Find out how easy and inexpensive it is to make homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar and we you might need both!
Homemade vanilla extract is so easy to make that it’s almost not worth dedicating a whole post to it. Well, almost.
I am also showing you how you can make vanilla sugar and why you might need to have that around for the holidays.
If you have ever ordered a dessert in a restaurant or bought food with vanilla in it, you might have seen these little black specks. That is a sign that they were using real vanilla. You will see these little specks in your homemade vanilla products as well!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why make vanilla extract and vanilla sugar at home?
I think homemade almost always tastes better. It is definitely the case with vanilla extract and vanilla sugar. If you’ve never tasted real, from scratch vanilla extract you’ll be in for a treat. You might also never want to go back to store-bought!
With the increasing costs for store-bought vanilla extract, it is also more affordable to make it at home. High quality vanilla beans aren’t exactly cheap but you will get a lot out of them, making your homemade vanilla product very economical in the end.
As a self-declared homemade-queen, I will often make foods that can be had for so much less in the store with little loss in taste. And I don’t easily shy away from a more elaborate preparation. However, in the case of vanilla extract and vanilla sugar you’ll be surprised to learn how easy and quick you can make them!
Ingredients for homemade vanilla sugar and extract
Most importantly you need vanilla beans. Depending on where you live they might be harder to come by. I recommend buying the best quality vanilla beans that you can afford, and organic if that’s in your budget.
I have found them in my local stores and at Costco around the holidays. If you want or need to order them online, here is a good source.
For the vanilla extract, you will need some alcohol. While I prefer spiced rum since it adds more complex flavors, you can absolutely use whiskey or vodka. You probably have a good local source for that already. Costco again has some very good deals and that is where we like to get it.
For the vanilla sugar, obviously you will need sugar. There is no right or wrong here. I chose to make one with organic cane sugar and the other one with organic coconut palm sugar. Feel free to use whatever sugar you have at home, even powdered sugar.
Helpful kitchen tools:
You will need some type of bottle or jar. I like to re-use and re-purpose jars and bottles as much as possible. If you don’t have any at home, Ikea has some cute little 4 oz lidded jars.
Especially, if you’d like to give your homemade vanilla extract as a gift, a pretty bottle will make it look very nice.
Alternatively, you can always use mason jars with tight-fitting lids.
How to make homemade vanilla sugar:
For about 4 oz of sugar, I am using 2 whole vanilla beans. But keep in mind that there is no hard and fast rule and you can tweak the ratios as needed.
Fill your jar about half-way with sugar.
Placing the vanilla bean on a cutting board, carefully cut it open lengthwise. With your spoon scrape out the inside as much as possible and it to the jar with the sugar. Repeat with the second one.
Then cut your vanilla beans in thirds and stick them into the sugar.
Fill the jar with more sugar. Put the lid on a give it a good shake. Place the jar in a cool and dark place for at least 2 weeks. Longer is better. If you remember it, you can shake the jar occasionally.
If after the 2 weeks, your homemade vanilla sugar is pretty intense, you can always add more sugar. I also sometimes add more sugar as I am going through it.
How to make homemade vanilla extract:
I like to use a ratio of about 1 cup of alcohol and 3 vanilla beans. If you’re watching the Youtube video to this post, you’ll notice that I did not quite have one full cup of rum. This recipe still works. Once we have bought more rum, I will top off my vanilla extract.
Again, placing your vanilla beans on a cutting board, carefully slice them open lengthwise. You can scrape out the insides but this is a bit optional.
Place your vanilla beans in your bottle or jar and top it off with the alcohol. Shake it well and place it in a cool and dark place. Ideally, you want to let it infuse for about 6 months but I have successfully used it sooner than that. That’s all! So simple!
When to use your homemade vanilla sugar versus vanilla extract:
Most people know what recipes they need the vanilla extract for. The extract is a very versatile ingredient for many foods or drinks such as your homemade pumpkin spice latte, eggnog, or yogurt, ice cream, or cakes.
But you might be wondering why I have included the vanilla sugar in this post.
If you have ever visited Europe or grew up there (like I did), you might know that vanilla sugar is a lot more popular over there than here. However, many of the store-bought versions use artificial vanilla flavor, also called vanillin.
That is one of the reasons I like to make my own vanilla sugar, with real vanilla.
I always need vanilla sugar for my holiday baking. There are many cookie recipes (such as the traditional German vanilla crescents, also called Vanille-Kipferl) that will work better with the vanilla sugar as they will be coated in them after baking.
In any event, I just like to have both around. They last a very long time as both alcohol and sugar act as preservatives.
Shop this post:
Vanilla beans: https://amzn.to/3hOPYOg
Organic cane sugar: https://amzn.to/2ZXednn
Organic coconut palm sugar: https://amzn.to/3mIldxW
Lidded 4 oz jars: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/korken-jar-with-lid-clear-glass-40378571/
Flip-top bottles: https://amzn.to/3hSBrRo
My favorite small sharp knife: https://amzn.to/2Ek4AY2
Measuring cup: https://amzn.to/2EkBYhl
Funnel set: https://amzn.to/3iMzozI