Harvesting Homestead Flavor: The Best Alcohol for Crafting Vanilla Extract

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Are you tired of buying store-bought vanilla extract that tastes artificial and lacks the rich flavor you desire?

Why not try making your own vanilla extract at home? Not only is it easy to make, but it also allows you to control the quality of the ingredients used. These make great gifts. I started mine in the Spring and gave them away for Christmas gifts!

Everyone LOVED Them!

One of the key ingredients in making vanilla extract is alcohol, and choosing the right type of alcohol can make all the difference in the final product.

So what is the best alcohol for making Vanilla Extract?


Well, that’s what most everyone uses, but let’s do a deep dive and check out all the options.

The Best Alcohol For Vanilla Extract

Welcome to Homesteading For Women – we hope you enjoy all our tips and tricks for homestead women! Please note that we use affiliate links and ads to generate income at no cost to you.

Welcome to the world of homemade vanilla extract!

Have you checked out how expensive it is to buy high-quality vanilla extract?

I know it’s crazy!

But did you know that you can easily make your own at home? Not only is it more cost-effective, but it’s also a fun and rewarding DIY project. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to make your own vanilla extract from scratch.

When it comes to making vanilla extract, the best alcohol to use is one with a high alcohol content and a neutral flavor profile.

The Best Alcohol To Make Vanilla Extract

Vodka is the most commonly used alcohol for making vanilla extract like I said before. This is due to its high alcohol content, lack of flavor and it’s not too expensive.

That’s what I used for mine!

But, there are other alcohols that can also work well, such as rum, bourbon, and brandy. Each of these alcohols will impart a slightly different flavor profile to the vanilla extract, so it’s important to choose one that complements the other ingredients in your recipe.

Let’s explore the best alcohols to use for making vanilla extract and the unique flavor profiles they can offer.

I’ve been using mine diy Vanilla Extract for a few months now and let me tell you it’s a game changer! I will never buy my regular old vanilla extract at the store every again.

Ok, now let’s dive in and discover the different alcohols you can use to make vanilla extract!

What is the best Alcohol For Vanilla Extract?

Selecting Your Alcohol

When it comes to making vanilla extract, the type of alcohol you use can greatly affect the final flavor. Here are a few popular options to consider:

Vodka: The Popular Choice

Vodka is a popular choice for making vanilla extract due to its neutral flavor. It allows the vanilla flavor to shine through without any added flavors or aromas. Look for a high-quality, unflavored vodka with at least 40% alcohol content. Some popular options include Grey Goose, Absolut, and Tito’s.

Side note: Mine didn’t get a dark, dark color, like what you buy at the grocery store. But tastes so much better!

Rum: A Sweet Alternative

If you’re looking for a sweeter flavor profile, rum can be a great alternative to vodka. It adds a subtle sweetness and complexity to the vanilla extract. Look for a dark or spiced rum with at least 40% alcohol content. Some popular options include Captain Morgan, Bacardi, and Kraken.

Bourbon: Rich and Complex

For a rich and complex vanilla extract, consider using bourbon. It adds a deep, oaky flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the vanilla. Look for a high-quality bourbon with at least 40% alcohol content. Some popular options include Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and Bulleit.

No matter which alcohol you choose, make sure it’s high-quality and unflavored. The better the quality of the alcohol, the better the final flavor of your vanilla extract will be.

Beginners Guild DIY Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Bean Basics

Vanilla beans are the key ingredient in making vanilla extract. I bought these!

They come from the orchid plant and are grown in tropical climates. Vanilla beans are available in different varieties, but the most popular ones are Bourbon (Madagascar) and Tahitian.

Bean Varieties

Bourbon vanilla beans are the most commonly used in making vanilla extract. They have a rich, creamy flavor with sweet and buttery notes. Bourbon vanilla beans are long and slender, with a dark brown color and oily surface.

Tahitian vanilla beans have a more floral and fruity flavor with hints of cherry and anise. They are shorter and plumper than Bourbon beans and have a lighter color and a drier surface.

Mexican vanilla beans are another variety, but they are not as commonly used in making vanilla extract due to their smoky flavor.

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Before we dive into the process, let’s talk about why homemade vanilla extract is worth the effort. 

For starters, it tastes amazing! 

When you make your own vanilla extract, you have control over the quality of the ingredients and can choose to use high-quality vanilla beans and alcohol. 

Plus, you can customize the flavor by adjusting the ratio of beans to alcohol. 

Homemade vanilla extract also makes a great gift for fellow bakers or foodies. 

Trust me, once you try homemade vanilla extract, you’ll never go back to store-bought.

Vanilla Extract DIY

What is Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is a popular flavoring ingredient used in many recipes, from baked goods to savory dishes. 

It is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol, which extracts the flavor compounds from the beans. 

The resulting liquid is then used as a flavoring agent in various recipes.

I like to add vanilla extract to cookies and my homemade icing. 

It is known for its sweet, warm, and comforting aroma and flavor, which is why it is a popular ingredient in many desserts. 

It is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as sauces, marinades, and dressings.

When making vanilla extract at home, it is important to use high-quality vanilla beans and alcohol to ensure the best flavor. 

The process of making vanilla extract is simple and easy, and it allows you to customize the flavor to your liking.

Overall, vanilla extract is a must-have ingredient in any kitchen. It adds a unique and delicious flavor to dishes, and making your own vanilla extract is a fun and rewarding experience that will elevate your cooking game.

Not to mention impressing your friends and family by making your own vanilla extract!

Come on, that’s awesome!

Why Make Your Own Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is a staple ingredient in any baker’s kitchen. It’s used in various recipes, from cakes and cookies to ice cream and custards. 

But have you ever thought about making your own vanilla extract? It never crossed my mind before, and I make herbal remedies! 

You would think I would be the first in line to make this amazing extract! Nope, it was never on my radar. 

Here are a few reasons why you should consider it:

  • Cost-effective: Store-bought vanilla extract can be expensive, especially if you use it frequently. Making your own vanilla extract is much more cost-effective, as you can buy vanilla beans in bulk and make a large batch of extract.
  • Better flavor: Homemade vanilla extract has a richer, more complex flavor than store-bought extract. You can customize the flavor by using different types of vanilla beans or adding other ingredients, such as cinnamon or citrus zest.
  • Control over ingredients: When you make your own vanilla extract, you have complete control over the ingredients. You can choose to use organic or fair-trade vanilla beans, and you can avoid any additives or preservatives that might be in the store-bought extract.

Overall, making your own vanilla extract is a fun and rewarding process that can add a personal touch to your baking. Plus, it’s a great way to impress your friends and family with your cooking skills!

What You’ll Need

Making your own vanilla extract is a fun and easy process that requires only a few simple ingredients. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Vanilla Beans, I bought these!

The star of the show! You’ll need high-quality vanilla beans to make the best vanilla extract. Look for plump, moist beans that are free from any mold or cracks. You can find vanilla beans at specialty food stores or online.

Alcohol, I used Vodka.

The alcohol serves as the solvent that extracts the flavor from the vanilla beans. You can use a variety of alcohols, but the most commonly used are vodka, rum, and bourbon. Choose a high-proof alcohol with a neutral flavor so it doesn’t overpower the vanilla.

Airtight Container, I bought these bottles.

You’ll need a container to store your vanilla extract while it infuses. Choose an airtight glass jar or bottle that’s big enough to hold your vanilla beans and alcohol. 

Dark-colored bottles are best because they protect the extract from light, which can degrade the flavor over time. I bought clear ones. I wanted to see the process of the color changing.

A Sharp Knife and Cutting Board

You’ll need to slice or cut your vanilla beans in half to expose the seeds inside. Use a sharp knife or scissors and a cutting board to make clean cuts through the beans.

With these simple ingredients and tools, you’re ready to start making your own vanilla extract. Let’s get started!

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla extract is a fun and easy process that can save you money in the long run. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make your own vanilla extract at home:


  • 6-8 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka or bourbon


  1. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise.
  2. Place the vanilla beans in a clean glass jar.
  3. Pour the vodka or bourbon over the vanilla beans, making sure they are completely covered.
  4. Seal the jar tightly and shake it gently.
  5. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks, shaking it occasionally.
  6. After 6 weeks, your vanilla extract is ready to use!

It’s important to note that the longer you let your vanilla extract sit, the stronger it will become. You can also reuse the vanilla beans by adding more alcohol to the jar once you’ve used up the extract.

Making your own vanilla extract is not only easy, but it’s also a great way to add a personal touch to your recipes. So why not give it a try and see how delicious homemade vanilla extract can be?

Storing Your Vanilla Extract

Now that you’ve made your own vanilla extract, you’ll want to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh and potent for as long as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Store your vanilla extract in a dark, cool place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Direct sunlight and heat can cause the flavor to deteriorate.
  • Use an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, to prevent air from getting in and oxidizing the vanilla.
  • Label your container with the date you made the vanilla extract. This will help you keep track of how long it’s been stored and when it might be time to make a fresh batch.

If stored properly, homemade vanilla extract can last for several years. Over time, the flavor may weaken, but it will still be usable. If you notice any mold or off smells, discard the vanilla extract and make a fresh batch.

Now that you know how to make and store your own vanilla extract, you can experiment with adding it to your favorite recipes. It’s a simple way to add a delicious, natural vanilla flavor to baked goods, smoothies, coffee, and more.

Using Your Homemade Vanilla Extract in Recipes

Now that you have your homemade vanilla extract, it’s time to put it to use in some delicious recipes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Baking: Vanilla extract is a staple ingredient in baking, and using your homemade version will take your baked goods to the next level. Try using it in cookies, cakes, and muffins for a rich, flavorful taste.

Coffee and Tea: Add a splash of homemade vanilla extract to your morning coffee or tea for a delicious twist on your usual routine.

Smoothies: Vanilla extract is a great addition to smoothies, adding a hint of sweetness and depth of flavor. Try adding it to a banana and almond milk smoothie for a creamy, delicious treat.

Cocktails: Vanilla extract can also be used in cocktails for a unique twist on classic drinks. Try adding it to a bourbon or rum cocktail for a warm, sweet flavor.

Sauces and Marinades: Vanilla extract can be a surprising and delicious addition to savory dishes as well. Try adding it to a marinade for chicken or pork, or use it in a creamy sauce for pasta or vegetables.

With your homemade vanilla extract, the possibilities are endless. Experiment with different recipes and see how this simple ingredient can transform your favorite dishes.


Congratulations! You’ve made your very own vanilla extract. Not only is it a great way to add flavor to your baked goods and desserts, but it’s also a fun and easy project to do at home. By using high-quality vanilla beans and a good-quality alcohol, you can create a delicious and fragrant extract that will enhance any recipe.

Remember to let your vanilla extract age for at least a few weeks before using it, and to store it in a cool, dark place. You can also experiment with different types of alcohol, such as bourbon or rum, to create unique flavor profiles. And don’t forget to reuse your vanilla beans by making vanilla sugar or adding them to your coffee or tea.

We hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to make vanilla extract at home. With a little patience and some quality ingredients, you can create a delicious and versatile ingredient that will elevate your cooking and baking to the next level.

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