Eggnog

HolidayCocktailEggnog

Homemade Eggnog is EASY to make! Plus, it doesn't have all the fillers of the store-bought stuff. Just cream, sugar, eggs, and spices. Enjoy it spiked or without alcohol for a kid-friendly version.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A traditional holiday drink dating back hundreds of years, eggnog is made with eggs (hence the name), milk, cream, spices like nutmeg and vanilla, and fortified with rum, whisky, and/or brandy.

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!

Even now, I prefer my eggnog only lightly boozed, if at all. 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.

2 Glasses of Homemade Eggnog Drink

Eggnog Preparation & Heating

The eggnog base starts by beating egg yolks with sugar until light and fluffy. Then you slowly whisk in hot milk that’s been infused with cloves and cinnamon, which tempers the eggs so they don’t curdle.

Finally, you warm the eggnog on the stovetop until it thickens. It’s essentially a custard.

How to Use Raw Egg Whites Safely

For a traditional eggnog you also whip up some egg whites to stiff peaks, and then fold those into the eggnog mixture, making it light and fluffy.

The egg whites are not cooked and these days some people avoid eating raw eggs because of the salmonella risk. If you want to incorporate beaten egg whites, one way to get around this is to use pasteurized eggs.

I’ve also just reheated the combined mixture (eggnog base with beaten egg whites mixed in), until it reaches 160°F, and then let the mixture chill again. That works too if eating raw eggs is a concern for you.

  • Need an egg-free version of eggnog? Try coquito! It’s the Puerto Rican answer to eggnog, made with condensed milk, coconut, spices, and rum.

How to Make Eggnog

What’s Your Eggnog Tradition?

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

Looking for More Ideas for Holiday Cocktails?

Updated December 16, 2018 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe itself.

Eggnog Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 1 quart, serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks (decrease to 4 egg yolks if you would like it less rich)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (decrease to 1/2 cup if you would like it less sweet)
  • 2 cups milk (we use 2% milk)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (lightly packed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp each of bourbon and rum, or to taste (can omit for kid-friendly eggnog)
  • 4 egg whites (optional)

Method

1 Beat egg yolks, beat in sugar: 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. Beat at high speed or whisk until fluffy.

2 Heat milk with cinnamon and cloves: 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 until eggnog mixture thickens: Cook the eggnog 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.)

5 Remove from heat and stir in the cream.

6 Strain and chill: Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the cloves and any curdled bits that may have formed. Let cool for one hour.

7 Stir in vanilla extract, nutmeg, and bourbon and rum (feel free to omit for kid-friendly eggnog). Chill.

8 If you you want to include egg whites (optional): Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they reach soft peaks. Add a teaspoon of sugar and continue to beat until they reach stiff peaks. Gently fold into eggnog.

Note that 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.

You can also reheat the combined eggnog and egg white mixture until it reaches 160°F, then remove from heat and let cool, then chill. The mixture will lose some of its fluffiness from the beaten egg whites, but not all, and the eggnog will be much airier than without the egg whites.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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65 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Dana

    Can I substitute both the heavy cream and milk with soy milk? Thank you!

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Joe

    I’ve been an eggnog addict for years now, but could never find a recipe where following the instructions didn’t lead to the eggs frying. The past few times I’ve made this, I’ve been leaving the cloves out, since my family doesn’t carry them, but this recipe still tastes great! Just a disclaimer: I’ve halved the sugar down to 3/4 cup for a double recipe, since my mom is a type one diabetic, and we have to watch her sugar. When I’m not a glutton, and let my coworkers have a taste, they tell me it tastes like Christmas! I’m definitely going to be making this for years to come!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Sun

    Great recipe, totally delicious! But does anyone know how long the cooked eggnog can last in the fridge?

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Amanda

    I’ve made this recipe every year for several years and its always a hit – my family can’t get enough of it! I make only two changes. First, I replace the sugar with maple sugar. It’s much more expensive but it’s a special holiday indulgence. I also use maple sugar to sweeten holiday pies and the whipped cream we top ten with. The second change I make is to reduce the sugar to only 1/4 cup. We find that it’s still plenty sweet for us without being overwhelming.
    This is a fantastic recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Stuart

    Even cutting down the sugar, it really tastes more like custard. It’s okay, not our favourite.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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