Homemade Vanilla – $3.47

It’s not hard to find a homemade vanilla recipe out there, especially on Pinterest, but I wanted to not only show you how to do it, but why you should do it and where to find the supplies.


1. First of all, homemade vanilla makes an excellent gift. You may think it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts, but vanilla needs to sit for several months. So now is the perfect time to start thinking ahead.

2. It tastes betterStore-bought imitation vanilla extract doesn’t actually contain any real vanilla. If you’re baking something simple, like shortbread cookies for example, great vanilla is essential.

3. It’s cheaper. An 8 oz. bottle of store-bought pure vanilla will run you about $20. Making it yourself costs about $3.47. Come on! That’s even cheaper than 8 oz. of crap artificial vanilla!


You need 3 things:

Get a pot of water boiling.

With tongs, carefully fill each bottle with boiling water…

And then dump the water out. Since this is going to be sitting for several months, we want to make sure there’s nothing funky whatsoever inside these bottles. Set the bottles aside upside down so any remaining water will fall out.

Cut open your vanilla beans right down the middle with a sharp knife.

Carefully, with your knife, scrape out the seeds from each side.

Put the vanilla bean seeds and the beans, folded in half, inside the bottle. You’ll probably want at least 3 beans per 8 ounces of vodka.

Since I need this vanilla to be usable in the near future, I wanted to boost the vanilla extraction process. My theory is that a warmed up vodka would help give this process a boost. So, I took the cap off of the glass vodka bottles and placed them in the hot water that was already prepared on the stove for about 5-7 minutes. Don’t boil the vodka.

Make sure your bottles are ready to roll.

Mmmm that’s pretty.

With a funnel, carefully pour the vodka in the jars. You may need to use a towel or oven mit if your vodka bottles are too hot to handle.

As you can see, within just a few minutes, the vodka was already turning colors. If the vodka was cold, I don’t believe it would have happened this quickly. Thus, I’m sticking by my theory that warm vodka gets the process going more quickly.

You can let them cool for a few minutes, or just put the lids on immediately if the vodka’s not too hot.

Since I’m selling these at an upcoming festival, I went ahead and put them right back in the box that the bottles came in, closed it, and stored it in a cool, dry place. Every few days I’ll shake each bottle to help the extraction process. Or, at least, I’ll feel like I’m contributing and get to look at the pretty jars.

This is how much vanilla beans I had left! I was able to buy bulk Vanilla Beans, which only cost about $.35 per bean! Guys, last Christmas I bought ONE vanilla bean for $9 at the grocery store! Bulk is better.

If you end up making 12 bottles to sell or for presents like I did, and if you buy 3 liters of vodka, you should have a little left over for yourself. Easiest gift ever!

Now, this vanilla should technically be usable in about 2 months. But ideally, letting it sit for 5-6 months will give you the best, most potent flavor. So start now and you’ll be happy by the time Christmas rolls around–whether for baking or for gifts!

  • 8 oz. Vodka – $2.42
  • 3 Beans – $1.05
  • Total – $3.47 each

About Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She’s also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She’s the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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Categories: Condiments, Dessert, Featured, Herbs, Liquids, etc., Recipes, Recipes by Ingredient, Recipes by Meal

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Comments for Homemade Vanilla – $3.47 are now closed.

  1. How long does the vanilla last? A year? Indefinitely?

    • Yep, indefinitely!

  2. I have always wanted to try this! Great post!

  3. http://www.ebay.com/itm/330778950873?var=540075265284&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    You can get vanilla beans for way cheaper on Ebay if you are comfortable buying them that way. The link above is for a seller that has 100% positive feedback and is selling madagascar vanilla beans in various quantities. 25 beans are selling for $9.50 including shipping.

    • Hey Cathy, thanks for the comment! The beans I had referred to came out to about 35 cents per bean, and the ebay beans came out to about 38 cents per bean. Still really cheap! I remember paying $10 for 1 bean last Christmas from the grocery store, so both of these options are just lovely.

  4. Thanks for the prompt response! That totally makes sense. My vanilla beans are already ordered, & I’m hoping to purchase bottles tonight. One more thing: Do you know why some people swear by amber bottles, instead of clear ones? They recommend them but won’t say why. Some bottles boast UV protection, but if you keep them in a pantry or box, I can’t figure out why that would matter.

    • I agree with you, Tammy. If the bottles are being stored in a pantry or dark place, I don’t see why amber bottles would be any better. I have mine in clear bottles and I think it’ll taste just as good, and with clear bottles you can see what’s going on in there and if your vanilla’s ready to use or not!

  5. Your post got me started in wanting to make this for Christmas gifts this year. Other posts I’ve looked at recommend making it in a gallon- or half-gallon-sized glass jar and then straining it through a coffee filter before bottling it to give away. Have you found there to be any sediment in yours? Thanks!

    • Hey Tammy! That could work too if you’d prefer to not have any sediment in your jars. But the sediment is the good stuff! That’s the expensive, tasty, lovely-to-look-at vanilla seeds that end up in your food. Also, the longer the bean sits in the vodka, the stronger it gets, and I don’t see much of a reason to hinder it from growing in strength! Personally, I wouldn’t dare strain it, but do whatever your heart desires 🙂

      • Makes sense. Thanks! I think maybe I’ll include a tiny coffee filter with a note about it for the gifts.

        • Oh, that’s a great idea, Tammy! If they do decide to strain it, you could also them that if they put the bean and reside in with a bag of sugar, it makes vanilla sugar, which is awesome in recipes or tea!

  6. Thank you for such a complete and excellent article with the great pictures. I bought a vanilla making kit at our local farmers market to get started. I didn’t know anything about it at the time but I do now. I think I spent $25 for the kit. I add a lil bit of vodka to the jar after each use. Its wonderful. Thanks again. I will buy the beans in bulk. BTW I LOVE that you focus on the $ part because so many people think you can’t eat healthy CHEAPLY but you can-keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Elaine! Glad you liked the article and agree that you CAN eat healthy cheaply 🙂