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Homemade “Bourbon” Vanilla Extract

The secret ingredient for perfect baking is this homemade vanilla extract. Your extract will be ready ing 4-6 weeks and it is so worth the wait! Once you make your own homemade vanilla extract, there’s just no going back to the store-bought extracts!

Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 (4 oz) bottles
Author Katie


  • 12 (4 ounce) boston round glass bottles with caps
  • 24 ounces bourbon your favorite brand
  • 24 ounces unflavored vodka your favorite brand
  • 12 whole tahitian vanilla beans
  • 24 custom chalkboard labels


  1. In a large pitcher or a mason jar, mix together the bourbon and vodka. Set the alcohol aside. 

  2. On your cutting board with a sharp knife begin to slice the vanilla bean in half. You want to split the vanilla beans down the long side. This opens up the vanilla and the little seeds is what holds all the flavor. Don’t waste any seeds. 

  3. Then place each split vanilla bean into all the boston round glass bottles, one per bottle. 

  4. Now take a small funnel and pour the bourbon/vodka mix into each bottle. Put the cap on and shake it up. That’s it! 

  5. Let the vanilla and alcohol brew in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. The longer you let the vanilla brew the stronger the flavor. Over the next 4-6 weeks periodically shake to distribute the vanilla beans seeds. 

  6. The best part is you can use the same vanilla over and over again. Once you are ready for more extract, simply fill the bottle up with more bourbon and vodka or just vodka. It’s so simple and can really save you money on buying vanilla extract. 

  7. To make the vanilla extract into a gift, make your own label here. The chalkboard labels are a really fun touch that makes it extra homemade. Add some ribbon to make a bow and you’re done. It really is a beautiful gift that keeps on giving!  

Recipe Notes

Note: if you don’t want to use bourbon or don’t have it on hand, this recipes works perfectly with vodka. It works the same. I prefer the bourbon and vodka combination because it makes for a really well developed flavor that is awesome in baked goods like cakes and cookies!

Look through the post to see the examples of the labels I made. It’s helpful to give tips on the back of the bottles instruct that you can refill and brew more vanilla extract.

Here is what I wrote on the back of the bottle label. 

Ingredients: vodka, bourbon & tahitian vanilla beans.

100% Pure Extract. Periodically shake. When your vanilla gets low, simply add more unflavored vodka. The flavor is stronger as it brews. 

Use in cakes, cookies and other baked goods! 

Happy Baking!