Now is the time of year when baking really kicks it up a notch, with cookies and cakes and spices around every corner. One of the most common ingredients for holiday cooking is vanilla extract – delicious, warm, and full of holiday cheer.

Instead of buying your vanilla extract from the store, why not try making it yourself? It is easy to make, less expensive than the store-bought versions, and the flavor is unparalleled.

Store-bought “pure” vanilla extract can often contain corn syrup or sugar – not exactly as pure as it could be! Then there is the dreaded imitation vanilla extract, which has even more additional ingredients that you don’t need.

By making your own natural vanilla extract, you will know exactly what is in it (and have bragging rights for making it yourself). The process is simple and the results are amazing!


  • 8 ounces of organic or non-GMO spiced rum, brandy, bourbon, or vodka (at least 35% alcohol)
  • 7-8 vanilla beans*
  • Tall glass jar


Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise (cut them if you need to to fit into your jar).

Put beans in glass jar and cover with alcohol of choice. Tightly close jar and shake gently.

Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month, shaking occasionally. For the best flavor, 2-3 months is ideal.

If you are looking for a sweeter vanilla extract, add a little raw honey or maple syrup to the mixture.

*There are several types of vanilla beans, so choose one or more to suit your taste and recipes:

Madagascar – traditional, rich flavor

Tahitian – floral, fruity flavor

African or Ugandan – smokey, bold flavor

You can use your vanilla extract straight from the jar if you want, just be sure to replenish the alcohol as you go!