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Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

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Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe – A fun made from scratch holiday gift idea for your friends and family. Bourbon makes everything better!

The BEST Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts
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It’s that time of year… We’re all wondering what sort of gifts we can make for out friends and coworkers, while sticking to our holiday budget.

Homemade gifts can be very special to those who receive them. Especially if you take the time to make something unique.

This year, why not give your friends a gift they can use in baking, cocktails, and even as homemade perfume!

How To Make Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

What Is Bourbon Vanilla Extract?

Ok, this is sort of a trick question…

Most people’s first thought would be that Bourbon Vanilla is vanilla extract made with bourbon liquor. This is true and not true, all at the same time.

Originally bottles labeled “Bourbon Vanilla Extract” contained extract made from Madagascar vanilla beans, specifically from the island of Réunion, which was once called Ile Bourbon.

Therefore, modern day Bourbon Vanilla can be made with any alcohol, as long as it it also made with Madagascar vanilla beans.

However, today we are using bourbon in this homemade vanilla extract recipe, along with Madagascar vanilla beans. So I guess you could say it’s Double Bourbon Vanilla. *wink*

Easy Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

What Kind Of Alcohol Is Used to Make Vanilla Extract?

Technically, you can use any type of alcohol to make vanilla extract, as long as it’s 80-proof or 40% alcohol.

Store-bought varieties use a colorless, flavorless alcohol such as vodka. However, if you are making it at home, use what you like!

I find rum and bourbon make lovely vanilla extract that offers that little extra something to recipes.

Bourbon Vanilla Extract is a personal favorite, because bourbon has a rich caramel essence on its own. Therefore when infused with vanilla beans it offers a luxurious well-rounded flavor.

Edible Gifts - The BEST Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

How To Make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract from scratch could not be easier.

  • Simply pour bourbon in small bottles.
  • Slit fresh soft vanilla beans open, so the seeds are exposed and can fall out in the extract.
  • Cut the beans into segments.
  • Then add a segment to each little bottle of bourbon.
  • Close the bottles. Then shake and wait.

Simple Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

How Long Does It Take To Make Vanilla Extract?

If you plan to make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract for your friends this year, you do need to start right away.

The actual prep-work involved to make vanilla extract takes only minutes. However, you do need to let your bottles sit for at least 4 weeks so the vanilla bean and seeds can infuse into the bourbon.

In a pinch, you could give your bottles away after 2-3 weeks, hoping your friends won’t use them for a little while. The extract will still taste delicious; it just won’t be as strong.

Holiday Gifts - Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

How Long Does Pure Vanilla Extract Last?

In theory, vanilla extract should last forever. You are likely to use it up long before it could ever go bad.

If kept in a cool dark place (like the pantry) vanilla extract can last for years and years. However, too much light or heat could certainly effect the extract negatively.

Another perk you might add to your gift label, is that you can keep topping off the bottle with additional bourbon for quite some time. The vanilla bean will just continue to infuse into the bourbon. If you add a little splash of bourbon to your extract bottle every couple weeks when you bake, you won’t have to buy (or make) vanilla extract for a couple years!

Perfect Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

Is Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Expensive To Make?

Not at all! You do not need to buy expensive liquor, because the cheap stuff works just as well.

The only reason I would ever consider buying a pricier bottle to make extract, is if you are making one large bottle of vanilla extract for a friend and want a certain bottle shape or label.

Fresh vanilla beans can be expensive, depending on the type of beans, and the year you buy them. Some years, crops are lean. Therefore, the beans are more expensive. I’ve also noticed some extract recipes call for a lot more beans, so each batch would be more expensive to make.

However, after much experimentation, I’ve found that as long as you use very soft fresh beans, and cut them open so the seeds are exposed, there’s no need to over-stuff the bottles.

In this recipe, I’m only using 6 beans to flavor an entire 750 ml bottle of bourbon. Fresh beans = Less beans needed = Less cost!

Trendy Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts

More Homemade Gift Ideas

Bourbon Candied Bacon

Chocolate Toffee Christmas Crack Munch

Mexican Burnt Milk Candy

Snowball Party Mix

3-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

Salted Caramel Sauce

Bourbon Salted Caramel Candies

Chai Chow

The BEST Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe #ASpicyPerspective #giftideas #ediblegifts
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Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Rest Time: 28 days
Total Time: 5 minutes
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe - A fun made-from-scratch holiday gift idea for your friends and family. Bourbon makes everything better!
Servings: 12 mini bottles


  • 750 ml bourbon
  • 6 soft Madagascar vanilla beans


  • Pour the bourbon evenly into twelve 2-2.5 ounce bottles
  • Cut a long slit down the length of each vanilla bean, so they open exposing the seeds. Then cut each bean in half, to create twelve short pieces.
  • Place one vanilla bean segment in each bottle. Close the bottles tightly. Then shake vigorously.
  • Allow the bottle to sit at least 4 weeks, before gifting or using them. Every few days give them a vigorous shake.


To make one large bottle: Open a 750 ml bottle of bourbon. Slit the vanilla beans. Cut them in half. And stuff all the vanilla beans in the bottle. Shake and sit for 4 weeks.


Serving: 0g, Calories: 150kcal, Carbohydrates: 0g, Protein: 0g, Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 0mg, Potassium: 0mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 0g, Vitamin A: 0IU, Vitamin C: 0mg, Calcium: 0mg, Iron: 0mg
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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33 comments on “Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract”

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  5. Can you use half vodka and half bourbon to give a little extra bourbon ump instead of all vodka.  

  6. have been making this for years now. My friends have come to expect a bottle every year and are very disappointed when I don’t make it.

  7. Do they sit on the counter or in the refrigerator?

  8. FDA standard for “pure vanilla extract ” is approximately 8oz of spirits to 1oz of vanilla bean. The spirit must be at least 70 proof or 35% alcohol by volume. The grade of bean used for the extract does not matter as long as the minimum weight is 1oz of beans to 8 oz of spirit. If you’re looking for a sweeter extract use rum as it is a sugar based spirit. If you want a more pure vanilla flavor use vodka as it is tasteless and odorless.

  9. Can I use vanilla jim beam to make vanilla extract?

  10. A side question: What kind of rum do you advise to use? Will clear Bacardi white rum work? Or is dark rum better? I have some of the former, would need to go buy the latter.

    Btw, I have 4 oz bottles. Doing a calculation, I come up with one bean per bottle. Does that sound about right?

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  12. Would it hurt to scrape some vanilla bean off the stem and put it in the bottle as well.

  13. Have you used grade A dried Madagascar beans to make this recipe? 

  14. Did you use Madagascar grade A or grade B beans.

  15. Yes, this is my first time using Bourbon but I have made vanilla using vodka several times.

  16. On my first attempt I used 3 different types of Bourbon , Makers Mark, Very Old Barton and Evan Williams. Started it in September and to me it still seems very liquorery (a word?) I know vanilla smells of alcohol but was wondering if using the Bourbons it will just be stronger. Each bottle was 200ml with 10 beans used between them

    • Kristin, I had the exact same experience (using 2 types of bourbon)! After several months of steeping, I tasted it last night and all I taste is the liquor. (If liquor-y isn’t a word, it should be. hahaha) It’s so strong, I’m worried about baking with it. I see you posted your comment back in April, so maybe you’ve tried it by now. If so, how did it come out? Is the harsh liquor flavor pronounced or does it mellow?

      The reason I did a search and came on here (which isn’t where I found the original directions, though the ones on this site match up with those I followed) is because of the flavor and I was wondering if that was normal or if I’d done something wrong. I made vodka-based vanilla last year and it turned out very well, and also did one portion of vodka-based vanilla this time, too–that one seems fine. So I’m thinking perhaps it *is* normal, and because bourbon has a more pronounced flavor from the outset, it’s just not going to go away? I was excited to use the bourbon since I enjoy sipping vanilla bourbon, and agree it has those nice caramel notes in there, so I thought it would lend itself to baking, but now I’m concerned I may have made an error in judgment. 

      If anyone has some insight, do please share. 

      • Hi Natalie, could it be that you aren’t using enough beans in your bourbon–most recipes that I’ve seen recommend 5-6 beans per 8 oz or 2-3 oz of beans per 750ml? Or you may just need to brew it longer. I don’t have experience with bourbon, but have made many dark rum extracts and have found that adding an extra bean or two and letting it brew a bit longer helps intensify the vanilla flavor. I have found that my vanilla extracts still have a liquor taste because I’m using strong Carribean rum, but that the vanilla flavor is equally as strong. I think that’s normal. Also, the alcohol evaporates with heat and my vanilla extract made with rum lends such a great flavor to my cakes! I have read somewhere about putting special oak blocks inside of your extract to mellow out the alcohol taste, but haven’t tried it myself. Maybe you can look into it? They sell them on indrivanilla.com. I highly recommend that site and they sell great beans too!

  17. Love this! I am getting ready to start some home projects and definitely adding this to the list.

  18. Would you recommend straining the extract, like for longer shelf-life or easier use? Or just keep the seeds and beans in?

  19. Where do you buy your beans???!!!!???

  20. Delish!

  21. Where do you find your cute bottles?  They are perfect for homemade vanilla as gifts.  Thank you.