This homemade eggnog recipe is creamy on the bottom and fluffy on the top, and has converted even the most staunch eggnog skeptics. It’s easy to make, uses only six simple ingredients, and can be made without alcohol or as boozy as you like! This will be your new favorite holiday drink!
I’ve been making this traditional eggnog recipe annually for over a decade and it never fails to impress! This rich, luxuriously creamy drink is perfect for dessert or, if you’re me, breakfast. Or in my coffee. It ranks up there with a homemade peppermint mocha as one of my favorite holiday beverages! I like to have it with a few chewy gingerbread cookies or ricciarelli (chewy Italian almond cookies) for the ultimate Christmas treat.
Even my sister, who adamantly dislikes most eggnog, has made an enthusiastic exception for this homemade version. So here’s what I have to say to other eggnog skeptics — imagine if custard, whipped cream, and meringue all mingled together in a glass with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. It’s rich and creamy but fluffy, with a light, frothy cap that somehow manages to float atop every glass. That’s what you’re missing if you turn down a glass of this deliciousness.
Why this recipe works
Eggnog is like custard, whipped cream, and meringue, you say? Pretty much. Custard is egg yolk and sugar. Whipped cream is heavy cream and sugar. Meringue is egg white and sugar. Eggnog is all of the above.
The egg yolks and whites are separated and that makes all the difference in this recipe because you treat each component separately. Beating the yolks until they’re light in color, adding the sugar and alcohol (or milk, for a non-alcoholic eggnog), and letting it rest for an hour dispels any egginess you may be wary of.
Beating the egg whites to a meringue-like consistency and folding them into the ‘nog adds air throughout the eggnog. It creates an oh-so-dreamy layer of fluff that floats like a cloud on top of each glass you pour.
And while we don’t whip the cream, we do add quite a bit of it. It’s not a health food but boy is it worth the calories.
While the egg white fluff is best immediately after making this homemade eggnog recipe, it sticks around for days afterwards before finally dissipating into the rest of the eggnog. The eggnog is still fluffy and amazing, but will have less of the frothy top if you enjoy a glass days after making it.
What are the ingredients in eggnog?
Unlike the store-bought stuff, this homemade eggnog recipe has very few, very simple ingredients.
- Egg yolks and powdered sugar: Creates the rich, custardy base for the drink.
- Heavy cream: Did I mention this was a rich, dessert-like drink? Thank the cream for that too.
- Milk: Lightens up the recipe jusssst a smidge.
- Vanilla extract: I didn’t always add this to the recipe, but who could argue with adding a touch of vanilla?
- Booze (optional): Use rum, bourbon, whiskey, or brandy for a boozy adult eggnog — or replace with milk to make a kid-friendly eggnog recipe without alcohol.
- Egg whites: When whipped to meringue consistency and folded into the eggnog, keeps it from being too dense. The whole thing ends up being fluffy with a little extra froth on top! Now that’s what I call magical.
- Nutmeg and cinnamon: Not technically included in the recipe. What?! That’s right. I don’t mix it in, but just use a little sprinkle on top whenever I pour myself a glass. If you’d rather, you can mix it into the whole thing in advance, to taste.
How to make traditional eggnog at home
First, you’ll separate the eggs. Beat the yolks by themselves with a stand or hand mixer for about 3 minutes or until they lighten in color.
See how light the yolks are in the third image below compared to the second one? They’re very thick and almost the color of mayonnaise.
Then, mix in the powdered sugar until it’s smooth. After that, you’ll add the vanilla and, if you’re making spiked eggnog, the alcohol (rum, whiskey, or bourbon). If you’re making your eggnog without alcohol, simply replace the booze with an equivalent amount of milk so the consistency still thins out a bit.
You’ll let this sit in the fridge for about an hour so the flavors can meld and the eggy taste will dissipate.
Then, mix in the heavy cream and milk, beating constantly.
After that, beat the separated egg whites until they’re fluffy like meringue. You’ll want to start at a low to medium-low speed for about a minute before increasing the beater speed or the whites can get watery and never froth. When the egg whites reach medium-to-stiff peaks, fold the eggnog into the whites a bit at a time until it’s all incorporated.
This is best enjoyed immediately but you can refrigerate it and drink it within 2-3 days.
Expert Tips and FAQS
1) Was there any tiny bit of yolk in the whites or any grease in the bowl? They won’t whisk if there’s any fat present. Make sure bowls and whisks are completely dry too.
2) If you beat the whites past stiff peaks, they will start to get runny again and fall.
3) Room temperature egg whites will whisk better than cold ones.
4) Start beating slowly for about a minute before increasing the speed on the mixer.
After a couple days in the fridge it can do that. Whisk it up a bit before pouring another glass to even out the consistency. It’s definitely fluffiest immediately after making it, so if possible beat the egg whites and fold them in just before serving.
This recipe does contain raw eggs. The CDC says salmonella is present in 1 out of about every 20,000 eggs, so you have to decide if that’s a risk you want to take. Very young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with a compromised immune system may want to consider a cooked-egg eggnog recipe instead.
However, if you can find pasteurized raw eggs at the store, those are totally safe to use.
Rum, whisky, bourbon, or brandy are excellent choices for spiking eggnog. Rum will usually be on the sweeter end of the spectrum, so keep that in mind when deciding which to use!
Vanilla and warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and occasionally cloves are frequent additions to eggnog. This recipe doesn’t include the spices in the eggnog itself, but I love adding a little sprinkle of nutmeg to the top just before enjoying it.
Apparently the origin of “nog” in “eggnog” is debated: it’s either short for “noggin”, which is the type of mug it would have originally been served in, or it is a compounded version of egg-‘n’-grog, the “grog” being slang for rum.
Milk-punch is also an alternative name for eggnog.
Since this uses raw eggs, it’s best to finish your eggnog within 2-3 days of making it. If you’ve added a significant amount of alcohol (about 5%) it may last for a couple weeks.
My favorite trick? Throw it in an ice cream maker with a bit of extra nutmeg! It makes the BEST ice cream. And if you have some chewy gingerbread cookies, crumble up a few and stir them in before freezing the ice cream solid.
More holiday recipes
Get in the holiday spirit with these other Christmas-y recipes!
Homemade Traditional Eggnog
- 3 eggs separated
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup alcohol rum, whiskey, brandy, or bourbon (I used gold rum)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy/whipping cream
- Nutmeg and cinnamon for serving
- Beat yolks alone with a hand mixer on medium high speed until thick and light in color, about 3 minutes. (see post for photos) Gradually beat in confectioner's sugar.
- Add vanilla extract and alcohol very slowly, whisking constantly. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to help dispel the eggy taste.
- Add cream and milk, whisking constantly.
- Beat egg whites on medium low speed for about a minute, then increase speed to medium high until whites reach stiff peaks (like a meringue). Fold whites into eggnog. This is best done just before serving for the fluffiest drink.
- Serve sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Yield is about 1 quart.
- This eggnog is best enjoyed immediately, while it’s the most fluffy. This eggnog will last about 2-3 days in the fridge.
- If leftover eggnog separates overnight into a more fluffy layer and a more liquid layer, whisk it by hand until the consistency evens out before pouring a glass.
- For a more boozy recipe, substitute more alcohol for the milk.
- For a nonalcoholic recipe, substitute more milk for the alcohol.
- Raw egg safety: The FDA recommends not eating raw or undercooked eggs, which are in this recipe.
- For leftovers: If you have more than you want to drink, throw the leftovers in your ice cream maker with a little nutmeg and cinnamon for the best ice cream ever!