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We introduce a simple and practical method to create ultrashort intense optical vortices for applications involving high-intensity lasers. Our method utilizes femtosecond laser pulses to laser etch grating lines into laser-quality gold mirrors. These grating lines holographically encode an optical vortex. We derive mathematical equations for each individual grating line to be etched, for any desired (integer) topological charge. We investigate the smoothness of the etched grooves. We show that they are smooth enough to produce optical vortices with an intensity that is only a few percent lower than in the ideal case. We demonstrate that the etched gratings can be used in a folded version of our 2f–2f setup [Opt. Express 19, 7599 (2005)] to compensate angular dispersion. Finally, we show that the etched gratings withstand intensities of up to 1012 W/cm2.