It’s Just So Much Better: Why You Should Be Drinking Homemade Egg Nog This Season

Ahh… egg nog, you creamy holiday treat. Sure the ugly sweaters and mistletoe are hallmark traditions during this festive season, but no holiday get-together is truly complete without a glass of something spiced in hand. This year, ditch the store-bought syrupy stuff, and make your own with just a few ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

Why You Should Make Your Own

I’ve never been a fan of store-bought egg nog. It’s super sweet, a bit too creamy and gooey, and just made me feel like I needed a nap. In fact, I didn’t think I liked egg nog at all until someone asked me very, very nicely to take a sip of his latest batch.

The problem with the carton is the slew of preservatives and extra ingredients (read: sugar) that just mix into a holiday slurry no one should be downing. You also never taste much of the spices that go so well with Christmas, thanks to that thick, pre-made consistency. So, I set off to make a version I’d want to drink. If you’re like me, then you can appreciate this less sweet, less creamy version of the spirited nog that will have everyone asking for another glass.

Traditionally, Egg Nog was made up to a few months in advance and left in a cool dark area to age well before the seasonal celebrations. That’s because eggs and milk were plentiful during the summer months, and a bit more scarce when the weather turned cold. This drink helped to carry that seasonal bounty well into the winter, and produced a well balanced, super creamy drink that warmed from the inside out on the cold nights. Thanks to modern trappings, there’s no reason to worry about preserving eggs and milk for months on end, they’re ready year round. Ready to be nogged.

Let’s Talk Raw Eggs

It’s a good idea to use pasteurized eggs to limit the chance of Christmas cheer turning into a case of holiday food poisoning. Honestly, it’s a limited risk, but one that’s easy to avoid. Also, bringing the egg mixture up to about 160° F for about seven helps the further fend off bacteria.

Fresh egg nog will stay good for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, and up to a few weeks if spiked with rum right from the start. That’s because the alcohol content acts as a natural preservative.

The Recipe (4-6 servings)

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 eggs (pasteurized)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • small pinch ground anise
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cup dark rum or bourbon

  1. In a saucepan, combine 2 cups milk, sugar, salt, the eggs. Wisk together until well incorporated. Heat up the mix slowly to about 160-175 degrees, about 15 minutes. Don’t boil the mix or the eggs may start to get lumpy.
  2. Once the mix is up to temperature, incorporate in the vanilla, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg, stirring well to mix fully.
  3. Strain the mixture through a medium strainer to get out any egg chunks and the cloves.
  4. Transfer the finished drink to a large container and add the rest of the milk, stirring well to incorporate. Chill for at least 2 hours to allow the ingredients to combine well.
  5. The final drink can be mixed with coffee, pancakes, and of course rum or bourbon. For a spiked ‘nog, combine two parts egg nog with one part spirit.
  6. Fresh egg nog will stay good for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, and up to a few weeks if spiked with rum right from the start. Expect the proteins in the eggs to thicken over time and become more of a smooth consistency as the days go by. Of course, I’ve never had it stay that long in my house.

That’s about it.

Alternative: For a light, creamier texture separate out the egg whites and whisk well until peaks are formed in the bowl. Fold the egg whites into the drink when transferring into the large containers in step 4.