Learn how to make pure vanilla extract and vanilla powder at home using real vanilla beans to save money and add true vanilla flavor to your baking. These recipes are easy to make in less than 10 minutes and can be the perfect edible gift.
Table of contents
Why make this recipe
Store-bought vanilla products are not only expensive, they often contain added sugar, flavorings, colorings, preservatives, or other additives. Sometimes they're not even made with real vanilla beans! My recipe on the other hand, is made with the highest quality beans and have a pure and rich vanilla flavor.
I have been making vanilla products for many years and almost all my dessert recipes include vanilla. My Banana Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting and my Vanilla Cinnamon Almond Butter for example stand out with beautiful notes of vanilla.
Ingredients and tools you need
Vanilla extract is made with just 2 ingredients: and vodka. You also need a bottle or jar with tight seal to store the extract.
- Vanilla beans: Look for grade A over grade B to make your extract. Grade A are higher quality beans that have been sun-dried for months to increase the moisture content in the beans to around 30–35% over 15–25% in grade B beans. The beans are picked when mature and are fragrant, plump, oily and flexible.
- Vodka: Vodka has a neutral flavor and the alcohol helps extract and concentrate the vanilla flavor.
- Bottles or jars: If you're making extract for yourself, you can use the same bottle from the vodka you buy (that's what I do). Other options you can use are swing top bottles or jars, or nice looking wine or other liquor bottles with a tight seal (these are great for gifting).
Vanilla powder is made with just 1 ingredients: vanilla beans.
- Vanilla beans: Grade A beans are best, although you can use grade B beans if you want to save money.
💡 Fun Facts:
The most flavorful vanilla beans are produced in Madagascar from an orchid species called Vanilla planifolia. The vanilla pods (or beans) grown by this species have a higher content of vanillin which are more flavorful and highly praised by chefs around the world, and it's the one I use.
Step by step instructions
- Slice your vanilla beans in half lengthwise to expose the seeds inside. Depending on the height of the container you're using, cut your beans into smaller pieces so they fit inside without bending.
- Place the beans in your bottle and top it with vodka. Using a funnel is a good idea so your vodka doesn't spill.
Store your bottle in a cool, dark place like your pantry for at least four to eight weeks before using your extract. As it ages and the longer you wait, the better your extract tastes and the darker in color it gets.
- Allow the vanilla beans to dry out at low temperatures in the oven or dehydrator for a few hours or over direct sunlight for a few days (I dry mine in the oven for 2 hours at 170°F).
- Grind the whole beans to fine powder in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder.
To grind the beans as fine as you can without using commercial equipment, start in your food processor and then finish processing in your coffee grinder.
You can use any vodka, get the cheapest one you can find and one that is at least 80-proof alcohol (40% of the liquid is alcohol). You can also use bourbon or other liquor, but these have strong flavors that compete with the vanilla. Vodka is best to use if you want pure, rich vanilla flavor. If you're grain-free like me buy a vodka distilled from potato.
You absolutely can reuse the beans in your bottle. Simply remove the beans from the bottle and use it in any recipe that calls for the beans or the seeds of the vanilla bean.
This homemade vanilla extract and powder never go bad. Pictured below is a bottle of extract I made five years ago. I never throw the beans away, I keep refilling my bottle with vodka as it's running low and I also add more beans whenever I buy more and have extra. My extract tastes sweet and rich.
Vanilla powder is simply whole vanilla beans ground into fine powder. It's flavor is stronger than vanilla extract and it's great for recipes that want to emphasize the vanilla flavor. It tastes sweet, and can be used as a natural sweetener or sprinkled over coffee, other beverages or fruits.
There's another product on the market called vanilla sugar which is not the same thing as pure vanilla powder or extract. Vanilla sugar is made from unrefined sugar and infused with vanilla seeds or beans.
Where can I get vanilla powder? You can make your own following this recipe using just vanilla beans but if you prefer to buy it, the best place to find it is online. Bakto is my favorite brand and you can get it on Amazon.
Vanilla beans to vodka ratio
Vanilla extract is categorized by its strength using the term of "single-fold" and "double-fold". Single-fold is the most common extract found in stores and double-fold is what professional bakers and chefs prefer to use.
According to the FDA, pure vanilla extract must, at a minimum, be single-fold and contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of alcohol (35%+ alcohol level). It’s flavorful and it gets the job done, but it may lack a certain depth and complexity.
Double-fold has a strong vanilla flavor and tastes so much better. This is how I make my extract. Basically it uses double the amount by weight of beans soaked in the same ratio of alcohol as single-fold extract.
Here's an example to make single-fold and double-fold vanilla extract:
- Single-fold - Add 1 ounce vanilla beans to 1 cup (8 fl oz) of vodka.
- Double-fold - Add 2 ounces vanilla beans to 1 cup (8 fl oz) of vodka.
It doesn't matter how many beans you use per cup of alcohol, what matters is the amount of beans you use by weight. So buy your beans by weight and not by how many beans are included in each bag.
Save money by making your extract using grade B vanilla beans (they cost less by weight) or by adding fewer beans per cup of alcohol. You will still end up with a wonderful extract if you allow the vanilla to infuse the alcohol for longer than 6 to 8 months.
Best way to store vanilla beans
If you buy vanilla beans for later use, you can keep them fresh without getting moldy by storing them in a bottle with vodka. Place the beans in your bottle or jar and top it with vodka. The alcohol helps preserve the beans and they never go bad.
Here's how you can substitute vanilla extract with vanilla powder, vanilla seeds and a vanilla bean.
- In place of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use 1 teaspoon vanilla powder.
- In place of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use 1 teaspoon vanilla seeds.
- In place of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use 1 whole vanilla bean.
Vanilla Extract Recipes
Vanilla Powder Recipes
Hope you enjoyed these 2 recipes and this information was helpful! Please leave a rating and your thoughts in the comments below, I love hearing from you! Let's also connect on email, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
🎥 Watch the recipe video
How to Make Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Powder
Vanilla Extract (single-fold)
- 1 ounce vanilla beans
- 1 cup (8 fl oz) vodka, 80-proof alcohol
Vanilla Extract (double-fold)
- 2 ounces vanilla beans
- 1 cup (8 fl oz) vodka, 80-proof alcohol
- Slice the beans in half lengthwise to expose the seeds inside. Depending on the height of the container you're using, cut your beans into smaller pieces so they fit inside without bending.
- Place the beans inside your bottle and top it with vodka. Use a funnel so your vodka doesn't spill.
- Give the bottle a shake and store it in your pantry for a minimum of 4 to 8 weeks before using.
- Place the beans on wire rack and parchment paper in a baking sheet.
- Bake for 2 hours at 170°F or until your beans dry out.
- Process the dried beans in a food processor or blender to fine powder. Finish processeing in a coffee grinder for an even finer texture.
- Place the vanilla powder in a 1 oz container and store it in your pantry.