How To Make Vanilla Extract

Once a year I make a batch of vanilla extract and it lasts for the entire year. I use the vanilla extract in my natural perfume formulations and for baking. I bake a lot. The vanilla bean is so incredible. I was fortunate to visit the Steel Grass Farm on my birth island of Kauai, Hawaii. They are the only ones that grow vanilla beans in Hawaii. I was able to see how the vanilla vines and vanilla bean pods grow. I brought home some of the vanilla beans from this Kauai farm and the scent alone transported me to bliss. I made vanilla extract with them and used it in my baking and gave some bottles of the extract as gifts. Every time I used the vanilla extract it transported me back to my birth island that I love so dearly.


Vanilla Beans Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla beans come from the only orchid that bears fruit, Vanilla planifolia. Vanilla beans are mainly grown and imported from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Mexico. They are expensive because of the growing process. The flower must be hand pollinated and the beans handpicked at the perfect time and then allowed to dry correctly for the best flavor. The scent of vanilla is reported to calm angry feelings and emotions. Vanilla beans are an aphrodisiac.


This vanilla extract can be used for natural perfume making, body care products (it does add a tan color to body butters and creams) and cooking and baking. Vanilla extract makes excellent gifts as most people that bake use vanilla extract.

You will need:
8 vanilla beans
vodka, brandy or rum with 40%-50% alcohol (I use whatever I have on hand or want to use up. I usually use vodka. The plum brandy from Trader Joe’s is nice.)
glass bottle or jar

Directions to Make
1. Cut 8 vanilla beans into 1” pieces and add to the jar.
2. Pour 1 cup vodka, brandy or rum into a clean jar or bottle.
3. Cap jar tightly, label with date and shake.
4. Store jar in a cool dark place for 6 weeks. Shake the jar each day for the first week.
5. After 8 weeks or longer, strain out the vanilla beans.
6. Store vanilla extract on a cool dark shelf.

I usually triple this recipe and have vanilla extract for the year and give it as gifts.

Leftover Vanilla Beans
Use the leftover strained vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar or vanilla paste.

Vanilla Sugar
Use the strained vanilla beans making sure they are dry and add them into granulated sugar for a vanilla tasting sugar to add to drinks or baking. The beans can be left in the sugar for several months.

Vanilla Paste
Use the strained vanilla beans and add into a blender with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Blend until a paste. Use vanilla paste in place of vanilla extract.

Free eBook How To Make Vanilla Bean Oil and Extract here.

You might also like

  • Thanks for this recipe. Question. You use 40-50% alcohol. Would you get a stronger concentration if I use 190 proof, 94% alcohol (as in everclear).

    • Hi Martha,
      Yes, I use 40% or 50% alcohol to make vanilla extract for baking and to use in body care products. If I make an extract just for body care and natural perfume and not for food I use 190 proof.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Get the latest and greatest in formulation.

    Free tips and techniques, class releases, plus all that's new in the industry.