A customized print-friendly version of this recipe is available by clicking the "Print Recipe" button on this page.

Make your own vanilla extract and vanilla sugar

in quick and easy whole grain dairy free gluten free overnight guaranteed classic

Author: Brinna Sands

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.

At a glance

6 ounces vanilla


Choose your measure:

Vanilla Extract

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


  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.