Thoughtful Spending: Homemade Vanilla

If you're a baker, you know vanilla is pricey! A small bottle at my local grocery store is over $5. The bigger bottle is $9. If you're really feeling daring, you might even buy the premium vanilla for $20 a jar.

Eeeek. Thankfully, for years, I was able to use the good-old Mexican vanilla. I can understand how this might sound racist, but it's not! I swear! This is the term my family used simply because we'd buy it in Mexico. We'd cross the border when we were near it and pick up a huge bottle of vanilla.

With my allergy child, this wasn't such a good option anymore. I don't have a clue what's in the vanilla. It tastes great! It's cheap! What's in it??

A long time ago, a friend mentioned that his friend had made homemade vanilla. This stuck in my head. I did some Internet searching to find a few different recipes.

I ended up using Martha Stewart's recipe and a recipe from

I bought a mid-grade vodka for about $9. The vanilla beans were $13 from Costco (a friend picked them up). After three months, some occasional shaking, and some frequent sniffing, we have homemade vanilla! It's awesome! All for $22!!!

I recommend you check what's in your vanilla. If you bought it at the grocery store, it probably has corn syrup in it.  It could have other things, too! Don't take ingredients for granted....check the labels of even the most benign things, like vanilla!


Sue Hickman said...

We were delighted to be able to help you get the vanilla beans and have loved your homemade vanilla extract! Thanks ever so much!! We will be making our own from now on.
We also take left over vanilla beans and place them in a jar filled with sugar... the hint of vanilla in this sugar tastes great in place of regular sugar, where ever you regularly use it.

Renee @ said...

Hi Sue! Glad to hear you liked the vanilla! I've heard of putting the vanilla beans in the sugar, but I've yet to try it. I'll have to do that the next time I've got leftover beans! Thanks for the sharing the idea. -Renee