How to Make Your Own DIY Baking Extracts

There is something powerful about making things for yourself. No matter what it is–furniture, clothes, decor. One of my favorite ways to make things is in the kitchen! I love making things from scratch–my friends lovingly mock me about it.

And, of all the things I love to make, some of my favorites are extracts—specifically vanilla extract. The process is amazingly simple for the best-tasting results! Just a few minutes out of your day will provide you with homemade, fresh, delicious results just six weeks later.

Have you ever looked at an extract bottle and it says “Imitation”? Why is a natural product being imitated rather than used as it exists in real life? I have no idea… But I do know that, at least for imitation vanilla, the imitation comes from things like wood pulp, coal tar, pine bark, and even cow poop. Make you want to rethink your imitation extract in the cupboard? Mmm hmm…and the best news about making your own DIY baking extracts is that it is unbelievably easy, AND you get to buy vodka. You know, for the process…

The most effective way to make an extract is with 80-proof vodka. Now, before you start to think about your children eating it or a loved one who doesn’t consume alcohol, don’t worry! The alcohol burns up when it is baked or cooked, and the amount used is so small it’s inconsequential. However, if you still have worries or reservations about it, you can use vegetable glycerin instead. (If using glycerin, fill jar with 60-75% glycerin and 25-40% water.) You just won’t have as strong of a flavor.

The vodka I like to use is Tito’s Handmade Vodka. It is a gluten-free vodka that will help you stay allergy-friendly down to the very last drop. (You could also swap out vodka for bourbon.) And the best part about making extracts using alcohol is that they keep indefinitely! You think you won’t get through a cup of coffee extract any time soon? No worries! Make it anyway and you’ll have a delicious concoction you won’t have to make again for a long while.

I have used mason jars to make my extracts–they are made of glass and they hold the 8 ounces of vodka well. If you want to store them in extract-size bottles, you can look at these amber bottles for long-term storage or gift-giving sizes! Either way, make sure the container you’re using is sterilized first and completely dry to avoid mold growth. (Make sure the ingredient is completely dry before putting in the jar, too!)


Now, the info on the goods (preferably, organic goods):

Almond Extract: 8 raw, blanched almonds in 1 cup vodka

Chocolate Extract: 1/2 cup crushed cacao nibs in 1 cup vodka

Cinnamon Extract: 4 cinnamon sticks in 1 cup vodka

Coconut Extract: 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh coconut meat in 1 cup vodka

Coffee Extract: 1/2 cup whole coffee beans in 1 cup vodka

Lavender Extract: 1/4 cup dried lavender in 1 cup vodka

Lemon Extract: Peels of 5 lemons with pith removed in 1 cup vodka

Mint Extract: 1 cup mint (loosely packed) with stems removed (slightly crushed to release oil) in 1 cup vodka

Orange Extract: Peels of 5 oranges with pith removed in 1 cup vodka

Vanilla Extract: 4-6 vanilla beans in 8 oz. Vodka (Vanilla beans can be reused for 3-4 different rounds of extract.)


For all DIY baking extracts, leave in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks and gently shake the contents every few days. Then strain with a sieve or cheesecloth when the time is up.

That’s it–combine, shake, wait–and you’ve got yourself delicious, pure, homemade extracts. Ah, one of my greatest joys in life–homemade, affordable, few-ingredient goods.

Happy extracting!





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