You're Only 2 Ingredients Away From Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

There are several reasons why you might hesitate to purchase vanilla extract from the grocery store, the top ones being it's expensive, it costs a lot, and it's quite pricey. One good way to save money is to DIY it, although if you're already groaning and saying "Oh no, not another multi-step ordeal that takes hours of effort to save pennies," we assure you that's not the case here. In just 5 minutes of work (plus a month of inactive waiting), you can have homemade vanilla that recipe developer Kate Shungu calls "super economical" as it might cost less than half of what you'd pay at the store.

As the title promises, you'll need just two ingredients to make it: vanilla beans (yes, these are also expensive, but a little goes a long way) plus a bottle o' booze. Shungu typically uses brandy in her homemade vanilla extract but says "You can make this with bourbon, rum, or vodka," as well. If you prefer not to use alcohol, we're not aware of a workable substitute for extracting the vanilla essence as supermarket vanilla extract, too, is highly alcoholic. You can always use vanilla bean seeds for baking, though, which is essentially a single-ingredient recipe for providing vanilla flavoring. Vanilla powder also makes for a great non-alcoholic alternative.

To make this boozy vanilla extract, though, simply split a couple of beans open and soak them in 375 milliliters of alcohol. After a month, it'll be ready for all of your vanilla-related needs.

Homemade vanilla extract can be used for holiday gifting

Shungu suggests that not only does this DIY vanilla make for more economical baking, but it can even save you money at holiday gifting time — assuming, that is, that your friends and family are all avid bakers, as well. As she tells us, "I made homemade vanilla extract one year a month before Christmas, and then gave out jars to a few family members who like to bake." The present seems to have gone over well since she reports that all of the giftees enjoyed it.

For presentation purposes, you might want to pour the homemade vanilla into smaller, fancier bottles and maybe tie a ribbon around the neck of each one. If a bottle of vanilla alone doesn't seem like a sufficiently impressive present, Shungu notes that you could include it as part of a kitchen-themed gift bag or basket. Throw in some measuring spoons or cups, cookie cutters, maybe a snowman mug, or any other cute but low-cost kitchen items you can find at the dollar store and you'll have what she calls "an inexpensive yet thoughtful item that you could give for the holidays or even a hostess gift."