Vanilla Extract ~ An easy handmade gift

Vanilla extract is a very easy homemade gift to make someone (or someones) for the holidays. It's just as easy to make a large quantity to be given to many recipients as it is to make a small batch.

The photos below show a potato vodka. I am not partial to that brand, it just happened to be the cheapest non-grain alcohol available (some people are sensitive to grain alcohols).

Supplies Needed

Vanilla beans 

I buy mine at Arizona Vanilla Company but I've heard good things about Organic Vanilla Bean Company. I may try them next time around. My current batch is made with Tahitian Grade B but I'm not sure what the official "best bean" is for extract.


Like I mentioned already I am using potato vodka. If you don't need to worry about grains you can use whatever vodka you want. I think a rum or other alcohol would produce a very good flavor as well.


I'm using an old wine bottle to make my extract. I think a mason jar would work fine. If you are giving this for gifts you will want to collect little jars to pour the final product into for giving away.


The recipe for making vanilla extract that I followed calls for 1 oz of beans for every cup of alcohol. I used approximately 4 oz of vanilla beans and 3 cups of vodka for a stronger flavor.

  1. Measure ingredients.
  2. Chop beans and add to jar or bottle.
  3. Add alcohol and shake.
  4. Cap and shake every day. Infuse for at least 6 weeks, preferably 2 months or even longer. I keep mine in the cupboard, I think it's better out of the light but I could be wrong on this.
  5. To bottle for gifts: use a strainer to separate extract from vanilla pulp. Add a piece of vanilla to bottles for extra flavor and presentation. For my own use I just keep the vanilla beans in there and add them where appropriate to whatever I'm using vanilla extract for.

If you get on this right away you could give these for Christmas gifts or maybe New Year's Gift - I've given those before! 

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  • Cori

    Cori on Nov. 13, 2009, 5:45 p.m.

    I just ordered beans from your arizona company a few days ago! We made the mistake of dumping our first beans into a vodka of unknown grain. When I called the vodka company to ask what it was made of they said it may take a week. So I waited a week and then called again. Then the woman said the research dept would get back to me at their convenience because my question was a low priority to them. Gee, thanks. Sounds like our first batch of vanilla will be Christmas gifts too!

    Cori's last blog post... horchata - cha cha cha


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 13, 2009, 8:52 p.m.

      what a bummer. But doesn't that kind of scare you that they can't easily answer that question "what is your product made from" yeesh... At least you can give it for gifts!


  • Jenn

    Jenn on Nov. 14, 2009, 1:49 a.m.


    I have purchased vanilla beans from from almost every online store and found that Beanilla Trading Company has the best, most consistent quality out there. They were also the fastest shippers with all three of my orders from them being shipped the same day. You can find them at

    Hope this helps!



  • kate

    kate on Nov. 16, 2009, 1:17 p.m.

    My parents took their "trip of a lifetime" to Tahiti last year...I may have to go see about stealing the vanilla bean jewelry they brought back for this;)

    Truly, though, I have wondered where to get quality vanilla beans and have thought about how nice of a holiday gift this could be-- especially in little jars with kid-made labels. Fun! I'm off to check out those companies now...because I love to bake and I have to believe homemade extract blows anything store bought off the shelf!


  • exhale. return to center.

    exhale. return to center. on Nov. 16, 2009, 1:34 p.m.

    thank you so much for this.

    i bought vanilla beans a while ago with the intention of doing this and then never got to it.

    can't wait to give it a try...


    exhale. return to center.'s last blog post... staying grounded


  • jamie

    jamie on Nov. 16, 2009, 9:10 p.m.

    great project- i did this a few years ago as holiday gifts and it turned out great- at one time i think i read that if you keep the beans in, you can keep adding a bit of vodka now and then as you use it, and it will keep making more... also, make sure you chop the beans, as i didn't my first time, and it didn't work!! :) also, vanilla sugar is a great gift too!


  • Jody

    Jody on Nov. 19, 2009, 3:03 p.m.

    Oh, Yet ANOTHER FIMBY page to BookMark! I love all the recipes you share! Now to find the time to actually MAKE some of them :>)


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