Using a sous vide is a great way to make vanilla extract in less than half the time usually required. It's a simple process that takes months off of the wait. This recipe was provided by one of our amazing vanilla extract pros.

(See VanillaPura's collection of Sous Vide Precision Cookers here.

Mr. Gingrich has been part of the VanillaPura family since the inception of our private, extract making Facebook group. If you're a member of our group, you will recognize his name as someone always willing to provide advice and help a new extract maker feel welcomed. 

We are pleased to share his recipe with you in his own words:

Bourbon Vanilla bean extract recipe, my way

VanillaPura Madagascar vanilla beans Grade “A”, One Ounce
Makers Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, Eight Ounces
“Sous Vide” for those unfamiliar with this method, it is a way to cook or, in this case, warm a water bath to a preset, constant temperature. Whatever you wish to cook or warm is either sealed in a vacuum bag or jar and submerged for a set period of time.
Here is the setup:
Sous vide unit takes water in through the base and expels it through the slot seen in the side. The heater is Inside the body of the unit. This creates a low flow continuous circulation of water heated to the desired temperature. It is not unusual for a sous vide cycle to run for hours, days, even weeks. Other than monitoring water loss to evaporation, it requires no maintenance.
So why sous vide? Why not set it up and stick it in a cabinet or closet for 18 months to two years or more? Short answer, I’m getting old and impatient. As you’ll see below, I am not running at a high enough temperature to cause evaporation or concern about bad things happening due to heating alcohol to a unsafe temperature. And yes I researched this before diving in!
Eight ounce mason jar, as you can see, short jar, so I had to tie my beans in a knot to ensure that they stay submerged in the bourbon. One bean was split, the rest were left whole. (I wish to reuse the other beans in ice cream, baking etc.). The lids were tightened, finger tight, and left upside down for an hour to ensure no leaks. The Sous Vide unit was started and set for 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The cycle was a total of 96 hours, adding water as needed to keep level above jars.
souis vide
After 96 hours of Sous Vide, the color extraction is extraordinary for four days.
Last tasted, around January 14th. Vodka base is wonderfully fragrant with no strong alcohol in the background. When tasted (a few drops in a tablespoon of whole milk) it was at a place where I would use it for baking now.
The Bourbon base has a rich vanilla aroma with a bourbon sweetness in the background. When tasted (as above) the vanilla was forward in the profile, but the bourbon still carried an alcohol bite at the finish.
My research, (and Input from some folks here) indicate that it may still take another three months for it to truly be ready. That is still a far cry from 18 months to two years.
finished bottle
Why make a Bourbon Vanilla extract? My uses will include Bourbon Vanilla Ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, for starters.
Souis vide method
Sous Vide unit, bourbon extract, and representative bottle of bourbon used.
We used a sous vide in one of our extract making parties. Here's a tutorial and a review of how our extract turned out:
We did a follow up taste test 30 days after making the extracts in the sous vide. Here's how they turned out:
We did a final taste test 90 days later, and the results were wonderful. Here's the video:
VanillaPura Vanilla Pro


Hi Keep, it’s definitely possible to use the sous vide setting on your instapot to make extract if you’re short on time! Many extract makers feel that it doesn’t give quite as good results though.

If you’re a Facebook user you can find more handy tips on our ‘Making Vanilla Extract’ group by copying and pasting this link into your browser:

Happy extracting!

— VanillaPura pro

Have you ever mace vanilla in an instapot? My instapot has a sous vide button. Do you think that will work?

— Keep

Interesting! I happen to have a sous vide which I NEVER use and 3 brand new bottles of vanilla “working”. Thank for great article!

— Kerry

If the temperature is key, does it matter if it’s in a water bath?
Being beekeepers, we have a honey oven that we can put at whatever temp we need. It’s air circulated, but it would still be a constant temp throughout the jar.

— Leia Burt

Where did you get those cute jars please?

— Cindy

I also have the Brod and Taylor proofer and would be very interested to know if this was an alternate solution.

— Nancy Romanelli

I’ve had my sous vide running for 1200 hours. I never thought in a million years that I could by a device that would handle that much time without a break! You do have to check the water levels twice a day. I check in the morning and before I go to bed. I would highly recommend using distilled water especially if you have hard water. Hard water might cut the lifespan of the sous vide. Target sells distilled water for 99 cents a gallon. Good Luck,Mark

— Mark

Have you tried this with almonds, cinnamon sticks and/or anise seeds? Would love to make a sampler for holiday gifts!

— Rusty Obra

Can you do the sous vide method on jars you already started a few months ago? I started a bunch back in June and wondered if I could sous vide them so they’d be ready in time for Christmas??


Awesome :) I’ve done this now, twice myself. I used an amber 1 qt Mason jar and 1/4 lb of beans. This last one went for about 100 hours, but I wonder if it would hurt it, to go even longer ??? 150 ? 200 ?
Also, I don’t doubt that letting it sit now for a month or 3 might help it, but I’ve already poured a 4 oz bottle of it, then replaced that with more Vodka will try Bourbon the next time. Having some right now in my coffee and it is the BomB ! :)
Also, I’m a Sous Vide freak to begin with. I probably have the SV running 1000 hrs a year already…. mostly for beef. Just got another SV machine yesterday. I’ve bought 4 of them, but wore out two already.
BTW, TY for confirming that this as a legitimate way to make vanilla extract. Sure is not a lot of info out there about it.

— Chris Wolfgram

Brilliant method! You are correct there is no risk of fire, since temperature is below boiling point and jars are surrounded by water.

I have a few possible modifications that might further enhance extraction. As one person asked, why not keep the jars in the bath longer, perhaps a month? Of course that would assume you aren’t doing much cooking for that month). The two suggestions I would add are to cut the beans up into 1/4” pieces (I use carpet shears kept only for that use) before extraction. This is course would be to optimize extraction and not for those who like to save whole beans for squeezing. Finally if you give the jars a few shakes a couple times a day that would also increase Extraction rate. Taken together, you might be able to have finished extraction in a month. Commercial extraction is done in less than a week with finely chopped beans in continuously circulating alcohol kept at almost boiling point

— Richie Pearlstein

What would happen if you allowed the process to go longer than 96 hours? And I have some vanilla started in Feb of this year, will I ruin it if I sous vide it now? Thanks for all the help. I love making vanilla.

— Pam Hill

Has there been an update on this sous vide method?

— Roxann

Great information and so appreciate thecstep by step pictures. We have a sous video and hubby has really loved it. It may be my time to learn how to use it. Thanks so much for sharing you knowledge. Super appreciative.

— Lschaer

Learn something new everyday. So happy to be a part of this group!

— Ava

Thank you for this method. I don’t have a Sous Vide, but I do have a Brod and Taylor proofer that goes up to 120 F. Do you think I could try this method with the proofer?

— Debbi Regnerus

This is just the post I was looking for! I have been into SousVide for over a year and find it fun! I’m new to making my own vanilla, in fact I ordered my first beans last week so I have a few weeks to go before I get them. I’m going to give this a try with some as I like the idea of not having to wait so long before I get to enjoy some homemade vanilla!

Have you tried this with vodka or rum?

— Gia Carlson

I don’t have a Sous Vide unit, but want to start making Vanilla. I have Madagascar beans. My question is:
just leaving the beans in the vodka, how long should I leave it before using it.

thank you for your advise,

— Maryjane

Thanks for posting the photos! Amazing how rich the color got so fast!!!

— Shannon Adams

I can’t wait to try this method!

— Tanya Jones Flores

You really did your research. It amazes me how much this group knows and does with this little bean. Im not sure I will ever get a Sous Vide but I can sure try the Makers Mark and Madagascar. Thank you for your recipe.

— Susan Murphy

Thank you so much for sharing this method! My son bought me the Joule Christmas Christmas and I hadn’t used it yet. My Madagascar vanilla beans i’ve already been shipped and I cannot wait to use this method to make my extract. I do have a question. Did you use 1 ounce of vanilla beans to 8 ounces of bourbon when you made this? Thank you!

— Tracey McCue

Thank you so much for sharing this method! My son bought me the Joule Christmas Christmas and I hadn’t used it yet. My Madagascar vanilla beans i’ve already been shipped and I cannot wait to use this method to make my extract. I do have a question. Did you use 1 ounce of vanilla beans to 8 ounces of bourbon when you made this? Thank you!

— Tracey McCue

I’ve priced Sous Vide units and they range from $60 into the hundreds. Is there a size or type I should look for to adequately use this procedure? I’m really interested in testing it out. Thanks!!

— Cynthia

Probably a dumb question but… Does the water need to totally cover the bottle or just the liquid inside? Or just to the level of the vanilla beans? Can you tell I’ve never used a sous vide system?

— Anonymous

Nice. I’ve been cooking Sous Vide for two years now and….I have an order of Madagascar Beans coming today from the CO-OP. And, I have a full bottle of Makers Mark Bourbon!!I’ve been thinking about what to do with the last two ounces. Now I know!!!

— Margaret Hartman