Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Roots & Boots

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Well, I finally crossed off “Homemade Vanilla Extract” from my DIY bucket list. And as it turns out, it’s so easy that I’m embarrassed to have put it off for so long!

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Roots & Boots
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Homemade Vanilla Extract tastes amazing, is more cost effective than pure vanilla extract from the store, and makes a great gift.  In fact, if you get started right away, you can even give Homemade Vanilla Extract as a gift this Christmas.

All you need is vanilla beans, vodka, and glass jars.  For gift giving, you’ll want cute jars and possibly cute labels, too.  Read on for instructions and gift giving details…

The Beans

Choose from Madagascar, African/Ugandan, or Tahitian vanilla beans.

  • Madagascar: traditional rich and creamy
  • African/Ugandan: bold and smokey
  • Tahitian: floral and fruity

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Roots & Boots
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The Booze

Choose a high quality liquor that is at least 35% alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, brandy or rum.  I used Tito’s Vodka, which is certified gluten-free.

Gift Giving

To jazz up your vanilla bottles for gift-giving, add a label or tag!  Options abound: make it yourself, use free printables, or order premade labels.

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Roots & Boots
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You’ll also need bottles.  Recycled bottles of any size are just fine for my own use, but new 4 oz bottles work best for gift-giving.  Feeling generous?  Use an 8 oz bottle.

Dark glass bottles are best, but if you store your vanilla in a dark place you can probably get away with a clear bottle.  Check your favorite craft, dollar, or thrift stores, or make it simple and order from Amazon.  Amazon options below…

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Homemade Vanilla Extract | Roots & Boots
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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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  • Author: Kathleen | Roots & Boots


  • 38 vanilla beans*
  • 8 oz vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum
  • (glass jars)


  1. Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise. You want to pierce one side of the pod without cutting through to the opposite side of the bean. Essentially, you’re cutting open the pod (as opposed to slicing the pod in half.)
  2. Insert beans into jars.
  3. Add vodka.
  4. Place jars in a cool, dark spot to steep for 2 to 4 months.**


  1. Click here to shop my favorite kitchen tools and real food ingredients.
  2. Opinions vary widely on the number of vanilla beans required per 8 ounces of alcohol.
  3. Opinions also vary on the length of time for steeping. Generally speaking, the bigger the container, the longer the steeping time. For gift-giving purposes, you can always include a little note or tag with instructions to “open on January 30th”, for example.


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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Jackie on 05/23/2017 at 6:26 pm

    This is such a fun gift idea. Hubby actually made it and gave it to me a few years ago. We need to make it again soon!

    • Kathleen on 05/24/2017 at 3:11 am

      Wow, good job, hubby! I’m impressed. 🙂

  2. Kelly on 05/25/2017 at 12:19 am

    I just bought vanilla extract!! This sounds so easy to make.

    • Kathleen on 05/25/2017 at 3:04 am

      It is! Let me know how it turns out… 🙂

  3. Nikki on 05/25/2017 at 2:01 pm

    I just ordered vanilla beans to try this – it’s been on my to do list forever!! Can’t wait!

  4. Aubrey on 05/30/2017 at 3:15 pm

    This is a great gift idea! I received it as a gift in a beautiful bottle from a friend and have been meaning to do the same thing during the upcoming holiday season. And the best part is that I can do it away ahead of time before the holiday rush!

    • Kathleen on 05/30/2017 at 3:46 pm

      Yes! You have plenty of time for holiday gift giving. ?

  5. Brendon McIntire on 10/26/2017 at 11:46 am

    How many vanilla beams do you use per 8oz of liquid? I want to make sure I use enough….don’t want weak tasting vanilla. ?

  6. Rebecca MIller on 10/11/2018 at 2:56 pm

    For children, you can only use this when cooking right?

    • Kathleen on 10/22/2018 at 6:17 pm

      I use it anytime vanilla extract is called for.

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