How to Make Homemade Extracts for Baking

Last Updated on June 23, 2020 by Diane Hoffmaster

Learn how to make homemade extracts and you will be able to add an amazing amount of flavor into your kitchen creations! Making your own extracts is easy to do, although you will have to be patient.  Vanilla extract, mint extract, or citrus extracts are a great way to add natural flavorings to your homemade baked goods. 

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How to Make Homemade Extracts

How are extracts made?

So, what is an extract exactly?  As opposed to a flavoring?  Homemade extracts use a solvent (the liquid itself) to ‘extract’ the flavor from something else (your flavoring choice).  Often, this is done with alcohol as the solvent, however, there are other options as well. 

The flavor you choose could be citrus rinds, mint leaves, vanilla beans, or chopped almonds.  Whatever flavor you use a lot of or want to give as gifts.  

What are natural extracts as opposed to artificial flavors? Have you ever read the bottle of the stuff you buy at the store? 

Natural extracts use real food ingredients rather than creating artificial flavors in a laboratory.  Better for YOU and tastier in your food!

How to Make Homemade Extracts

What are the different types of extracts?

If you enjoy baking from scratch, you have probably encountered recipes that call for flavor extracts. Vanilla extract is obviously the most commonly used extract, however, you can add a boost of flavor to just about any recipe with extracts of fruit, herbs, nuts, and other ingredients.

Some of the more exotic extracts I have encountered are chocolate, banana, and anise.  But, the sky is the limit when it comes to making homemade extracts! 

Learning how to make homemade extracts is incredibly easy. Why should you consider making your own rather than buying them from the store? By steeping your own flavorings in alcohol, you can control how strong the flavor becomes in the final extract.

You also get to control the quality of the ingredients used in your homemade extract.

Easy Home made Citrus Extracts

How long do flavoring extracts last?

Natural extracts, especially those made at home, are going to have a shorter shelf life than the artificial ones.  In general, extracts tend to have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year.

However, pure vanilla extract can last indefinitely and even improve with age as long as you store it in a cool, dark, place.  Do flavor extracts go bad? Yes, eventually they will.  But, by ‘go bad’ they will really just start losing their flavor. 

If you notice the flavors are getting dull, make a new batch.  In general, storing spices and extracts properly will extend their shelf life. 

Love this post about making homemade extracts?  Try these DIY pantry items as well!

Making homemade vanilla extract for gift giving or use in home baking.

How to Make Homemade Extracts

Commercially created extracts are rarely made from organic or fresh from the garden ingredients. By making homemade extracts, your flavors will be brighter and fresher than the ones you buy premade.

The biggest perk, however, to knowing how to make homemade extracts is the creativity it allows. Commercial extracts are severely limited in variety. Your own homemade extracts, however, are limited only by your own creativity! If you want to start making your own extracts, here are a few tips to get you started.

Ratio is Key to Strong Homemade Extracts!

You need to use a lot of flavoring for very little liquid. The goal is to end up with a very concentrated flavor.  Stuff the jar full of flavoring component and then fill with your liquid.  

Glass empty containers on a wooden table. Jars, bottle. Black background

Choose the best jars for storage

Use a small glass jar like a clean spice jar for steeping your flavorings. You can also buy empty spice jars on Amazon. Add as much of the flavoring as possible into the jar and add only enough liquid to barely cover the other ingredients. For larger volumes, you can use small mason jars as well.

Making Extracts Takes Time… Be Patient!

You will need to steep your homemade flavor extracts for a fairly long time. Generally, things like citrus peels, nuts, vanilla beans, and other ‘firm’ ingredients will need 3 to 4 weeks.

If you choose to use fresh herbs, they will only steep for 2 to 3 days. The leaves will wilt quickly and stop developing any additional flavor. Remove citrus peels with a citrus zester to get the colorful part of the rind alone and not the bitter pith underneath.

bottles of vodka

Choose the best liquid

Vodka is the spirit of choice for making homemade extracts. It has almost no flavor by itself and it is strong enough to extract the flavor from the other ingredients. It also acts as a preservative so that your resulting extract will stay good at room temperature for quite a long time.

Other alcohols will work but your final product will have the flavor of the alcohol in addition to your desired flavor.  You can also make flavored vodka which is great in your mixed drinks!

Store Homemade Extracts Properly

Extracts should steep in a cool, dry place. Do not place your extract on the windowsill, near the stove, or anyplace that is particularly humid. Once your desired flavor has been achieved, strain out the flavor additions, place your extract in a clean, glass container and store it in a cool, dry, place.

Use as needed in your favorite recipes.  Watch the video below if you need more help!



Making your extracts is a great way to DIY your pantry or impress friends with your homemade gifts.  Have you ever made homemade extracts?  Want to get started?  Check out In Jennies Kitchen for a DIY anise extract!

Like this post?  Try this cocktail recipe with infused vodka!

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  1. I haven't tried this yet but I definitely need to. Looks like a great way to avoid unhealthy ingredients!
  2. I haven't tried this yet, but I do want to. And these are some great tips, so maybe I will try it sometimes this month. Maybe with ginseng and vodka.
  3. I wanted to try this but me as muslim cannot take alcohol. Got any other way to do this without alcohol? Tqia
  4. Thanks for linking to my DIY Anise Extract recipe. What a wonderful, informative post!
  5. Charlene Turgeon says
    Any idea how to make corn flavored extract? I have a great recipe for low carb cornbread, but isn't "corny" flavored enough.
    • Diane Hoffmaster says
      I don't think I have ever heard of a corn extract! Corn is unfortunately very carb heavy.... not sure what to replace that with!
  6. I've been looking for a recipe for brandy extract for our family's fruitcake. Any suggestions? Apparently McCormick stopped making it...
    • Diane Hoffmaster says
      that isn't one I am familiar with. is it possible to simmer brandy for a while to really concentrate it down and use that as part of the liquid?
  7. This looks really cool! I have peels from the little mandarins we've been eating. I wonder how mine will turn out!
  8. Erica E Phillips says
    When using homemade extracts, do you need to double the amount used in the recipe? I made some lemon extract, smells great and looks perfect, however when I baked a batch of sugar cookies, I could barely taste the flavor. Any thoughts??
    • Diane Hoffmaster says
      Homemade extracts may not be as strong as the ones you buy. I would try adding more and tasting the batter before cooking to make sure you are adding enough.
  9. Hello, if I want strong favor like comercial grade, can I achieve this with double the mint leaves, lavander, vanilla etc? Or doesn't help that. Thank you!
  10. Lillian Rodriguez says
    So when making the extract what would happen if we made something and it tasted bad because we added to much extract my question is could that happen??
    • Diane Hoffmaster says
      Well, I would think that could happen with all extracts, whether they are homemade or not? But I would start with the recommended amount first and see how that tastes.

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