Homemade Vanilla (& Bourbon Vanilla!) Extract

Homemade Vanilla (& Bourbon Vanilla!) Extract


Homemade vanilla extract! Not only will this make your bakes even more delicious, but it makes the perrrfect gift for the baker in your life!

homemade vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is used in 90% of baking recipes. But have you ever considered how its made?? Homemade vanilla extract honestly couldn’t be easier. But the most important thing you need? Patience! ‘Cos you’ll need to let these sit in a dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks before using them.

How do you make homemade vanilla extract?!

Honestly, vanilla extract comprises of two ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Vanilla Pods

Seriously. Its that simple.
Now you may be thinking…but wait, I don’t want my bakes to be alcoholic!? The alcohol evaporates throughout the baking process, so there’s no fear there. You’re just left with the delicious vanilla flavour of the extract.

vanilla extract

But why would I want to make my own?

I get it. You can buy the little bottles in the supermarket and they seem pretty decent! But. Think about how expensive a tiny bottle of vanilla is. In Tesco you’re talking £1.90 for a homebrand 60ml bottle. £2.60 for Dr. Oetker. And a whopping £6.99 for Nielsen-Massey!!

(Though no hate, I absolutely love Nielsen-Massey!! Their extracts and branding are so dreamy!!)

But with homemade vanilla extract you can create a much bigger quantity, choose the vanilla yourself and all for the price of a cheap bottle of vodka and some vanilla pods.

Seriously, you don’t want to be using a fancy vodka for this. Homebrand is perfect!


Do I have to use vodka?

For extracts, you generally want the alcohol to be clear and without a strong taste. So that the vanilla flavour comes through.

Now in saying that, I obviously have a vanilla bourbon extract in the photos above! I wanted to create this aswell, as bourbon is such a gorgeous flavour and pairs so well with vanilla. I wouldn’t use an extract like this for all bakes, as obviously the flavour of the bourbon will come through. This will instead be saved for special recipes where the flavours will work!

So you could use gin or white rum for your extract, but generally vodka is best.

vanilla bourbon extract

Okay, so how long does it take to make vanilla extract?

Once you’ve combined your vodka and vanilla pods, you want to leave the sealed bottles in a dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks. Giving the bottles a shake every week or so. This will give the vanilla pods enough time to steep and release their flavour.

The photo below on the left is on the day I bottled the extracts – see how clear the vodka bottles are? The photo on the right is a month later – see how the colour has deepened into a beautiful amber??

I personally like to leave my extract for 2 months, as I think this gives the best flavour. But you could use it from 6 weeks onwards.

Now, the big reason I wanted to post this ‘recipe’ (seems too simple to call it a recipe!) today, was that these can make a brilliant Christmas gift for the bakers in your life! And if you start this weekend, they’ll be ready just in time 😉

And LOOK HOW CUTE THEY LOOK! (Yes I enjoyed doing a christmas shoot in October!)

christmas gifts

So what are you waiting for?! Make your baking extra fancy with your very own homemade vanilla extract! 🙂

On with the recipe!
homemade vanilla extract

Homemade Vanilla (& Bourbon Vanilla!) Extract

Aimee Field
Homemade vanilla extract! Not only will this make your bakes even more delicious, but it makes the perrrfect gift for the baker in your life!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine British
Servings 3 Bottles


  • 640 ml vodka/bourbon
  • 9 vanilla pods


  • Firstly, wash three small preserve bottles in very hot water, or put them through a cycle in the dishwasher. Then thoroughly dry.
  • Divide the vanilla pods between the bottles and pour the vodka/bourbon into each. Making sure the vanilla pods are completely submerged in the alcohol. Then seal the bottles.
  • Leave the bottles in a dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks, giving them a shake every week or so. Ideally leave them for 2 months before using.
  • Once the extracts are ready to use, remove the vanilla pods from the bottles and discard. Once the extract is in use and the pods aren't fully submerged they will begin to go slimy, so its best to remove them.
Keyword bourbon, vanilla extract, vanilla pods, vodka

Looking for more edible gift ideas? Why not try my strawberry jam? Salted caramels? Or candy pretzel rods?!

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