Make this homemade vanilla extract now and it’ll be ready for gifting by the holidays! Bourbon vanilla has the best flavor!

Vanilla extract in amber glass bottles with a red satin ribbon.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I wanted to make sure you had this homemade vanilla extract recipe now, so it will be ready in time for Christmas!

I love making homemade gifts at this time of year. It’s fun to do and everyone always appreciates getting something so personal.

Over the years, I’ve given pizzelles in cello bags, lemon curd in cute jars, homemade toffee… just to name a few things!

And I’ve been meaning to try my hand at homemade vanilla extract for a while now. So here it is!

Homemade vanilla extract with sticker label and a red bow.

Table of Contents

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What is homemade vanilla extract?

Did you even know you could make your own vanilla?

It’s true!

And it’s really easy to boot. You only need 2 ingredients and about 5 minutes of active time.

This works exactly the same way store-bought vanilla does. It’s the same thing!

So add it to all your favorite cookies, cakes, and candies, and give it away to all your favorite people so they can do the same.

What’s great about this vanilla extract recipe

  1. The flavor: This recipe is made with bourbon so it’s got a toasty, caramel-y flavor that’s like nothing else. This
  2. Few ingredients: You only need 2 ingredients to make it.
  3. Easy to make: Putting it together literally takes seconds.
  4. Great for gifting: This makes a beautiful, thoughtful, and inexpensive gift for the holidays.

What does homemade vanilla extract taste like?

This tastes pretty much the same as any vanilla extract you’d buy in a store. It’s alcohol, infused with vanilla beans. So there’s the alcohol burn and the sweet perfume of vanilla.

When you cook or bake with it, the alcohol evaporates away and just leaves all the flavor compounds behind.

We are going to make it with bourbon, which is aged in wooden barrels so it has a much more complex flavor. You’ll get hints of caramel, oak, butterscotch, and maybe even almond or maple.


Supplies and ingredients needed to make vanilla extract, with text labels.

Vanilla: Grade B vanilla beans are great for making extract because they’re a little less expensive. I purchased my beans from Tahiti in a pack of 25. Here’s a link: Tahitian Vanilla Beans. Use them up as quickly as you can; they dry out over time.

Bourbon: Bourbon is a spirit that’s distilled from corn, so it has a slightly sweeter flavor. It’s aged in oak barrels, giving it a deep amber-brown color and a complex, toasty flavor. A 750 ml bottle will make three 8-ounce bottles of vanilla extract.

Special equipment

How to make vanilla extract

This fun little project happens in just 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Split the vanilla bean

Taking the extra time to split your beans helps to release their flavor faster and more effectively.

Splitting a vanilla bean vertically with a paring knife.

Use a sharp kitchen knife to open the beans up vertically.

Close up of a split vanilla bean, showing the millions of tiny seeds inside.

As you can see, they’re filled with millions of tiny seeds. This is where most of the flavor lives!

Inserting a split vanilla bean into an amber glass bottle.

Slip 2 to 3 split beans into each of your bottles.

Step 2: Pour in the alcohol

Use the funnel to pour bourbon into the bottles and submerge the vanilla beans.

Pouring bourbon whiskey into a glass bottle through a silicone funnel.

Step 3: Let it sit

And then you just let it sit! That’s all there is to it.

Every so often, you can give the bottles a little shake just to swish things around and make sure it’s all infusing evenly.

The longer this sits, the better it gets. If you make it 4 to 6 weeks before you plan to use it, it will have a nice vanilla flavor. But if you let it steep even longer, the flavors will become even more intense and aromatic.

Pop on your labels and tie the ribbon into a big, beautiful bow!

Bottles of homemade vanilla extract infusing over time.

How to use homemade vanilla

This can be used in the same way you’d use store-bought vanilla extract. Add it to all your favorite recipes to enhance them with the sweet, rich flavor of vanilla.

And if you’re looking for some ideas, here are a few of my favorite vanilla recipes:

How to make vanilla extract with links to supplies and ingredients.

Frequently asked questions

What else can I use besides bourbon?

You can make vanilla extract with just about any type of alcohol.

Usually, it’s recommended to use something with a neutral flavor, so grain alcohol and vodka are popular choices.

I like to use bourbon because it has a little more complexity.

You could also use rum, whisky, or brandy instead. But I probably wouldn’t recommend gin since it has such a strong pine-y flavor.

How to store

Keep the bottles at room temperature, in a dark place. Light can degrade the flavor compounds over time, so it’s best to stash this in a cupboard.

It will keep indefinitely, but keep a tight cap on it because it does evaporate quickly.

Serving size

You will get three 8-ounce bottles of vanilla extract from this recipe. If you like, you can double or even triple it for more gifts to give.

Each bottle holds roughly 48 teaspoons of extract.

The nutritional info in the recipe card below is for 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Vanilla extract recipe made and bottled with gift tag and ribbon.

A few more of my favorite homemade gift ideas:

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Vanilla extract in amber glass bottles with a red satin ribbon.
5 stars (1 rating)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Servings: 3 8-ounce bottles
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Soaking Time:: 28 days
Total Time: 28 days 5 minutes
Make this homemade vanilla extract now and it'll be ready for gifting by the holidays! Bourbon vanilla has the best flavor!


  • 6 (30 g) vanilla beans, (you can use up to 9 if you like)
  • 750 milliliters (748.14 g) bourbon whiskey


  • Split the vanilla beans vertically to release the seeds inside.
  • Place 2 to 3 split beans in each of 3 8-ounce bottles.
  • Place a small funnel in the neck of the bottles and pour in the bourbon until the vanilla beans are submerged.
  • Cap the bottles and allow them to sit for at least 4 weeks, shaking every so often.
  • Label the bottles, tie with ribbon, and give as gifts.
Serving: 1teaspoon, Calories: 4.23kcal, Sodium: 3mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Tried this recipe?Mention @bakingamoment on Instagram or tag #bakingamoment.


  • Allie

    Allie is the creator and owner of Baking a Moment. She has been developing, photographing, videographing, and writing and sharing recipes here since 2012.

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