Homemade Vanilla Extract That’s Worth the Wait

While doing some spring cleaning Brian and I discovered we had a major surplus of vodka. We’re talking about an extra 4 or 5 bottles taking up space in our bar area. And since it’s not the go-to spirit for either of us, we needed another way to put the supply to good use. I’ve always wanted to make my own vanilla extract and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon by somethingwewhippedup.com

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon by somethingwewhippedup.com

Actually mixing the ingredients together couldn’t be simpler. It’s the waiting, and waiting, and waiting that’s the hard part. But after 2 months, I have to admit I’m pretty impressed with the final product. I’ve already tried it out in Lemon-Blueberry French Toast Cups and a batch of Orange-Maple Popcorn, and we can’t wait to try more. There are a few different techniques to make this product, but I found the best result to come from the easiest one. Lucky us!

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon

Makes 1 375ml bottle

  • 13 whole vanilla beans
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 cup vodka

1. Use a pairing knife to put a slit down the side of each vanilla bean. Place them into your bottle and top with the bourbon and vodka, making sure the entire bean is submerged. If your beans are long you may need to cut them in half. Top with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Store the bottle in a cool dark place for at least two months. The longer you let it sit, the more the flavor will mature. Gently shake your bottle every week or so to help mix the contents up. When two months have passed, remove the beans. You can strain out the extract if you like, but I prefer to leave the little flecks of vanilla in for extra flavor. Transfer to smaller jars if you’ll be sharing.

SWWU Tip 1: Do not leave the beans in the extract unless you plan to top it off with more vodka after each use. Leaving them exposed will allow the beans to go bad and your extract will be ruined.

SWWU Tip 2: Save used beans to make a sweet vanilla sugar. I’ll post about that soon!

SWWU Tip 3: You can use any size jar or bottle for this that you like. We used an empty Hudson Whiskey bottle because it was the right size to fit into our spice drawer. 

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