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Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract

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Vanilla flavour is probably one of the most widely used flavourings in cakes, waffles, cookies and other low-carb treats. It's also one of the most expensive spices in the world and that's one of the reasons why most commercially available "vanilla" extracts are synthetic and contain artificial additives.

Making your own vanilla extract cannot be any easier. All you need is high-quality spirit such as vodka and vanilla beans. As you will find out, it's also very economical and you'll spend less, especially if you buy vanilla beans in bulk. You don't actually have to get organic vanilla beans, as most are grown without pesticides and fertilisers.

The best spirit for homemade vanilla extract is vodka, because you get pure vanilla flavour. If you use rum or bourbon, the vanilla taste won't be as strong, as these spirits will slightly mask the flavour. It's also a great sugar-free drink - you can have some vanilla-infused vodka as an occasional treat!

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Note: Although carbs, fat and protein are at zero, don't forget there's also alcohol and most calories in this recipe come from alcohol.

Hands-on Overall

Serving size 1 tbsp/ 15 ml

Allergy information for Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract

✔  Gluten free
✔  Dairy free
✔  Egg free
✔  Nut free
✔  Nightshade free
✔  Pork free
✔  Avocado free
✔  Coconut free
✔  Fish free
✔  Shellfish free
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Nutritional values (per serving, 1 tbsp/ 15 ml)

Net carbs0.1 grams
Protein0 grams
Fat0 grams
Calories33 kcal

Calories from carbs 98%, protein 0%, fat 2%

Total carbs0.1 gramsFiber0 gramsSugars0.1 gramsSaturated fat0 gramsSodium0 mg(0% RDA)Magnesium0 mg(0% RDA)Potassium1 mg(0% EMR)

Ingredients per small bottle

  • 4-6 vanilla beans
  • 1 1/4 cups high-quality vodka or rum (300 ml/ 10 fl oz)
  • Optional: 15-20 drops clear or vanilla stevia or other healthy low-carb sweetener from this list


  1. For making vanilla extract, use high-quality vodka. Prepare a glass jar you will use for the extract by sterilising it in hot water. Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract
  2. Cut the vanilla beans lenghtwise, place in the glass jar and seal well. The more vanilla beans you use, the more flavour and darker colour you will achieve. Make sure the beans are completely submerged. Opt for really dark oily beans, as these will give the extract the best flavour. Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract
  3. Infuse for 4-6 weeks. The longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour will be. Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract
  4. Shake 2-3 times while it's infusing to help release the flavour. Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract
  5. After about 4 weeks, the extract will become dark and is ready to be used. You can add stevia if you like - vanilla flavour works best!
  6. Store in a dark cool place for up to 6 months and use just like store-bought vanilla extract. Homemade Sugar-Free Vanilla Extract

Ingredient nutritional breakdown (per serving, 1 tbsp/ 15 ml)

Net carbsProteinFatCalories
Vanilla extract, powder (vanilla bean)
0.1 g0 g0 g1 kcal
Vodka, distilled alcoholic beverage (~40% vol)
0 g0 g0 g32 kcal
Total per serving, 1 tbsp/ 15 ml
0.1 g0 g0 g33 kcal
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Martina Slajerova
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Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (13)

Can you make coconut extract the same way with shredded coconut?


I've never thought of that. I'm just not sure how concentrated the flavour would be. Interesting though - will have to try!


I have done this using beans from "Olive Nation" on Amazon. It's been a few years now. I split my beans from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds into the vodka. Then add the beans. All the flavor is in the seeds so you want them swimming about, lol!! 😊 Thanks for your post.


Should you slit the pods? Do you remove them or just leave them in the bottle? Can you reuse them? I use a LOT of vanilla. Two pods costs about five bucks here (and that's the cheapest) which is about ten dollars American. So you can imagine the joy of reusing. My mind boggles with questions. I imagine the vodka is a preservative on top of being an infusing liquid. Do you think it would be possible to make paste with vodka and seeds. I guess I could just go ahead and try, but its so very expensive here. Also, I'm not very search savvy - yet.
Keep up the good work Martina! and thankyou.


Thank you Rowan! I haven't tried that so I'm not sure... But I'd think that infusing whole beans with the seeds will yield more flavour. You can make a cut all the way through or even halve them lenghtwise. Yes, I leave them in until I use it all up. Sometimes I'd just pour more vodka in, add another vanilla bean and leave it for a week. So it depends on how much flavour you can get from it - not all vanilla beans are equal. If they are too expensive where you live, then maybe it's better to get a ready-made product. I get some really good deals on Amazon but I'm not sure how it is where you live.


I make mine with brandy and it comes out great. I just put the vanilla beans right in the bottle and let it sit.


I'm actually planning to make it with brandy for this holiday season 😊


Just curious, do most vanilla extracts include a sweetener?   I made my own extract by putting the vanilla pods in the bottle of vodka.  Didn't add any sweetener and I've not had any problems in my recipes.


I think it depends but I've seen all sorts of products  - I don't use any sweeteners when I make it either. I know that Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract does include sugar but you'll have to check the label.


But your recipe uses sweetener? Why does your recipe call for it if you don't use it in yours? I've never heard of sweetened vanilla extract. Even McCormick's vanilla is just beans, water and alcohol.


Hi Mary, the sweetener is optional - you don't have to use it but some people may like it 😊


I make my own extract using rum but it does hide the vanilla a bit 😊


I tried rum but it was a bit too strong for me but not bad at all.