Homemade Vanilla

No, I don’t just make cheese.

I began my culinary journey long before I was anointed the Queen of Vegan Cheese.  I relish making all sorts of fancy things. And I make everything from scratch. Really from scratch. Even the things you would normally buy at the store, I generally make from scratch.

Take vanilla. Why spend $15 for a little bottle when you can make a quart from some leftover vodka and some vanilla beans? Leftover vodka? I don’t know about your house, but at mine there’s always some hanging around after a party. And fear not the price of vanilla beans. Buy grade B in bulk online (on Amazon, or a host of vanilla sites), and you’ll be in the vanilla business for years. With that quart of vanilla you now have, you can bake to your hearts content or pour it into little bottles to give as gifts.

But here’s the best reason of all to make your own. You can turn the soaked vanilla beans into vanilla paste, which means you get double bang for your buck. There’s no need to waste those fragrant pods – there’s life to them yet reincarnated as a potent paste that can be added to cakes, cookies, ice cream – you name it.

So get soaking.

Homemade vanilla June 9

A quart of finished vanilla extract

Homemade Vanilla

Feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. I usually make a quart at a time, The more vanilla beans you use, the stronger your vanilla will be.


  • 1 cup vodka, rum, or brandy
  • 8 or more vanilla beans, grade B (buy in bulk online - at least 1/4 pound -it's about a tenth of the cost of buying individual beans at the store)


  1. Pour the liquor into a jar.
  2. Cut the beans into 1-inch lengths. Put them in the jar. Secure the jar with a lid, then set in a dark place, such as a pantry or closet. Then forget about it for a couple of months or more. Go have a party and squirrel away some more liquor for your next batch. When you remember that you had that vanilla in the pantry, it'll be ready.
  3. Strain through a sieve into a bottle of your choice. Use the strained vanilla beans to make Vanilla Paste (below).
  4. To make Vanilla Paste, put the soaked, strained vanilla beans into a food processor or blender. Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of sugar, and process until a thick paste is formed. Pack into another jar.


A tablespoon of homemade vanilla extract

A tablespoon of homemade vanilla extract

Homemade vanilla paste in food processor

Homemade vanilla paste in food processor


Vanilla paste packed in a jar

Vanilla paste packed in a jar


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have often shied away from “good” vanilla because of the price tag. Although there usually isn’t much leftover vodka in our house, I’ll do my best to save some next time ;-).

  2. Isabella says:

    fabulous! i don’t drink much vodka – there’s a bunch burning a hole in my freezer right now. and i LOVE vanilla. thank you!

  3. Duramatter says:

    gotta fight you on this one…I buy Cinco Sol (fair trade/organic) in Mexico every winter – dark and clear…it is the best! worth the price and I use to make my vanilla too

  4. Hi Miyoko,
    I’m wondering if you need to increase the amount of vanilla you use in a recipe if using homemade?

    I’ll definitely be trying this!

    All the best,

    • It all depends on how many vanilla beans you use. About 8 vanilla beans per cup of alcohol makes single-strength vanilla (the stuff they sell in stores). If you increase the vanilla pods, you need less. Bakers typically use double-strength, and so you need half the amount. You can vary it according to how you like it.

  5. Carrie Deane says:

    Could you please clarify on the weight of vanilla beans. The recipe calls for 8 vanilla beans or at least 1/4 of a pound. I weighed my eight vanilla beans and the total weight was .7 of an ounce!

    • Oh, I see the confusion. The weight was about buying the beans in bulk (buy at least a quarter pound), not the weight of the beans! Depending on the water content of your beans and their size, it could range from .7 to .9 ounces for 8. Each bean weighs about.1 ounce!

  6. Hi great recipes! Thanks so much for sharing them! But I wonder how long I can store them before they turn bad? Definitely will try them out really soon! Thanks again greetings from Germany.

    • Do you mean the vanilla beans once soaked or the vanilla? Because they’re soaked in alcohol, they are fine for years, actually!

  7. Great recipe!! CIAO from Italy, Torbole, Lake Garda!

  8. Traveling Hawk says:

    Great to find this recipe! Thanks for sharing! Greetings from Romania 🙂