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Best Vodka For Making Vanilla Extract

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Have you ever wondered what is the best vodka for making vanilla extract?

Well I have! So I started asking around!

I learned that most of the people that I talked to had a go to vodka but really did not have a preference! So I turned to the internet and started scouring vodka reviews and pretty much got the same result.

Making my own homemade vanilla extract for the first time brought me so much joy! The second batch left me feeling blissful!

It was the best homemade vanilla extract ever! Using simple ingredients is always a win!

What Kind of Beans & Alcohol To Use

I didn’t know what kind of alcohol to use or what type of vanilla bean to choose. All I knew is that I didn’t want any artificial flavors! So of course, I started searching the Internet.

I discovered that some people swore by grade A vanilla beans. I also learned that most people that make their own or a good vanilla extract were perfectly fine using grade B vanilla beans.

The difference between the two is that grade B beans have less moisture than grade A beans. Grade A beans also look a little better because they have a bit more moisture.

Empty glass bottle with funnel and a full smaller bottle with vanilla extract Pin

Ultimately, I ended up going with the grade B vanilla beans because they were more affordable. I have used them quite a few times and was happy with the extraction process.

Vanilla bean extraction is not hard. You basically split the bean and scrape out the beans!

How Strong Do You Want Your Vanilla Extract?

The best part is that my vanilla flavor is good. It’s still robust and a lot better than the extract that I have found at my local grocery store in the spice aisle.

Next time, I’m going to expand and try making vanilla sugar as well as try making some Mexican vanilla extract. I am interest in seeing the different outcomes with the different vanilla beans.

Close up of three bottles of vanilla extract.Pin

I am going to test to see if the higher quality of the vanilla beans is noticeable when I make the best vanilla extract. Either way, I am sure I will be happy since I am making real vanilla extract.

I had to use all of my vanilla beans so next time I think I’ll try some different beans and come up with some of my favorite recipes. It is good to error on using a greater number of beans than you think you need.

A good rule of thumb that I go by is that when I think it’s enough, I add four or five more beans! Your final product will be robust with vanilla flavor.

It really doesn’t take a long time for the initial vanilla favor to get into the extract. I have found that Costco‘s vodka is the best alcohol for making a new batch of vanilla extract.

One empty glass bottle and two small bottles with extractPin

Do Not Buy Expensive Vodka to Make Extract

Costco has two different types of Kirkland brand vodka and both work well. You can use any plain vodka or type of alcohol with a neutral flavor to make a different flavor of extract.

You can use any cheap plain vodka! Seriously! DO NOT buy expensive vodka!

I repeat, do not! It is not needed. Popular choices for alcohol include white rum, dark rum, brandy and bourbon.

Bourbon is a GREAT choice! Be sure to use 80 proof vodka and stay away from flavored alcohol! Otherwise, you may as well buy imitation vanilla or store-bought vanilla extract.

I have used store bought vanilla extract in a pinch but the homemade stuff is sooooo much better!

Three bottles of vanilla and rum extract.Pin

You want to make sure that the alcohol that you choose is at least 80 proof which means it has an alcohol content of 40 percent. Grabbing a large bottle of vodka helps when you are making extracts for the holiday season.

Choosing a Vodka

I found that the cost at my local liquor store didn’t really make sense to me because I was making so much. I use so much vanilla extract around the holidays, that I needed larger quantities of plain vodka. 

Glass bottles, one with extract and the other with vanilla beans floating in the vodkaPin

The end result was that I was able to make two 750 ml bottles of my homemade vanilla extract recipe using one large bottle of the Kirkland brand vodka.

News flash! Vanilla beans are crazy expensive! Order them in bulk if you can! Make at least an entire CUP (8 ounces) of vanilla extract and you can reuse the beans to make more. 

Types of Vanilla Beans

  • Tahitian Vanilla – commonly used and can be found in specialty stores
  • Madagascar Vanilla – super common and you will most likely find these vanilla bean pods at your grocery store
  • Mexican Vanilla – easier to find in the southwest-I have trouble finding these in the Midwest
  • The Tongan Vanilla Bean is challenging to get your hands – I have heard that it is delightful-If you get your hands on some, please send me some!
Three bottle of vanilla extract.Pin

Pro Tips

  • You can refill your vanilla extract bottle to keep it full. Just give it a shake when you add more vodka!
  • Keep your finished vanilla extract at room temperature!
  • Keep the vanilla extract out of direct sunlight. You want to store your pure extracts in a dark place. 
  • You can also use light rum or dark rum if you would like to make a rum vanilla extract

If you are making a 750 ml bottle of vanilla extract or if you are using 25 ounces of alcohol, you’ll need about 18-20 pods or 1.5 or 2 ounces of vanilla beans.

This may sound like a lot of ounces of beans but you will thank me later!

Ingredients You Need to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

  • whole vanilla beans – you will need 6 or 7 vanilla pods (about half of an ounce) for each of your 8 ounce bottles. I like a strong vanilla flavor.
  • 80 proof unflavored vodka

Using this amount of vanilla beans is considered a double-fold vanilla extract. You can use fewer vanilla beans if you would like a single fold vanilla extract.

Hardware needed

  • glass bottles – the bottles can be any size but an 8 oz bottle is great for gift giving.
  • a sharp knife
  • a small funnel makes pouring a bit easier but it is not a must
Glass bottles, one with extract and the other with vanilla beans in the vodkaPin

This is Plain & Simple Like Things Used To Be

Split the beans, scrape out the vanilla seeds and put them in a glass bottle then pour alcohol over the beans and come back and give the bottle a good shake every now and then! That’s it!


  1. Split vanilla beans down the middle and scrape out the vanilla bean caviar -that is the stuff inside of the bean- and put it in the8 oz glass bottle
  2. Use a sharp knife and carefully slit the bean down the middle lengthwise. If you notice that your vanilla beans are too long for your bottle, it is okay to cut them down so that they fit.
  3. Put the beans into the glass bottle.
  4. Pour the vodka over the beans. Make sure the beans are completely submerged under the vodka. I use a funnel to make this easier and because I am clumsy!
  5. Seal the bottle, give it a shake once a week or so and store your bottles at room temperature in a cool and dark place for a couple months. I like to wait six or seven months before using my extract but it is ok to use after two months.
Three bottle of vanilla extract.Pin

For this recipe, I used Madagascar beans and this would be considered a single fold vanilla extract using this ratio of vanilla beans. You can use a glass jar or mason jars to store your own pure vanilla extract.

You can also grab some smaller bottles. Smaller bottles make the perfect gift and you can use the extract in different ways.

Last year, we ate a ton of ice cream and made some syrups that we were able to use the extracts to make them pop!

Recipe Notes

I use grade B beans -Madagascar vanilla beans but you can use Tahitian vanilla beans or Mexican vanilla beans

I use empty bourbon bottles with a cork top. I like these because they have a tight seal and can be opened easily!

Let me know how your vanilla extract turns out! I can’t wait to hear!

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  1. Paulette Simpson says:

    Does Vanilla extract expire?

    I think I will try this receipe.

    Is there a recipe with natural herbs that I can do with my students? The vanilla extract will not work 😜.

    1. Hi Paulette! Please let me know how much you love your extract! As far as a recipe to use with your students, try an infused Infused Vinegar or Infused Oil! Garlic would work well for either of these!
      Here is a brief guide:
      Ingredients: Fresh garlic cloves, vinegar (such as white vinegar or apple cider vinegar).
      Method: Crush or mince garlic cloves and steep them in vinegar for several weeks in a cool, dark place. Strain before use.
      Uses: Garlic-infused vinegar is great for salad dressings, marinades, or as a flavoring for cooked vegetables.