Homemade Vanilla Extract: A DIY Gift Idea

Homemade Vanilla Extract is simple to make and quite stunning once bottled, so add it to your arsenal of homemade gifts this holiday season, especially for the baker in your life. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I had a moment lately, you know, a moment- the internally grumbly, stressy, overall negative sort of moment. But thankfully, before I could release any of that bad energy on another human, I had this little epiphany: my reaction is a choice. WHY AM I STRESSING?! 

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I was so focused on the big picture, I was failing to see how important the day before me was. I should have been excited. Sure, it had been a really busy week, but that’s because I had been working toward something meaningful.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thankfully, by some grace, I had the awareness to step back and see that. I had a chance to make a choice: furrow my brow and stress until things were “perfect,” OR I could give myself some credit and then try to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I chose the latter.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I really looked at the calendar last week, a similar feeling of stress started to emerge. My calendar denial could no longer protect me. Christmas was coming at an accelerated speed, so I could either freak out, or do my best and try to enjoy my last minute projects. (This seems to be a reoccurring pattern, so maybe I need to work on stress vs joy for my New Year’s resolution?!?)

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

So I’m choosing to enjoy my final Christmas preparations, and homemade gifts are one of my defense mechanisms against the holiday hangups. Instead of battling feuding families in malls, hit the wine and spirits shop (extra bonus: might as well buy yourself some wine while you’re there) and your favorite spice store

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Two stops, and you’ll have the makings of homemade vanilla extract. Cue up your favorite holiday albums (Mariah Carey and She & Him, for me please), spike the egg nog, and then, it’s as simple as pouring liquid over vanilla beans. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

That’s really all there is to it. Homemade Vanilla Extract is super simple. It’s just alcohol and vanilla beans, but once bottled, it’s a super classy gift that the baker in your life will appreciate.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

For Even More Gifting:

Divide the homemade vanilla extract between smaller bottles, and you have a thoughtful host(ess) gift this season.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

For the Fullest Flavor:

Homemade vanilla extract takes about 30 days to infuse, so include a note with your gift, telling your recipient when they can begin to use it. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Want to personalize the gift even more?

Include a recipe card for one of your favorite vanilla desserts.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Homemade Vanilla Extract (A DIY for the baker in your life) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy holidays, friends! I hope they are as stressless as can be. 


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Adapted from the Kitchn


3 to 5 vanilla beans
8 ounces alcohol such as vodka, bourbon, brandy, or rum

What You’ll Need:

Cutting board and knife
Clean jar or bottle
New bottle(s) for packaging (optional)
Small funnel (optional)
Coffee filter (optional)


Split each vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Then make additional cuts if need be to fit your bottle.

The standard ratio is 3 to 5 vanilla beans per 8 oz of alcohol. Place the vanilla beans in a jar(s) and cover with alcohol accordingly. Make sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged. Cover the jar or bottle and give it a good shake.

Store the jar or bottle of vanilla beans in a cool, dark place for at least one month, shaking it from time to time. Taste the extract and let it infuse longer if you want a stronger flavor.

After 30 days, you can remove the vanilla pods and decant the extract into a pretty bottle. For a clear extract, strain the extract through a coffee filter to remove the small flecks of vanilla. You can also leave the beans in the alcohol and top off the bottle as you use the extract. Eventually all the flavor will be extracted from the original vanilla beans, so you can periodically add fresh beans as well as leftover pods that you’ve scraped for other recipes.

This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. richwrapper

    I did not find a “Reblog” or “Pres This” button. I would love to be able to share this blog with my own readers both here on WordPress and through an auto-feature both on FB and Twitter. Thanks, J Richards

    1. Gabriel k Jones

      That is very thoughtful. When we find good content we are eager to share.

  2. stayhappybecurly

    Thank you for your sharing ! Such a good idea ! And so simple !

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      so simple! The biggest hurdle is really the cost, but it pays over the long run. 😉

  3. Marina

    Thanks for sharing this great idea!

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      You’re welcome. I hope you give it a whirl. 🙂

  4. Grace and Pink

    I love finding DIY gifts. Thank you for this. I also love visiting the wine store. Win-win on this one!

  5. cozyfancorner

    Mmm, looks good! I’m intrigued to try this at home by steeping the vanilla beans into vodka and after a month, seeing how it turns out when I bake with it. So a dark cool pantry is the ideal place to store this?

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      A dark cool pantry works. I live in grey Pittsburgh, and my dining room is a little colder than the rest of the house (until I fill it with guests anyway), so my dining room mantle is my current steeping spot.

  6. satellitelunaire

    That is such an adorable DIY gift idea, thank you very much and merry christmas to you !

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      Thanks so much. I hope you had a good holiday.

  7. Karah

    Hello, I love all things baking/cooking and I’ve never made homemade vanilla extract! I’m so excited to do this, I just have one question. Why did you use vodka over rum, bourbon, or brandy?

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      hmmm… that’s a good question, especially bc I love bourbon. ha! This was my first time making homemade vanilla extract, so I guess my thought was to start with the purest vanilla flavor, whereas the other spirits would add quite a bit of flavor. I’ll probably experiment with those next.

  8. Undine

    Lovely idea. I like to use vanilla sugar in my recipes but this sounds good too.

  9. melissaroserambleson

    Your blog and this DIY are beautiful. Can’t wait to use it for gifts next year!

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      Thanks so much! You’ll be so ahead of the curve next year. ha! 🙂

  10. Riya

    What a wonderful post !! <3

    1. Quelcy Kogel

      Thanks Riya! It’s starting to be especially fragrant at this point. Can’t wait to bake with it. 🙂

  11. Nicole


  12. ellenbest24

    I will make this, thank you. I split vanilla pods and press into fine golden cane sugar in a pretty jar grind some coffee beans to add to the box a new spoon and coffee mug. A hamper for almost anyone.

  13. Ellen

    I would send you one if you were near. I am in Suffolk Uk.

  14. DesJJ

    I love this DIY. So fun and I love how you decorated the bottle.

  15. Tammy

    Great info .Can I share this on my blog? practicallycountry.wordpress.com

  16. Tammy

    Great info! I would like to share it on my blog but I don’t see how to reblog or share .


  17. OrangeThinker

    We followed this recipe and it turned out great. Will be doing this from now on especially for little gifts for weddings and Christmas time.

  18. richwrapper

    Long have I cruised the aisles at my local fine-foodstuffs sites – and fund not really unsurprisingly a big of wrinkled vanilla beans of unknown provenance: Acquired cheaply enough and drowned several unsplit (in one glass w/sound rubber grommet-equipped glass stopper in granulated sugar. In another such container I added some Mexican cinnamon to the vanilla beans (again, some unsplit); and, in yet a third such setup: added whole and halved nutmegs to the aforementioned melange. Coffee, tea, oatmeal and other grain-breakfast cereals and, of course, biscotti and other baked goods all flow from the sugar. I will get some more beans and follow your recipe. The “sugars” make fine gifts for friends and hosts(esses, too!) and the number of brewers of beers, meads and suchlike are intrigued about adding some of those sugars – and my own dehydrated/rehydrated (by brewing in copious 1-gallon of dried hibiscus to three gallons of water) jamiaca and turning some into full-strength hot or cold “tea”, diluted by half (water) aqua fresca and by thirds the same. A few such rescued hibiscus – I use native Florida “sleeping” hibiscus blossoms mostly – join orange juice (fresh or concentrate), key lime juice, a couple of strawberries and a minced shallot with red wine vinegar and the other requisite elements – dry or french- or german- imposter-mustards, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and, of course some either “seasoned” or straight granulated sugar for a wonderful mixed-greens, fruit, herbs and else salads.

  19. Karah

    Hello, I I love all things cooking and baking and I’ve never made my own vanilla before! I’m really excited to start! Is there a specific reason you chose vodka verses rum, brandy, or bourbon?

    1. richwrapper

      Since unflavored vodka is a flavor-neutral spirit, I suspect, Quelcy Kogel favors the pure extract so resulting. The three spirits you suggested, Karah, intrigue, especially if you are searching for further flavorings. Thanks for the suggestion: I have an affinity for anjeo rum (and tequila) but the tequila I like is a tad too expensive, so I’d go reposado. But I have a bit of Maker’s Mark and some brandies I’d experiment with.

  20. Ci Ci

    Thank you for this because I can’t cook much of anything without a recipe ❤️

  21. Lauren

    Excellent idea! I love it.

  22. roadtodo

    This is ingenious! I honestly had no idea you could make your own vanilla extract. I know the charm here is in making a beautiful, homemade gift – But how do you find it stacks up cost-wise to store bought? We churn through this stuff like crazy at my house (it’s on my list for our next Costco run) and if I can keep the cost down by making it myself, I’ll be making gallons just for personal use!

  23. Cassandra

    This is simply wonderful!!! Please do check out my blog too

  24. music and life

    Wow, that looks so good, a beautiful gift for christmas. I think i will try it.

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