This Is Ina Garten's Favorite Flavor

Describing something or someone as "vanilla" is not particularly complimentary. Comforming to modern vernacular, to be vanilla is to be conventional, conservative, basic, lackluster, or plain. However, we wholeheartedly disagree. Perhaps users of this slang term simply have not experienced the really good type of vanilla.

Vanilla is, without a doubt, one of the most popular dessert flavors on the planet. It's an essential ingredient in many cookies, cakes, tarts, sweet sauces, and ice creams. In fact, nearly 30% of Americans consider vanilla their favorite ice cream flavor (via WebMD). Vanilla adds a pleasant flair to dishes and offers a familiar, festive, and soothing aroma. When even the faintest hint of vanilla is incorporated into a recipe, the flavor is enhanced with notes of comforting sweetness. It pairs well with so many other spices and accentuates those flavors with brightness and warmth. So, is vanilla the best flavor ever? Ina Garten, domestic goddess, cookbook author, cooking show hostess, and self-proclaimed vanilla superfan stands by this belief.

Here's why Ina Garten loves good-quality vanilla

As with any ingredient or product you can find in the grocery store, vanilla spans a wide range of qualities. From vanilla extract to vanilla bean pods, this worldly spice comes in many forms. Ina Garten shared her love for the sweet spice in an interview with Food Network. "I think my favorite flavor of all is vanilla. Not just any vanilla, good vanilla," she said.

Garten revealed that she uses three different kinds of vanilla in her baking: whole beans, store-bought extract, and a special homemade extract recipe that was first concocted more than 30 years ago. Garten swears by her extract recipe to the point where she "would use it as cologne if I could," as she admitted in the interview. Her version is extremely simple, but be warned — it will definitely cost you more than your average store-bought bottle. (We promise it's worth it, though!) All you need is 12 vanilla beans, a bottle of vodka, and an extra large mason jar. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for a month. The vodka will eventually become vanilla extract and the beans will get soft enough for you to snip the ends and squeeze out the seeds. The best part? It'll last you literally forever. Yup. Worth it. Cheers to vanilla — the one flavor to rule them all!