Homemade Vanilla

Enjoy using Homemade Vanilla in all your favorite recipes for a rich vanilla taste. Also makes a wonderful gift!

Homemade Vanilla-the perfect gift for the baker in your life

About a month ago, I saw this post from Cheryl-Tidymom about making Homemade vanilla. It reminded me that I’ve always been meaning to do this. I immediately went on line and ordered my beans. Then I went to order the bottles. They were reasonably priced. But then I saw the shipping. The shipping was more than the cost of the bottles. I understand the need to package glass well, no one wants a box full of broken glass on their doorstep. It just put the project out of my price range. I proceeded to order the beans and figured I’d get the bottles locally.

Homemade Vanilla combined with a few items from the Dollar store and you've got a great gift basket!

After shopping around (4 different stores) I just couldn’t find the smaller bottles I wanted. I did find a few larger bottles that would be good for other projects but no one needs a half gallon of vanilla. Well most people don’t, I could probably use it all in a month without even trying.

Homemade vanilla-it's so easy to make!

Then one night, as I was pouring a glass of wine, it came to me. I’m the only wine drinker in the house (usually) so I buy the mini bottles. Lots of varieties and I don’t have to open a big bottle. Those bottles would be perfect for this! And they’re screw top so no need to worry about spilling. You can get them in glass or plastic (perfect for shipping!) I also tried a few plastic soda bottles but they just didn’t have the “look” I wanted and let’s be honest here-I don’t want to give THAT much of my precious Homemade Vanilla to any one person.

Homemade Vanilla-save those bottles and reuse them!

Cleaning the bottles and removing the labels was easy. For the glass bottle, a little soaking in some warm soapy water then peel the label off. I used an SOS pad to get any remaining glue residue. For the plastic bottles, it was a little more tricky but after asking a few of my bloggy friends, Use olive oil to get rid of that pesky residue! Once your bottles are washed and dried, you’re ready to make your vanilla.

Vanilla Bean pod and seeds-oh the flavor from a fresh bean!

Using a sharp knife, cut a slit the length of the vanilla bean pod. Cut the pod in half, then add 6-7 pieces to each bottle. Fill the bottle with your favorite shelf brand Vodka (no need to you the really good stuff) to the neck of your bottle, making sure the beans are fully submerged.

Homemade Vanilla-so easy to make

After that it’s just a waiting game. Store the bottles in a dark cabinet taking them out once a week to shake well. After about 6 weeks, you’ll have amber perfection.

Homemade Vanilla-just 6 weeks to amber perfection!

Homemade Vanilla

Enjoy using Homemade Vanilla in all your favorite recipes for a rich vanilla taste.


  • 3 whole vanilla beans (I used Madagascar)
  • 6-8 ounces Vodka
  • clean bottle (see full post for the bottles I used)


  1. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise from one end of the bean to the other. Cut beans in half.
  2. Place bean halves in bottle.
  3. Cover beans with Vodka to completely submerge, leaving some head room at the top.
  4. Store bottles in a dark cabinet for 6-8 weeks, shaking every week to reactivate the fermentation process.
  5. Add a pretty label.


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Homemade vanilla-reuse mini wine bottles instead of buying bottles!

Oh and those cute labels that make my bottles look like they’re from a boutique? You can get the free printable from Live.Laugh.Rowe thanks to my cool friend Kelly!

want more ideas for great food gifts?

Strawberries and Cream White Chocolate Bark from www.ChocolateChocolateandmore.com

Strawberries and Cream White Chocolate Bark

Lemon Bread

lemon Bread

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix

Sugar Scrubs

Sugar Scrubs

and here are some more ideas

Everything in a jar from The Gunny Sack

Citrus Bath Salts from A Pumpkin and a Princess

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  1. Vanilla extract is one of those things that’s kryptonite for me to have in large quantities. Mini bottles are a great idea!

  2. What a fun reuse of the bottles :) Love the idea of homemade vanilla. I bet it tastes AMAZING!

  3. How long to you leave vanilla in for clear version sometimes need a pure one for a white vanilla cake and in ypou picture you have clear and amber versions

    • Debbi, the clear version is the just made bottles and wouldn’t provide a vanilla flavor. They are the “before”, Your vanilla is ready to use once you achieve the amber color. If you need the clear vanilla (I know for a white cake you’d want clear) you’d probably need to pick that up as a specialty store. I know both Michaels and Hobby Lobby have one in they baking section.

  4. This is a great idea! I think my parents would be okay with me getting into the liquor cabinet to make this even though I’m underage haha. I also love the ‘homemade vanilla’ sticker you put on the bottles-so cute!

  5. I have a pack of vanilla beans I brought back from Mexico (where I also bought cheap vanilla – which didn’t turn out to be so cheap – another story) and had in mind to make my own vanilla. Now, with your help, I have no excuse! I gave a pack to my daughter and it’s probably still sitting on her shelf as well. I’ll have to snag it back from her along with some of those little wine bottles I gave her!
    Is the above recipe for just one bottle?
    Thanks. Can’t wait to try it. :)

    • Hi Deb, yes, the recipe is per bottle so just multiply it by however many bottles you have! And yes, get those beans back from your daughter, you can always let her nave a bottle of the finished vanilla!

  6. Ohh! I have to try this. What a nice addition in my Christmas baskets. Question; after the 6 or so weeks do you leave the pods in or remove?

  7. yessssss!!!! I love homemade vanilla extract!

  8. What pretty little bottles! I would love a gift like that!

  9. Oh I LOVE that you used recycled bottles!! GREAT idea Joan!!

  10. What a wonderful gift for the holidays! I’ve always meant to try making my own vanilla extract. I think you’ve inspired me to finally give it a go. And those bottles and labels are adorable! Just the perfect little finishing touch to make something special just a little more special.

  11. Another way to get labels and glue residue off: Downy. Depending on the type of paper, you may have to score it some so it’ll seep in, but coat the label with some Downy and let it sit a while. Works better than soapy water IMO. =)

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