Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract Recipe | Made with real bourbon whiskey, this is a fun (and easy) made at home holiday gift idea for your friends, co-workers, teachers and family.
As we fall into autumn (get what I did there?!), we start thinking about easy gifts from the kitchen and Homemade Bourbon Vanilla extract is the ideal gift to give your friends, afterall, who doesn’t bake a few cookies or cakes every now and then!
Never run out of Vanilla Extract Again
What I love about making my own vanilla extract is that once you make your initial investment, the costs are truly tiny! Simply top off the bottle of vanilla off once the vanilla beans start to show. A few splashes of bourbon is all. And maybe once a year, pop in a new vanilla bean or two.
What is Bourbon Vanilla Extract?
There is a lot of confusion over this name, historically Bourbon Vanilla extract contained extract made from Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, specifically from the Ile Bourbon, or what is now called the island of Réunion. Most assumed that the vanilla was made with Bourbon Whiskey, but that was not exactly the case.
Current day Bourbon Vanilla can be made with any alcohol, as long as it it also made with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans.
Today we are using real bourbon whiskey in this homemade bourbon vanilla extract recipe, along with Madagascar vanilla beans.
Vanilla Extract Supplies
- Approximately 6-10 Grade A or B vanilla beans per 16 oz of spirits
- For this recipe we’re using Bourbon Whiskey; I like Buffalo Trace as a medium price point, and non-GMO bourbon (source)
- Use a minimum of 70 proof/35% alcohol)
- Make directly in the bottle or pour into separate, tight sealing clear glass bottle, love the dispensing cap on these! Other bottling options; swing top, boston round or a rounded swing top
- A small funnel.
- A sharp tipped knife, this is my all around most favorite and most versatile knife!
- Patience! You need a minimum of 4 weeks for good results, 12-16 weeks is better, 6 months best, however, one year is ultimate! Besides, the longer it “brews” the darker, richer and more full-bodied it will become!
Store-bought varieties use a colorless, flavorless alcohol such as vodka, nothing wrong with that, it’s less expensive and works beautifully, see my post on Homemade Vanilla Extract using Vodka + Gift Giving Ideas.
I find bourbon make a smooth vanilla extract that elevates recipes, like this Cherry Bomb Cocktail, to a whole new level!
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Bourbon Vanilla Extract has become my new personal favorite, since bourbon has a rich, smooth caramel essence on its own. Therefore when infused with vanilla beans it offers a sumptuous well-rounded flavor.
How To Make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla extract could not be easier!
- Simply pour bourbon in small bottles or make a big bottle by placing vanilla beans directly into the bottle of Bourbon.
- Using a sharp knife, slice lengthwise a fresh soft vanilla beans open, so the seeds are exposed and can fall out in the extract.
- I keep my beans whole (but slit open), but you can also cut them into segments, it’s a matter of choice, if you are rushed for time in brewing, then cut into segments.
- Then add beans to each bottle of bourbon or all of them to a large bottle.
- Place lids on the bottles. Shake gently, placing the bottle in a dark cupboard, shaking once weekly or so.
How Long Does it Take to Make Bourbon Extract?
Physically making bourbon vanilla extract takes minutes, but to infuse takes time and anything worth having is worth waiting for, right?
However, if you are planning on giving bourbon vanilla extract as gifts this holiday season, you need to get going! It takes a month for the flavors to infuse properly, and as Ina Garten says, 6 months is best! And when Ina talks, we listen! *wink-wink*
Not to be bossy, but purchase your ingredients now and take the 5 minutes it takes to put it all together, it’ll do the work for you. Don’t forget to write your “brew” date on a tag.
How Do I Know When My Bourbon Vanilla Extract is Ready
I call it, “the sniff test“. Give it a gentle shake, then open the bottle and take a long, deep sniffffff. If it smells like vanilla, then it’s vanilla! The longer it infuses, the more intense the flavor.
How Do I Use Bourbon Vanilla Extract?
- Replace regular vanilla in any recipe
- WOW people by using in craft cocktails, or desserts like this Tiramisu
- It would taste amazing in this Brown Butter Skillet Cookie by my friend Brenda, at A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
- Delicious in traditional Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – Ah-mazing!
Let me know how you plan on using this delightful flavoring.
Is it Expensive to Make Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract?
That depends, if having a non-gmo or gluten free bourbon is important to you, then might need to spring for something a bit more expensive. If not, then not really!
Vanilla beans can be expensive, last year they were crazy expensive due to lean crops, this year the prices have come down considerably.
I’ve discovered that as long as you use very soft, fresh beans, and slice them lengthwise, so the seeds are exposed, you do not need as many. Less beans = less cost!
How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last?
Forever if you take care of your extract! Follow these tips!
- Make sure your vanilla beans are always covered with the liquor, so they don’t mold or dry out
- Once you see the vanilla beans above the extract, then pour additional bourbon to cover, shake and you are ready to go.
- If you follow these tips, you should never run out of vanilla.
- Once a year, add a couple new vanilla beans to the bottle (don’t forget to split them or cut into pieces).
That’s it! I hope you will give this a go and make some for family, co-workers and friends this year, because it’s an amazing gift that keeps on giving!
For gifting ideas, labels and more, vist my post on DIY Vanilla Extract.
Enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and rate the recipe in the recipe card.
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- 6-10 Fresh, plump Madagascar Vanilla Beans (Grade A or B)
- 750 ml Bourbon Whiskey (I used Buffalo Trace a non-GMO bourbon, use your fave)
Using the tip of a sharp knife slice bean gently lengthwise, stopping just before you get to the end.
Place desired number of sliced vanilla beans into the bottle of choice, snip your beans in half if the alcohol doesn't cover the entire bean as this will prevent mold.
With funnel placed on top of the bottle, slowly pour your alcohol over the beans until they are covered and bottle is full. *Tip | If your funnel isn't flowing, simply lift it slightly off the mouth of the bottle breaking the seal and allow it to flow easily. Place on lid and tighten, shake passionately for a minute.
Write date started on the bottom or side of the bottle, using chalk or metallic marker as well as type of vanilla.
Once your vanilla no longer smells of the spirit you used and smells instead like vanilla it is ready!
If you decide to place all of your beans into a large bottle of bourbon, you may have to pour a little off before placing the beans inside, as the volume will increase and may cause the bottle of overflow.
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- (12 Pack) 4 oz. Amber Boston Round with Black Poly Cap
- Wusthof Santoku knife 5 inch; Black
- Hot Sauce Woozy Bottles Empty 5 Oz Complete Sets of Premium Commercial Grade Clear Glass bottle
- Swing Top Clear Glass SQUARE Bottle With Airtight Stopper - 33.75 oz (4 Pack) F
- Norpro Stainless Steel Funnels, Set of 3
- Madagascar Vanilla Beans by Slofoodgroup
Nutrition Information:Yield: 750 ml Serving Size: 1 ml
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 2 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 0mg Carbohydrates: 0g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g
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