Homemade Vanilla Extract



The following recipe is a no-brainer and only consists of three simple ingredients

  1. Vanilla beans
  2. Vodka
  3. Patience

But it produces

  1. One very potent vanilla extract and
  2. Lots of sweetness and laughter

My little girl, an older child, a dreamer, a Taylor Swift fan, came home from school, dropped her bag by the door, gave me a big warm hug and said 5 words that changed our relationship forever, “Mom, can we cook together?

I’ve been cooking with my son for years now. He is a scientist, a math whiz, a troublemaker. He loves to measure, stir, whip, and make a lot of mess. All while his sister is reading, humming, trying on my makeup or playing with her stuffed animals. Homemade vanilla extract was my very first cooking project with HER!

We made a great team! She split the beans, I scraped them. She dropped them into the vodka bottle, I mixed. She babbled about her hair and soccer, I listened. And at the end, we ended up with a bottle of deliciously sweet, lovingly strong vanilla extract… and a very positive mother/daughter cooking collaboration.

Vanilla step by step

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Adapted from Food in Jars



  1. Remove about ½ cup of vodka from the bottle (but don’t drink it! save for later)
  2. Split the beans
  3. Scrape the seeds from the beans
  4. Drop both the seeds and the pods into the vodka bottle
  5. Pour the reserved spirit back into the bottle
  6. Cap it and shake
  7. Let the extract infuse and mellow for 4 to 6 months in a cool, dark place. It’s done when the vodka is dark, syrupy, and very vanilla.

To use it, decant some into a smaller bottle and then top the bottle off with more vodka and vanilla beans once again to create a new batch of extract.


Serve in



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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Dafna | Stellina Sweets October 15, 2013, 12:26 PM

    What a wonderful bonding project for you two! I’ve never made my own, but I’ll have to try it someday. Recommendations for brands of vodka?

  • Elin October 17, 2013, 9:51 AM

    I love your sweet stories

  • Cucee October 17, 2013, 9:53 AM

    Dafna, I used Tittos. But the author suggests not to waste your money on the good vodka and use a less expensive alternative

  • Cucee March 25, 2014, 1:13 PM

    Dafna, I used Tittos

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