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

three bottles of homemade vanilla extract with a dish of vanilla beans
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In 2010, in an effort to find cost 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.

Eleven 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, store-bought 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 ever, 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. Fancy 🙂

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 start a new batch of extract.

Additionally, you could use spent beans for flavoring London Fog Lattes, 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 them 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 Recipes 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. The Instant Pot merely jumpstarts the extract process; it doesn’t make it immediately ready to use.

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.


Click this link to print the template I use. The label template uses Avery print to edge round labels in kraft brown (Avery 22808).

5 from 15 ratings

Vanilla Extract Recipe {How to Make Vanilla Extract}

Servings: 48 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
three bottles of homemade vanilla extract with a dish of vanilla beans
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!



Traditional Long Steep Instructions

  • For every cup of vodka or bourbon, use 4 vanilla beans 
    4 vanilla beans (per), 1 cup vodka or bourbon
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The vanilla will be ready when the liquor has turned very dark and smells strongly of vanilla and not alcohol.  

How to Make Instant Pot Vanilla Extract 

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


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.


Calories: 20kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

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Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
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  1. I started a batch back in June, but didn’t realize I was supposed to put it in a window first. It has been in the dark the entire time, except for when I shake it, which is probably only a couple of times a week. Honestly, it seems a little weak, even after all this time. Is it ruined? Should I put it on my window sill now? Thanks in advance for any helpful advice you can offer.

    1. Nah, you’re fine. You don’t have to do the window thing; I just do it to jump-start the process.

      How many beans to how much vodka?

      1. I am almost certain it was eight beans and two cups of vodka. Maybe my beans were subpar. I bought them from Amazon, and I did slit them first. And, I put them in the vodka the day after they arrived. I am thinking of buying another batch of beans and adding them to the mix. Thanks!

  2. I just mixed up 18 oz. of this! I am so excited to give this as Christmas gifts! I hope it’s ready in 5 weeks! Thanks so much. I bought 4-oz. bottles, but I’m thinking they are too big. Maybe I’ll save them for something else and get 2-oz. ones. What size do you think is best?5 stars

    1. It depends on how many you want to give away. The blue bottle in the photo is 2 oz and I use those when I have a lot of extract to gift.

      If it isn’t ready you can always print off the labels and put a “ready by” date on there with a little piece of vanilla bean in the bottle.

  3. I have some of this brewing right now! I just checked it a few days ago and I think I need to add more beans to a few of my jars.
    I’m excited to give small jars of my vanilla extract as gifts! That’s pretty much what I use it for since I don’t do a lot of baking.5 stars

      1. I got them going on the 28th of August. I did some jars with the beans cut length wise and some with the beans cut into chunks. I can totally tell that the lengthwise beans smell more vanilla-y.5 stars

    1. I saw that post on IG Tina. I can always tell when they have been delivered because my PO Box smells amazing!!

  4. I have only ever used real vanilla extract. When I found out I could easily make my own, control the ingredients I wanted to use, and have it be cost-effective, I gave it a go and never looked back.5 stars

  5. Do you have a rough idea of how long it takes from start to finished product? The instructions don’t give a time line at all other than it being ready once it smells of vanilla more than alcohol. Are we talking one month, 3mths, 9 mths?

    I’d just like a general idea since I want to make them this year for Christmas presents.

    1. So many factors come in to play with the determining the finished product, so I purposely left it vague. Things like location of where it steeps, the temp of your house, and other things can impact the production.
      If you want it ready by Christmas, I would start it now. For the first two weeks, put it in a sunny window to “activate” the process. Then move it into a dark corner and make sure you shake it daily.

  6. We have made this in the past and we LOVE it! We went with a gluten free vodka even though from what I have read, the gluten is distilled out of regular vodka. Better safe then unhappy.

    I need to make another batch of this as we are on the last little bit of our first batch. We don’t use it often, but now that we have a soda stream, I am intrigued by the idea of putting it some fizzy water.

    How do you bottle/present this as a gift? Do you print out labels?5 stars

    1. Interesting to think about adding it to the Soda Stream. I wonder if it would taste like vanilla cream soda?

      We use little 2 oz bottles (link in the post), and I had labels printed years ago from Vistaprint. I think we still have some floating around.