9 Instant Pot No Pressure Vanilla Extract or Sous Vide

From Instant Pot FaceBook Community

I have found another great way to get vanilla extract in a very short time! Making vanilla extract is so simple, so easy, and will cost you much less than buying pure vanilla extract. Gifting a bottle of your homemade vanilla extract is sure to impress your family and friends.

Vanilla extract uses vanilla beans, liquor, and time.  Making vanilla extract with the traditional cold extraction can take 8 weeks to 4 months to fully extract, shaking the bottle weekly. Adding heat and/or pressure to your extract shortens the processing time and forgoes the weekly shaking of your extract.

You can add a fourth element, heat, and shorten the processing time to have your vanilla extract ready to use in two to three weeks. Heating vodka for making vanilla extract was introduced by Cook's Illustrated in 2009. Fat/Oil + spice + liquor + heat = more flavor in a shorter time. Their results mention a "cleaner, more intense vanilla flavor" when heating vodka for making vanilla extract.

When you think of putting a tea bag in hot water vs room temperature water, you can see that the tea in hot water would steep more quickly, which makes a lot of sense!

One quick method is using your Instant Pot, with pressure, adds a fifth element of pressure, that speeds up the extraction process. If you don't want to use your pressure setting to make vanilla extract, here are two more methods to try, which will allow you to make a smaller batch of vanilla, use a variety of liquors and vanilla beans.

An Instant Pot cooker or immersion circulator on a low setting gently warms your ingredients, pulling out the essential vanilla oils that are suspended in the liquor, brings out color and flavor to your extract. This takes a little bit longer than the pressure cooked vanilla extract, but still speeds up the process and gives you a head start.

You can watch a short video here.

I did quite a bit of research to find out what temperature and time would work with this method. I discovered that Sous Vide (French for "under vacuum"), using an immersion circulator, is common for making alcohol infusions & syrups for cocktail recipes.

Method 1
Sous Vide with an Immersion Circulator
Sous Vide does a couple of things, according to this article. True flavors are amplified and you achieve maximum yield (little to no alcohol loss). Using an immersion circulator is very easy to set up and use.  (See my unboxing video here) You can use any food safe container or get this handy container with a lid that is perfect for sous vide.

Temperature & Time
Sources give 140°F - 155°F as a starting point for infusing dried spices, cinnamon bark and other ingredients. I chose 140°F as my temperature.

At the four hour mark, the extract was fairly light. At the 8 hour mark, it was much darker. The color of your extract can depend on the variety and quality of your vanilla bean, and how many beans you use. Do not process your extract more than 24 hours, and keep checking to make sure the water levels don't drop below the extract line. Processing more than 24 hours can break apart the bean pods.

Bean to Vodka Ratio
I used Cook's Illustrated's recommendation of 1 vanilla bean for 3/4 cup vodka. My vanilla beans were about 8" long. If your beans are shorter, you may want to add more. You can add as many vanilla beans as you want, essentially making a double strength (or fold) or higher vanilla extract. Double fold vanilla extract will cost more per ounce, but allows you to use less in your recipes.

Vanilla Beans
There are several varieties of vanilla beans, each with their own flavor profile.  I used Madagascar vanilla beans, which give a creamy, traditional vanilla flavor. Check out this helpful article about how to choose vanilla beans and find the best price.

Neutral liquor, such as vodka, is preferred, to allow the full essence of vanilla to shine, but you can also experiment with other liquors. Clear rum, brandy, whisky are some to try. 80 proof is recommended. 100 proof is not necessary, can make your extract smell too strongly of alcohol and can dry out your beans.

Method 2
Instant Pot, No Pressure
You can customize the temperature on the Instant Pot Ultra and set it in the 140°F-155°F range. If you have any of the other Instant Pot pressure cookers, (Duo, Lux, etc) use the Keep Warm setting, which is about 145°F. After checking the other settings (yogurt & slow cook), the Keep Warm setting was the best option. I put 8 cups of water in my Instant Pot, pushed the Keep Warm button, it displayed Normal, 10:00 (10 hours) and the temp registered 142°-143°F. The Instant Pot Ultra time can be set for 24-99 hours.

Update: Instant Pot now has three different Keep Warm settings
Push the Keep Warm button repeatedly, and it will toggle between Less/Normal/More (or Low/Medium/High). You will want to use Normal or Medium, which will be about 145°F. High is too hot and can cause your contents to boil or bubble over in the jars. 
Low = 132°F
Med = 145°F
High= 165°F

This is 18 hours later...

They look dark and glorious! They should be ready in two weeks. I'm excited!

I can't wait to get some pretty bottles and labels for my vanilla extract to give as gifts for Christmas!

To get some ideas of how some of my readers have bottled and made pretty labels for their homemade extract, check out this gallery here.

Sous Vide Vanilla Extract
by Frieda Franchina, October 31, 2018
Making vanilla extract is so easy and simple, using this method. Do NOT use the stove top or slow cooker (crock pot) for this recipe. 
**Keep your Instant Pot & Immersion Circulator away from any open flame: gas cooktop, candle, etc.**

Immersion Circulator & 6 qt food safe container
Instant Pot
8 oz canning jars
Canning Lids & Rings
Sharp knife or kitchen scissors - clean & sterilized
Canning jar lifter or silicone tipped tongs
bottles/labels for gifting vanilla extract - clean & sterilized
Funnel with narrow neck to fit jars

Vanilla beans (I used 6"-8" beans, 1 per jar. If your beans are smaller, increase to 1.5 beans per jar)
3/4 cup vodka, clear rum, brandy or bourbon for each 8 oz jar (a 375 ml bottle is 1.5 cups)
Water - room temperature

1. Inspect your canning jars for any cracks or chips. Clean jars well with hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher. Set jars in your sink or heat safe container and pour boiling water over the jars. Pour out water before using.

2. Split your vanilla beans. Starting about 1/2" from the top,  insert a sharp knife through the middle through the top layer only, working your way down the bean all the way to the end. Use the dull edge of the knife to scrape out the vanilla caviar and seeds and put them into your jar.

3. Using kitchen scissors (or your knife), cut the vanilla bean into 1" pieces, letting them fall into the clean jar.

4. Pour your choice of liquor into your jar, filling it up to the first, bottom thread, leaving a 1/2" headspace between the top of the jar and the top of the liquid. This space is important!

5. Place a canning lid on top, and secure the canning ring finger-tip tight. This means turning the lid until you feel resistance and stop there. Do not tighten any further. Screwing on your lids too tight will cause the jars to break.

6. Choose your method of processing your vanilla extract:

Instant Pot: Place the trivet/wire rack into the inner pot. Put your prepared jars of vanilla extract on top of the trivet. Pour enough water to the same level of your extract. Do not have water above the jars.

Push the Keep Warm Button repeatedly until *Normal or Medium shows on the display. The button will light up and 10:00 will show on the display, for a 10 hour time. You can quickly push the (+) button to add more time. ( I did mine for 18 hours) Put a lid, dinner plate, pie plate or Instant Pot lid with vent closed. 
*Do not use High or More, as it is too hot to process your vanilla. It will cause it to bubble over and out of your jars.

Instant Pot Ultra:
Turn Dial to Ultra
Press dial to select
Turn dial to TIME
Press dial to select, turn dial to choose 8-18 hours, push to select
Turn dial to TEMP
Press dial to select, turn dial to 140°F, push to select
Press Start

Immersion Circulator:
Attach your immersion circulator to your 6 quart food safe container, set on a wood cutting board to protect your countertop.
Add the prepared jars of vanilla extract to the container.
Fill the container with water, up to the level of your extract, but not above the jars.
Select 140°F as your temperature, and 8-24 hours as your time.

Process your vanilla extract for 8-24 hours. I processed my jars for 18 hours.

7. When the cook time has finished, you can remove your jars using a canning jar lifter  -OR- simply let the water and jars come to room temperature. After removing the jars from the water, screw the rings on tightly.

You can keep your extract in your canning jars, or pour them into prepared bottles for gift giving.
Store your extract in a cool, dark cupboard. It will have an indefinite shelf life. Do not put vanilla extract in the freezer or put in the refrigerator.
Keep your vanilla beans in the jar or bottle. They will continue to extract, mellow and deepen in flavor. When your extract is almost gone, top it off with vodka, add a new 1" bean, and let it extract naturally, or heat it again using the No Pressure or Sous Vide method. 
Extract will be ready to use in 2-3 weeks.

Updated 10/2021


  1. Hello --
    I have been wanting to try making vanilla extract and was afraid of that much alcohol under pressure in the instant pot. I had been wondering about the sous vide method. My instant pot has a sous vide mode...I'm thinking this could work out well. I may try some for gifts!

    1. The Sous Vide method for making a quick, quality vanilla extract works well. I hope you do make it and report back with your results. :-)

  2. Can you sous vide vanilla extract multiple times ? I sous vide once on my batch. So can i sous vude the same batch again ?

    1. I have only used sous vide or pressure cook to extract my vanilla for the initial batch of extract. When the liquor gets low in the bottle, I do add one new cut/split bean to the bottle and top off with additional liquor and cold extract it the traditional way.

  3. what happens after 24 hours of heating/sealed?
    others have used the heat, with pressure, but it turns out cloudy.. that' sjust a pressue issue?
    Thanks for any expertise..

    1. After 24 hours, the vanilla bean can begin to break down, which you don't want to happen in your extract.
      Cloudiness can happen with the pressure method, but I believe it's the caviar that is scraped from the beans prior to heating. After a couple of weeks,I don't notice the cloudiness. In my research, I read an article that said cold temperatures can cause cloudiness & included the source link in my Vanilla Testing & Research article in this site. 🙂

  4. I have 6 qt Duo Plus. I put it on "keep warm", on "high" for 10 hours. The water in the liner never went below the vodka level. I did notice the vodka boiling in the canning jars and water in the pot,too. I took the temp at the end, while the water was still "boiling", and it registered 190°F. At the end of the 10 hours, I lost about 1/3c of vodka in 3 out of the 4 pint size canning jars. The 4th jar lost about 3 TB. After they cooled, they sealed, like I was pressure cooking them. I heard them pop/seal. I had only barely tighten them like you said.
    I would like to try and do this again. What can I do differently?

    1. Thank you for reaching out with your experience with my recipe.
      The newer Instant Pots have three different Keep Warm settings. High is too hot and if your jars are full, the extract can boil out,as you noticed. The reason your jars "sealed" is because as the hot extract cooled, it created a vacuum and caused the lids to seal.
      You will want to use Keep Warm Low or Normal, but I'd test the temperature of the water before placing the jars of extract. You'll want the temp to be as close to the 140°-145°F. I'll research the newer models to find out the exact temperatures of these Keep Warm settings & update this article.
      Thank you!🙂

  5. What is the 2-3 week post waiting for?


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