Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting!

Get a head start on your holiday baking and gifting with Homemade Vanilla Extract!

It comes together in five minutes and is ready to use in two months, improving as it ages.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

I’m sharing an easy DIY and gift in anticipation of holiday baking,

Homemade Vanilla Extract!

While it comes together in five minutes, it takes a minimum of two months for the

flavor to develop so you can start now and have it ready for baking and gifting in December.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Homemade vanilla extract will have the same great, if not better flavor, and

you can make it for less than half of the $5 an ounce price at the grocery store!

Pure vanilla extract, $5 an oz. at the grocery store, make your own for less than half! | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

This post contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy.

To make homemade vanilla extract you’ll need two ingredients, vanilla beans and vodka.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

There are three main varieties of vanilla beans, Madagascar, Tahitian and Mexican.

Madagascar vanilla beans are processed using the “Bourbon” curing method

and known for their sweet sweet, creamy characteristics. Tahitian vanilla is

more floral and fruity and Mexican vanilla has a spicy-sweet flavor.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Vanilla beans are graded “A” and “B”. Grade A beans are best for baking and have a higher moisture

content, while grade B beans are more concentrated and better suited for extract.

To make my extract, I used Grade B Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

To make your extract you’ll want to use 5 – 6 beans per 8 oz. of vodka.

My package had 10 beans so I used 5 per 8 oz. jar. You don’t need top shelf vodka

to make vanilla, use a mid-range brand that you would drink that’s 70 to 90 proof.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Split your beans with a knife or cut with kitchen shears so the vanilla caviar / seeds are exposed.

 I like the look of the beans whole, but you can cut your beans into smaller

pieces to help them release more seeds and steep and more quickly if you prefer.

Make sure to add any seeds / caviar stuck to knife or scissors to your jars, that’s the good part!

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Place your beans in your jars and add the vodka to cover completely,

cutting beans as necessary so they’re completely submerged.

You’ll want a bottle that has a leak proof, airtight seal,

like these bottles that have swing bottle stopper.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

When your beans are completely covered, close your jars and give them a shake.

Store your vanilla at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

Shake a couple of times a week initially or once a day if you can remember

as the seeds will settle to the bottom.

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Alternatively you can steep your beans in a large mason jar.

Add 10 – 12 beans to a jar, cover with 16 oz. vodka.

Cut the beans down to size so they’re completely submerged in the vodka.

After two months, use a funnel to transfer vanilla to gift bottles.

You’ll find links to different size bottles at the bottom of this post.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Now the fun part, decorating the bottles for gifts!

I picked some ribbon at Hobby Lobby, along with a miniature Christmas tree topper.

All Hobby Lobby’s Christmas merchandise is 40% off.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

I threaded the end of the coil of the tree topper through the end of the latch,

spinning it to catch the other end of the latch to secure it to the top of the bottle,

and tied on a ‘Merry Christmas With Love’ tag.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

The longer the vanilla steeps, the better the flavor!

This is the gift that keeps on giving, here’s a fun tip:

As you use your vanilla, top off your bottle with more vodka and give it a shake.

Unused aged vanilla extract (with the beans fully submerged) will last several years.

Once you begin using the vanilla and adding more alcohol after each use,

the beans will eventually need to be replaced.

Remove the old beans, add fresh ones, shake, and continue to use/refill.

Aged extract, without beans, will last indefinitely.

 Vanilla extract is most commonly made with vodka, but you can also use bourbon, rum or brandy.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

The photo below is how the vanilla looks after 6 months of steeping,

with the color and flavor deepening and intensifying!

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

My 750 ml bottle of vodka was $13 and my vanilla beans were $15 so the

 cost of 16 oz. of vanilla extract was $1.75 an ounce and I have 9 oz. of vodka

left, plenty for mixing some

Rudolph’s Concentrated Christmas Mischief Cocktails in December.

 Rudolph’s Concentrated Christmas Mischief Cocktail | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #cocktail #Christmas

 *hiccup* :)

Happy Extracting and Baking!

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase anything through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net #foodgift #DIY #vanilla #Christmas

Thank you for your visit, sharing with:

 Metamorphosis Monday


  43 comments for “Homemade Vanilla Extract for Holiday Baking and Gifting!

  1. September 30, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Sun a fun idea!! Thanks for sharing with us. This makes a great gift as well as favors for a party. Very pretty and festive as well.

  2. Sue Ellen
    September 30, 2020 at 7:36 am

    I love this idea. I also make vanilla sugar by putting a vanilla bean in a jar of sugar and leaving it. I have used the same jar for a couple of years and just add more sugar as it gets low. The sugar takes on a mild vanilla flavor. It can be used anywhere you would use a sprinkle of sugar. On top of a pie crust or cobbler before baking is one of my favorite ways to use it Time to buy some more vanilla beans.

  3. Cindi Manuel
    September 30, 2020 at 7:54 am

    What a great idea. Have to go buy some vodka and get started. Thanks for the recipe. Peace to all.

    • Cyndi Raines
      September 30, 2020 at 10:34 am

      What an awesome idea! I love the special bottles and the extra cute topper. The tags are very festive, did you make them also? You’re the best Mary, thank you for another great fun gift to make! Ho ho ho!

      • Cyndi Raines
        October 1, 2020 at 12:31 am

        Oops, I just saw the tags in the Amazon line-up along with the other supplies, too cute!

  4. Michelle
    September 30, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I’ve made it before with the Madagascar beans that my son brought back from there! It was awesome and forgot about making more! Will have to make some! Thanks for brining back the idea! Have a good day!

  5. Alice Genzlinger
    September 30, 2020 at 8:21 am


  6. September 30, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Why you little holiday hopper, I’m trying to settle into my fall days being 100 degrees still and your jumping straight to red and green, about to give me seasonal whiplash! Very cute, the bottle toppers are a must!

    • September 30, 2020 at 8:47 am

      You’re up bright and early! I’m experiencing whiplash too only because the vanilla has to ‘steep’ for two months! I hope to visit a pumpkin patch today and then I plan on dusting off my broom and tweaking my hat!

  7. September 30, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Such a great gift, Mary! I have had some steeping for quite awhile now. Thank you for all your links for bottling. The tree toppers add such a cute enhancement.

  8. Ellen McHale
    September 30, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Yay! You gave me a great source for beans. I did this very thing for co-worker gifts some years ago. I loved it, as did the recipients. I had used brown bottles, yours are oh so much cuter….. I’m calling daughter to see if she’d like to gift her teacher friends! I’m going to start a batch for my new neighbors. And, I too have an ongoing flip lid jar of vanilla sugar, so useful
    Mary, I dearly wish you could talk to me about growing flowers in the South. As a new, new New transplant from California to Florida, I’m feeling timid about what to plant here, and where to find the plants I think will be good here. Like Lady Banks and Limelight you’ve talked about. And regular roses – I worry about humidity. (Something a Cali Girl has zero experience with!!!) (No mildew on my Roseville roses!)
    Thanks for the fun and timely post! Cheers…………………..

    • September 30, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Hi Ellen, I don’t know anything about growing flowers in Florida. Limelight Hydrangeas are hardy in zones 3 – 9, you can look up your USDA gardening zone by zipcode, here.
      Garden centers are good about stocking what will grow and thrive in your area. Thank you for your visits and comments! ♥

  9. September 30, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Mary, I have thought of doing this before and never have. Thanks for the little nudge, I must order my supplies. The presentation is perfect!

    • September 30, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Thank you Pam, it’s so easy and fun too. I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful fall weather and your cottage this week. ♥

      • Jamie_on_main
        September 30, 2020 at 9:52 am

        Hello Grand Witch Mary.. thank you for this cute idea.. I might actually be able to do this one ( if I don’t get side tracked by the “other”ingredient *hiccup*:) ) A lowly member of your society!:)

    • Clara
      September 30, 2020 at 10:44 am

      What a wonderful idea Mary. We used to buy vanilla in Mexico when we were able to travel so this is a great alternative. Thanks! Hope you are enjoying this gorgeous fall weather. Clara ♥️

  10. Virginia
    September 30, 2020 at 8:58 am

    What a marvelous idea, I am definitely going to order the supplies you recommend and prepare this as Christmas gifts. Thanks again Mary for another great idea.

  11. Jmac
    September 30, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Thanks Mary! Just ordered all the supplies to make a lot of these!!! What a cute idea and a welcomed task to fill my time!!! I cannot clean ANY more!!!

  12. Donna
    September 30, 2020 at 10:11 am

    So cute & practical at the same time. Love the topper. . . .and the trimmings!

  13. Kathy
    September 30, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Beautiful photos! Every January, I make 2 large mason jars of vanilla extract. I store them in a dark cabinet, and once a month, I shake them. I start my holiday baking in November, so I use one jar for baking. In December, I dispense the other jar in to small bottles for gift giving. Each recipient get a tray of baked goods, with recipes and a jar of vanilla extract to let them know that is what was used in the baking. Thank you for the links and the Rudolph’s Concentrated Christmas Mischief Cocktail recipe which I’m going to check out right now.

  14. Kathy Menold
    September 30, 2020 at 11:07 am

    What a cool idea for a Christmas gift. Always forget to start these things early but you have given me the incentive. Thanks Mary

  15. melody reed
    September 30, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Love this idea for gift giving. I’ve made my own vanilla before and it is easy breezy! Packaging is everything. :-)

  16. September 30, 2020 at 11:19 am

    What a fun idea Mary!! Those bottles are so cute, and aren’t you smart to start now. This is a great gift for everyone on any gift list and perfect for hostesses too, thanks for sharing

  17. Barbara Zuleski
    September 30, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Love this idea, totally going to make it… Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. September 30, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Danish baking has always been noted for the Vanilla and butter flavors. My grandmother always had a bottle of Vanilla Beans and Vodka on the kitchen window ledge, to let the sun bake it into the rich flavor. When we used any for baking, you replace with more Vodka. She would always giggle as she had a sip at the same time. Wonderful memories for me….! Hugs, Sandi

  19. Deb
    September 30, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I was gifted a bottle of vanilla years ago. It’s time I made some for gift giving! Thanks for the great idea and also where to order info. Very helpful!

  20. Ellen
    September 30, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you!! Another great homemade gift!!!

  21. Michele M.
    September 30, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Mary – one other thing: if you remove the pods and dry them well – place them in an air-tight container with super fine granulated sugar!

    The sugar is so good in baking or coffee or tea (if one sweetens theirs.)

    That way nothing is ever wasted – it stays dry and fresh and makes for the nicest smelling sugar!

  22. September 30, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    I started making my own vanilla years ago when it got to expensive to keep baking, and I love making extravagant beauties from sugar. My sister-in-law told me how to do it. She’s been doing it for decades. My start up investment was considerable (for us), but it’s easy sailing ever since. I never have to worry when I bake, because I have such a good supply and it’s so old that it’s super delicious. I also top it off each time I use some. Don’t forget to use a strainer as you transfer some to a smaller bottle to use, or you’ll have bits of debris. I have never stopped feeling that surge of joy when I put my pots and pans away and spot them, then shake them and thank God for wonderful His provision. There is absolutely no comparison to the flavor. I have branched out this year and started making orange extract too. So much joy!

  23. Jojo
    October 1, 2020 at 7:09 am

    I love this post! Normally our family travels to Mexico Multiple times a year and we always stock up on Mexican vanilla. This year with the pandemic we are running low on vanilla so in May I made a batch and have just started using it baking. I’m now wanting to try the bourbon version.

    The pandemic gave us lots of patience and this was a fun and useful project. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Bonnie Morgan
    October 1, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Thank you, Mary! This is so interesting. And you have given us the information at our fingertips.You are on the ball as always.

  25. Kelly
    October 1, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Mary, You never cease to amaze me with all your talents! Never would have thought about making my own.

  26. Kathy
    October 1, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Great idea Mary! Vanilla actually needs to be grown close to the Equator as in the 3 locations that you mentioned. But, there is also an Amazing hidden secret right in our own USA!!! “The Hawaiian Vanilla Company” was established in 1998 on the Big Island of Hawaii, where the Reddekopp family learned to grow the amazing Orchids that produce the Vanilla Bean! They have an amazing Family story in which Jim Reddekopp traveled the world to learn how to grow and produce the first Vanilla in the United States! We are fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii every year and always make a point to visit the Hawaiian Vanilla Farm and enjoy their lunches in which everything that is served has vanilla in it! They have a store at the Ranch, but you can also order the beans and other amazingly yummy items made from vanilla in their on-line store – Jim’s Wife, Tracy is the Chef and makes tasty Vanilla Salad Dressing and Spice Rubs, etc.

  27. October 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    I started my Vanilla process back in March, before the Pandemic…… I had always wanted to make my own and thought this would be a nice Christmas present for my friends. Little did I know how much ‘baking’ would take on a new life in such a few short weeks….so every week I have been shaking the bottles and enjoying the color darken. Now to make cute labels and get ready to give out at Thanksgiving or soon after so my friends can enjoy early. I started early because I like a strong vanilla flavor and figured it would be nice to have a few extra months to blend.

  28. October 6, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    What a fabulous gift idea Mary! I so love the beautiful packaging and this is a gift anyone would love to receive.

  29. Gloria R. Hoffmann
    July 22, 2021 at 7:36 am

    I love this idea! And what better time to start, than now! Also love the packaging. Curious as to what is the source for the adorable, plaid mitten rubber spatula??

    • July 22, 2021 at 8:14 am

      So easy to do Gloria and get a jump start on your holiday baking and gifting! The spatula came from HomeGoods last fall. :)

  30. Jean Schloesser
    December 17, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    Where can I find the toppers for the bottles ?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: