Homemade Vanilla Extract


Vanilla extract is expensive.  It seems like every month that I look at the prices, they just keep going up and up.  But, I reckoned that it’s nothing more than vanilla beans and alcohol.  So, I started doing research to see just how to go about making my own.

Come to find out: it’s just vanilla beans and alcohol.

If you do an internet search on “making homemade vanilla extract” all of the instructions that I found the typical alcohol ingredient is vodka, and people claim that it doesn’t matter if you get the cheap stuff.

From what I understand, the higher the alcohol content, the better and more pure the end product.  So, on further research, I discovered that vodka, especially the cheap stuff, is about 80-90 proof, which makes it about 40%-45% alcohol.  Expensive vodka is about 100 proof, which is about 50% alcohol.

Everclear, on the other hand, is 190 proof, which makes it about 95% alcohol.  (The bottle had numerous warnings about it being extremely flammable.)  Therefore, the end result would be almost entirely alcohol and vanilla, with less than 5% being something else.

SO, to make really good, high quality homemade vanilla, follow these instructions…

First of all, if someone from church catches you purchasing 2 liters of 190 proof pure alcohol and asks, “What are you doing here?”  Turn, smile, and ask, “What are YOU doing here?”



For every 1 cup of alcohol, you need 3 whole vanilla beans.  I bought mine from here.  This was the most economical bulk vanilla bean we could find.

Snip the ends of the beans.

snip ends

Cut them in half lengthwise.

cut in half 2cut in half

Put them in a clean, glass container that can be sealed.  I used Mason jars.

beans in jar

Cover them with alcohol.

add alcohol

Seal the jar with a tight lid.


Store in a cool, dark place for 2 months.  Give it a good shake occasionally.

Let me break down the savings for you:

A 2-ounce bottle of McCormick pure vanilla extract at Kroger is $8.99.

There are 32 ounces in a quart.

So, a quart at regular supermarket prices would cost me $144.

I bought half a pound of beans at $29.  That half pound will make 6 quarts of extract.  So, if I break it down to quarts, I paid $5 for the beans and $13.99 for the alcohol.

That’s $19 total that I paid to make a quart of vanilla extract.

Total cost savings: $125.

I’m making 6 quarts with my half-pound of beans.  I intend to buy fancy bottles and give them away next Christmas.  (If you’re on my Christmas list and reading this, cover your ears and say, “La-la-la.”)

My total savings for all 6 quarts is $750.


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