Bulk Vanilla Beans

Where can I find vanilla beans to purchase in bulk? I usually buy a few here and there from Trader Joe’s and the now defunct Fresh & Easy. I’m looking to make my own vanilla extract, so I’m going to need quite a few to steep in my spirit of choice. Is Amazon or online a better option?

I have purchased them from Amazon and been disappointed in the quality. Best bet is Costco…its hit or miss if they are there. Generally around Thanksgiving they stock beautiful vanilla beans in glass tubes. Price and quality are excellent.

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I’ve bought ‘see smell taste’ Vanilla beans through Le Sanctuaire in bulk they were super fat, very high quality and very nice, but I went through a friend with a restaurant account

Not a brick-and-mortar store, even though they are located in Los Angeles, but I’ve had good success sourcing hard to find vanilla beans from Amadeus. And they offer bulk pricing.

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Thanks, @ipsedixit! Which varietal(s) have you tried from Amadeus? Do you have a favorite? They only have Madagascar and Indian beans available in stock now.

@ebethsdad I’ve actually seen the glass tubes at my local Costco. Will have to cruise by the aisle when I go this weekend. Thanks!

Based on availability, I would opt for Madagascar beans, especially if you’re trying to make extract. It has an assertive bold vanilla flavor that stands up well to an alcohol bath.

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Thanks, ipse! Just ordered a 1/4 lb. of the Madagascar variety. Going to start experimenting with different kinds of spirits with all the beans.

Just a heads up, the price of beans recently doubled, and in some cases tripled, thanks to the vanilla shortage.

I’m hoping that this years crop is bountiful and that the prices drop soon. But right now, wow! Makes me happy I stockpiled some extract and wish I had stockpiled some beans. : (

I made extract with both vodka and bourbon. The vodka based extract is okay, workable and more than decent. But I actually like the smell of the bourbon based vanilla much better. Hope to bake with it this weekend and if so, I’ll give a report.


I make my own with good quality bourbon and like it quite well. I also have Nielsen-Massey Mexican, N-M Madagascar Bourbon and I am fresh out of Singing Dog. I also have N-M beans in glass tubes. I picked them up at TJ Maxx for very little.

Oooohhhh… Had not thought of checking out TJ Maxx. Brilliant!

Nice to know you like the bourbon base as well.

Just to clarify for anyone who is new to this, the “bourbon” you see associated with vanilla has nothing to do with the American whiskey. The bourbon before the vanilla refers to a particular species of vanilla from a particular region.

Not to say that making extract with bourbon as your spirit is right or wrong, just that when you see bourbon on a vanilla product, it almost never has anything to do with whiskey.


@Happybaker Thanks for the note. I’m going to experiment with at least 3-4 spirits for steeping just to see how the beans combine with vodka, rum, bourbon, and maybe one more option. I can’t wait to use the liquidy beans once they’ve steeped for at least 8 weeks in an ice cream base or in creme brûlée.


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@robert I will have to try Saffron next time and compare the Amadeus products. Thanks!

Bourbon base for the win!

I made a batch of challah french toast this am, and used the bourbon based vanilla in it. Same proportions of beans to booze as the vodka brew - but somehow richer and rounder. Really lovely!

Very much looking forward to baking with it. And for the future, it’s bourbon baby : )

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Thanks for mentioning that. I’d certainly assumed otherwise.

@Happybaker What kind of bourbon did you use? I’m game to try a bourbon base, too…but don’t usually drink bourbon so I don’t know much about it.

I checked my booze supply - and I’m not going to be much of a help! I don’t drink bourbon or whiskey either - I use it for baking and holiday drink bases.

It was either the last bit of Rebel Yell bourbon from Trader Joes. (I knew I had a bit left and now it’s gone.) Or, Canadian Mist Whiskey from Costco.

That does tell you one thing though - it doesn’t have to be fancy to work! The french toast was so good, I can’t wait to bake with it! (BTW, if we are talking baking, the Zulka brown sugar is lovely. Very flavorful, one of the best cheap thrills out there : ) https://mybrands.com/Brands/Zulka-Sugar/Zulka-Azucar-Pure-Cane-Brown-Sugar-1-lb

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