Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

How to Make Homemade Extracts: Vanilla Extract Recipe & More!

4.72 from 139 votes
Easily make Homemade Extracts including my pure vanilla extract recipe & many more!
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe & more Homemade Extracts Recipes!

Hi Bold Bakers!

I love the idea of making DIY versions of ingredients that you thought you could only buy in a store. What I love even more is when the homemade version is just as good, if not better than store-bought; that’s exactly what you get with these Homemade Extracts including my vanilla extract recipe. And there’s no doubt about it that there is something very satisfying about making and using them in your baked goods.

Where Does Vanilla Extract Come From?

Vanilla extract is simply vanilla and vodka, and a little bit of time. In fact, for all Homemade Extracts, all you need is Vodka and your flavor and that’s it. You can make any flavor your heart desires, like pure vanilla extract, as long as you have an alcohol or food-safe vegetable glycerin substitute.

Do I Have To Use Alcohol To Make Extracts?

Yes, most extracts contain alcohol but you can use an alternative method in the recipe below that requires glycerine and water. It won’t get you drunk and you won’t be able to taste it either.

The Difference Between Pure Vanilla Extract And Imitation Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract uses vanilla pods. Imitation vanilla extract, which is technically vanilla essence, has never seen a vanilla pod in its life. While some people say they can’t taste the difference, I believe that using good quality ingredients is essential to making any great baked goods.

Do I Have To Use Vanilla Pods To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract?

Yes, the pod and the seeds have all of the flavors. You can buy vanilla pods on Amazon, and you may also find good value in a store near you.

How Long Will Flavor Extracts Last?

Indefinitely. Store them in labeled jars and keep them away from heat and out of direct sunlight. Buy the bottles I use on Amazon.

Homemade Extract Taste And Consistency

When you first make your Homemade Extracts they will look like this, with no color and clear.

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After 5 weeks or so they will change color, develop a much stronger flavor, and they will be ready to use in your baking.

Four bottles of homemade extracts: lemon, vanilla, orange, and mint.

What You Need To Make Extracts At Home

How To Make Vanilla Extract

There’s simply no need for a substitute for vanilla extract when you can easily make the real thing and have it for months. In addition to being a must-have for baking, vanilla extract can also be the perfect almond extract substitute.

And while it takes a few weeks to be ready to use, this homemade vanilla extract recipe is delicious.

  1. Cut vanilla beans in half, splitting open each to expose vanilla seeds on the inside.
  2. Place vanilla beans in a glass bottle.
  3. Add vodka up to the bottle’s neck.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

A bottle of homemade vanilla extract.

How To Make Orange Extract

Homemade Orange Extract can be used in icing, buttercream, custards, and batters like cupcakes to give that perfect hint of orange flavor. You can also use it as a lemon extract substitute.

  1. Peel thin strips of zest from half of the orange.
  2. Place zest inside a glass bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

A bottle of homemade pure orange extract.

How To Make Lemon Extract

Homemade Lemon Extract will make a great addition to cakes, icing, and even frozen desserts like sorbet. All you need are fresh lemons and a little bit of zest from the lemon peels.

  1. Peel thin strips of zest from your organic lemon.
  2. Place zest into your glass bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Seal tightly and store in a cool place for 5 to 6 weeks.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days to mix the liquid.

A bottle of pure lemon extract using my recipe.

How To Make Mint Extract

Homemade Mint Extract can be added to whipped cream, frozen desserts like ice cream and sorbets and even on a bowl of fresh fruit for added flavor.

  1. Stuff mint leaves inside a glass bottle.
  2. Using a chopstick, lightly crush leaves inside the bottle.
  3. Fill bottle up to the neck with vodka.
  4. Store for 5-6 weeks in a cool place.
  5. Tilt the bottle upside down every few days.
  6. At the end of the 5-6 weeks, pour mint extract into another container using a sieve.

A bottle of mint extract, made with a homemade recipe.

How To Make Almond Extract

What’s great about homemade almond extract is that you can use it as a vanilla extract substitute or vanilla extract replacement if you’re out of vanilla pods.

  1. Chop raw, unsalted almonds.
  2. Place almonds in a large jar.
  3. Fill with vodka up to an inch over the almonds.
  4. Chop and blanch almonds and place them in bottles.
  5. Strain the contents of the jar into the bottles.
  6. Store in a cool dark place for 5-6 weeks.

Get more of my Bold Baking Basics recipes here:

Watch The Recipe Video!

How To make Vanilla Extract & More

4.72 from 139 votes
Easily make Homemade Extracts including my pure vanilla extract recipe & many more!
Author: Recipe from 'Just Putzing around The Kitchen'
Easily make Homemade Extracts including my pure vanilla extract recipe & many more!
Author: Recipe from 'Just Putzing around The Kitchen'

Ingredients

Vanilla Extract

  • 3 whole vanilla beans
  • Vodka (You can also use bourbon)

Mint Extract

  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • Vodka

Orange Extract

  • 1 large navel orange
  • Vodka
  • Lemon Extract
  • 1 large lemon
  • Vodka

Almond Extract

  • 10 raw almonds , chopped (unsalted, untoasted)

Instructions

Vanilla Extract

  • Cut your vanilla beans in half, then split open each half to expose the vanilla seeds on the inside of the pod.
  • Place cut vanilla beans inside your glass bottle.
  • Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  • Seal tightly and store bottle in a cool, dry place.
  • Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  • After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (If you leave in your vanilla beans, when you start running low, just add more vodka and wait a little.)

Mint Extract

  • Stuff mint leaves into your glass bottle.
  • Using a chopstick, skewer, or other poking device, lightly bruise/crush the leaves inside the bottle.
  • Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  • Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  • After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (I’m not sure if, like vanilla extract, you can just leave the mint leaves inside. Since it’s leafy plant matter which disintegrates more easily, it may be a good idea to take it out. My leaves went from a vibrant green in the beginning to kind of a dull brown by the end so I took them out just to be safe – I poured my mint extract into another container through a sieve and discarded the mint leaves, then poured the filtered extract back into the bottle.)

Orange Extract

  • Peel thin strips of zest from ½ of your orange.
  • Place zest into your glass bottle.
  • Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  • Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  • After 5-6 weeks, you have extract! (I think with citrus peels the acid (and alcohol bath), it’s probably safe to leave the peels inside the bottle like a vanilla bean for re-fill purposes. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, take it out!)

Lemon Extract

  • Peel thin strips of zest from your lemon.
  • Place zest into your glass bottle.
  • Add vodka, filling up to the neck of the bottle.
  • Every few days, tilt your bottle upside down to gently mix the liquid inside.
  • After 5-6 weeks, you have extract!

Almond Extract

  • Chop your raw, unsalted almonds small enough to fit in your jar.
  • Place chopped almonds into your jar.
  • Note: For the almond extract, it is probably best to use, or re-use, a larger jar. Then as few as 8 almonds, which have been skinned, chopped and covered with the alcohol or glycerin in a small jar if using. I would use a larger jar and a handful of almonds, as many as you like. Cover the chopped almonds to about one inch over the ingredients and proceed. Then, when it is ready, you can strain it into smaller bottles and proceed to use the same almonds for a second batch.
    To skin the almonds you first blanch them. This means plunging them into <strong>boiling</strong> water for one minute exactly. Wash under cold running water until they are quite cold, then squeeze the nut out of the skin, or rub it off in a clean tea cloth.
  • Note: As a guide you use 1 cup/8ozs of vodka to 4 - 6 vanilla beans, depending on thw quality of the beans.

Recipe Notes

Replacing Vodka: just substitute the alcohol called for in any extract recipe with three parts liquid vegetable glycerin and one part water.
You can also replace Vodka with Bourbon.

 

 

 

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1 year ago

Wanting to try your recipe for making Homemade Vanilla Extract using Mexican Vanilla Beans. What size bottle should I use for 3 bean pods?
Thanks!
Angela

Sharon
1 year ago

How many times can you refill with alcohol using the same vanilla beans. What is the ratio of number of beans to ounces of alcohol.
Thank you!

Toby
Toby
1 year ago

Definitely going to try this at home… These extracts are quite expensive and minute in quantity for the price attached to them..
As one who’s used to creating something whenever i need it, i started asking myself if there was a way to make the extracts at home and now that I’ve found a way, I’m super excited.. Thanks Gemma

Tee
Tee
4 months ago

Hi. Thanks for the recipe! I am part of an extract-making group and they advise waiting a minimum of one year for good vanilla extract. Thoughts?

And with the almond extract, I have learned it’s not actual almonds that make the almond extract we all love, but apricot kernels. Have you tried that?

Aveek De
Aveek De
1 year ago

Hi Gemma
We absolutely love your recipes.
Just a question.Can we use whisky instead of vodka?

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart
10 months ago

Last month i made Cinnamon extract by using a small mustard jar . I packed it with as many stick of cinnamon I could fit and then filled it with vodka. I make a point to taste it every so often. Now is has a nice strong cinammon taste. I am planning to use anise stars and cloves next. I am curious if the cloves will have the pain relieving property that they have when i chew them. I chew them whenever i have canker sores and they numb my mouth up. I am hoping that I can use the… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Michael Stewart
Jae
Jae
1 year ago

Hi Gemma,

Thank you for all you teach us. I love learning from you and of course to listen to your beautiful accent.
My question to you today is in making your recipe for lemon extract, is it 1 large lemon for a
4 oz. bottle?

Jae

Renee
Renee
9 months ago

Is it one vanilla pod per 2 oz or 3 per 2 oz?

1 year ago

Hi Gemma
Can we make this recipe with anise?

nsleeder
1 year ago

Congratulations on your happy event to come – the baby kind ( -: How wonderful that you got your book to print and distribution before yet another reason to loose sleep. I have followed you for about 4-5 months now and you are my “GO TO” for any recipe within your range of expertise ! LOVE that your photos and videos are so skillfully filmed – and your confident clear instructions are well done. Also really appreciate that you format your recipes so simply with a thumbnail image of the finished product and there is NO mystery or scavenger hunt… Read more »

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!