Homemade Honey Bourbon Vanilla Extract

September 21, 2019 |

  • Desserts
  • Extracts

A staple every home baker should have in their arsenal is Vanilla Extract. Good Vanilla is expensive but I have a solution that works for me and it might just work for you too…make your own! HOMEMADE HONEY BOURBON VANILLA EXTRACT will not only make your cupcakes taste fantabulous, it's super easy to make and requires only 2 ingredients and a little time!

Homemade Honey Bourbon Vanilla Extract

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With the year coming to a close in just a few of months, every baker is expects to do an insane amount of holiday baking and plans on taking advantage of the cooler weather to bake everything under the sun, regardless if it's hidden behind clouds, rain or snow! For me personally, nothing beats having the windows open while I bake like a mad woman on cold, drizzly days.

Plus, for those of us who make Decorated Cookies, this is by far the busiest season for custom orders. That being said, it's a good idea to get this HOMEMADE HONEY BOURBON VANILLA EXTRACT started now so it'll be ready for you to use in all those treats!

Prepping the Vanilla Beans

When shopping for vanilla beans, you'll find there are two "Grades"… A and B. "Grade A" beans have a higher moisture content, are plumper and prettier whereas the "Grade B" are on the thinner side and are usually somewhat dried out. These are usually marked as for use in extracts.

When I bought the Grade B, I also found them to have less seeds which for me was disappointing. They did great in flavoring the extract but having all those tiny, little flecks in my dough seem to boost flavor and add that special touch to my cookies. So personally, "Grade A" is what I lean towards.

There are also a variety of types of beans…Madagascar, Tahitian, Mexican, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, etc. They all have their own notes to add to your extract. You'll see some marked as being buttery, fruity, floral, chocolaty, sweet, earthy and smokey! Choose wisely but feel free to explore them all and see which ones you like. If you do this, make sure to keep them marked properly for comparison.


The beans I bought for this recipe were Madagascar and they were "Grade A". As you can see from the picture above, they are all nice, plump and shiny! Perfect for their intended use.


The first thing you do for this recipe is make a slit lengthwise on one side of each of the beans. Of note, these also happen to be the beans I add to my cookie dough! They're loaded with beautiful specks that pack a punch of flavor, which make a world of difference!


After making the slit on each of the beans, use scissors to cut each bean into small pieces as shown in the picture above, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Once they've all been cut, add them to the glass jar.

Adding the Honey Bourbon

Most often, you'll see that vodka is used to make vanilla extract. In reality though, you could use bourbon or rum if you want to play with flavor. My preference is Bourbon…Honey Bourbon to be specific.

A few years ago, I was at the liquor store when this bottle with a turkey in the background caught my eye. It was HONEY FLAVORED BOURBON people!!! Then a thought entered my mind…How would Honey work in my homemade vanilla? So I splurged and got the bottle. BEST. IDEA. EVER!! It adds a beautiful depth of flavor to whatever you bake!

Honey Bourbon and Vanilla

Isn't that bottle impressive!!! And the cap has a honeycomb imprint on it (visible in first picture)…as if my arm needed anymore twisting, it's seriously cute. Now the next step is to measure out the bourbon. If you don't have measuring cup with a spout, then use a funnel and pour the honey bourbon over the beans. Seal the jar and give it a good shake to get it going. Having cut the beans into small pieces helps keep them at the bottom, fully submerged and soaking in all that liquid gold!

Store jar at room temperature and keep out of direct sunlight. Mark your calendar and let the countdown begin. It's important that you make a note of the date it's made and then once a week, give the bottle a couple of good shakes. You'll see it get darker and you'll notice the loosened vanilla bean seeds floating around the bottle as shown in the picture below. This is just 3 weeks into this batch and it's already taking on a gorgeous color!

Homemade Honey Bourbon Vanilla Extract


If you're planning on gifting this HOMEMADE HONEY BOURBON VANILLA EXTRACT, use glass bottles to do so. I designed and printed some cute labels that I attached to the mini bottles using black twine. If you're curious about the small bottles, they are the 4 oz size from my local Hobby Lobby. The labels can be cut out using a 2" round punch and then use a 1/8" punch for the tag hole. You can find the ones I use here in my Amazon Shop. You'll find the Vanilla Beans I used for this recipe listed there as well.

When you measure out the extract for the mini bottles, use a measuring cup with a spout or use a funnel. I like to add a few vanilla bean pieces because I feel it confirms "homemade" and this way, the recipients can continue to shake it themselves weekly should they not use it right away. Just ask that they remove the beans once they do start to use it.

Homemade Honey Bourbon Vanilla Extract


  • 5 Vanilla Beans
  • 8 oz Honey Bourbon


  1. Using a sharp knife, make a slit lengthwise on each of the beans. Using scissors, cut each bean into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Add all the vanilla bean pieces into the glass jar. Measure out bourbon and using a funnel, pour it into the glass jar over the beans.
  3. Seal jar and give it a good shake. Store container at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Once a week, give the bottle a few good shakes. Continue doing this for the next 8 weeks, longer if possible.
  4. Use the same amount of vanilla extract that is called for in the recipe.

If you'd like to make a double or triple batch, like I do, then just double or triple the ingredients. The steps are the same.

And that's about it. Now all that needs to be done is to sit and wait at least 8 weeks, longer if you're patient. You could begin using it in your recipes at eight weeks in but the longer this sits, the better it'll taste and you'll also notice that it'll get darker in color. I usually make 2-4 batches at a time and that works great for me. If you like it, you'll want to make this year round! Plan ahead, especially if you'd like to give these out as gifts to family/friends who love baking.

Cori - xoxo