Homemade vanilla extract is one of my favorite things that I made for my family for Christmas. It is so easy to make, but it really is a gourmet treat. It rivals what you can buy in the fanciest stores, but is so much less expensive and you probably won’t find many with the whole vanilla beans still left in the bottle so that flavors can keep developing over time.
Traditionally, vanilla extract is made with either bourbon or vodka. For mine, I use bourbon and Jack Daniel’s Honey Tennessee Whiskey. As you can see the darker bottles are the bourbon and the lighter bottles are filled with the Honey Whiskey.
- 1 cup alcohol (bourbon, vodka, honey whiskey, etc)
- 3-5 whole vanilla beans
The key is to keep the ratio of 1 cup alcohol to 3+ vanilla beans, but you can make as much or as little as you want.
I bought all of my ingredients at Costco. First because I was making a lot and second, because I like saving money. Costco often carries Kirkland/Rodelle Vanilla beans at about $15 for 10 beans and when a single bean usually costs about $4, that is a huge discount. I also love them because they come in these great glass vials that I like to repurpose.
You will want to take each bean and split it down the center with a sharp paring knife, always moving away from your stabilizing hand and body. This allows the flavorful little beans to mix with the alcohol and what helps make this extract unique.
Combine ingredients in sealing glass containers, label, and store. This is a recipe that you should let sit for three months or more. Store the vanilla extract in a cool dark place. Feel free to shake the bottle every time you see it as you wait in anticipation to use it! I am going to make some vanilla bean ice cream with mine when it is ready.
One of the great things about homemade vanilla extract is that you can just keep adding beans and bourbon to continue developing flavor while never having to run out.