Gift in a Jar: Vanilla Syrup

December 1, 2009(updated on July 1, 2022)


A couple of years ago, I uncovered a secret that completely changed the way I cooked and baked. I discovered that it was possible to order bulk lots of vanilla beans on eBay for cheap. I went from treating the vanilla bean as a precious item to using them freely. And this time of year, they can become an easy path to a sweet, homemade holiday gift. Homemade vanilla syrup can sweeten coffee, is delicious in plain yogurt and is wonderful drizzled as a quick glaze over top of any number of simple baked goods.


To make, combine one cup of water with two cups of sugar and add three to four vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour into half pint jars (when I made this tonight, I filled two half pints and one quarter pint). Include a piece or two of vanilla bean in the jar to keep infusing.

Because this is an unacidified product, it can’t be processed for shelf stability. However, it will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Gift this with some pancake mix, freshly baked scones or a pound of coffee.

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47 thoughts on "Gift in a Jar: Vanilla Syrup"

  • You can make vanilla soda with it as well. I use vanilla syrup like that (or lemon verbena) for canning or stewing fruit. If you can find a quince around try stewing one of those in vanilla syrup – and then you can drink the syrup when the quince is done. We also add the ginger bug to it to make it fizzy instead of buying soda. That’s a big treat around here!

  • Oh yes, this changed my life as well. Although I get mine from I like that I can get organic and choose from 3 different kinds. I buy in bulk and share with friends & family. I find myself using vanilla beans in everything now.

    I’ll have to give this recipe a go, sounds delicious!

  • Meryl They are so cheap, it’s amazing.
    Rcakewalk I have a post planned to go along with those jars of popcorn, I just haven’t had the time to write it yet.
    Sustainable Eats Mmm, vanilla syrup. I forgot about that one (and I was just having a conversation with my cousin about old-school vanilla cokes).
    Chiot’s Run I will have to check out! I know that some of the beans on eBay are organic, but that sounds like a website I could get behind.

  • Thanks for the tip about ebay. I never bought vanilla beans because they are so pricey at the grocery store. Do they keep well? How should they be stored?

  • Marisa,
    Would you can simple syrup, unflavored, the same way? That could be useful for spontaneous cocktail makin’! I’m off to order vanilla beans…

  • Mmmm! This is similar to the syrup left over from making the pears in vanilla syrup, which was Fabulous. That was the first time I used a real vanilla bean, and I’m going to keep it up now.

  • Genius, yes! Thanks for sharing. This syrup looks great. And good question from Rcakewalk on the simple syrup–can you can this?

  • Hmmmm – I never thought of canning my simple syrup. I usually just keep it in the refrigerator – and find that it easily lasts a couple months.

    I’ve never made vanilla syrup, but I do make peppermint syrup. Which I usually add to hot cocoa. Because of the peppermint leaves, I find the peppermint syrup only lasts a month max in my fridge. Too bad my peppermint is long gone – I guess I’ll know to can it for next year.

  • This is fantastic! I know what you mean about vanilla beans on ebay–I wish I could find deals like that all the time. I think this would be perfect for Christmas.

    Do you have any thoughts on making vanilla extract? Or, I should just learn the proportions (one bean equals how many teaspoons of extract)? and do that instead. Still, it’s nice to have both, depending on the use.

  • This is probably the most exciting gift you can get in a jar. I made some lemon-vanilla marmalade recently, but this would have done the job much better and more cheaply!

  • I’m sure you could freeze it in ice cube trays as well. That might help make a mean vanilla martini…

  • And don’t forget the simplest pleasure, vanilla sugar. Whenever I finish scraping out a pod, I just throw it into the nearest sugar bowl. But I might have to be more careful if I start buying them on ebay by the pound.

  • What a wonderful thing to learn. Inexpensive vanilla beans!!! Thanks. Which variety do you get or which seller do you go through?

  • I made this today – I was in serious need of a canning fix. Super easy and super delicious. I don’t know if I will be giving any away, though. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Cook’s Illustrated describes a way to make vanilla extract by putting a vanilla bean into vodka. Might want to look it up. I have done it, and it is delicious.

  • I too just bought and received my vanilla pods from eBay (100 for $20). I am excited about all thing I can now do. I already have 2 bottles of vodka with the vanilla pods in them waiting to make vanilla extract and had found a recipe for making syrup with the extract but thanks to you I can can them in jars and save them that way and won’t have to wait for my extract. I have also made sugars with just vanilla and some with both vanilla and lavender which ia added to my pear honey recipe as a substitute for plain sugar.

  • Could you simmer the beans in water to get the water infused with the bean, then strain the water through a filter to get the seeds out before adding the sugar?
    The vanilla ice cream I made was the best ever, and that was with extract grade beans. The next will be with Grade A beans. I’m looking forward to the other things I can do with the 1/4 pound of grade A beans I bought on Ebay.

  • Hi, pardon the reply on a pretty old post (I’ve just discovered your blog and I really dig it, so I’m “reading back”). I was excited to learn about this vanilla bean resource and was wondering if you have preferences of types/brands from eBay or if “a vanilla bean is a vanilla bean and just go for the cheapest ones.”

  • Dear Marisa, about to make your vanilla syrup. There’s a whole lot of unanswered questions above. Would love to read your answers when you have time to respond.

  • After you open the syrup, how long does it keep? I’m planning to give some of these as Christmas gifts and feel sure I’ll get the question.
    Your blog is amazing!

    1. It isn’t processed (not acid enough for a BWB to work) so it’s always ‘open’. Just keep it in the fridge, or maybe the freezer. Should keep quite a while, however something this delicious is usually prone to infestations of friends or relatives…

  • Thank you! I just made another half gallon on vanilla extract and was wondering what to do with my remaining beans. I make my hubby a vanilla mocha every morning and I will be making some vanilla syrup for him!

  • Do you have a recipe for coconut syrup….Do you think this would work using fresh grated coconut?? I’ve been looking everywhere for a recipe as none of the stores in my area carry it. Thanks if you can help…..Please email me with a answer if you have time.

  • sounds yummy. probably if one replaced the sugar with honey it would retain shelf-life. however, i am not sure how low to keep the temperature to avoid killing healthful organisms in the honey. or, maybe try making the extraction with water & add to the honey for a healthier version. i will try this.

  • Is caramel sauce able to be canned/preserved in a hot water batch? I’m thinking Christmas gifts….like everyone else. Thanks.

  • Thank you for the Ebay tip! I used to have a cheap and easy source of amazing vanilla beans, but I changed jobs and lost that contact 🙁