One of my favorite treats of the holiday season is homemade eggnog. I could drink gallons of it. If you’d like to see how to make eggnog at home either with or without alcohol, follow this step-by-step recipe.
I love eggnog, but since store-bought eggnog has a lot of sugar and calories, I try to indulge as rarely as possible. When I see the eggnog cartons appear in the grocery store in November, it is everything I can do to resist buying some every time I pick up a jug of milk.
But since I absolutely love the creamy comfort of a glass of eggnog, I like to make homemade eggnog so I can make it a bit healthier and have it more often.
Is Homemade Eggnog Safe to Drink?
Traditional eggnog is made with raw eggs and a high percentage of alcohol which is used to preserve and sterilize the eggs and dairy.
So if you are drinking eggnog made with a high enough ratio of alcohol to eggs and dairy, then the alcohol will kill any dangerous bacteria that may be lurking in the raw eggs.
But if you are not using alcohol, or you are only adding a bit of alcohol before serving, then you are at risk of consuming salmonella from the raw eggs.
While I sometimes add a shot of spiced rum to an evening glass of eggnog, most of the eggnog we drink in our home needs to be alcohol free. (My daughter loves eggnog even more than I love it!)
Since I can’t use alcohol to kill any potential salmonella in our raw eggs, I personally don’t feel comfortable making my eggnog with raw eggs.
I have tried to find pasteurized whole eggs, but none of the stores in our city seem to carry them. (Pasteurized egg whites are readily available at grocery stores – it is just difficult to find pasteurized whole eggs.) I have read that you can pasteurize whole eggs, but I haven’t tried that method.
Instead, I make COOKED Homemade Eggnog — and it is INCREDIBLE!
I personally love custard in all forms and cooked homemade eggnog is basically Crème Anglaise (French for “English cream”).
My mother’s family has English roots, so I suppose that is why I grew up with custard-based desserts such as Floating Island and Lemon Snow Pudding.
In fact, I had never tasted pumpkin pie until I was an adult because on holidays my mom always made Lemon Snow Pudding, which is essentially custard (Crème Anglaise) served with a light, airy, lemon meringue pudding. It is a simply delightful dessert that is perfect after a heavy turkey dinner. (I will post a recipe for my mother’s Lemon Snow Pudding soon.)
When I was a kid, I would sneak into the fridge and pour a bit of the leftover custard into a glass and drink it straight. Little did I know that I was essentially just drinking cooked eggnog.
A Closer Look at How to Make Eggnog
When it comes to making cooked eggnog, there is a basic method and recipe that you can then alter slightly according to your tastes and preference.
To make your eggnog lighter, you can use half and half instead of heavy cream or skip the cream entirely and just use whole milk, or even low-fat milk. You could also use an alternative milk, such as almond milk.
As well, you can adjust the amount of sugar in your recipe. I use 1/3 cup of sugar but you will find some other recipes call for more. Feel free to make your eggnog as sweet as you prefer.
As for flavor and spices, I like a simple traditional eggnog with just vanilla extract and nutmeg, with cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on top. But some recipes call for cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I have tried adding cloves and cinnamon into my eggnog while cooking, and while I don’t mind it, I prefer to make my eggnog with only nutmeg and then a bit of cinnamon as garnish.
To thicken your eggnog, you can add heavy cream/whipped cream before serving or you can beat pasteurized egg whites to fold into your eggnog.
Using beaten egg whites adds a foamy quality to your eggnog which you and your family might enjoy. Since you can buy pasteurized egg whites, you don’t need to worry that the egg whites do not get cooked.
Personally, I like to cook my eggnog with whole milk and then whisk in heavy cream after it cools or before serving. And if I want to have an extra treat or if I am serving to guests, I will add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Step by Step Directions to Make Cooked Eggnog
Beat egg yolks, while slowly adding in sugar, until eggs lighten in color and sugar has completely dissolved.
Add milk, nutmeg and pinch of salt to a sauce pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat until milk just begins to boil. Stir often to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
Temper eggs by slowly whisking in 1 cup of hot milk mixture, stirring constantly to avoid accidentally cooking eggs.
After eggs are tempered, slowly whisk tempered egg mixture into the large saucepan with remaining hot milk. Again, stir continuously while combining eggs with hot milk to prevent scrambling eggs.
Return the saucepan to medium heat and stir until mixture thickens and reaches 160 degrees F. Do not boil.
Remove from heat, pour into a large glass bowl and chill for at least one hour.
Once cooled, whisk in cream (or half and half), vanilla extract, and alcohol if desired.
Refrigerate for at least two hours or until ready to serve.
Serve cold, sprinkled with ground nutmeg or cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
Homemade Eggnog Recipe
How to make cooked eggnog at home.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 cups whole milk (for a thicker, richer eggnog, use 2 cups of whole milk)
- 1 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- Spiced rum or bourbon (optional)
- In a medium bowl, using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a whisk, beat eggs while gradually adding sugar. Beat until eggs lighten in color and sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add milk, nutmeg and pinch of salt to a large sauce pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat until milk just begins to boil. Stir often to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
- Temper eggs by slowly whisking in 1 cup of hot milk mixture. Repeat with another cup, stirring constantly to avoid accidentally cooking eggs.
- After eggs are tempered, slowly whisk tempered egg mixture into the large saucepan with remaining hot milk. Again, stir continuously while combining eggs with hot milk to prevent scrambling eggs.
- Return saucepan to medium heat and stir until mixture thickens and reaches 160 degrees F. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat, pour into a large glass or metal bowl and chill for at least one hour.
- Once cooled, whisk in cream (or half and half), vanilla extract, and alcohol if desired.
- Refrigerate for two hours or until ready to serve. Serve cold, sprinkled with ground nutmeg or cinnamon.