Make Your Own Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla

I really, really like vanilla!  In my opinion, it is an ingredient that should always be on hand.  But I don’t buy vanilla that is artificially flavored or has added sweetener, and I strongly dislike the price of the pure extract.

Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

Several years ago, I made my own and was very pleased with the results.  I made one gallon worth and it lasted us over a year … closer to two.  And it only costs me about $75 to make that gallon. Since then, the price of vanilla beans has increased but it is still cheaper to make your own than to have to purchase it. And it is a very simple process!

So today you are invited to visit my kitchen and tag along while I show you how to make healthy homemade vanilla!

Step 1: Gather your supplies:

Approximately 80 vanilla beans
1 gallon of liquor (vodka, rum, bourbon)
Glass jars, equaling one gallon
Scissors or knife

I purchase the vanilla beans from Olive Nation.  You can buy 1 pound (approx. 100 beans) for $119.95 (free shipping!).  If you do not want to make a whole gallon, they sell the beans in smaller quantities.  You may also find them on for a comparable price.

The first time I made vanilla, I used vodka.  This second time, I used white rum.  It’s my understanding that white rum produces an extract with a milder alcohol flavor – we’ll see in a couple months!  I have also heard of using vegetable glycerin for a non-alcoholic variation (although chemically speaking, glycerin is also an alcohol!) but I have not done it.

The supplies: vanilla beans, rum, scissors and jars.Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

Snip the ends off the vanilla beans. This helps release the “paste” that is in them.  Then using scissors, slice the beans in half except for about an inch or so on the end.Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

Put the beans in the jars.  The rule of thumb is 5 beans for 8oz.  So if you’re using a one-gallon jar, put all 80 in it.  If you’re using quarts, put 20 in.  I used some pint jars too, so they need 10 beans.  Note: if you’re using pints, you’ll have to chop the beans in half to make them fit in the jars.Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

I love the look of vanilla beans stuffed into jars! And the smell! It’s wonderful!Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

Pour the liquor into the jars and fill them to the rim, covering the beans.Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

Shake the jars really well and then put them in a dark place.  They will need to sit for at least 2 months; the longer it sits, the stronger it gets!  It’s good to shake the jars about once a week or so during the brewing process.Make Your Own Homemade Vanilla

And there you have it!  After 2-3 months, you can strain the vanilla into small dark jars.  Or you can leave it in the brewing jars like I did last time!  It’s now ready to use.  I like to include it in all my baked goods, chai smoothies, Mexican hot chocolate … you name it! Happy vanilla-ing!

11 thoughts on “Make Your Own Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla

  1. Hello Hannah! I like to watch the cooking show, “Barefoot Contessa” whenever I can, and she also showed how to make your own vanilla. She put the vanilla beans in whole, and when the vanilla was ready, she took out the beans, snipped off one end and used the “paste” from one in a cake recipe instead of vanilla extract, which I thought was interesting. Maybe you could try it and see how it works.
    I just love ya’ll’s recipes!

    1. Yes, I actually have scraped the vanilla bean paste out and put it homemade coconut milk ice cream! It is very good! I haven’t tried it baking though … will have to do that!

  2. Really neat post, Hannah! My dad started making homemade vanilla a couple years ago, and I agree, it’s much better than store bought! Plus, you know exactly what’s in it, no “extra” ingredients that companies put in them! Great job! I enjoyed seeing the article about it in SSM too!

  3. Hannah,
    Have you ever used your old vanilla beans for anything after the vanilla is gone? Or has the usefulness pretty much been used up? Just wondering because a friend suggested grinding up the old beans into a powder and using it that way.
    – Mrs. Reed

    1. Hello Mrs Reed, I have not ground up the beans but I have cut them and scraped out some of the leftover “paste”. There isn’t much though. I would be interested in knowing how it works to powder them – I may try it after this batch is finished!

  4. LOVE making homemade vanilla but hate having to buy the alcohol 🙁

    Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! 🙂

  5. Just found this page and absolutely love it. I’m certainly NOT a younger lady but find this interesting and useful. Thank you.

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