Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe – Making vanilla extract at home is easy, fun, and delicious. Keep your pantry stocked with homemade vanilla or give them to your friends and family this holiday season. Bourbon makes everything better, right?
Why We Love This Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
Homemade vanilla extract is super easy to make and has so much flavor when you make it at home. Make it to use in all of your favorite sweet ingredients, or use it as a fun holiday gift for friends and neighbors this time of year! This vanilla is unique, delicious, and budget-friendly!
This year, why not give your friends a gift they can use in all of their baking adventures or even in cocktails?
Surprisingly, making your own vanilla extract is super simple. You just need two ingredients, individual jars, and some time to let the vanilla brew and gain flavor.
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 is 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*
Ingredients You Need
To make homemade bourbon vanilla extract, you only need two ingredients:
- Bourbon – use your favorite bourbon here
- Madagascar Vanilla Beans – you can buy these online or sometimes at your local grocery store! Grade a Madagascar vanilla beans are best, but you can also use Tahitian vanilla beans!
How To Make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Making vanilla extract from scratch could not be easier. First, pour 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 12 short pieces.
Place one vanilla bean segment in each bottle. Close the bottles tightly with the lid, then shake vigorously.
Allow the bottles to at least 4 weeks, before gifting or using them. Every few days, give them a vigorous shake!
Tips & Tricks
- Instead of making small bottles to gift, you can make one big bottle to keep! Use a 750 ml bottle of bourbon and place all of the opened vanilla pods into the bottle. Shake as usual and let it sit for 4 weeks before using.
- When pouring the bourbon into the small bottles, use a small funnel to make sure you don’t spill!
- Wait at least 4 weeks to use the vanilla, but the longer you wait the better! The vanilla will have a deeper flavor after a few months that is way better than store-bought vanilla extract! Just be sure to store it in a dark cupboard so that the sun or heat doesn’t affect it.
How to Use Homemade Vanilla Extract
Make homemade vanilla extract to use in cakes, cookies, frosting, ice cream, and cocktails for an added depth of flavor! Try using it in some of my favorite recipes that need bold vanilla flavor:
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Homemade Funfetti Frosting
- Vanilla Pudding
- Best Vanilla Cake
- Easy Vanilla Ice Cream
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
How long does it take to make vanilla extract?
The actual prep work involved in making homemade bourbon 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.
How long does pure vanilla extract last?
In theory, the 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 affect the extract negatively.
Keep in mind, 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 of weeks when you bake, you won’t have to buy (or make) vanilla extract for a couple of years!
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 this recipe for vanilla 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 = Fewer beans needed = Less cost!
Looking for More Homemade Gift Ideas? Be sure to try these:
- 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
- Copycat Garretts Popcorn
- Chai Chow
Check the printable recipe card below for the prep time, cook time, total time, and nutrition information. Make sure to share this recipe on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
- 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.