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Vanilla Extract Recipe {How to Make Vanilla Extract} + Instant Pot Vanilla Extract

Making your own Vanilla Extract Recipe is so simple and makes the best handmade gift. There are even free printable labels for your own bottles! If you have a pressure cooker, I’ll even teach you to make Instant Pot vanilla extract. This is the best vanilla extract you’ll ever try! 

three bottles of homemade vanilla extract with a dish of vanilla beans

On April 1, 2010, my husband Troy was laid off from a job he didn’t really like. It was a crushing blow to our household, and we went from possessing disposable income to scrounging for spare change to buy groceries.

That year, in an effort to find costs savings everywhere, I decided to make homemade Christmas and holidays presents. Among the many things I crafted that year, making this vanilla extract recipe was the most successful.

Nine years later, and it is still one of the most requested gifts from friends and family.

This homemade vanilla extract makes everything taste better. It is the defining tasted in Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge. It makes these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls almost over the top, and there is a chance you’ll take one bite of these Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies and punch a wall.

Hard.

Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract?

Heck yes, it is!

With the price of vanilla beans these days, storebought extract is very spendy. By making your own, you control the ingredients and can even reuse the vanilla beans (see notes below).

And while you’re making the best vanilla extract, try your hand at Homemade Peppermint Extract.

Vanilla Extract Ingredients

This vanilla extract recipe uses just two ingredients:

What kind of alcohol is used in vanilla extract?

I have used both vodka and bourbon in the past and strongly prefer vodka. I felt that the bourbon took forever to “turn” into a finished product. The taste in cooking and baking wasn’t much different and given the cost, I continually find myself returning to using vodka.

When choosing alcohol to use in this recipe, there is no need to use a top-shelf product. Frankly, I purchase the Costco Kirkland Signature brand vodka for my extract and it works great at a low price. It even comes in a plastic bottle with a screw top. 🙂

vanilla beans and vodka in a jar for homemade vanilla extract

Where to Buy Vanilla Beans

When purchasing vanilla beans, you’ll find the cost savings come by buying in bulk. Many grocery stores charge $7-9 per bean! I purchase mine on Amazon (these are my new favorite), but restaurant supply stores are also good resources.

Store the beans that you are not using in a cool dry place. I double wrap mine in freezer ziploc bags and keep them in our pantry.

Can You Reuse Vanilla Beans for Extract?

Yes, you can! 

With the rising cost of vanilla beans, I never discard them once a batch of vanilla has been finished. You can put a piece of vanilla bean in each gift bottle for a cool visual look. I simply keep them in the brewing bottles, add another bean or two, and make a new batch of extract!

Additionally, you could use spent beans for flavoring earl grey milk tea, homemade strawberry ice cream, Raspberry Lemon Creme Brulee or vanilla sugar.

How to Make Instant Pot Vanilla Extract 

*You’ll find a printable recipe card and non-instant pot instructions at the bottom of this post.

Chop the vanilla beans in half, place in an 8 oz or pint canning jar. Add vodka. Add the lid and ring and tighten to fingertip tight.

Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot and place a wire rack inside. Add the jars.

Two photos showing how to make homemade vanilla extract in an instant pot

Put the lid on the Instant Pot, set the vent to “sealing” and press Manual>high pressure>30 minutes. If you have any questions about Instant Pot cooking terms, check out this post on Instant Pot for Beginners.

Allow for a natural release. Carefully remove the hot jars from the Instant Pot and place on a towel to fully cool. Store in a cool dry place.

Some people find the vanilla ready to use after a month or so, but I highly recommend you let this product wait and mature. The longer you allow it to sit, the more intense the overall flavor will be.

How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last?

Booze is a long-term preservative, so your homemade vanilla extract is safe to consume for years after making it. Just like a fine wine, this vanilla extract recipe is going to get better with age.

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You may notice that the Instant Pot extract still smells of alcohol after the extract process. This is normal and the alcohol smell should fade over the next week.
  • I have an 8 quart Instant Pot and chose to use two 8 oz jam jars for this process.
  • Some recipes will have directions to place the jars in the Instant Pot uncovered. I find this caused too much evaporation of the vodka during the pressure cooking process.
  • Fingertip tight means you tighten the lid and ring and then loosen it just a tiny bit. This should prevent the jar from forming an actual seal. If that does happen, use a bottle opener and pop it loose when it has cooled. There is no harm in it sealing.

How to Store Homemade Vanilla Extract

You’ll want to keep your extract in a cool dark place. When you’re ready to decant it to other bottles for gifting, an amber or blue glass bottle can help protect the integrity of the product.

These are the brown bottles you’ll see in my photos.

WANT PRINTABLE LABELS FOR YOUR OWN HOMEMADE Vanilla EXTRACT?

Click this link to download and print the template I use. Labels print to Avery print to edge round labels in kraft brown (Avery 22808).

More Homemade Recipes Like This

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

three bottles of homemade vanilla extract with a dish of vanilla beans
Print
5 from 11 votes
Vanilla Extract Recipe {How to Make Vanilla Extract}
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Making your own Vanilla Extract Recipe is so simple and makes the best handmade gift. This is the best vanilla extract you'll ever try!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade vanilla extract
Servings: 48 servings
Calories: 20 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
Traditional Long Steep Instructions
  1. For every cup of vodka or bourbon, use 4 vanilla beans 

  2. Cut each vanilla bean down the middle to access the insides. Put them in an air-tight container with a screw on lid (I use mason jars), and put in a sunny window for a week. Shake daily.

  3. After a week is up, transfer to a cool dark location like a pantry or closet.  Shake every few days to help distribute the vanilla flavor and to activate the infusing action.

  4. The vanilla will be ready when the liquor has turned very dark and smells strongly of vanilla and not alcohol.  To gift, distribute amongst smaller bottles, and put a fun label on it. Do not strain or filter the vanilla; part of the magic of homemade vanilla extract is the little flecks of vanilla bean that infuses itself in your cooking.

How to Make Instant Pot Vanilla Extract 
  1. Chop the vanilla beans in half, place in an 8 oz or pint canning jar. Add vodka. Add the lid and ring and tighten to fingertip tight.

  2. Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot and place a wire rack inside. Add the jars.

  3. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, set the vent to “sealing” and press Manual>high pressure>30 minutes.

  4. Allow for a natural release. Carefully remove the hot jars from the Instant Pot and place on a towel to fully cool. Store in a cool dry place.

Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Extract Recipe {How to Make Vanilla Extract}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 20
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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44 comments on “Vanilla Extract Recipe {How to Make Vanilla Extract} + Instant Pot Vanilla Extract”

  1. I started my August 2, 2019. I opened it yesterday and it smells super vodka’y. I used a different recipe which said 2 months and it would be done. Do you think it would be okay to put in the instant pot now? It seems like it might help speed up the process. The recipe I used was 10 Grade B Madagascar vanilla beans per 2 cups vodka. I did put in an qt. mason jar so it’s about half full. I appreciate any guidance you can give as I hate for this to go to waste…pretty pricey beans!

    • Hi Lisa, the good news is it will eventually turn into vanilla extract no matter what you do. It’s not wasted!

      Did you shake your jars daily for a week or so when you first made it? Do you have a sunny window you could put it in for a week to activate it? I would try those two things for 7 days. If it isn’t any better, then go ahead and do the instant pot method. You’ll need to divide it into smaller jars for the processing.