Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to make a batch of delicious sugar-free vanilla extract to give as gifts! Making your own is really easy and will save you money on those expensive bottles from the grocery store. In addition, making something homemade is an excellent way to show that you care about someone.

In this post, we’ll walk you through how to make a quick and simple batch of sugar-free vanilla extract at home. It takes just a few minutes of hands-on time and it will have people thinking one of two things: “you’re so thoughtful” or “you’re so talented”.

By the way, this is not just for cooks – people of all ages love flavored extracts and are happy to receive them in little jars as gifts. You can use this vanilla extract trick for personalized stocking stuffers, too!

Be sure to check out our full article on 18+ Sugar-Free Sweeteners for more info on different sweeteners and tips & tricks on how to use them.

Item needed:

A quart mason jar, a funnel (or you can use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off), a funnel tip, and a kitchen scale.


You can use any size jar you like, but I think the one here is a nice size. If you use a smaller jar, your extract will go bad in less time. The smaller the jar, the more vanilla you will need to buy and scrape to make 1 quart of extract. You can change out the jar with every batch of new vanilla that you make.

{CAUTION: Do not use a glass jar – it will shatter!}

1. Fill the jar with the vodka, being careful not to fill it too full. (The more you fill, the longer it will take for the jar to finish fermenting.) If you are using a funnel, place the funnel tip at the top of the filled jar and pour in your extract.

2. Decide when you want your extract done – I like to give it about 24-48 hours before I need it for a party night or something like that so that room temperature is no longer necessary. I also make another batch at about this same time every year so that I always have one on hand if needed.

3. Close the lid tightly on the jar and put it away in a dark place that doesn’t go below 50F. The warmer your house is, the faster your extract will be; I always keep mine on the counter.

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4. Go do something else for a few days – you won’t have to worry about a thing! You’ll know your stuff is ready when it has reached desired flavor (see below). When you’re ready to use it, strain out the vanilla planifolia seeds with a fine-mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter or paper towel (or cheese cloth, if you have it).

5. Transfer to your favorite bottles – if you want to make a label, now is the time!

How do I know when my vanilla is ready? I think when it smells like it has a hint of vanilla. I just keep pulling a little bit out every day and smelling it until I like the scent. If you want yours to be more intense, leave it for another day or two. Just keep in mind that if you wait too long, there will be more sediment at the bottom of your jar. You can avoid this by stirring occasionally (I usually stir mine every day).

Vanilla flavour is probably one of the most widely used flavourings in cakes, waffles, cookies and other low-carb treats. It’s also one of the most expensive spices in the world and that’s one of the reasons why most commercially available “vanilla” extracts are synthetic and contain artificial additives.

Making your own vanilla extract cannot be any easier. All you need is high-quality spirit such as vodka and vanilla beans. As you will find out, it’s also very economical and you’ll spend less, especially if you buy vanilla beans in bulk. You don’t actually have to get organic vanilla beans, as most are grown without pesticides and fertilisers.

The best spirit for homemade vanilla extract is vodka, because you get pure vanilla flavour. If you use rum or bourbon, the vanilla taste won’t be as strong, as these spirits will slightly mask the flavour. It’s also a great sugar-free drink – you can have some vanilla-infused vodka as an occasional treat!

Note: Although carbs, fat and protein are at zero, don’t forget there’s also alcohol and most calories in this recipe come from alcohol.

4-6 vanilla beans

1 1/4 cups high-quality vodka or rum (300 ml/ 10 fl oz)

Optional: 15-20 drops clear or vanilla stevia or other healthy low-carb sweetener from this list

For making vanilla extract, use high-quality vodka. Prepare a glass jar you will use for the extract by sterilising it in hot water.

Cut the vanilla beans lenghtwise, place in the glass jar and seal well. The more vanilla beans you use, the more flavour and darker colour you will achieve. Make sure the beans are completely submerged. Opt for really dark oily beans, as these will give the extract the best flavour.

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Infuse for 4-6 weeks. The longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour will be.

Shake 2-3 times while it’s infusing to help release the flavour.

After about 4 weeks, the extract will become dark and is ready to be used. You can add stevia if you like – vanilla flavour works best!

Store in a dark cool place for up to 6 months and use just like store-bought vanilla extract.

Nutritional information per serving (for 6 servings): Calories: 0, Protein: 0g, Carbohydrates: 0g , Fat: 0g, Fibre: 0g, Net carbs:0g

Created using The Recipes Generator

5.0 from 2 reviews Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract Author: Vivica Menegaz Nutrition Information Serves: 6 Serving size: 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 4 mins Total time: 14 mins Save Print Vanilla flavour is probably one of the most widely used flavourings in cakes, waffles, cookies and other low-carb treats.

Is vanilla extract an added sugar?

Yes it is, but it’s a very healthy one. Remember that all natural vanilla extracts contain 35% alcohol. Some manufacturers remove the alcohol and replace it with water in order to get the extract to a zero-carb status and sell it as an added sugar.

How does homemade vanilla extract compared to store-bought?

Store-bought vanilla extract contains only about 10% alcohol. It has also been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long so its flavour is probably nowhere near as good as homemade vanilla extract you make from scratch.

Can I use artificial sweeteners instead of Stevia, in this recipe?

No, you can’t! Although the alcohol in the extract doesn’t make it a calorie-free sweetener (most of the calories come from alcohol), if you use artificial sweeteners they will definitely not work. You need to use Stevia extract or other healthy low-carb sweetener with a zero carb count. The alcohol and/or water don’t dissolve so you won’t get any sweetness at all.

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Are vanilla extract drops harmful?

No, although there is still some debate about the safety of perfumed vanilla extract drops. I’ve been using natural extracts for years and I have never had a problem. It’s actually much better to go with vanilla extract drops as there are no artificial additives.

Why should you not use imitation vanilla extract?

There’s nothing about it that is natural – imitation vanilla extract contains sugar, water and vanillin (a synthetic compound that tastes like vanilla). If you have a health condition, please consult your doctor before making this recipe. As always, use your own judgement and do what works for you.

Can I store the extract in the fridge?

Yes, but only if you use dark bottles and store it in a cool and dark place. You will need to leave it out for a couple of hours before you use it. If stored properly, homemade vanilla extract has a 6-month shelf life.

Can you freeze the extract?

Yes, you can. You will need to leave the extract in its jar for 24 hours before using it. If stored properly it has a 6-month shelf life and will keep for a year if refrigerated.

Does the alcohol affect the flavour of the extract?

The alcohol doesn’t affect the flavour at all – it’s just there to make sure that nothing toxic gets into your bottle of vanilla extract. This is why organic vanilla beans are essential as they don’t contain any harmful chemicals.

Is vanilla extract bad for you?

No! Vanilla extract is made with alcohol, but this won’t hurt you if you use it in moderation. You don’t need to take vanilla pills as they are extremely expensive and there are only a few studies proving their effectiveness.

Do I need to buy organic vanilla beans?

No, you don’t have to. The quality and freshness of your homemade extract will depend on the quality of the beans you use. Make sure you check them for any cuts and discoloration before using them. They may still work even if they look a bit bruised but will give your extract a slightly different flavour than the one you would get from younger, more vibrant beans.

Homemade sugar-free vanilla extract is an easy and delicious way to add some flavour to your low-carb recipes. As you can see, it’s not as hard to make as you may have thought. Just leave the beans in a glass jar for about 4 weeks and give it a good shake once in a while. You can store your homemade vanilla extract in a cool dark place for up to 6 months or even longer if stored in the fridge. Once you open your bottle, make sure you use it within 2 months as the flavour will start to change after this time.

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