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Vanilla Bourbon Extract

Vanilla Bourbon Extract

Traditionally people use vodka when making their own vanilla extract, but I love to use bourbon. This is because the vanilla will have a much more well- rounded rich flavor along with all the vanilla goodness.

Why I Make My Own:

  • Making my own saves money.
  • Yes, vanilla beans are expensive, but so is vanilla extract and this way I can make a large batch.
  • A homemade bottle of vanilla extract is the perfect holiday gift. I like to make the bottles about two months ahead of time so the bourbon really takes on all the vanilla flavor.
  • It lasts for years if left in a cool dark place.
  • Once a year I will add more bourbon along with another vanilla bean or two. This is really an investment that keeps giving over time.


  • 2 to 5 vanilla beans Madagascar or Tahitian (minimum of 2 vanilla beans)
  • 8 to 16 oz of Bourbon whiskey (enough to fill up your vanilla bottle)


  • 8 to 16 oz glass bottle or ball jar
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Funnel


  1. Cut one vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle, then carefully scrape out the seeds.
  2. Place the cut open vanilla beans and the seeds inside the bottle. Repeat with more vanilla beans.
  3. Once the beans are in the bottle, fill the bottle with bourbon. 
  4. With the top firmly in place, shake the mixture until well mixed. 
  5. Label the bottle with the date and store in a cool dark place. 
  6. In 2 months use it in your own baking or gift it to a loved one.

Photographs by Elizabeth Poett and Standish Hicks

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