Instant Pot Homemade Vanilla Extract is a fast and easy recipe that ends up being deep, rich, and incredibly delicious. This simple vanilla extract recipe can be made in just a few minutes.
Vanilla is so outrageously expensive and we are cheap around here. At my local grocery store, the prices ranged between $50 and $200 per quart of vanilla! No wonder they sell it in those tiny bottles. Who can afford that?
This homemade version is around $25 per quart – but we will make it in a smaller quantity to save money like we show you below.
🍽️ Why This Recipe Works
Easy – This is one simple recipe to make. Once you realize it is only two ingredients, your shoulders relax and you’ll make a batch for yourself and your friends!
Two Ways to Make This – Make this in the Instant Pot or the old fashioned way by pouring Vodka over vanilla beans and waiting. Everyone can make this.
Cost Saving – Like I mentioned above, making your own saves money, but it also tastes better as well. Remember, you are comparing real extract and not the imitation vanilla that is about $2-3. Nope! We will make the real thing here.
Vanilla extract is made from two ingredients. That’s it. Vanilla Beans and Vodka.
Fortunately, my neighborhood liquor store is in the same shopping complex as the grocery store, so I popped over to pick up some vodka. It doesn’t matter which one you get as long as it’s 40% ABV, but don’t get a flavored one.
I ordered vanilla beans on Amazon. I couldn’t afford the price for the ones in the grocery store. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime, because they arrived in just a couple of days.
⌛ Traditional Instructions
Step One: Select the Grade B vanilla bean you wish to use. Grab a glass jar with a lid, and pour in one cup of the vodka.
Step Two: Slice seven or eight beans lengthwise (be careful not to cut yourself) and use a pair of scissors to cut the pods into the desired lengths. I usually just cut them to length in order to stay submerged in the vodka.
Look closely and you’ll see the very tiny beans. They almost look like a black dust. This is where all the flavor resides!
Step Three: Add the beans to the glass jar. Pour the vodka over the beans, making sure that all the beans are covered.
Step Four: Put the lid on the jar and place it in the cabinet to age. After a few days, the vodka will start to darken and the smell will be very distinctive vanilla. It is ready for use after eight weeks. I read where one baker kept his aging for two years before he used it. I don’t have the patience for that, but I bet it tasted divine!
Note: Keep the beans and the pods in the vodka. The longer it stays in there, the more it ages and it will develop a very strong and deep flavor.
⏲️ Instant Pot Instructions
I used an Instant Pot to accelerate the process.
Step One: Add one cup of vodka to a Pyrex measuring cup, and then the vanilla beans. Don’t try to use any bowl or jar here. Make sure to put the Pyrex on top of the rack and NOT on top of the bottom surface of the Instant Pot.
Make sure it is an oven-safe type glass that can withstand the pressure and heat. You could alternatively use a mason canning jar.
Step Two: Set the Instant Pot to Manual and set the timer for 35 minutes. Allow to MANUALLY RELEASE.
Remember there is alcohol in this and you don’t want anything to happen. Give it the time it needs to come down from the high pressure.
After it cools, pour the mixture into the storage jars. Make sure to include the beans and the pods.
Even though you gave it a kick start with the Instant Pot, more flavors will be released over time.
🍴 What Type of Vanilla Bean
Grade B is the way to go. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Grade A vanilla beans are better than Grade B for extract. This isn’t a classroom score.
If you really want to geek out on the fine points of vanilla bean use, read this informative article at Vanilla Review.
These beans have a higher water content and, as a result, are more supple. They are much more visually appealing than Grade B.
These are used for food dishes primarily. The vanilla beans come out of the pod beautifully so if you want to make a gorgeous vanilla bean scone, I would choose the Grade A Gourmet Beans.
These beans are drier, contain less water and do not look as nice. These are the beans that are meant for using in extracts. Make sure you order these.
These are the traditional beans with an almost-spicy aroma. This same variety of bean is also grown in Mexico. I can’t tell the difference between their tastes, but there is supposed to be a difference.
These beans have a floral aftertaste. It still has the distinctive vanilla taste but has a very unique finish to it.
Tongan Vanilla Beans
These beans have even stronger overtones of fruit and florals, similar to the Tahitian bean.
Indonesian beans have a woody or smoky flavor on top of the vanilla
It is traditional to use a dark brown bottle to protect the vodka and beans from sunlight. If you are a traditionalist, then go for it! Here is a link for the small, brown bottles.
These are also really good bottles if you want to give away vanilla bean extract as gifts. That is a super creative gift idea!
I don’t worry about the brown jars too much. First of all, I keep it in my cupboard, and it doesn’t get exposed to light very often.
Second, I use the extract pretty darned fast, and I doubt that the sunlight would have enough chance to cause any lasting damages.
🎁 Holiday Gift Giving
This is one of my favorite holiday gifts to give. It is super easy to make, extremely creative, and I bet your friends will love it! It is a whole lot cheaper than buying that expensive store-bought variety!
I love giving gifts people will actually use and vanilla bean extract is a win!
To make the gift giving a bit more fun, I am including a FREE printables sheet with a gift tag for you to fill out for your friends.
Add in your name, the date you created the extract, and the type of bean you used.
❗ Expert Tips
When using your Instant Pot, make sure you use an oven safe jar or Pyrex container. DO NOT just pick up any old glass measuring cup and put in your Instant Pot. Grab those mason canning jars for this recipe as well. They work out great.
Make sure to get at least 40 proof vodka.
Quality vanilla bean is key for this vanilla extract recipe.
❓ Recipe FAQ
Here are some common questions when it comes to making vanilla extract.
As long as you keep it sealed, it keeps forever because of the high alcohol content. Once opened for the first time, extract will start to evaporate and you will notice that it will not be as strong as it once was. It is still excellent and usable, just not at potent.
Always pick a darker, cool place like your kitchen cupboard where your spices are located.
No, you don’t. You can use as few as four and use up to 9-10 of them. It will all determine on the quality of your beans and the potency of your extract. I like mine strong and I want to taste the vanilla in my recipes. If you are hesitant on the 7-8, start with less and see how you like it.
For the regular version, you need to wait at least eight weeks. If you have an Instant Pot, you can use it the same day once it cools down.
Use the smallest mason jars, which turn out great for not only yourself but for gift giving.
Look for something that is close to 40 percent alcohol.
No, you can use brandy, bourbon or even a generic, non flavored rum would work.
It’s normal and just shake it. If it was in a tiny, dark jar from the grocery store, you wouldn’t even know it was there.
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Instant Pot Homemade Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Vodka
- 8 Vanilla Beans
- Select the Grade B vanilla bean you wish to use. Grab a glass jar with a lid, and pour in one cup of the vodka.
- Slice seven or eight beans lengthwise (be careful not to cut yourself) and use a pair of scissors to cut the pods into the desired lengths. I usually just cut them to length in order to stay submerged in the vodka.
- Add the beans to the glass jar. Pour the vodka over the beans, making sure that all the beans are covered.
- Put the lid on the jar and place it in the cabinet to age. After a few days, the vodka will start to darken and the smell will be very distinctive vanilla. It is ready for use after eight weeks.
Instant Pot Version
- Add one cup of vodka to a Pyrex measuring cup, and then the vanilla beans. Don't try to use any bowl or jar here. You need to make sure it is an oven safe type glass that can withstand the pressure and heat. You could alternatively use a mason canning jar.
- Set the Instant Pot to Manual and set the timer for 35 minutes. Allow to MANUALLY RELEASE. Remember there is alcohol in this and you don't want anything to happen. Give it the time it needs to come down from the high pressure.
- After it cools, pour the mixture into the storage jars. Make sure to include the beans and the pods. Even though you gave it a kick start with the Instant Pot, more flavors will be released over time.