Eggnog 101

During the holidays, eggnog is a popular beverage often enjoyed at gatherings and seasonal festivities. Whether plain or spiked with rum, bourbon, or brandy, eggnog is synonymous with the holiday season. 

Eggnog is one of those foods/beverages that you either love or simply don’t. Many people are 'turned off' from eggnog since it can contain uncooked egg.  Traditionally, eggnog is made from cow's milk, cream, sugar, spices such as nutmeg and clove, and eggs.  The egg whites are whipped which creates a frothy texture and the egg yolks add a custard-like richness and gives it the name 'eggnog'.    

The best eggnogs taste like melted ice cream, but unfortunately, many eggnog options contain artificial flavors and preservatives and can have a slight banana or bubble gum flavor. If you are not fond of the artificial banana and/or bubble gum flavor in most eggnogs, try an organic option.   In most cases, since there are less preservatives and artificial flavors, organic options tend to have better, true eggnog flavor. 

Even though it is cold outside, eggnog is traditionally served chilled. Eggnog can be served warm, but heating too quickly or to a high temperature can create off flavors and textures. Warming at a lower heat/temperature over the stove and very slowly will result in a yummy warmed eggnog. 

When making eggnog at home, it is best to use pasteurized eggs to ensure the eggs will not add any harmful bacteria.  Pre-made store bought eggnogs are also pasteurized so they are safe to drink. No pasteurized eggs?  No problem; you can also make eggnog at home without pasteurized eggs by following this recipe from Eating Well:

Traditional Eggnog 

From: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 1998


  • 6 cups Our Family whole milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon Our Family ground nutmeg
  • 2 Our Family large eggs
  • ⅔ cup Our Family sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Our Family salt
  • ¼ cup rum, bourbon, or brandy of choice, optional
  • 2 teaspoons Our Family pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Our Family whipping cream


  1. Bring milk and nutmeg to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Whisk eggs, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually add hot milk to bowl will egg mixture; then return mixture to saucepan.
  3. Cook the eggnog over very low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Temperature must reach 160°F; do not let eggnog come to a simmer.) Remove from the heat and pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.
  4. Whisk in vanilla and rum, bourbon, or brandy, if desired. Move ahead to step 5 to serve warm OR place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the eggnog and refrigerate until chilled, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Just before serving, add cream to eggnog. Ladle into cups and serve garnished with more grated nutmeg. Refrigerate any un-served portions and consume within 24 hours of preparation. 

While eggnog is traditionally dairy based, there are many dairy-free options such as those made from soy, almond, and other plant based milks, so in case you are allergic or intolerant to dairy you can still enjoy eggnog!  Since egg is in the name, there are standards for how much egg is in eggnog, so there is not a true egg free option. If you are looking for egg free ‘eggnog’, melted vanilla ice cream with a dash of nutmeg will satisfy! This holiday season, give eggnog a fresh look and even a try!  

"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."

Stephanie Edson Wellness Specialist SpartanNash Company

Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist

Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.