Making homemade vanilla extract is incredibly easy! The first version here uses vanilla beans and bourbon for a classic, richly-flavored vanilla extract. The second version adds orange peel to the mix for an orange vanilla extract that provides an extra layer of flavor to cookies, muffins, and other baked goods. Less expensive than store-bought, and they make great gifts!
Sometimes it's fun to roll a million flavors into a recipe. Something like brown butter bourbon blondies with Baileys buttercream, for instance (hey that's actually not a bad idea...). But lately I've been leaning toward simpler recipes and kitchen projects. The delayed gratification that typically comes with the time spent on complicated recipes is typically way less delayed in these quicker/easier recipes, and in
many some cases, simpler = less opportunity for messing up. 🙂
This brings us to the star of this post - homemade vanilla extract. It certainly checks all the boxes for a simple and flavorful kitchen project, and is on the whole less expensive than many store-bought varieties. The one thing it's not is quick as it takes at least 4 weeks for the flavors to develop. But 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours and 40 minutes (give or take) of that is inactive time so I think it still qualifies as simple, right?
Homemade vanilla extract is EASY! to make. Capital letters necessary. Vanilla beans are submerged in alcohol for 4-6 weeks or longer...and that's it. Give the jar(s) a little shake periodically to mix everything up and time is the only thing between you and a large quantity of vanilla goodness. Speaking of the alcohol, I used bourbon in this homemade vanilla extract. You can use a different alcohol such as vodka or rum even, but I like the rich, deep flavor that comes along with using bourbon. Whatever you choose you don't need to use a pricey alcohol - something low-medium grade would work just fine.
The big jar in these photos is traditional vanilla extract, while the smaller jar is extra snazzy and also includes orange peel for a delightfully balanced orange vanilla extract. Made with bourbon. Good stuff!
Besides opening the lid and taking a few whiffs every time I pass it on the shelf, I love the customization options that come with the orange vanilla extract. Subbing in this for standard vanilla takes baked goods to the next level. Magically your Bisquick chocolate chip cookies have the faintest hint of orange flavor, and I can't wait to use it in muffins, quick breads, cakes and more.
With the holidays approaching, homemade vanilla extract would make a great gift for the foodie family and friends in your life. I still need to find little bottles for my stash (fam + friends forget you read that!), but if your batch isn't quite done before it's time for gift-giving, a cute label stating when it'll be ready to crack into would do the trick! Like you're giving a fine wine that needs a little extra time to age. 😉
Homemade Vanilla Extract (two kinds!)
For Traditional Vanilla Extract:
- 10 whole vanilla beans
- 12 oz bourbon
For Orange Vanilla Extract:
- 4 whole vanilla beans
- Orange peel zest from one large orange (about 2 ½ - 3 tbsp)
- 6 oz bourbon
- Using a sharp knife, slice down the length of each vanilla bean to create a slit, but do not cut all the way through. You'll want the beans to be completely submerged in the bourbon, so it's fine to cut the beans into smaller horizontal sections if you need. Add vanilla beans to glass jars/containers. If making orange vanilla extract, add orange peel to that jar as well.
- Pour bourbon over top of vanilla bean sections, ensuring they're covered by the bourbon. Tightly seal the jars and store in a cool, dark place (such as the back of a kitchen cabinet away from the stove) for at least four weeks, ideally 5-6 weeks or longer. About once per week give the jar(s) a good shake to mix everything up.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
The "recipe" I use calls for vodka. It's cool to watch the vanilla beans turn the vodka dark brown and fragrantly vanilla. I will have to try it with the bourbon and orange peel! Thanks for sharing!
It's definitely a cool process! I made a few bottles for holiday gifts last year (of these varieties) but I want to make a few more kinds this year. I think a classic one made with vodka will be on the list! 🙂
Natalie @ Tastes Lovely says
I love how easy this is! I've got to make my own now. This would be the cutest homemade Christmas present too. Love it!
Thanks Natalie! I'm hooked on making it now too!
I love making my own extract! It's something I've done for years now. But never have I added the orange peel! I am definitely trying that!
I can't believe it took me so long to finally start. I can't wait to make more! Plus it gives me an excuse to buy more cute jars...I usually have to justify purchases like those because of our limited kitchen storage space! 🙂
I've never made my own vanilla and have wanted to for a while! These flavors sound amazing, and I especially love the sound of the bourbon one!
Thanks Marcie! I had wanted to for so long before I did. I think it'll be a recurring thing in my kitchen!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I am extract girl! Don't even ask why I've never made my own....I will! I must! Just need some bourbon 😉
I never made my own for the longest time Rebecca - funny how that works! I'm hooked now though!