Cooking with Gin – Vanilla Gin Extract

IMG_20150322_123340Hello gin drinkers, gin wife here again to talk about cooking with gin. Before I begin, you might ask, Gin wife, why are you cooking with gin? Well, dear reader, because there are two hundred odd bottles floating around and I have had enough. Cook with it I must!

So let’s talk about a delicious thing you can do with a lot of gin – Vanilla Gin Extract. Wait…stay with me. It’s not that imitation vanilla extract you once drank on a dare. This is serious shit. This recipe is easy, but takes some time. So if you’re thinking, man, I could use some holiday gift ideas, start now! By the time October/November rolls around, it will be too late!


Gin (Pick something with aromatics that will compliment vanilla, or something ‘gin-neutral’ aka juniper forward.)

Vanilla Beans (Splurge on them, it will be worth it. Get real vanilla beans. Don’t use vanilla extract – c’mon, that’s what we’re trying to make.)

Glass jar with lid

Dark place to store jar for at least eight weeks

Sharp Knife


  1. Take the vanilla bean, slice it open.
  2. Put the vanilla bean (sliced) into the glass jar.
  3. Pour in some gin.
  4. Put the jars in a quiet, dark place. Maybe with the potatoes that you forget about in the back of the cupboard. Maybe shake it up, why not. Wait eight weeks.
  5. Enjoy!

Now, if you’re planning on making a huge batch, you can slice open three big vanilla beans and pop those right into a bottle of gin and you don’t have to fuss with the jar and pouring.

The result is deliciously vanilla flavored gin. Strongly vanilla flavored, you might say. You can use this as you would use vanilla extract in any recipe. Want to make some bad-ass whipped cream? Use the gin vanilla extract. Pancakes with a kick? Yes! Cookies, syrups, etc.

You can also drink this on its own! It’s a bit strongly vanilla flavored, but you can use this to liven up cocktails, make soothing summer drinks, and other such drinkable ideas.

Now – the gin you pick for this will be important. I tested this out with a lovely aromatic gin (Greenhook Ginsmiths), a strong navy strength gin (Perry’s Tot), and, for science, a plain vodka.

The results: Perry’s Tot would be best for a cooking vanilla gin extract. A nice, bold flavor with a lot of kick. It would stand up well in any recipe you threw at it.

Greenhook’s was addictively drinkable. I might use it in cooking, but I think the taste would be more delicate and prone to cooking away in higher heats. I’d save this for cocktails and drinking. It’s really quite light and flavorful. I would probably try to use it in cookies and whipped cream. Mmm.

The vodka ended up being regular ol’ vanilla extract – but richer, more flavorful than the stuff you might buy at the store. If you’re looking to just make a good kitchen replacement and not something a bit more fancy or specialized, I’d just go with the vodka. (Can I say that on a gin blog?)

Anyway, TL;DR – Throw some vanilla beans into some gin. Cooking? Navy strength. Sipping/Cocktails? Something with pleasant aromatics. Ta da!

Post last updated by Aaron