A common question when considering making extract at home is, "will this save me a lot of money vs. buying my vanilla extract at the store?" The quick answer is yes, it is less expensive. This is for PURE (not artificial) single fold vanilla extract. You’ll save even more with double fold
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Other than price, what other reasons are there to make extract at home? Here are a few:
  1. Ingredient transparency. No added sweeteners when you make it at home. 
  2. You keep the vanilla beans, which can be used in your mother jar when the extract is finished, or you can make vanilla paste, vanilla sugar, vanilla powder, vanilla salt, vanilla seasoned rub, and much more - all at $0 extra. 
  3. You can harvest the bean caviar for use in other desserts. 
  4. Flexibility to experiment with different beans and different spirits. Commercial extracts are usually limited to one type of bean and most use a very cheap vodka or rum. 
  5. You can make specialty extracts that include cinnamon, cacao, coffee, cloves, fruit, herbs, nuts and much, much more at home that you cannot buy in a store.

A quick search online will give results of several "Pure" vanilla extracts that are for sale at any given time. They sell in 2oz bottles all the way up to 16oz bottles and even 1 gallon bottles. The price of the extract online from various commercial extract makers at the time of this article (2024) is anywhere from $2.75 per oz all the way up to $17.95/oz. 

When you make your comparison pricing at home to see whether or not your finished extract is more or less expensive than commercial, it is important that you try and create an "apples to apples" comparison. For example, commercial extract makers are not going to use an expensive Grey Goose vodka. They are going to use the cheapest grain or sugar alcohol that they can. Commercial extract makers are often not buying whole beans. They are buying cheap, split dried beans with the caviar already removed. So if you choose to use Grey Goose vodka and whole, grade A vanilla beans, then you are choosing to make a more expensive extract. But even with grade A, whole vanilla beans, your finished cost can still be less than commercial extract. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the start up cost. Very few spirits are sold in 8oz bottles. (There are some spirits sold at that size, so be sure to look for the smaller bottles when you're shopping for spirits.) Most spirits are sold in a 750ml bottle which is 25oz - enough alcohol for a little more than three 8oz bottles of extract. So depending on the spirit that you choose, you may have to make up to 25oz of extract, which will require 3oz of beans instead of just one. This will increase your start-up cost, but your finished cost/oz will still be very low. 

What spirits should buy buy? It's entirely up to you. We've assembled our list of top-10 spirits, but you can certainly explore options outside of our list based on price and/or quality. Top shelf (high price) spirits aren't needed. There are brands of vodka available online right now for $10/L that would work just fine, and still be a higher quality alcohol that the alcohol used by commercial extract makers.
So, let's do the math: 25% of 1 liter is a little more than 8oz. So, if you used the inexpensive $10/L vodka, then your vodka cost is $2 for 8oz. Then for 8oz of grade A Madagascar vanilla beans you are at $11 (even less if you buy more volume). So a total of $13 for your beans and your vodka. Then you need to buy a glass jar - and if you buy a simple glass jar like those used by commercial extract makers, you can find them for around $5 - so your total cost for 8oz of of finished DIY extract including the jar is $18, which is $2.25/oz. 
$2.25/oz is one of the lowest priced PURE vanilla extracts that we see on the market today. Some might say that's a lot of work to save $.25-.$.50/oz since it takes a year to make vanilla extract. That's why we suggest starting several extracts up front and then, as soon as your first extract is ready, begin your next extract so when the first is gone, the next round is ready. And you'll never go back to store-bought again. And remember, you own the vanilla beans when you make extract at home, so you can use the old beans in your mother jar, to make vanilla powder, sugar, salt and more, as outlined above. 
When you make it at home - you can go big, go expensive, buy expensive jars and be super creative if you choose. If you’re doing it just for price, like the commercial extract makers do, then use cheap vodka, the lowest priced grade B beans and the cheapest jars you can find - and your cost will be less than their price, your quality will be better + you still get the added benefit of keeping your beans to use for something else afterwards. 
So, it’s 100% up to you. There is certainly a price savings element of DIY, but many people jump in further because they love the tastes they can invent with nice spirits, dozens of bean varieties that all have different tastes and much more. Plus, it's just a really fun hobby you can do with friends and family over and over again - and it makes a great gift! 

Learn all the details about extract making by visiting our free extract-making guide center