When you want to make everyone merry and bright, Homemade Eggnog is the ultimate holiday cocktail. This easy recipe tastes worlds better than the stuff at the store, so dig out the punch bowl and start a new holiday party tradition.
Christmas only comes once a year, and that’s when holly-decorated cartons of eggnog appear in the dairy aisle. But before you stock up on store-bought, consider making your own eggnog this season. It’s super simple and everyone goes crazy for it.
Make a batch of eggnog without alcohol for the kids, and then another batch to spike for the most delicious eggnog cocktail you’ve ever had. Add the spirit of your choice—eggnog tastes great with almost anything—and toast to a happy holiday.
Where did eggnog originate?
Historians believe that eggnog originated from England in the 1600s, where “nog” was a word for a strong ale, and “noggin” the wooden cup it was consumed from. Eggnog could be a variation of posset, a Medieval beverage made with curdled milk, wine, and spices, or an egg flip, a British drink.
Other theories are that the word eggnog is purely American, dating from the late 1700s, made from the combination of colonial slang words: nog, (ale) and grogg, a term for rum.
Eggnog cocktails around the world:
Just in case you’re curious about how to order an eggnog cocktail in another language:
- Eggnog in French: lait de poule, or chicken milk.
- Eggnog in Spanish: ponche de huevo, or egg punch.
- Eggnog in German language: eierlikör, or egg liquor.
What Alcohol goes well with eggnog?
That all depends on what you like to drink. Brandy is the most traditional alcohol in eggnog, but here’s a list of other appropriate liquors to add to eggnog.
How much alcohol to add to eggnog? It sort of depends on how strong you want it, but start with a ratio of 1 part spirit to 5 parts prepared eggnog. (For every 1-quart of eggnog, you should use 6.5 ounces of liquor, total.) Or put some bottles out and let guests add their own.
- Rum. Yo, ho, ho, eggnog and rum is a classic combo. What kind of rum for eggnog? Light or dark rum works. (Maybe not coconut flavored…)
- Rum and cognac. Super rich and delicious!
- Vodka. If you’re partial to vodka, try it!
- Rumchata. This creamy, dreamy rum and horchata liqueur in eggnog might be just what the doctor ordered.
- Fireball. Cinnamon flavored fireball in eggnog? Sure, if that’s your thing!
- Advocaat. Advocaat, or advocatenborrel, is a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar, and brandy.
Advocaat eggnog is part cocktail, part pudding, and made with a lot of egg yolks.
- Bourbon. Evan Williams eggnog? Yes, indeed. That’s what this recipe uses, but feel free to switch it up.
- Alcohol free eggnog. You certainly don’t have to add any booze at all to this drink to enjoy it.
What’s eggnog made of, anyways? Other than heavenly deliciousness.
- Eggs. Look for the best quality eggs you can find, pasteurized if possible. (Instructions for pasteurizing eggs at home is down below.)
- Whole milk.
- Heavy cream.
- Bourbon. Or the strong stuff of your choice: brandy, rum, cognac, etc.
- Nutmeg. It wouldn’t be eggnog without nutmeg! Some cooks like a dash of cinnamon, too.
How to make homemade Eggnog:
Note: this recipe uses raw eggs. If you’re uncomfortable with consuming raw eggs, you have two options: you can pasteurize the eggs, or make cooked eggnog. Both techniques will be explained under this eggnog how-to.
By the way, exact quantities for the recipe are listed in the recipe card down below. These photos are for the visual learners!
- First, separate the eggs. Store the whites in the refrigerator until you need them.
- Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, pale yellow, and creamy. (Tip: Don’t let the egg yolks stay in contact with the sugar too long before you start beating; the sugar can “cook” the eggs and change their texture.)
- Then pour in the milk, cream, and liquor and continue mixing. Cover the bowl and chill for at least one hour.
- To finish making the eggnog, beat the egg whites using a mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then gently fold the egg whites into the chilled egg nog. It’s okay that some of the whites float to the top.
- Pour the finished eggnog cocktail into a pitcher or punch bowl and garnish with lots of freshly grated nutmeg.
How to pasteurize eggs at home:
If you can’t locate pre-pasteurized eggs, you can do it yourself. Making pasteurized eggs reduces the risk of food-borne illness in recipes that call for uncooked eggs.
- First, place the number of eggs you need for the recipe in hot tap water until warmed.
- Next, add the warm eggs to a saucepan and cover with at least an inch of water. Heat the water to 140 degrees, checking with a digital thermometer. (If you want to eyeball this, look for bubbles that will just start to form on the bottom of the pan.) Once the water reaches 140 degrees, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
- Leave the eggs in the hot water for 3 minutes exactly, then plunge the eggs into cold water to cool them back down. Separate the eggs as instructed in the recipe.
How to make cooked eggnog:
- Using a mixer, beat the egg yolks until they become pale yellow. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Next, combine the milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan, and bring just to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Then remove from the heat and gradually pour a small amount of the hot milk/cream into the egg mixture, stirring well. Continue to add small amounts of the hot mixture into the egg mixture until completely incorporated.
- Next, return the eggnog to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees, using a digital thermometer.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, and pour into a mixing bowl. Chill the eggnog in the refrigerator.
- Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Once the eggnog is chilled, gently fold the egg whites into the eggnog, and garnish with grated nutmeg.
How long does eggnog keep?
Fresh homemade eggnog will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you have store-bought eggnog, check the expiration date on the carton.
What to do with leftover eggnog:
Two words: French toast.
Dip thick slices of bread (egg bread, raisin bread, French bread, croissants) in leftover eggnog and fry them in a little butter. Serve with Homemade Syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Hello, Christmas morning!
- 12 large eggs separated
- 2 cups granulated sugar or less to taste
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups bourbon or whiskey, for serving, optional
- ground nutmeg for serving
- Refrigerate egg whites until needed. In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer or whisk and a medium bowl, add yolks and sugar. Mix on medium-speed until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and has a pale yellow color.
- Add milk, cream, and liquor and continue mixing until evenly combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
- In a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment, or with an electric mixer at high speed, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into chilled eggnog mixture (some egg whites will float like foam to the top).
- To serve, transfer to a pitcher or punch bowl and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
- Eggs: This recipe contains raw eggs which may be hazardous to certain individuals. According to the USDA, people with health problems, the very young, senior citizens, and pregnant women (the risk is to the unborn child) are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella enteritidis infections. To pasteurize eggs, allow the eggs to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to allow them to reach room temperature; which helps ensure the eggs reach the proper internal temperature to kill salmonella which is 135° F. Fill a large saucepan with cold water and gently place the eggs into the water. Place pan on the stove over medium heat. Bring water to 140° F, testing with a digital thermometer to confirm. Once the water reaches 140°F (60°C), remove from heat and allow the eggs to stay in the water for 3½ minutes. Using a clean slotted spoon, remove eggs from the pan and place in cold water. Dry and refrigerate.
- Bourbon: Or your preferred brown spirit of choice, or see more booze booster ideas below. Omit for a non-alcoholic eggnog; it's still decadent and delicious!
- Nutmeg: I prefer using a whole nutmeg and grating it fresh with a microplane. If you only have ground nutmeg in a jar, that certainly works too.
- Yield: This recipe makes 12 1-cup servings. It's so rich, 8 ounces really goes a long way!
- Storage: Store extra Eggnog in the refrigerator and enjoy within 7 days.
- Make ahead: XX tips here.
- Freezer: XX tips here.
- Switch up your spirits: If bourbon or whiskey aren't your style, consider spiking your Eggnog with rum, vodka, Rumchata, Fireball, or simply go spirit-free for a family-friendly holiday drink recipe.
- Upgrade your garnish game: Serve with a stick of cinnamon to hint at the flavors hiding inside, or for a festive touch, stick in an unwrapped candy cane for a minty stir stick.
- Maximize the leftovers: Seeking a way to enjoy Eggnog beyond sipping it straight from a mug? Use it in place of the milk in French toast batter. Just imagine diving into a tower of Eggnog Baked French Toast topped with Homemade Syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon on Christmas morning!