The Secret Ingredient You Should Be Adding To Your Eggnog

When you read that title, bet you were thinking it would be some kind of booze, right? Nope, that would be too obvious. Add whatever kind of booze you like to your favorite eggnog recipe — rum, brandy, whiskey, sherry, or even tequila — and it's going to taste awesome. If you're into repetition and redundancy, there's actually such a thing as eggnog-flavored vodka (via Food Network), or you could always get a jump start on a sober-curious New Year by drinking alcohol-free nog.

Whether you choose to booze it up or not, though, there is one ingredient that will add a sweet, fragrant note that can really take your eggnog to the next level: vanilla.

How to make vanilla-flavored eggnog

Should you be going to all the trouble of making your eggnog from scratch, even daring to ignore the dire warnings about under-cooked eggs causing salmonella from holiday Grinches (including the ones at Consumer Reports), then you might as well go all the way and use a real vanilla bean. The Cortlandt Daily Voice has a vanilla eggnog recipe that calls for a single split bean for about one quart of liquid, with the vanilla bean being simmered with the milk, cream, and spices in order to impart its flavor before the eggs and sugar are added.

But what if you're going to go with store-bought eggnog? No shame in that. In fact, many bartenders happily use eggnog from a carton as a base for their seasonal spins on the holiday classic (via Bon Appetit). For pre-made eggnog, though, you'll find it easier to add vanilla in its extract form. One vanilla bean is equal to about one tablespoon of extract, so you should be adding a tablespoon of vanilla extract for each quart of eggnog.

What you can do with leftover vanilla eggnog

Chances are, leftovers aren't going to be a problem since vanilla eggnog is just sooo tasty. If you do run out of holiday cheer (or the desire to drink eggnog, if there's a difference between the two) while you've still got this beverage left in the fridge, though, vanilla eggnog can be used as the base for homemade ice cream

You can also cook it until it thickens, then use it as a sauce for bread pudding, plum pudding, or figgy pudding, if you even know what that is. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the holiday season with your eggnog clasped firmly in hand as you sit by the fire.