DIY Food

How to Make Vanilla and Lavender Extracts at Home

July 11, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Trisha Jones from Sugar Thumb shares a practically effortless way to make your own vanilla and lavender extracts.

Vanilla and Lavender Extract

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Vanilla has a fundamental presence in the homes of bakers. It’s the first ice cream flavor I remember -- the Cornish kind of vanilla ice cream with that unreal yellow color. So when I discovered how easy it was to make vanilla extract at home, I wondered why more bakers weren’t doing it. It takes only the smallest bit of effort -- and a good bit of patience -- to have homemade extract that you can use in cakes, cookies, and puddings

For something a little more adventurous, you can also pick some lavender (or buy some at the market), dry it out, and make a delicious lavender extract. My favorite way to use lavender extract is to add it to waffle batter along with white chocolate chips.

More: Try Lavender-Chocolate Chunk Pancakes with Crème Fraîche, too.

While I can buy extracts easily, it makes me so happy to make them myself. They're also great for cocktails: If you put vanilla or lavender in the vodka for just a few days rather than a few months, you can use it as vanilla- or lavender-infused vodka, instead.


Vanilla or Lavender Extract

Makes one 1/2-liter bottle or jar

3 vanilla beans or 3 handfuls dried lavender
2 cups high-quality vodka


Add the vodka to a clean 1/2-liter bottle or jar, followed by either the vanilla or the dried lavender. Invert the bottle to immerse the beans or leaves into the vodka.


Seal the bottle and keep it in a cool place for 1 to 2 months, then use the extract in all of your delicious baking recipes.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Trisha Jones

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • vicky
  • Alisa
  • lewis bogan
    lewis bogan
  • miznic
  • Judy Chow Sanders
    Judy Chow Sanders
I love to bake. I love to eat cake.


vicky June 17, 2015
I have been preserving my vanilla pods in a light sugar syrup for years and they both keep brilliantly in a cool and dark place. Plus, so much cheaper to make a water-sugar syrup than buying the cheapest vodka!
Alisa May 4, 2015
lewis B. November 30, 2014
Why not ever-clear?
miznic July 25, 2014
I have a jar of extract that I made using high-quality vanilla beans and cheap vodka... when the jar gets low, I usually add more vodka and half of a bean. The jar I have has been going strong for the last 6 years. But yes - it needs to be in a cool, dark place.
Judy C. July 14, 2014
I love these! After infusing a couple of months, how long will these extracts keep?
David N. July 14, 2014
I have seen online that you can keep them for 6 months, but I have actually kept mine for over a year. Make sure to keep it in a dark place. (vanilla breaks down easily in light, this is why all the commercial extract bottles are dark brown)
Sini |. July 13, 2014
I'm so into this lavender extract! Have never heard of it before and am so eager to make a batch. Thanks, Trisha!
Ursula W. July 12, 2014
I love those bottles. Where did you get them?
Bernardo—This M. July 12, 2014
I just got a lavender plant at the outdoor market. I'll have to give this a try!
Barbara R. July 11, 2014
I've been making vanilla extract for years, but I use inexpensive cognac or brandy. I will try the lavender extract!
David N. July 14, 2014
I have used Brandy as well, and Rum both in the past. The reason that Vodka is recommended is that it does not bring any flavor of it's own. Brandy and cognac both do.
Renee F. October 27, 2017
I like using Canton ginger liqueur and add a few cracked green cardamom pods.
Cooking W. July 11, 2014
We go through so much lavender extract that not only will this be fun to make, it will certainly save us quite a bit of money!
CarlaCooks July 23, 2014
Out of curiosity, what do you make with the lavender extract? I've a big-time lavender lover, so I'd love some new ideas of what I can sneak it into next!
Blythe July 26, 2014
I'm curious about what you do with lavender extract as well
Allyn July 11, 2014
Now I just want to make vanilla vodka for cocktails! That sounds so delicious
laurenlocally July 11, 2014
This is great! I am making it for holiday presents for sure :) Thanks Trisha!