How To Make Vanilla Sugar and Vanilla Extract

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vanilla sugar and extract are astounding recipes, mainly because that they're remarkably easy and only require patience to receive phenomenal results. Good vanilla products have that rummy-sweet, reminiscent scent taking you back to mom's kitchen for fresh cookies or your favorite bakery when growing up. Thus, why not develop some of your own to ensure that those aromatic feelings never fade?

Vanilla sugar can be used in cakes, jams, cocktails and pretty much anything else that you want to add a bit of vanilla essence too. Vanilla extract is used in cooking and baking to impart a more potent vanilla flavor. Both also make for fantastic gifts.

For Vanilla Sugar
: Split a vanilla bean down the middle, but not from end to end so that it stays intact but open. Scrape out some of the seeds and mash them up into the sugar with your fingers. Place the seeds and the pod in a jar and cover it with granulated sugar; avoid using baker's sugar as it tends to clump up. Use more beans for bigger jars (my jar was larger than a gallon). Let it sit for two weeks. Afterward you can remove the vanilla beans and set them aside in another jar for future use.

For Vanilla Extract: Split a vanilla bean down the middle, but not from end to end so that it stays intact but open. Place it in the plain vodka. Let it sit for a few days to get vanilla vodka (yum!). Let it sit for about 6 weeks for extract. You may want to filter some of the floaty bits out, but it's your call.

It takes time, but good food requires time. When it's done you'll have so much extract you will never need to buy the stuff again. Ever. Feel free to use the beans inside if you need to, just wash them off well before they go back in. If the supply runs low, top it off with some more vodka (Thanks Heidi, for the topping off advice!)

I'll be sure to revisit the extract a few months from now so we can see the results.


  1. I made vanilla vodka many moons ago but got rid of it when I moved - not realizing that it had been so long that it was probably extract! oh well...

  2. I've heard nothing but awesome things about making homemade vanilla extract! being the vanilla snob i am, it's now definitely on my list of things to do... thanks for all the vanilla lessons! :)

  3. Oh my, thank you so much for this! I'm allergic to corn and finding corn-free vanilla extract is becoming more and more difficult. I can't wait to try this out.

  4. I never even thought of making extract! I am definitely going to try this.

  5. just started the process ;) Thanks again for all the vanilla beans. I will have a post out, too!

  6. Awesome Garrett! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. You are a godsend! I just came home with packets of vanilla from a recent trip and had almost forgotten about them. I had planned to do the vanilla sugar bit, but now I wanna try to make extract as well. Coolness! :)

  8. Garrett - You can even make vanilla sugar by putting used pods in sugar (if used in liquid, they must be dry before adding to the sugar). The sugar takes on the flavor of the vanilla beans, and you don't have to worry about sacrificing the beloved seeds here. Once you've turned to using vanilla sugar, there is no going back. :-)

  9. I had read about making one's own vanilla extract a few months back and then was given a gift of vanilla beans. I'm now on my 2nd month of steeping the beans in vanilla, and will give small bottles of it away for xmas (the gift that keeps on giving hehehe).

  10. Your extract recipe calls for ONE vanilla bean? I'm just wondering because some of those vanilla bean websites say to use six. How much alcohol to the one bean? Thanks

  11. I would say one bean for every 6 ounces. The beans can keep flavoring no matter how much vodka there is, using six just speeds up the process.

  12. I had 4 cups of homemade vodka (48%) and to it added 6 beans per cup. It's now sitting in the back of the cupboard for the next few months. Can't wait!!
    Just about to make some vanilla sugar now. The house smells wonderful :-)
    The recipe I used says to decant some of the extract off in a couple of months and top up the bottle. A never-ending supply :-)

  13. I would like to add some vanilla flavor to my hot chocolate mix. Will this process work with confectioner's sugar or cocoa? The problem with the mix is that it needs to stay dry. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  14. I wish I could recall where/when, but I heard someplace that you can also make good vanilla sugar by grinding up the bean with the sugar. I have not found this version among any of the sites I've consulted however, which surprises me.

    Anyone have any experience with this?

  15. @SalzburgBJ - The Whole Foods website recommends grinding the bean in the sugar just like you mentioned.

  16. I realize that most of these comments are several years old but I was just looking for information on buying Vanilla Beans through the mail and stumbled on your blog. Thank you so much for all the wonderful information on Vanilla and the things you can do with the beans. I was wondering though how many times can you reuse one single vanilla bean and is there a better or best bean for the most uses?

    Also, I would like to say that I have found that my local Food Co-op carries not only the beans pods, but they also carry the actual tiny little beans themselves. I think the price is something like 170.00 per ounce, but even an ounce is a whole lot of tiny beans and no one would even need to buy that much. I find that on the occasions that I want not just the vanilla flavor but also a visual of the vanilla bean, I add a tiny smidge and I mean tiny and vola! I think for the amount I bought the last time I paid like 1.50 and it half way filled up a small baby food jar.

    Anyway, thank you so much for all the valuable information and I hope to learn more about how many times I can reuse a single bean pod.

    1. You can use one three or four times on average. Older beans are less fragrant so save them for something subtle such as blending with tea or coffee, or for lightly infusing milk.

  17. Great blog! So excited I found it -- I'm looking into making my own extract. There are so many different beans & the prices range like crazy. If I'm going to use it mostly for baking, which type of bean should I use? Do you have a favorite supplier you would recommend?



Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.

Vanilla Garlic All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger