Make Your Own Organic Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla is easy and inexpensive.

Active time: 5 minutes • Total time: 6 months

Posted on Oct 05, 2016 by Jack McCann
Tags: recipes dessert newsletter

Vanilla: One of the most loved flavors and perhaps the most artificially (and poorly) imitated. Real vanilla is also rather expensive. 

Making your own vanilla is easy and much less expensive than $2.50 per ounce that vanilla costs in the store.  

(At that price, you can hardly afford to use enough to truly appreciate this amazing delicacy.)

Trust me, your culinary life won't be the same once you start to make your own.



  1. Open vodka
  2. Pour off a cup and make yourself a nice drink
  3. Add in several vanilla beans (looks like about 20+ in this 1.5 L jug)
  4. Cover and place in a dark place for 6 months
  5. Plan ahead and make a second bottle now, then keep making a new one when you empty one. 
  6. You probably can reuse the beans again, maybe just add 10 fresh ones in for good measure next time. 

Key Ingredient

Real vanilla extract is a key ingredient in so many of our favorite recipes. 
  • Our vegan chocolate avocado pudding is practically spiked with it (adults only)
  • Forget about trying to make sconesoven pancakes or buttermilk versions without it -- and once you make your own extract for cheap, you can use SO much more.
  • The grain free versions of cakes we make also really demand a lot of vanilla to make them super good... check out the banana cakes and nut-butter cakes
  • Don't forget about eggnog and of course if you have extra vanilla beans around the house, they are PERFECT for adding to your kombucha and let sit for a few days on a secondary fermentation.  THAT is super good! 

What to buy

In the last 5 years, the price of vanilla beans has shot up by over 10 times... so they are expensive right now. A great time to make your own extract and save some money. That initial purchase might be a bit of a sticker shock, but you won't regret it...

There are two grades of vanilla beans. The ones you think of are Grade A, the more expensive version that are great for making a fancy dessert.

You can use those beans for making extract, but what you really want are 'extract grade' beans (Grade B)

Grade B beans are more dried up and aren't as pretty as Grade A... but their vanilla flavor is more concentrated as a result. So they make better extract with less beans. 

Where to buy

I haven't bought vanilla beans for over two years and I guess the price has just shot up... I looked a bit on Amazon, where you could buy a smaller package, but the prices are just out of this world now.

in 2014, I bought 1lb of organic extract beans for $80. They just last forever... now that same package is almost $200.

I'd recommend buying 1/4 lb of beans to start off and then when the prices come back down, stock up and get a full pound. At the time of posting, the price was around $60. So for the price of 5 little pre-made jars, you can make a nearly unlimited supply.

Here is the website where we ordered ours in the past. 

Comments (2)

  1. Mary:
    Jan 02, 2020 at 09:53 AM

    Hi there! I found a 750 ml bottle of organic vodka made in Minnesota called PRAIRIE ORGANIC VODKA for $23, here’s the description:
    “Hints of melon and pear on the nose, creamy on the palate, bright and smooth at the finish. The original Prairie spirit made for those who appreciate hard work and no compromise.” I have already added ten Madagascar vanilla beans and have ordered ten more since it’s a large bottle. I thought I’d make one large bottle of vanilla then divvy it up close to Christmas, for gifts. I did not know this particular brand of vodka had hints of melon and pear, until after I added the ten vanilla beans. I am wondering now if I should remove the beans and start over with a different brand of vodka since I just added them earlier this week? Thoughts? I’ll have $75 invested so I don’t want it to be ruined. I’m not a vodka drinker but I guess I could try a sip and see how it tastes. Thanks so much!

  2. Jack McCann:
    Jan 02, 2020 at 10:17 AM

    Prairie Organic is the vodka I use. The photo in the article is their vodka, but an older style bottle. You will be all set!

    I'd think 20 beans would be fine for the 750ml bottle. I'd leave it for a good six months to a year. Once you start to use that bottle, I'd buy another one and maybe the 1/4 pound bag of beans to start the next batch. Then once the original bottle is used up, add in another 10 beans to the bottle with the previous beans inside of it still.... thten add vodka back to that original bottle and you'll get a little extra out of those original beans you just put in.

    I just keep adding new beans to the bottles as they empty and have a few of them on a shelf that I rotate so they all are well-aged.

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