How to Make Eggnog

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The richness of this authentic eggnog recipe is lightened with a big puff of whipped meringue and whipped cream. You can go non-alcoholic, but the rum really does cut the richness.

Eggnog with cinnamon swirl in a crystal punch bowl
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Homemade eggnog, rich and creamy and heavily spiked, has always for some reason seemed out of reach come Christmas and New Year’s at home. The Christmas Eve of my mother’s cherished childhood involved midnight mass, then brunch, presents, and an eggnog her mother made that was so special, my Mom closed her eyes in the telling. Yet she never made it or even tried. I have always wanted a big punchbowl of this festive holiday drink, which is so much better than store-bought!

Fostorial Glass crystal punch bowl

What is Eggnog?

Eggnog is a creamy drink with eggs, dairy, and sugar as the primary ingredients. It’s traditional for holiday gatherings, and often spiked with alcohol. It tastes like a drinkable custard, almost like soft ice cream spiced with nutmeg.

Although many opt for store-bought eggnog from the grocery store, it doesn’t even compare to this recipe. Trust me, my creamy homemade version has nothing on those store-bought cartons!

Ingredients

  • Light rum. Although you can skip it to make non-alcoholic eggnog, it really does cut the richness. You can also use whiskey, bourbon, or brandy.
  • Sugar. Granulated sugar adds a clean sweetness to this easy eggnog recipe.
  • Eggs. I recommend using large eggs, to maximize richness. The egg yolks are cooked on the stove along with the rum and sugar, so they are safe to consume. The egg whites will be whipped separately and to fold together with the egg yolk mixture.
  • Heavy cream. The cream and milk together make this recipe so decadent and over the top delicious!
  • Spices. You can use either ground nutmeg or cinnamon, or both!
  • Milk. Whole milk will be best if you want a creamy eggnog.

How to Make Homemade Eggnog

Step 1: In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with just an inch or so of water simmering at medium low heat, stir the rum, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very thick, 2–3 minutes. Chill for at least two hours, or set the bowl in an ice bath to cool it quickly.

Step 2: Whip cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.

Meringue in the mixer for eggnog

Step 3: In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, adding a tablespoon of sugar while whipping.

Step 4: Fold the whipped cream and cold egg yolk mixture into the whipped whites, and stir in the milk. Serve it from a punch bowl, the top dusted with nutmeg and/or cinnamon. Sprinkle more spice atop each individual serving.

Whipped Cream folded with a spatula for eggnog

How to Make Eggnog without Alcohol

For non-alcoholic eggnog, you can skip the rum without any substitute and follow the recipe as is. Temper the egg yolks with sugar and 1 cup of milk until the mixture is thick before chilling it in the fridge.

How to Make Eggnog without Heavy Cream

If you’re wanting to make eggnog without cream, it’s important to note that you’ll end up with a less-creamy, thinner holiday drink. You can substitute half and half, or skip any type of cream and whipping, and follow the rest of the instructions as they are. Taste and add more milk to your liking. To thicken the mixture, add a cornstarch slurry. Thoroughly combine 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/4 cup cool water. Add this mixture at the end of cooking the egg yolks, sugar, and rum in the bowl over the simmering water bath. Whisk until thickened then proceed with chilling. Whisk he mixture well before adding the whipped egg whites.

Eggnog in a crystal punch bowl with crystal ladle

How to Store Eggnog

This homemade recipe is best the day it is made. To store, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two day (don’t freeze it). Give a stir or a good shake before serving to make sure the ingredients haven’t separated, and serve with some extra spices sprinkled on top.

Make ahead

No time to make it on the day you’re serving it? No worries! While you can make the eggnog a day or two ahead of time, you can also make just the egg yolk mixture in advance and chill, with plastic wrap pressed against the surface, for up to two days. When you’re ready to serve, whip up the whipped cream, the egg whites, and assemble with the prepared yolk mixture.

Eggnog in crystal cups with cinnamon and Christmas napkins

Expert Tips

  • Don’t overcook the egg yolks. It’s essential that you cook the yolks in a water bath with the rum and sugar while stirring constantly only until it thickens. We want to temper the eggs, rather than cook the eggs and cause them to curdle.
  • Keep the heavy cream chilled. Heavy cream will whip best if it’s cold. For easy and quick whipping, chill the bowl and the beaters of your mixer in the fridge.
  • Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl. Egg whites won’t whip properly if the bowl they’re in isn’t squeaky clean. Before using it, give your bowl a wash and a wipe.
  • Use fresh spices. The fresher the spice, the better the flavor. For the best eggnog, buy whole nutmeg instead of pre-ground, and grate it just before adding to your drink.

Variations

  • Coconut eggnog. Swap the rum for Malibu, a coconut flavored liqueur, for a tropical twist. Top servings with some toasted coconut flakes and a touch of allspice. 
  • Coffee eggnog. Need a little caffeine boost? Or simply love anything coffee flavored? Add a splash of chilled coffee to your eggnog just before serving.
  • Vanilla eggnog. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste to the cream before whipping to add depth of flavor.
  • Pumpkin spice. Swap the nutmeg or cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice instead!
  • Eggnog french toast. If you end up with some leftovers, you can make french toast using eggnog instead of milk the next morning.
Eggnog with cinnamon swirl in a crystal punch bowl

FAQs

What is eggnog made of?

Eggnog is mainly made of eggs, dairy, and sugar. Depending on the recipe, it could use just the egg yolks, or a combination of the yolks and egg whites. Dairy often appears in recipes in the form of whole milk and heavy cream. Ground nutmeg is almost always a finishing touch.

What alcohol do you put in eggnog?

Rum or brandy are the traditional choice of alcohol, but whisky pairs well, too! Try Malibu coconut liqueur for a tropical twist.

How long does homemade eggnog last?

Enjoy this festive drink the day it’s made, or up to two days, chilled. Whip with a whisk to smooth it out before serving.

Is eggnog alcoholic?

While eggnog itself need not contain alcohol and is safe to drink for those who can’t consume alcohol, many people do enjoy spiking it to make boozy eggnog.

How to make eggnog without raw eggs

If you don’t feel comfortable consuming raw eggs, you can skip the whipped egg whites and only use egg yolks in your eggnog base. You can also use pasteurized whole eggs or pasteurized egg whites from a carton, which are safe to consume raw.

How long does it take to make eggnog?

It takes about 2 to 3 hours including the time it takes to chill it in the fridge.

How to make eggnog with vanilla ice cream

To enjoy it as a dessert, scoop vanilla ice cream into cups and ladle a 1/4 cup or so of the eggnog over top. Serve with a spoon!

How to make eggnog thicker

To make it thicker, use less milk. 1 cup of whole milk will make a smooth eggnog, but if you know that you like a thicker eggnog, stir in only ½ cup of milk. Once it chills and thickens a little in the fridge, add more milk to thin it out to your liking.

Drinking Raw Eggs Safely

Although the traditional eggnog recipe uses raw eggs, it’s best to be on the safe side and either temper the eggs, or use pasteurized eggs. The FDA recommends using pasteurized eggs to avoid food poisoning from Salmonella bacteria.

More Holiday Drinks

Eggnog with cinnamon swirl in a crystal punch bowl
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5 from 2 votes

Homemade Eggnog

The richness of this homemade eggnog recipe is lightened with a big puff of whipped meringue and whipped cream. You can go non-alcoholic, but the rum really does cut the richness. Adapted from Chef Mary Sue Milliken in Saveur.
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon, for garnish
  • 1 cup whole milk, cold
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Instructions 

  • In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with just an inch or so of simmering water, stir the rum, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very thick, 2–3 minutes. Chill for at least two hours, or set the bowl in an ice bath to cool it quickly.
  • Whip cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.
  • In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, adding a tablespoon of sugar while whipping.
  • Fold whipped cream and cold egg yolk mixture into the whipped whites; stir in the milk. Serve the eggnog from a punch bowl, the top of the eggnog dusted with nutment and/or cinnamon. Sprinkle more spice atop each individual glass of eggnog.

Notes

Storage: Eggnog can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Give it a stir or a good shake before serving to make sure the ingredients haven’t separated, and served with some extra spices sprinkled on top.
Making it ahead: While you can make the eggnog ahead of time, you can also make just the egg yolk mixture in advance and chill. When you’re ready to serve, it’s ready for you to whip up the whipped cream, the egg whites, and assemble.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 236mg | Sodium: 98mg | Potassium: 169mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 919IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 387
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2 Comments

  1. Jenean says:

    I would use nutmeg instead of cinnamon.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Yes! Nutmeg and/or cinnamon!