Eggnog Ice Cream

Adding a couple of tablespoons of a spirit like rum, bourbon, or brandy to the eggnog ice cream base will help the ice cream from getting too icy if you store it for more than a day. You can skip the alcohol, but if you do, you should eat up the ice cream the day you make it.

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Chilling and Freezing time: 12 hours
  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp rum, bourbon, or brandy


1 Infuse milk and cream with spices: Put the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream into a heavy saucepan (2 quart). Add the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and heat until steamy, but not boiling.

Lower the heat to warm, cover, and let spices steep for at least a half hour. Pick out the whole cloves and discard.

2 Add sugar: Stir the sugar into the milk cream base until the sugar dissolves.

3 Put remaining cream in bowl over ice bath: Put remaining 1 cup cream in a metal bowl, resting in a larger bowl of ice water. Place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl of cream.

mesh strainer over the bowl of eggnog cream

4 Temper the eggs with the heated cream milk mixture: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour about half of the heated cream milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it.

Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Warm Egg Yolks Being Poured into Sauce Pan

5 Heat mixture to make custard base: Return the saucepan to the stove on medium heat, stirring the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. You should be able to run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

The second the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, it should be removed from heat immediately, and poured through the sieve over the ice bath to stop the cooking (see the next step).

Spoon stirring eggnog ice cream mixture Wooden spoon without egg coating

If the custard base doesn't coat the back of the spoon, it's not ready.

Wooden spoon with custard coating Spoon with eggnog ice cream coating

The custard coats the back of the spoon.

6 Strain custard into cream over ice bath, then chill: Pour the custard through the strainer you set up over an ice bath in step 3, and stir it into the cold cream to stop the cooking. Once initially chilled in the ice bath, chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours).

7 Stir in vanilla extract and rum/bourbon/brandy: When it comes time to churn the ice cream, stir in the vanilla extract and the rum, bourbon, or brandy.

8 Process in ice cream maker: Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

9 Transfer to container, store in freezer: Remove ice cream from the ice cream maker and transfer it to an airtight container; store in your freezer for several hours before eating.

Note that the ice cream will be quite soft coming out of the ice cream maker. It will continue to harden in your freezer. If stored for more than a day, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to soften before attempting to scoop it.