What Vodka To Use For Vanilla Extract

What Vodka To Use For Vanilla Extract

Love making homemade vanilla extract but not sure which vodka to use? You're not alone! Choosing the right vodka can make all the difference in your final product. In this article, we'll guide you through the best options and teach you how to select the perfect vodka for your vanilla extract. Get ready to level up your game and whip up the finest, most delicious homemade extract around!

Best Budget Vodkas Ranked

smirnoff vodka doctors


A global vodka giant with Russian origins, Smirnoff delivers consistent quality and versatility for any mixer.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Crisp, mild sweetness with a clean finish

Best Cocktail Pairing: Classic Cosmopolitan

Best Food Paring: Grilled chicken skewers

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

absolut vodka doctors


Swedish purity in a bottle, Absolut is distilled from winter wheat, giving a smooth and rich experience.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Smooth with light grain and citrus hints

Best Cocktail Pairing: Absolut Elyx Martini

Best Food Paring: Smoked salmon canapés

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

ketel one vodka doctors

Ketel One

A Dutch treat, Ketel One is the result of over 300 years of distilling expertise; a refined choice.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Fresh with subtle citrus and honey notes

Best Cocktail Pairing: Dutch Mule

Best Food Paring: Aged cheeses or Dutch herring

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

Why Vodka for Vanilla Extract?

Before diving into the specific vodka brands, let's briefly discuss why vodka is the go-to choice for making vanilla extract. Vodka is a neutral spirit that allows the flavors of the added ingredient – in this case, vanilla beans – to shine through. It's also readily available, affordable, and has a long shelf life, making it an ideal base for extracts.

Important Factors to Consider

When choosing a vodka for your vanilla extract, there are a few critical factors to take into account:

1. Alcohol Content (ABV)

A higher alcohol content (40-50% ABV) is recommended to extract the most flavor from the vanilla beans. Keep in mind that anything above 50% ABV might make the extract taste too strong and overpower some culinary applications.

2. Filtration Process

Vodkas that undergo a more extensive filtration process tend to be smoother and purer, which can impact the quality of your extract. Look for vodkas that are charcoal or multiple times filtered.

3. Price Point

Given the vast array of vodka options, it's easy to assume that a higher price tag equals higher quality. However, when it comes to making vanilla extract, you don't necessarily need to spring for ultra-premium brands. Stick to well-reviewed, mid-tier vodkas that are known for their smoothness and purity.

Top Vodka Choices for Vanilla Extract

With these factors in mind, here are some excellent vodka options to consider for your vanilla extract:

1. Smirnoff No. 21

A staple in many households, Smirnoff No. 21 is a reliable choice for vanilla extract. Its triple distillation process, 40% ABV, and affordable price make it an excellent option for those who want a solid, tried-and-true vodka.

2. Svedka

Svedka is another popular, wallet-friendly pick. This vodka boasts an impressive five-time distillation process and a 40% ABV. Its smoothness and neutrality make it ideally suited for extracting the subtle flavors of vanilla beans.

3. Russian Standard

Coming to you from St. Petersburg, this 40% ABV vodka is known for its exceptional purity. Russian Standard undergoes an intensive charcoal filtration process, ensuring a smooth and clean spirit perfect for vanilla extract.

4. Reyka

This Icelandic vodka takes pride in its unique distillation and filtration process, which includes using lava rock for filtration. Reyka offers a 40% ABV, making it an interesting choice if you want to bring a touch of Icelandic charm to your extract.

What Vodka To Use For Vanilla Extract Example:

DIY Vanilla Extract Recipe


- 375ml bottle of vodka (of your choice from the list above)

- 6-8 high-quality vanilla beans


1. Using a sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans lengthwise to reveal the seeds inside.

2. Place the sliced beans in the vodka bottle, ensuring they're fully submerged.

3. Secure the bottle cap and give it a gentle shake.

4. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place and give it a shake once a week.

5. After 8 weeks, the extract will be ready to use. For a more concentrated flavor, you can let it sit for up to 6 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best type of vodka to use for making vanilla extract?

The best type of vodka for making vanilla extract is a neutral, 80-proof vodka without any added flavors. Look for brands that offer a clean and smooth taste to ensure the vanilla flavor remains unadulterated.

Can I use cheap vodka to make vanilla extract?

Yes, you can use inexpensive vodka to make vanilla extract. The quality of the vanilla beans is more crucial to the final flavor of the extract than the quality of the vodka, so a budget-friendly option is acceptable.

Is it necessary to use non-GMO or organic vodka for vanilla extract?

While it is not necessary to use non-GMO or organic vodka, some people prefer using organic vodka to avoid potential contaminants and to align with a preference for organic products.

Can flavored vodka be used to make vanilla extract?

Flavored vodkas are not recommended for making vanilla extract as they can impart additional flavors that may conflict with the pure vanilla taste you are aiming for.

How many vanilla beans should I use per cup of vodka?

A general guideline is to use 5-6 vanilla beans per cup of vodka for a robust vanilla extract. You can adjust the number of beans to achieve the desired strength of vanilla flavor.

What is the ideal strength of vodka for making vanilla extract?

Vodka with 40% alcohol by volume (80-proof) is ideal, as it is strong enough to extract the flavors from the vanilla beans without being overpowering.

How long should I let my vanilla extract steep?

Allow your vanilla extract to steep for at least 8 weeks, but for optimal flavor development, 6 months to a year is recommended. The longer it steeps, the more robust the vanilla flavor will be.

Does the type of bottle I use for the extract matter?

It is best to use a dark glass bottle to protect the extract from light, which can degrade the quality over time. Make sure the bottle is clean and has a tight-fitting lid.

After making the extract, is there any use for the spent vanilla beans?

Yes, spent vanilla beans can be dried and added to sugar for a vanilla-flavored sweetener or ground and mixed into baked goods for added flavor.

Is it safe to use a plastic bottle for storing vanilla extract?

While it's safe, plastic is not recommended as it can interact with the alcohol and may affect the quality of the extract. Glass is the preferred material for storage.

Can I make vanilla extract using vodka with a higher proof?

You can use a higher proof vodka, but it may result in a harsher extract. Diluting the vodka with water to reach an 80-proof level is advised to maintain a smooth flavor profile.

Do I need to refrigerate the vanilla extract after making it?

Refrigeration is not necessary for vanilla extract made with vodka that has a high enough alcohol content. Simply store it in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or cabinet.

How do I know when the vanilla extract is ready to use?

The extract is ready when it has a deep amber color and a strong vanilla aroma. It should also have a distinctly vanilla flavor when tested. The minimum steeping time is 8 weeks, but longer is better.

Can I add sugar or sweetener to my vanilla extract?

Adding sugar or sweetener is not recommended as it can affect the longevity and flavor clarity of your extract. Pure vanilla extract is typically unsweetened.

What's the difference between single-fold and double-fold vanilla extract?

Single-fold vanilla extract is the standard concentration made with about 5-6 beans per cup of vodka. Double-fold has twice the amount of vanilla beans, providing a more concentrated flavor, commonly used in professional baking.

How should I choose vanilla beans for making extract?

Look for plump, moist vanilla beans with a shiny appearance and an aromatic scent. Grade B or "extraction grade" beans are often preferred for making extract as they have a higher moisture content and are more economical.

Can I reuse vanilla beans to make more extract?

Yes, vanilla beans can be reused, but the subsequent batches may be less potent. You can add fresh beans to bolster the flavor strength.

What if my vanilla extract has a cloudy appearance?

A cloudy appearance can occur from particles from the vanilla beans or if a lower-proof vodka is used. This may not affect the flavor, but you can strain it through a fine mesh or cheesecloth if preferred.

How can I tell if my vanilla extract has gone bad?

Vanilla extract made with 80-proof vodka has an indefinite shelf life. However, if it develops an off smell, taste, or mold, discard it. Good extract should have a rich, pleasant, and unmistakable vanilla aroma and taste.

Can I make vanilla extract in a plastic or metal container?

It's not recommended to use plastic or metal containers for extraction because they can react with the alcohol or vanilla compounds. Glass is the best option for making and storing your extract.

How do I properly store vanilla extract?

Store your vanilla extract in a tightly sealed glass bottle, away from direct sunlight and heat. A cool, dark place like a pantry is perfect for maintaining its quality over time.

Now that you've learned about the best vodkas to use for your vanilla extract, it's time to put your newfound knowledge to the test. Try your hand at our simple recipe and discover the delightful world of homemade extracts. Don't forget to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow vodka enthusiasts. For more tips, tricks, and guides on all things vodka, make sure to check out the rest of our Vodka Doctors blog. Cheers!

vodka doctors zawadzki
Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

Related Posts