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How to Make Vanilla Extract

Make Your Own Natural Vanilla Extract

I adore the scent of natural vanilla. It can be used in so many recipes and is perfect in my superfood coffee. I even use it as a base for my homemade perfume (recipe coming soon).

Unfortunately, as Food Renegade revealed, store bought “pure” vanilla extract can often contain corn syrup or sugar. There is also a big difference between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla which usually contains:

Water, Alcohol (26%), Natural Flavorings (Including Extractives Of Cocoa And Extractives Of Tea), Vanillin And Other Artificial Flavorings, Corn Syrup, And Caramel Color.

Homemade Natural Vanilla Extract

I’ve been making my own vanilla extract for years because it is not only less expensive, but the flavor is unbeatable. It is also one of the most simple recipes to make.

Vanilla extract could also be called vanilla tincture, as it is essentially a tincture of food grade liquor and whole vanilla beans.

With just a natural, non-GMO alcohol, some vanilla beans and time, you can create your own vanilla extract.

There are several types of vanilla beans. Any will work, but here’s the difference:

  • Madagascar Vanilla Beans: Traditional, rich flavor and aroma.
  • Tahitian Vanilla Beans: More floral and fruity flavor and aroma.
  • African or Ugandan Vanilla Beans: More smokey, bold flavor.
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I personally prefer Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, which have a rich and floral flavor and aroma.

You’ll also need a high-quality liquor that is at least 35% alcohol to make the extract. I prefer to use spiced rum, after finding out from Mommypotamus in this post that there is a non-GMO and corn-syrup free spiced rum and Papagayo rum is another great option.  From what I’ve read, Four Roses and Wild Turkey bourbons are also non-GMO, but those are the only two I’ve been able to verify. You can also just look for an organic rum, vodka or bourbon.

Now that we all know about the differences in organic alcohol and vanilla bean types, here’s the super-easy recipe:

How to Make Vanilla Extract


Homemade natural vanilla extract with only two ingredients is amazing and fragrant for baking, cooking or coffee.


  • 8 ounces of organic or non-GMO Spiced Rum, Brandy, Bourbon or Vodka
  • 7-8 Vanilla Beans (I got mine here)
  • A glass jar (taller is better)
  • Time


  1. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise to reveal inside of beans. Cut if needed to make them fit into your jar.
  2. Place in glass jar.
  3. Pour alcohol over the beans.
  4. Cap tightly and shake gently.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month, shaking occasionally. I prefer to leave 2-3 months for best flavor. I also just use straight from the jar and replenish the alcohol as I go.
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Note: If you need a sweeter vanilla extract for a recipe, just add a little raw honey or maple syrup for a corn-syrup and refined sugar free option.


Ever made an extract or tincture at home? What did you make?

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