Homemade Vanilla Extract holiday gifts

Easy to make Natural Homemade Vanilla Extract holiday giftsSeveral months ago, during the summer, I started planning and making this year's Christmas gifts - homemade pure vanilla extract.

Why so early? Real Vanilla Extract takes months to brew, but is very simple to do. Just cut and put some vanilla beans in a bottle and cover them with vodka (or dark rum for a gluten-free option). Let it sit for a few months or more and you've got amazing authentic vanilla extract, that smells amazing and is an unique handmade gift for friends and family.  

Homemade Vanilla Extract Directions:

I ordered Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans that arrived in a vacuum sealed package in two days thanks to Amazon Mom Prime. You only need to order one bunch, as you'll have plenty leftover.

Then split each bean in half, along the spine lengthwise with a knife, revealing the tiny beans inside. This part was tedious, but after I was done it belatedly occurred to me that I could have simply used a kitchen scissor instead of a knife to speed up the process. I put 6 or so cut beans into Boston Round Bottles and a dozen beans in some bigger Mason Jars for a larger sized gift\ for those that I know like to bake more.

Now simply fill the jar and cover the beans with plain vodka (I used organic) and store in a cool dark place until ready. As you can see above, it looks like clear water at first, but it will soon turn the dark vanilla color you'd expect after two months like in the photo below. You’ll need at least 3 vanilla beans in there for at least 3 weeks to get a good extract going, but it’s fine to use more beans like I did too. Your extract is ready when it is a lovely brown color and the vanilla smell is overwhelming. The amount of vodka needed can be expensive, so for our second batch I bought a cheaper bottle from Costco in bulk.

Decorating Your Vanilla Extract Bottles

For a holiday touch, I decorated the bottles with custom vanilla extract labels from Etsy with the year, a greeting and my name printed on them. I applied a sticker to each bottle and jar and tied a holiday ribbon around the neck of the Boston round bottles.

For the mason jars, I also put  holiday cupcake liners in between the lid and band, for an extra decorative touch.

Best yet, when your giftee uses up all of their extract, they can simply replenish it by refilling it with vodka and storing it again for a bit. You may also want to create a card with refill instructions to go with each bottle, but I got lazy come December and just told people verbally about what to do when they run out.

If you want to make Vanilla Extract holiday gifts next year, be sure and Pin this post and get started in the early Fall! :) Have fun!


  1. I made some for gifts this year too! I love your bottles and labels!

  2. I really wish I could make my own vanilla extract. I'm going to have to re-read this and maybe search on a few youtube video's. I bet the home-made stuff is delicious.