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Homemade extract is something every baker should have. It's more flavorful and generally less expensive than store-bought versions. Cooking speeds up the infusion, but you can omit the process by letting the mixture stand an extra week. Then use it in frostings and baked goods.

Recipe by Southern Living May 2013


Credit: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffey Hargett

Recipe Summary

15 mins
1 week
45 mins
Makes 3 (1/2-pt.) jars


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Split 1 vanilla bean, and scrape seeds into a clean 1/2-pt. jar. If desired, cut bean in half crosswise. Place in jar. Repeat procedure with remaining beans and 2 (1/2-pt.) jars.

  • Cook bourbon in a large saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes. (Do not cook longer than 5 minutes or it can overheat and ignite.) Pour 1 cup bourbon into each jar. Cool mixture to room temperature (about 30 minutes).

  • Cover jars tightly, and let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 weeks before using, shaking jars once a day. (For a cleaner look, pour liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into clean bottles with tight-fitting lids; discard solids.) Store in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.

  • Note: When cooking alcohol, be sure to use a large saucepan to contain vapors. Do not heat longer than 5 minutes--the vapors can ignite. The vodka version has the purest vanilla flavor. Though both extracts turn a rich brown after 1 week, the bourbon version is slightly darker.