.

A few months ago when I tried out this idea, I didn’t have the right kind of bottles to use for gift giving. I knew I needed to get going though so I just used mason jars. This allowed me to make the vanilla extract but decide on bottling/packaging later. So here is Option 2.

Supplies to make vanilla | Vodka and vanilla beans | Shows how to make vanilla extract from start to finish. Includes packaging and tag ideas for gift giving. Definitely a great homemade gift from the heart! |

Option 2

Round up clean mason jars with lids. (I used 16 oz. jars.) With a sharp scissors, cut your vanilla beans into thirds. Using the ratio above, place your cut vanilla beans in your jars. (I used 10 vanilla beans per 16 oz. jar. I added a few extra just to be sure.) Place the lids on the jars tightly and give them a good shake. Store them in a convenient place because you need to shake each jar about once a week.

When I was ready to bottle the vanilla, I poured the vanilla from the mason jars into a pitcher, using a strainer to catch the vanilla beans. (Make sure the pitcher has a good pouring spout.) Using a funnel, I then poured the vanilla from the pitcher into my bottles.

Bottles, twine and tags for vanilla making | Shows how to make vanilla extract from start to finish. Includes packaging and tag ideas for gift giving. Definitely a great homemade gift from the heart! |

I tried to make the labeling process as easy as possible. I avoided any configuring of stickers because sometimes that can get confusing. Here is a printable for you to make labels. 

I printed on card stock and then simply cut them out. I punched two holes in the sides and tied them to my bottles with twine. You could punch one hole in the top of the tag and tie it around the neck of the bottle. Another idea is printing on sticker paper, cutting out and adhering the label directly to the bottle.

Shows how to make vanilla extract from start to finish. Includes packaging and tag ideas for gift giving. Definitely a great homemade gift from the heart! |

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*Affiliate links included. See my disclosure statement. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More Ideas For Gift Giving

Just a reminder that this homemade vanilla extract takes two months to cure. Enjoy!


Be ready to plan and prepare
for the best holiday season ever!

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  1. My vanilla extract is processing on my counter! Removed a half a cup of vodka from the Absolut bottle, to accommodate the volume of the vanilla beans. Added our vanilla beans to both the the Absolut bottle and the extra half cup in the mason jar. Cannot wait to try the extract. Use the great labels.

    Been talking about this recipe with several of my friends, can’t wait to surprise them with a bottle at Christmastime!

    Thanks again for this recipe! Merry Christmas ????

  2. Hi! I live overseas and have been making my vanilla for a number of years. I don’t put as many vanilla beans in as you have indicated but I try to let mine sit for up to a year before I use it. I usually use vodka since I can generally get it very cheap (sometimes as little as $4 for 1 liter) but recently I made a bottle using rum. I’m wondering if I’ll notice a big difference. Do you throw your used vanilla beans away? Do you ever reuse them?
    Thanks for the post!

  3. Mine is a little cloudy. Is this normal? Appreciate your advice.

  4. Diane Smith says:

    Made my vanilla today. For some reason, I thought it would be difficult. Not at all! Hope it has enough time to do its thing….

  5. Melissa Pennell says:

    Thanks so much for the labels and recipes. I made my own vanilla last year and it went like hotcakes. Everybody loved it. I am trying Bourbon this year which I have heard is really yummy. Love your blog

  6. Sheran Steading says:

    Ann, I am so excited. The vanilla beans I ordered came in the mail today and I have been busy making the extract.

  7. Hi Ann,
    Thanks so much for the inspiration and the links!! I just completed my amazon order and am looking forward to making the vanilla and packaging it for Christmas. Looking forward to the egg nog bread recipe :)

  8. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    Ann, this has been on my to-do list forever! Love the little brown bottles and will be ordering some. My sister-in-law used to always bring me vanilla from Mexico, and I’m just about to run out. Can’t wait to make my own! And you have good taste in vodka, I might add. Absolut has always been my preferred brand and a vodka tonic is my signature cocktail. Leo wanted to know if you were watching the Notre Dame game at your house. I’m trying to convert him to a Clemson fan. The Gamecocks are having a lousy season!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh my gosh yes we were watching the game. How awful. My family was not happy. lol!

  9. Hi Ann!
    I’m a new subscriber to your blog and a huge fan of yours. I love this gift idea, your style, your pins, your recipes! Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Ellen…thank you for saying hello. Welcome to On Sutton Place!

  10. How long does it take to be ready to use?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      About 2 months Linda…thanks for stopping by!

  11. Love this and love the tag. Thanks!

  12. Ann, I would like to make the vanilla extract. I have the vodka, mason jars, and vanilla beans however, I am not sure where to purchase the dark bottles? What would you suggest? We live in a small town, our closest shopping is a hour away.

    Thank you!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kallie!
      I ordered mine from Amazon. I included links at the end of the post for everything I used. Thanks!

  13. Leila Jane says:

    Ann ~ You are a generous angel to share all of this with us! I want to try every single recipe, print the tags and try the gift wrapping ideas, too. Just this one post is worth gold to me! Thanks so much!

  14. Patti Damon says:

    I love to make my own vanilla and would like to thank you for sharing recipes for larger quantities!

    When I make vanilla, I use a good bourbon; such a rich flavor. I do, however, use vodka to make homemade kahlua.

    Thanks for all your great ideas.I am certainly one of your raving fans!

  15. Bonnie Thompson says:

    Ann, I just wanted to thank you for making things so easy for us. I love that you give all the details for completing a project. You have done all the leg work and we get to enjoy the process.


  16. Love your home tours! Just purchased bottles and vanilla beans, so planning on giving this a try. Using your option # 2, do you put the vanilla beans back….as into the “gift giving” jars? Or do you use the beans in something else??

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You could put a few of the vanilla beans back or you could place one or two whole vanilla beans in the gift giving bottle. If you use clear bottles it makes a nice presentation to see the beans. If you use the brown bottles the beans don’t show as well. Totally up to you!

  17. It’s even better made with Bourbon !

  18. Love homemade vanilla! My mom and I made some a few years ago, using bourbon instead of vodka. It was great! What I learned was – the more vanilla beans the better – 3-4 is a good amount as in your recipe. And it lasts forever. I am still adding bourbon to my vanilla beans after 2 years. But I think it’s time for a fresh batch, with vodka this time. Thanks Ann!

  19. Pam @ The Birch Cottage says:

    Ann, I absolutely love this idea! So, what is the shelf life for the vanilla? How do you know when it’s “ready”? Can you use other flavors of vodka or should we stick with plain vodka?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Pam!
      The shelf life of vanilla is as long as the shelf life of alcohol which is forever…but I would not keep it for longer than 5 years. I’m talking about pure vanilla extract not imitation vanilla extract. It’s ready when the vodka has become a very dark brown. I would stick with plain vodka if you want the pure vanilla flavor. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. We started making our own vanilla last year. We’ll never go back to commercial. Homemade is so much better! This is a perfect gift; one that any home cook or baker will appreciate. I used a locally made organic vodka that wasn’t so great as is, but made fantastic vanilla extract.

    1. Dorene @ Seasonal Chapters says:

      I am ordering the supplies now and can’t wait to try this! My children are now in college, but I would have loved the idea of giving a jar of this with a pretty label along with some homemade baked goods as teacher gifts when they were younger. Thank you so much for sharing such a fun recipe and great gift idea.

  21. I did not know pure vanilla had vodka in it!!

  22. Ann, Want to try this for gifts. Please, is it possible to get downloadable labels that can be used as a pdf without having to sign up for another app? Thanks.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Pam!
      I just added a link so you can download a pdf. Hope this helps!

  23. Diane Smith says:

    This is a great idea! I just retired in June after 30 years of teaching & this is just the kind of project I’ve been wanting to try! Love your blog!
    ps Are you in Ohio? I’m in Willoughby.
    pps Maybe mamawinn will share her fig preserves recipe with you…and you can share it with us. Sounds delightful!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Diane…yes I’m in Ohio. Findlay!

  24. Debrashoppeno5 says:

    What a fun Christmas gift. I definitely need to try this.

  25. I’ve never thought of making my own vanilla but you can bet I will be doing this very soon. I like the idea of this being a little happy for friends.

  26. Would you consider posting the vanilla tags in an editable format? I LOVE them and made lots of fig preserves I want to use them on for gifts! :)

  27. Ann – I’ve been making for vanilla for several years after purchasing some Rum Vanilla from one of my favorite places in IL. Now I make Rum vanilla, Vodka vanilla and Bourbon vanilla and leave the beans in the bottles. I just place them in a dark cabinet, shake about once a week. As you said – Perfect gift!! Thanks for sharing this idea. Love your quick bread recipes – always a hit and delish!

  28. How cute and what a great gift idea…..brilliant as always Ann.

  29. Love this Ann….thanks!

  30. Susan vaughn says:

    does it tast and smell like alcohol ?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Susan!
      Pure vanilla extract has a strong taste and smell…but since you use it as an ingredient it’s very hard to taste the alcohol.

  31. Jeanette Duke says:

    Wow, Ann! Awesome gifting! Last year I found a lovely bottle at TJMax that already had the vanilla beans in it. I bought that same name brand of vodka and gave it it a good friend who loves to cook a lot. She loved it! I will be printing your tags so I can do this again sometime. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Coleen Guest says:

    Am so going to make this! Ordering the bottles and beans now. Thank you so much for the instructions, tags and links! You’re the best!

  33. This is AWESOME, Ann!!! I love this idea! Love your labels too:) Thanks for sharing this recipe!