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When most home cooks get the notion to make their own vanilla extract, they typically use vodka because of its neutral flavor. But extract can be made by infusing vanilla pods in many spirits. Here, Jamila Robinson takes mezcal, which pairs beautifully with sweets like chocolate tamales or chewy caramels, and which is a favorite component of cocktails made with vanilla and honey, to make a smoky vanilla extract. Mezcal is an especially good match for vanilla beans from Mexico and Madagascar, which also have a smoky flavor profile.

May 2021


Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Recipe Summary

10 mins
10 mins
3/4 cup


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place vanilla bean pods with seeds intact in a small bottle with a stopper or a canning jar (such as Weck). Pour mezcal over vanilla bean pods, bending and pressing down pods to ensure they are fully submerged. Seal jar. Store in a cool (65°F to 75°F), dry place for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking once a week.


Make Ahead

Vanilla extract may be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place up to 5 years.