Ever wondered how to make homemade vanilla extract in your Instant Pot? I'm here to show you every last detail. This recipe will save you on time and money, because making it from scratch is MUCH more cost effective than buying it. And making it in the Instant Pot cuts out the long extraction time.
Items needed to make homemade vanilla extract in an Instant Pot pressure cooker
- Vanilla beans
- Alcohol (vodka, rum, brandy, or bourbon)
- Mason jars with lids
- Instant Pot pressure cooker
Best type of vanilla bean for extract
There are six different types commonly available to use for making your homemade vanilla extract. Each of them provide a different flavor, depending on how you'd like your extract to taste. In my experience, the most commonly used bean is Madagascar, and it's what I usually opt for because of its appealing flavor. Although, here are some wonderful options:
- Madagascar Vanilla - rich and creamy
- Mexican Vanilla - bold, dark, smokey
- Indian Vanilla - full, chocolate
- Indonesian Vanilla - mild, well balanced
- Tahitian Vanilla - floral, cherry-chocolate
- Tonga Vanilla - earthy, fig, raisin
What's the difference between Grade A and Grade B vanilla beans?
Grade A vanilla beans are considered gourmet quality because of their moisture content, length, and condition. You want your vanilla beans to be moist to touch, where they have an oily outer shell and are flexible and plump. These make for the best-tasting vanilla extract. However, they are more costly, at $36 per 10 vanilla beans, which makes 16 oz. (This is still cheaper since buying 16 oz of high-quality extract is over $53.) If I can't get them from a local spice shop or supplier, I buy them online here.
Grade B vanilla beans are cheaper because they are more brittle and stiff. Still, you can make a decent homemade vanilla extract in your Instant Pot with these, especially if you're looking for a budget-friendly alternative. For 10 Grade B vanilla beans, you will pay around $27. I recommend buying them here.
Best alcohol for making homemade vanilla extract
This ingredient is also extremely important! The quality of alcohol you use determines the quality of your vanilla extract, or any tinctures and extracts you make. Some people argue to buy the cheapest alcohol, because it doesn't matter. I disagree.
Vanilla extract is added to recipes for flavor. So why wouldn't you want the smoothest and richest flavor profile? Choosing the type and quality of alcohol in your extract is essential.
- Vodka is a common option. If you choose this, get a premium vodka that is 80 proof/40% alcohol. However, since vodka is made from grains, people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities may have a reaction. Which leads me to the current alcohol I am using in my extracts...
- Rum! (Cue Jack Sparrow!) Rum gives a rich and deep flavor to your homemade vanilla extract. Purchase a mid-grade to premium rum that is 80 proof/40% alcohol.
- Brandy and bourbon. Again, this give the vanilla extract a deeper flavor, and you can use these depending on the depth and profile you're aiming for!
You can use a cheaper alcohol that will still make decent homemade vanilla extract, if you want a more affordable option.
Also, it's important to note that using different alcohols will give off stronger alcohol smells at first, especially if you're making it in the Instant Pot. The easiest way to troubleshoot this is let it rest for another 2-3 days. If it's still strong, add in another pod and let it rest another week.
It's normal for your extract to have an alcohol smell at first, and it will subside over time. Also, the alcohol smell and flavor will bake off, so it's fine to use.
Cost comparison of homemade vanilla extract versus store-bought
We now know that to make your own vanilla extract you need the following:
- Grade A vanilla beans - $36 for 10 beans
- Grade B vanilla beans - $27 for 10 beans
- Premium alcohol - $25 for the 25 oz bottle
- Cheaper alcohol - $14 for the 25 oz bottle
To make 16 oz of delicious, single-fold homemade vanilla extract in the Instant Pot, you will need five beans per 8 oz, or 10 beans per 16 oz. Let's break that down and compare it to the 16 oz bottle of pure vanilla extract from Costco that costs $54:
- Top-quality homemade vanilla extract: $36 vanilla beans + $16 alcohol = $52
- Mid-quality with cheaper alcohol: $36 vanilla beans + $9 alcohol = $45
- Mid-quality with cheaper vanilla beans: $27 vanilla beans + $16 alcohol = $43
- Most affordable: $27 vanilla beans + $9 alcohol = $36
As evident, making your own homemade vanilla extract is cheaper, any way you look at it! Plus, there is something satisfying about making your own products.
The best reason for making your own vanilla extract
Purity and flavor! There are many companies out there who offer "pure" vanilla extract, but it's important to check the fine print. Many times they are mixed with artificial flavors and harmful chemicals, which you find in imitation and clear vanilla.
Pure vanilla extract should be a beautiful and rich dark brown color, which is the color of the vanilla beans. You will notice a difference in the quality of your recipes, such as the deep flavor of homemade chocolate sauce or your favorite healthy chocolate chip cookies.
Tips for using your Instant Pot pressure cooker to make homemade vanilla extract
The entire reason to use your pressure cooker to make vanilla extract is for the sake of time! (I have so many Instant Pot recipes that have saved me time!) You can have a beautiful jar of extract in a matter of a few days, versus the typical six week or more extraction period.
I like giving these as homemade gifts to friends, and to have on hand for food storage.
Here are my top tips to make sure you prepare everything safely and efficiently:
- Make sure the jars are "fingertip tight." This is a canning term that means screwing the lid on until it is barely tight. This allows air bubbles to still escape in the heat and pressure. FYI, this is only for making vanilla extract and does not apply to other canning protocols!
- Use the steamer rack on which to sit your mason jars.
- Ensure you have good heatproof gloves or cooking mittens to remove the jars when they are done.
- Let the vanilla extract settle for another 24-48 hours to fully develop flavors. Keep the beans in to let the flavors develop even more deeply.
- If there is still a strong alcohol taste (depending on the liquor you use—rum, bourbon, and brandy will be stronger than clear liquors), just give it some time to steep and extract. It will lessen over time and the vanilla tones will come through!
How to store vanilla extract
Keep your homemade vanilla extract in a sealed jar in a dark, room temperature place, like your pantry or cupboard.
Vanilla extract lasts indefinitely, and only gets more rich with time, similar to wine.
Phew, that was a lot of info to take in! But essential in making sure you have everything you need to make top-notch and time-efficient homemade vanilla extract.
Grab the recipe below. If you make it and enjoy it, please leave a rating and comment about your experience!
Homemade Vanilla Extract in an Instant Pot
- 2 cups rum
- 10 Grade A or B vanilla beans
- 1 cup water
- Prepare two 8 oz mason jars with lids removed. Pour 1 cup of alcohol into each jar.
- Slit vanilla beans down the middle to release oils and flavors. Add 5 vanillas beans to each jar. Secure lids so they are "fingertip tight" and set aside.
- Put the steamer basket in the pot of the Instant Pot and pour in the water. Sit the jars on the middle of the rack. Close lid, seal the valve, and cook on manual high pressure for 45 minutes. Let it fully natural release, about 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove jars with heat-proof gloves. Let the homemade vanilla extract rest for 24-48 hours to more fully develop. The longer you leave in the vanilla beans, the more rich and robust the flavor will become. I recommend leaving them in! This extract is ready to use after resting, as needed. Store in a glass container in a room temperature and dark place. Lasts indefinitely. Enjoy!
- Vodka, bourbon, and brandy also work as a solvent for homemade vanilla extract, if you prefer any of those to rum.
- To release vanilla flavor more fully, you can chop the vanilla beans into pieces when preparing.
- "Fingertip tight" means screwing on the lid until it is barely tight, to allow air bubbles to escape in the heat and pressure.
- If you still have a strong alcohol flavor after 48 hours, add in another pod and run it through the pressure cooker again. It's normal for it to have an alcohol smell. It will lessen over time and bakes out.
- Pure homemade vanilla extract lasts indefinitely, and becomes more flavorful over time.