Traditional holiday eggnog recipe with eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, and vanilla, bourbon, and brandy.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

We grew up with eggnog, the kind you buy in a carton, and every Christmas holiday we kids drank up as much of it as we could. I didn’t even know that eggnog was a “spiked” drink until well into my adult years.

So this recipe is only lightly spiked; feel free to increase the rum and bourbon to your heart’s delight, or omit altogether if it’s for the kids.

Is eggnog part of your family holiday tradition? If so, how do you like it – spiked or virgin? with whipped egg whites or without?

Eggnog Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 1 quart, serves 4-6


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp each of bourbon and rum or brandy, or to taste (can omit for kid-friendly eggnog)
  • *4 egg whites (optional)


1 In a large bowl, use a whisk or an electric mixer to beat egg yolks until they become somewhat lighter in color. Slowly add the sugar, beating after each addition, whisking until fluffy.

2 Combine the milk, cloves, and cinnamon in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Slowly heat on medium heat until the milk mixture is steamy hot, but not boiling.

3 Temper the eggs by slowly adding half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly while you add the hot mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

4 Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, and coats the back of the spoon. It helps to have a candy thermometer, but not necessary; if you have one, cook until the mixture reaches 160°F. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will curdle. (If the mixture does curdle you may be able to save it by running it through a blender.) Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the cloves. Let cool for one hour.

5 Mix in vanilla extract, nutmeg, and bourbon/rum and brandy (feel free to omit for kid-friendly eggnog). Chill.

*Optional: Beat egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Add a teaspoon of sugar and continue to beat until they reach stiff peaks. Gently fold into eggnog. Note, because of the salmonella risk from raw eggs, it is recommended that children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems refrain from eating raw eggs such as the optional whipped egg whites in this recipe, unless you use pasteurized eggs.

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Showing 4 of 41 Comments

  • Palki

    Great recipe… Will definitely try it. Will it be ok if I used heavy cream instead of milk??

  • Alejandra Terroba

    A friend of mine makes this recepie, but instead of using the egg whites, she uses whipped cream and it comes out delicious.

  • Shannon

    I love your blue China in the photo! I’ve been looking for a pattern like it for a long time. Who makes it?!

  • Josette

    We have been making this recipe for a few years now. Love it!! I have also used the egg whites and has turned out great. Thanks for the excellent recipes:)

  • Steve

    As a British man, i have watched American movies all my life and often wondered what eggnog was like up until a few years ago. I found this recipe and fell in love with it. Now each year we have eggnog to accompany roast chestnuts and you could say it’s our new family tradition. Thank you for this recipe!

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