How to Make Your Own Baking Extracts

Most people keep a few baking extracts in their kitchen like vanilla and almond, but did you know that you can make many different cooking and baking flavors right in your kitchen with just a few minutes of actual work time and some patience.

I’ve been making my own extracts for years now and will show you exactly how to get started making your own extracts at home including the ingredients we use, suggestions for flavors and how to troubleshoot any problems. Making homemade extracts has become a staple of our homestead kitchen and is just one way we are keep track of exactly what is in our food. You can see more basic ingredients to make at home in our Homestead Kitchen Section or if you want to learn more kitchen and gardening skills, check out our Modern Homesteading Academy.

How to Make Specific Extracts:

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Benefits of Making Homemade Extracts

Making extracts at home is not only easy, but it gives you complete control over what goes into your extract and how strong you make your extract. Making your own extract can also save you money, especially when you are using ingredients you are growing right in your own home. Since you are reusing your supplies, you are also reducing your overall waste since you don’t need to continue purchasing bottles and supplies.

Overview of How to Make Extracts


To make extracts, you will simply combine alcohol (see below if you don’t want to use alcohol) and your flavoring and give your mixture time to infuse or extract. Depending on the type of extract you are making, you will want to let your ingredients sit for a few weeks. This gives the alcohol time to pull out the flavors from the ingredient you are extracting. During this time you may want to shake or turn your bottle occasionally.

After your done extracting, strain your liquid through a filter or cheescloth and place in your extract bottle. Store the bottle in a cool dark place.

If your extract isn’t strong enough, you can give it more time to extract or add more of your ingredient.

How to Make Baking Extracts


You onle need a few supplies to make most extracts.

Bottle or Jar – you will want to get a small bottle for your extract. I used these jars Extract Jars – 4 oz bottles online.

Funnel – you will need a funnel with a small end that fits into your jar.

Knife, Mortar and Pestle, zester – some of the ingredients benefit from being cut or crushed

Stainer or Cheesecloth – some of the extracts will need to be strained before using and bottling.

Flavor and Ingredients for Homemade Extracts

There are so many different flavors you can use to make your extracts. In general I am very flexible on the amount of ingredients I use in each recipe. If your extract is too weak you can often let it sit longer or add more ingredients.

Below are a few of the most popular extracts you can make at home:

Apple Peel:

  • Loosely fill your container with washed, dried apple peels and cores, leaving about one-third of the jar empty.
  • Add alcohol and let it steep for 4-6 weeks.


  • Fill the container halfway to two-thirds full with chopped cherries in 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Add alcohol and let it steep for 6-8 weeks.


  • Fill the container halfway with grated fresh coconut.
  • Fill the rest with vodka.
  • Coconut extract can be ready in as little as a week, but the flavor intensifies over time.

Lemon Peel:

  • Loosely fill the container halfway with lemon peel, avoiding the white pith.
  • Fill with vodka and let it sit for 6 weeks.
  • Buff the lemon to remove any wax. If you see a milky substance, strain the alcohol through a coffee filter.

Lime Peel:

  • Loosely fill the container halfway with lime peel.
  • Fill with vodka and let it sit for 6 weeks.

Orange Peel:

  • Loosely fill the container two-thirds full with orange peels, avoiding the white pith as much as possible.
  • Let sit for 6-8 weeks. Orange extract may require more peel than other citrus varieties for baking.


  • Fill the container two-thirds full with chopped raspberries.
  • Add alcohol and wait 8 weeks. Note: Raspberries may turn white as they sit.


  • Fill the container two-thirds full with chopped strawberries in 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Add vodka and wait 6-8 weeks. Note: Strawberries may turn white as they sit.

Almond: Note: A separate post will detail the process due to its complexity.


  • Fill half of the container with lightly crushed raw cocoa nibs.
  • Fill the rest with vodka, rum, or bourbon.
  • Allow to extract for 2-6 months, then strain and freeze overnight to remove fat.


  • Place 6, 3-inch cinnamon sticks in a jar and submerge in 8 ounces of vodka.
  • Let sit for 2-3 weeks, or longer for a stronger flavor.

Coffee Beans:

  • Lightly crush whole dark or espresso coffee beans and fill the container halfway.
  • Fill the rest with vodka and let sit for 4-6 weeks.
  • Strain and freeze overnight to remove fat. Coffee beans can be reused for another round of extract.
How to Make Baking Extracts

Mint Leaves:

  • Fill the container halfway with mint leaves and fill with vodka.
  • Let sit for 4-8 weeks.


  • Use 0.80 ounces of grade B vanilla beans per 8 ounces of alcohol.
  • Allow to extract for 6-8 weeks or longer for a stronger flavor.


  • Combine high quality maple syrup with alcohol at 1 part syrup to 2 parts alcohol.
  • Allow to extract for 4-6 weeks.

Common Questions about Making Extracts

Making extracts is easy but there are a few things to consider and a few common questions that may come up.

What is the Best Alcohol to Make Baking Extracts?

The best alcohol to use for making extracts is one with a high alcohol content and a neutral flavor profile. I prefer to make my extracts with vodka but there are a few other options you can use. Here are some common options:

  • Vodka: Vodka is a popular choice for making extracts due to its neutral taste and high alcohol content. It allows the flavor of the extract ingredient to shine without imparting its own distinct flavor.
  • Everclear: Everclear is a high-proof grain alcohol with a very neutral taste, making it an excellent choice for extracting flavors. However, it is quite strong and may need to be diluted with water for certain recipes.
  • Rum: White or light rum can be used for making extracts, especially for tropical or spiced flavors. However, keep in mind that rum has a slightly sweet and distinct flavor that may affect the final taste of the extract.
  • Brandy: Brandy has a rich and complex flavor that can complement certain extracts, such as vanilla or fruit extracts. However, it is not as neutral as vodka or Everclear, so it may impart some of its own flavor to the extract.
  • Bourbon: Bourbon can add depth and richness to extracts, particularly for flavors like vanilla or cinnamon. However, it has a distinct flavor profile that may not be suitable for all types of extracts.

I’ve never used bourbon, brandy or everclear to make extracts and I found that rum added a bit to much sweetness for my extracts.

Do I have to use Alcohol to Make Extracts?

You don’t need to use alcohol to make extracts. While alcohol is commonly used as a solvent to extract flavors from various ingredients, there are alternative methods for making extracts without alcohol.

If you are concerned with the alcohol content of your baked goods, it’s important to note that most of the alcohol in the extracts burns off during the baking process. If you still don’t want to use alcohol, you can make some extracts with water, oil, clycerin or vinegar.

How to make Extracts without Alcohol

Water-Based Extracts: To make water-based extracts, simply steep heat-sensitive or alcohol-sensitive ingredients in hot water for a period of time, then strain to remove solids. This method works well for herbal extracts or certain fruit extracts like rose water.

Oil-Based Extracts: Extracting flavors using oils involves infusing aromatic plants or herbs in a carrier oil, such as olive oil or almond oil. This process typically requires heat to release the flavor compounds into the oil, followed by straining to remove the solid ingredients.

Glycerin-Based Extracts: Glycerin-based extracts are created by combining glycerin with the desired flavoring ingredients and allowing them to steep for a period of time. The resulting extract is sweet and less potent compared to alcohol-based extracts, making it suitable for food products where alcohol is not desired.

Vinegar-Based Extracts: To make vinegar-based extracts, macerate fruit or herbs in vinegar for several weeks to extract their flavors. The vinegar absorbs the flavors of the ingredients, creating a tangy and flavorful extract. It’s important to select a mild vinegar to avoid overpowering the desired flavors.

How to Make Baking Extracts
How to Make Baking Extracts

What is the Difference between Pure and Imitation Extracts?

The main difference between pure and imitation extracts lies in their ingredients and production process. In general, pure extracts are better quality and if you are making homemade extracts you will be making pure baking extract. If you are shopping for extracts, pure extracts are generally much more expensive.

Pure Extracts:

  • Ingredients: Pure extracts are made from natural ingredients derived directly from the source, such as vanilla beans for vanilla extract or peppermint leaves for peppermint extract.
  • Production Process: Pure extracts are typically produced through a process of maceration or steeping, where the flavoring ingredient is soaked in alcohol to extract its flavors over time. The extract is then filtered to remove any solids, resulting in a concentrated liquid flavoring.
  • Purity: Pure extracts contain only natural ingredients and do not contain any artificial additives, flavors, or colors. They offer a rich and authentic flavor profile derived directly from the source ingredient.

Imitation Extracts:

  • Ingredients: Imitation extracts are made using synthetic flavor compounds that mimic the taste of the natural source ingredient. These synthetic compounds are often derived from chemicals and are designed to replicate the flavor profile of the original ingredient.
  • Production Process: Imitation extracts are typically produced in a laboratory setting, where flavor scientists create and blend synthetic compounds to replicate the taste of the natural ingredient. These compounds are then mixed with alcohol or other solvents to create the extract.
  • Composition: Imitation extracts may contain artificial additives, flavors, and colors to enhance the flavor profile and appearance of the extract. They are designed to closely mimic the taste of pure extracts but may not offer the same depth and complexity of flavor.
  • Cost: Imitation extracts are often less expensive to produce than pure extracts, making them a more affordable option for consumers.

What is the Best Bottle or Jar for Baking Extracts?

The best bottle or jar for storing extracts is made of glass with a tight-fitting lid, ensuring a secure seal to prevent oxidation. Opt for smaller sizes to allow for better portion control and reduce the risk of flavor degradation over time. Dark-colored glass, such as amber or cobalt blue, helps protect the extract from light exposure, while a smooth surface allows for easy labeling. Despite this, I like to at least make my extract in a clear bottle so I can more easily see the the process.

The size of the jar is also important and will depend on how much extract you plan to make and use. Extract lasts a long time, but we like to make our extract in 4 oz jars the only exception in Vanilla extract which we use more often and sometimes make in an 8 oz bottle.

These are the bottles I used in the photos in this article: 4 oz bottles online.

How Long Does it Take to Make Extract?

The length you need to let your extract infuze depends on the type of extract you’re making but is usually between 2-8 weeks. You should look at the specific extract you are making to determine the right time.

Do you Need to Strain Your Baking Extract?

Most extracts benefit from straining. Straining is recommended to remove any solid particles or sediment from the extract, resulting in a smoother and clearer final product. For example, if you’re making vanilla extract using vanilla beans, it’s common to strain out the beans after steeping to remove any leftover solids.

However, if you’re making extracts using finely ground ingredients or liquids that fully dissolve, straining may not be necessary. Some people prefer a more rustic or textured extract and may choose not to strain it. This is true to making maple extract.

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