Eggnog has been around since at least Elizabethan times, and American colonists continued the tradition thanks to the availability of dairy products and easy access to rum and whiskey. No one knows the exact origins of the word nog. Some historians speculate that it comes from the word noggin, meaning a small wood mug. Others say nog refers to a strong variety of beer, which was used in Old World versions of the beverage. Regardless of the history, eggnog today includes these basic ingredients: milk and/or cream, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, and often a liqueur such as brandy or rum.
Just as there is a dramatic taste difference between homemade ice cream and the purchased variety, there is a difference between homemade eggnog and the stuff sold in cartons. A batch of eggnog takes about 15 minutes to make; it can be prepared a day ahead and chilled. Follow our classic eggnog recipe to get you started, or try the lower-fat or alcohol-free versions. One recipe makes seven (4-ounce) glasses of eggnog and is easy to double for entertaining. You can also use eggnog to flavor other foods, like Christmas cookies and desserts.
How to Make Our Classic Eggnog Recipe
Eggnog is basically a thin custard sauce thickened with egg yolks. If you want to know how to make eggnog alcoholic, our recipe already includes a splash of bourbon and rum, but we also have instructions for how to make eggnog without alcohol.
Tip: If the egg mixture gets too hot or boils during cooking, the eggs can scramble or curdle. If this happens, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve and continue as directed.
Lower-Fat Eggnog: Prepare as directed above, except omit whipping cream and use 3 cups milk. You can use a lower-fat milk, if desired. Another way to cut the fat is to substitute evaporated skim milk for the whipping cream. Try our recipe for Guilt-Free Eggnog.
How to Make Eggnog Without Alcohol: Prepare as directed above, except omit the rum and bourbon and increase the milk to 2-1/3 cups.
How to serve eggnog is also up to you and what your kitchen/cupboards are stocked with, but you can take your nog up a notch by topping it with whipped cream and adding any of the following:
Tip: Because eggnog is so rich, the serving size is generally smaller. Our classic eggnog recipe calls for 4-ounce servings, so pull out the smaller glasses!
You can do so much more with eggnog than just drink it! If you're truly in love with eggnog, try adding it to your Christmas cookies or breakfast on Christmas morning. Here are just a few ways you can bake and cook with eggnog: