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Celebrating a Holiday Classic: The Best Homemade Eggnog Recipe

Eggnog, a creamy, sweet, boozy mix that happens only one time a year. And, who doesn’t love a good tradition, especially when it’s something you can eat or drink?

Egg Nog

But, eggnog is one recipe tradition that, while I loved it in concept, didn’t resonate with me at first. Sure, I’d buy an occasional eggnog latte or pick up a carton of eggnog from the store. However, I didn’t really know what all the fuss was about until I made it for myself.

Homemade eggnog is not the cloyingly sweet and batter-like thickness I’d previously known. It’s rich (very, very rich) but it’s also light, airy even. It’s sweet but not too much so and simply spiced with nutmeg; freshly ground, although I do put a bit of cinnamon in mine as well.

The richness deems it worthy for a special occasion, making for a festive after dinner, or even dessert, cocktail people will look forward to year after year.

Fresh nutmeg

A classic recipe for homemade eggnog

Serves 6 to 8

Adapted from Alton Brown


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 ounces aged rum

Egg Nog



1. In a small saucepan combine the milk and cream with the nutmeg and cinnamon. Heat until it just comes to a simmer.

2. While the milk and cream are heating add the egg yolks to a medium sized bowl and whisk until they lighten in color. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Gradually pour half of the milk and cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk continuously.

4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the mixture has thickened slightly or reaches a temperature of 180 F

Refrigerate until cool.

Egg Nog
5. Once the base is cooled add the egg whites to a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until frothy. Add the cream of tartar while the machine continues to run. Increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form then gradually add the 1 tablespoon sugar.

Egg Nog
6. Fold the egg whites into the chilled eggnog base then stir in the rum. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

7. Pour a modest 1/2 cup or so into each glass then garnish with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Egg Nog

Recipe notes:

This is my recipe for a basic and very classic homemade eggnog. You can add more spice, float a vanilla bean in the milk and cream as it comes to a simmer, or switch up the alcohol variety and quantity.

I say it’s traditional but I did swap out the bourbon for aged rum. In part because that is what I had on hand and also because lately I’ve been more of a rum girl. I think it is making a big comeback. Move over, bourbon, there’s a new alcohol in town. Don’t get me wrong, I love bourbon and wouldn’t protest to its presence in my eggnog but the rum really does a great job here. The choice is yours.

Also, a lot of recipes skip the cooking of the egg yolks but here I show the cooked version just to be on the safe side. If you trust your eggs completely then feel free to simple stream in the milk and cream (cold) into your whipped egg yolks. The sugar will partially cook the yolks but the tempering insures any chance of salmonella is good and gone.


Joan Zimmerman

Really looks like a great recipe, will have to try with only adults around, no kidos!


I was pleased to see you cooked the egg yolks here. I know there is NO longer any such thing as a “safe” egg in the entire egg industry. It doesn’t matter if you are a quiet country farmer who has raised chickens for 40 years and live the gold standard of the quiet egg farmer. I won’t go into it now, it’s a bit too long to type for a comment box but I personally know of an example of just such a farmer passing away from salmonella due to an egg he accidently broke in his kitchen and did not clean up well enough from. He lived alone and as he became ill everyone, including his own physician at first thought he only had a bad case of the flu. By the time he became so extremely ill he was taken to the Emergency Room it was too late. He died, all from an egg with salmonella from his own chickens. However, what I can’t figure out is how is this eggnog safe? The egg whites still are uncooked. Am I missing something that makes them safe? Is there ANY way to make safe egg nog at home by using regular eggs? The only way I’ve learned so far is to purchase pasteurized egg whites. I’m open to suggestions. I love egg nog (which by the way CAN be purchased year round in Slippery Rock, PA. I had friends who used to live near Slippery Rock. I was often there around the holidays so it wasn’t unusual to see it in the grocery store then but they said its available all year at the supermarket. That is the ONLY place I’ve ever heard where it is. It would be nice, I’d drink it all year if I could get it in the store already made. Save the homemade for entertaining at the holidays.


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