Bourbon Vanilla Extract

I've actually been holding out on you.  I've been making homemade vanilla extract since last September, and it's good.   Like really good.  Like lick your fingers after pouring the vanilla good.

I haven't really been meaning to hold out on you, but (1) I didn't have any good pictures of it, (2) I was planning on giving it for Christmas gifts, so I couldn't tip my hand.

I realized this morning as I read this article that it was time.  First, you should know that vanilla extract is just alcohol (with a fairly high proof, even) and vanilla beans.  Apparently vanilla extract is not sold in liquor stores and was not included in Prohibition essentially because the companies argued that a reasonable person wouldn't want to drink it straight.

Well then.  That either makes me unreasonable or means this vanilla extract needs to be sold in liquor stores.  (And before you look at me like that, I've only licked my fingers!  I've only thought about drinking it straight . . . )
And vanilla extract is so easy to make.  It's also an investment, but should yield much more than store bought.  All you need is vanilla beans, 80+ proof bourbon, a sealing bottle and 6 weeks.  (But only about 5 minutes of active time.)

It's all about the ratios.  Joy the Baker, whose recipe I was following, suggests 2 vanilla beans per 4 oz. alcohol, but I was a bit stingy.  I used about 1 1/2 beans per 4 oz. of bourbon.

Then there are 4 easy steps:

(1) Clean the bottles and let them dry.

(2) Slice the vanilla beans the long way, and scrape out the seeds.

(3) Place the seeds and pods in the bottle and cover with alcohol.  Seal.

(4) Shake and let seep for 6 weeks in a cool, dark place.

Voila!  Vanilla extract!  And the best part is that as you use up the bottle, you can just top it off with alcohol and extra vanilla beans.  I've been using mine since October!

P.S. It also makes a great gift with a cute tag and a bow!

P.P.S. Forgive the dirty windows!


  1. I was going to express my concern about leaving the bottles in the sunlight (thereby possibly degrading the extract) but then read step 4 about storing in a cool, dark place. I'm guessing these bottles were only in the sunlight for the sake of taking pictures...and beautiful pictures they are. I'll definitely have to try my hand at making extract at home. Great post!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, it looks pretty in the sunlight, but I keep mine in my spice cabinet. These were gifts and are now off to their respective homes, not in my window!


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