How to Make Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract

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Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract. Photo © Erin Huffstetler
  • Prep Time
    5 min
  • Cook Time
    0 min
  • Total Time
    5 min
  • Yield
    Varies

Vanilla extract doesn't have to be made with alcohol, but finding a non-alcoholic version at the store can be next to impossible. Fortunately, it's really easy to make at home. Just follow this simple recipe to create your own non-alcoholic vanilla extract.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable glycerin, food-grade
  • Vanilla beans
  • Water

Preparation

1. Mix together three parts glycerin and one part water.

2. Pour the glycerin mixture into a glass bottle (a brown bottle is best, but any will work).

3. Cut the vanilla beans open lengthwise. Prepare three vanilla beans for every cup of glycerin used.

4. Add your beans to the glycerin, making sure they're completely submerged.

5. Then, cap the bottle, and store it in a cool, dark place.

6. Shake the bottle once a week, and it'll be ready to use in two months.

Note: Your finished extract may not get as dark as alcohol-based vanilla extract, but it will still have just as much flavor.

Good to Know:

  • Many online retailers, including Amazon, sell vegetable glycerin. There are different grades of glycerin, so make sure what you're buying is listed as food grade. Buy glycerin from Amazon
  • You may be able to find vanilla beans at your local grocery store, but they're usually cheaper online Buy vanilla beans from Amazon
  • Your non-alcoholic vanilla extract will have a syrupy consistency, but will work just as well as vanilla extracts made with alcohol
  • When you finish a bottle of extract, just add more glycerin. Vanilla beans can be reused two or three times before they need to be replaced
  • Your extract should keep for up to four years, and does not need to be refrigerated. The glycerine acts as a preservative in this recipe, which is why the extract has such a long shelf life. Stay clear of vanilla extract recipes that only call for water and vanilla beans. They're a breeding ground for bacteria. While you probably won't be able to find glycerine in store, it's easy enough to order online. Don't risk your health with a short cut.
  • Glycerine-based extracts are also sugar-free and gluten-free. Despite being referred to as a sugar alcohol, glycerine doesn't contain sugar or alcohol, and is commonly used in foods that are labeled as sugar-free. Learn more about glycerine on Diabetes.org.
  • Extracts made with glycerin are called glycerites

    Reasons to Use Non-Alcoholic Vanilla Extract

    • Since it's alcohol-free, it's okay for children and adults who are abstaining from alcohol
    • Won't add an alcohol taste to your recipe
    • Cheaper to make (glycerine usually costs less than vodka)

    Trying to eliminate all alcohol from your cooking and baking?

    Follow these instructions to make other flavors of alcohol-free extract. Then, refer to this alcohol substitutions chart to find the perfect non-alcoholic stand-in for any recipe that you're working on.