June 27, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

For years I pooh-poohed making pantry staples from scratch. Why bother? I could buy high quality versions at a grocery store and there was enough variety that I could avoid purchasing ones with problematic ingredients. (I'm looking at you, High Fructose Corn Syrup.)

Inevitably I get bored and go hunting for a fun new recipe to try...every single time I have made something that I normally just buy I am floored by how easy it was. Granola bars? No problem. Vegetable Stock? Easy. Vanilla Extract? It's so easy it's barely a recipe. You literally pour the two ingredients together and stick them in the back of a cupboard. Like most homemade versions the flavor is much stronger and cleaner than its store bought counterpart. The ingredients are easy to get. (Don't use the good vodka though-save that for your cocktails!) Vanilla beans can be pricy but I often stumble on them in places like World Market or our vegetable co-op and the prices are way better than what you see in the grocery store. Even Amazon has them!

Make this and you'll never buy vanilla extract in the grocery store again.

I dare you.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Beans

Fill a container (one with a lid of some sort) with vodka. The number of vanilla beans depends on the size of your container. I do about 5-6 per 12 oz, but that's more of a guideline than a rule. Slice each vanilla bean in half and place in the container. Store in a dark, cool place and shake occasionally. In about two months, you'll have vanilla extract!

I always have two containers of this in my cupboard. One up front that is ready to use and one in the back that is "brewing". It's really easy to rotate in and out.


  1. I usually use Madagascar bourbon vanilla. Barefoot Contessas favorite. I adore it. You think the homemade stuff beats it?

  2. This one will have a different flavor profile than the Madagascar bourbon. I really prefer this version to store-bought. You can actually use rum or bourbon instead of the vodka, and there are so many varieties of vanilla beans available now you could really make almost any type you wanted at home. In fact, that would be a good experiment for my next round. It's one more way around having to ship stuff in if you can't find the exact type you're looking for locally.

  3. Well, perhaps I shall invest in some bourbon and try inform scratch...


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