Pure Homemade Vanilla Extract

Did you ever realize that one of the most expensive ingredients in baking is the vanilla?   Naturally a homesteader begins to question, “How is vanilla made and can I make it for cheaper?”  The answer, “You can make it for cheaper with two ingredients, vanilla beans and VODKA!”    Be sure to check out the cost savings at the bottom of the post, the savings are about 1/3 the price of store-bought vanilla extract.

Sourcing the Ingredients:

I went to Ikea and bought 8- 5oz. jars to hold my vanilla extract, then went to the grocery store to buy the vanilla beans.  For two beans it was $11.99 on sale!  Whoa that seemed really expensive, I knew there had to be a cheaper option.  I ended up ordering 40 premium Madagascar vanilla beans from www.topvanilla.com for $23.95.  I chose the Madagascar variety because the flavor is a rich, dark and creamy with an overwhelming sweet, buttery aroma. These are well suited for many baking recipes, drinks and desserts.  I got the beans in the mail about 6 days later.

I then had to search out the second ingredient in vanilla; Vodka.  I have a Vanilla 1nice bottle of Grey Goose in the basement that we have had for 6 years, but I didn’t want to use the good stuff for making vanilla.  I keeped an eye out for a sale at our local liquor store.  Finally a bottle of Vodka went on sale for $11.99 for 1.75L.  I was so excited, that I dropped my husband off and work at 9:00am and headed straight to the alcohol store.  It felt really weird going to buy a huge bottle of Vodka, while carrying a baby, at 9am where I was the only customer.  The lady at the checkout counter kinda gave me a strange look, like “lady, you must be an alcoholic and a bad mother since you are buying vodka at 9am while bringing your baby to the store”  and I felt the need to tell her it was for making vanilla, and she gave the “riiight” look.  When she was checking me out apparently I had a $10 credit that I was able to use on the vodka….score!  I was grinning from ear to ear.

Making Vanilla


  • 5oz. glass jars
  • Bottle of Vodka (any unflavored vodka will do)
  • 4 Madagascar Vanilla Beans per glass jar

Directions:Vanilla 3

  • Clean and sanitize (boil for 10 minutes) your 5 oz. glass containers.
  • Cut 4 Madagascar Vanilla beans in half and put into your glass container.
  • Cover beans with vodka and fill to top of container.  That’s it!
  • Store the jars in a dark place for the next two months and once a week give them a shake to help infuse the flavors.


Take a look at your store bought vanilla, and read the ingredients.  Are you upset that the product you thought was ‘Pure’ vanilla, has corn syrup and water in it?   Did you also notice that the alcohol is only 35 proof, rather than 40 proof that you get when you make it at home.  How awesome that the homemade vanilla is far superior in taste and quality!

Vanilla 4
Vanilla 5








Cost Savings:
Generic Store Bought Vanilla Extract: $3.39 per ounce
McCormick Vanilla Extract:  $3.49 per ounce
Organic Vanilla Extract: $4.14 per ounce
Homemade Vanilla Extract:  $1.36 per ounce

The Breakdown
8 Ikea Jars: $8.61 (with tax)
40 Vanilla Beans:  $32.98 (with shipping)
Vodka:  $12.93 (with tax, not taking into account my $10 credit)
Total:  $54.52
Total per Jar:  $6.81 for 5oz.  or $1.36 per oz. 



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