Homemade Eggnog

updated Nov 17, 2023

Here's how to make delicious, creamy homemade eggnog with just eggs, sugar, milk, and cream; booze is optional.

Makes6 cups

Prep15 minutes

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Oh, eggnog — you devilish seasonal treat, you. We love you in our morning lattes and we love you spiked with bourbon before going to bed. You make the most delicious French toast ever, and even our favorite cake is sending you love notes. Is there anything you can’t do? Truly?

This holiday season, I say let’s skip the store-bought cartons and additive-laden jugs, and have our eggnog the old-fashioned way: with real eggs. This stuff is incredible, and it couldn’t be easier to make. As long as you have eggs, sugar, milk, and cream in your fridge, you can have eggnog anytime the craving hits. Here’s a step-by-step recipe to guide you to eggnog bliss.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Ingredients You’ll Need for Homemade Eggnog

  • Eggs: You’ll need 6 large eggs.
  • Granulated sugar: Regular sugar sweetens the eggnog.
  • Whole milk: Whole milk provides the creaminess.
  • Heavy cream: Cream provides an extra dose of richness.
  • Liquor (optional): You can spike the eggnog with rum, bourbon, or Cognac, but it’s purely optional, or you can just let people spike individual glasses when serving instead offer more than one choice.

Raw Eggs and Eggnog

It’s called eggnog because, classically, it contains eggs. And, classically, those eggs are raw. Classically, eggnog is also aged with liquor for several weeks (or months!), which sounds insane until you realize that the booze acts as both preservative and sterilizer. Very few bacteria, including salmonella, can survive in the presence of alcohol, as has been proven in lab experiments at Rockefeller University.

Think of it this way: Aged eggnog is another way of preserving seasonal bounty. Eggs and milk gathered at the height of their season — summertime — are preserved with alcohol until a time when they were historically scarce — wintertime. The fact that the resulting preserved beverage makes an addictively good boozy cocktail for holiday celebrations is a win for frugal homesteaders everywhere.

But even if you’re not aging your eggnog like a Victorian, the same Rockefeller lab determined that the risk of food-borne illness is still quite small. I recommend using the freshest organic eggs you can find. You can also use pasteurized yolks and whites, or cook the eggnog base on the stovetop (see instructions at the end of the recipe below), if you need to be careful of using raw eggs.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Eggnog is Made

Homemade eggnog is thickened first with egg yolks and then given even more texture by folding in whipped egg whites at the end. Those egg whites transform what can be a fairly heavy, overly rich drink into something airier and frothier — though no less decadent. If you want to make it thicker or creamier, play with the proportion of whole milk and heavy cream, adding more cream for some extra body and richness.

An Argument for Aging

Aging your eggnog for even a short time does wonders for its taste and texture. The distinct flavors of egg, cream, and liquor meld together even after just a day or two in the fridge, making a smoother, more balanced cup of nog. The proteins in the eggs also start to thicken, giving eggnog its signature spoon-coating thickness.

If you’d like to try aging your booze for longer than a few days, I recommend using a ratio of two parts dairy to one part liquor — half the amount of liquor as milk and cream in the recipe. If this is a little too boozy for your taste, you can thin it out with some extra cream when you serve.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Long Does Eggnog Last

As for shelf-life, if your household is anything like mine, leftover eggnog is rarely an issue. Depending on the amount of liquor you add, the eggnog base without the egg whites will also keep quite well for several days:

  • Non-alcoholic eggnog: Consume within 1 day.
  • Eggnog with 1/2 to 1 cup liquor: Refrigerate for several days.
  • Eggnog with 1 1/2 cups liquor: Refrigerate for several weeks in a sealed glass container or mason jar, where it will continue aging and thicken up quite nicely.

Homemade Eggnog Recipe

Here's how to make delicious, creamy homemade eggnog with just eggs, sugar, milk, and cream; booze is optional.

Prep time 15 minutes

Makes 6 cups

Nutritional Info


  • 6

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups

    bourbon, rum, Cognac, or a mix (optional)

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving


  • Mixing bowls

  • Whisk

  • Pitcher

  • Stand mixer or electric hand mixer

  • Microplane or nutmeg grater


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  1. Separate the eggs. Separate 6 large eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large bowl (I recommend the 3-Bowl Method for this step). Cover the whites and refrigerate until needed, or freeze in an airtight container if aging the eggnog for longer than a day.

  2. Whisk the yolks with the sugar. Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the egg yolks and whisk by hand or with a mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and lightened to a lemon-yellow color.

  3. Whisk in the milk, cream, and liquor (if using). Add 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups liquor if desired. Whisk until combined.

  4. Cover and refrigerate. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The more liquor you add, the longer it will keep — non-alcoholic eggnog should be consumed within 1 day; eggnog with 1/2 to 1 cup of liquor will keep for several days; and eggnog with 1 1/2 cups of liquor will keep for several weeks and continue aging and thickening quite nicely. (If aging for longer than a few days, transfer the eggnog to a sealed glass container or a mason jar.)

  5. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Just before serving, whisk the reserved egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

  6. Fold the egg whites into the eggnog. Transfer the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the eggnog and gently fold or stir the whites into the base — this gives the eggnog a frothy, extra-creamy texture. Some of the egg whites will also float to the top, like cappuccino foam.

  7. Serve the eggnog. Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher or punch bowl. Serve in individual glasses with a grating of nutmeg over top.

Recipe Notes

Raw eggs: This recipe contains raw eggs. Use very fresh, organic eggs if at all possible. Be aware that consuming raw or undercooked eggs can increase your risk for certain food-borne illnesses, especially if you have a medical condition. You can use pasteurized eggs instead, which are safe to consume raw.

Cooked eggnog: If you'd prefer to cook your eggnog, follow these instructions: Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until just starting to bubble around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the eggs, then return the mixture to medium heat and continue to cook, stirring gently, until thickened to your eggnog-y liking. Serve immediately or chill for up to 3 days before serving. For extra thickness, whip up 1 cup of heavy cream and fold into the eggnog before serving.

Even richer eggnog: Feel free to play with the proportions of whole milk to cream, keeping 3 cups total dairy. Heavy cream will make your eggnog thicker and creamier. Boozy eggnog will also continue to thicken in the fridge as it ages.