Make your own vanilla extract and vanilla sugar

star rating (12) rate this recipe »
dairy free, quick-n-easy
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: 6 ounces vanilla

Recipe photo

Vanilla beans are the pods of a vine in the orchid family, the only one that produces edible fruit. It requires a very specialized climate; it grows in only a few regions of the world. The pods are collected and dried in the sun and then aged for several months to develop their characteristic flavor.

Don't worry if your vanilla beans develop a thin coating of whitish "fur;" this is simply some of the sugar in the bean crystallizing, and it won't hurt the bean, or you. In fact, it's a sign that the bean is good and fresh.

We offer here some suggestions for making your own vanilla extracts and sugar: If you want to use your vanilla beans otherwise, slit them lengthwise down the center and scrape the many tiny seeds inside directly into ice cream, custard, cake batters, and sauces for exquisite vanilla flavor.

Make your own vanilla extract and vanilla sugar

star rating (12) rate this recipe »
dairy free, quick-n-easy
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: 6 ounces vanilla
Published: 01/01/2010


Vanilla Extract

  • 1 to 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup vodka, brandy, or the neutral-flavored alcohol of your choice

Tips from our bakers

  • Why the variation in how many vanilla beans to use? Well, the more beans you use, the faster your vanilla will be ready, and the stronger it'll be. Some recipes call for as many as 1 bean per ounce of alcohol; others, like this one, are much more frugal with the beans, which can be expensive. Try two batches — one with more beans, one with fewer — and see which ratio you prefer.


1) To make vanilla extract: Slit the vanilla bean(s) lengthwise, enough to expose their seeds; don't cut them all the way through.

2) Place the bean(s) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour in the alcohol. Cut the bean(s) into pieces if not immersed in the liquid.

3) Cover with the lid, set the vanilla in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator), and let sit undisturbed for 1 to 3 months. When the extract has taken on a golden color, and vanilla aroma, you can remove the beans (save them for vanilla sugar), and strain the vanilla extract. Yield: 6 ounces (3/4 cup) vanilla extract.

4) To make vanilla sugar: Bury a fresh vanilla bean in your sugar canister, and leave it there until the sugar becomes aromatic.

5) Alternatively, save the beans that have been used for extracts, puddings, and custards. To recycle vanilla beans, rinse them off and let them dry at room temperature. Grind the dried beans in a coffee grinder or food processor. Stir the ground vanilla into 1 to 2 cups granulated or confectioners' sugar. Sift the sugar to remove the vanilla grounds before using, if desired.

6) Save the grounds! Add them to your brewed coffee in the morning. Place a tablespoon or more of the grounds on top of the coffee in your filter. Stir to mix. As the hot water drips through the filter, your coffee will be infused with a delicious vanilla scent.


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  • star rating 11/02/2014
  • Barbara from Waterford, Maine
  • I have been doing this for many years and found that if you drop a couple of beans into a pint bottle of vodka or bourbon seal it up for a month or two, it makes a great gift for the cooks in your life! Also, the better the vodka or bourbon the better the vanilla!
  • star rating 10/31/2014
  • momcat1944 from KAF Community
  • We make ours with bourbon and some rapadura (Brazilian dried cane juice), cutting the vanilla pods in bits to use later all ground up. It is aged in a glass jar in a cupboard and shaken occasionally for at least 2 months. For cakes and drizzled over vanilla ice cream!
  • star rating 10/31/2014
  • Toni from clarkston, Mi
  • Been doing this for some 25 or more years and I would not do it any other way.Even when the store bought bottle says pure vanilla there is usually something added, usually it's sugar. That's not pure vanilla to me.
  • star rating 10/31/2014
  • JAINIE from KAF Community
  • I make this with Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, delicious, depth of flavor, and appreciated. I do make a really big batch, to share ✨
  • star rating 09/18/2014
  • A from Colorado Springs
  • Too little of vanilla beans, tasted like nothing... seems more like 6 to 8 beans per 3/4 cup.
    I'm sorry this recipe did not meet your expectations, but appreciate your feedback! Barb@KAF
  • star rating 11/13/2013
  • Sabrina Fodera from Royal Oak, Michigan
  • Excellent ideas! For the individual wondering about the ratio for extract, proof is in the bottle, pun intended! Also some people like to put a bean into vodka in the cupboard for 6 months to make "Kahlua". I have made vanilla sugar for a few years now, and you may also substitute 2 tablespoon of sugar into recipe for sugar rather (don't forget to just add the measure of the sugar being used so you don't over add the sugar) then skip adding vanilla to the recipe. I personally like using half vanilla sugar and half regular for some recipes for added vanilla flavor when they do not call for added flavor, such a fruit breads.
  • star rating 05/05/2013
  • from
  • star rating 05/01/2013
  • from gcbslr
  • star rating 02/25/2011
  • acr1127 from KAF Community
  • i've been making vanilla extract for about 15 years now. i haven't bought it since then. i do like vanilla paste though. my mom thinks this recipe is a scam. she wonders how you get the right proportion of vanilla to vodka, just letting it sit for a month doesn't seem plausible to her. anyone have and answer?
    The bean to alcohol ratio is the critical thing to watch. You will find a variety of recipes out on the web, but all of them seem to hold to 1 bean to about 3/4-1 cup of vodka. Frank @ KAF.
  • star rating 06/28/2009
  • Max from
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