How to Make Homemade Eggnog

Eggnog is a drink made from milk and cream, sugar, egg yolks, whipped egg whites, and distilled alcoholic beverages such as rum, brandy, bourbon, or whisky. The origins of this traditional Christmas-time beverage go back hundreds of years to “posset,” an English drink of ale, sugar, and milk.

Learn how to make homemade eggnog for Christmas.

Homemade Eggnog

The Evolution of Eggnog

Historians tell us that in the 1200’s English monks drank a posset containing figs and eggs. Possets were considered medicinal, as Shakespeare notes in Hamlet,

And with sudden vigour it doth posset,
And curd, like aigre [sour] droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood.

And, for pleasure as he notes in The Merry Wives Windsor,

Yet be cheerful knight: thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house;
Where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife.

One of many variations of this drink, which included eggs, made it across the Atlantic with English settlers and became eggnog.

(British Food: a History)

Posset Goes to America and Becomes Eggnog

In England, only the wealthy could routinely afford the milks, eggs, sugar, and spirits necessary for a good posset. But America was full of farms and therefore eggs, milk, and cheap rum (from the Caribbean) were plentiful. The evolution of the name, eggnog, is uncertain but “nog” may have come from noggin which was a wooden cup or from “grog” which was a word for a strong beer. In any case, by the time of the American Revolution in the late 18th century, the word eggnog was used. And, one of the founders of American Independence, George Washington, left a recipe for eggnog.

One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry-mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

The father of our country left out the precise number of eggs but other recipes from that era used a dozen!

Besides leading the American colonies to independence, George Washington knew how to make homemade eggnog.

George Washington
President, Eggnog Lover

(Time: A Brief History of Eggnog)

Today eggnog is a traditional drink in the USA and Canada over the Christmas holidays. It has even caught on to a degree in Australia. In Venezuela and Trinidad “Ponche Crema” (cream punch) has been a popular yuletide drink for more than a hundred years. In North American and other locations, commercially made eggnog is typically available over the holidays. True aficionados of eggnog turn up their noses at “store-bought” eggnog as lacking in flavor due to not using enough eggs or liquor.

Eggnog at Christmas

Going back to the late Middle Ages, the wealthy in England drank their posset warm, in the winter, and as part of festivities and celebrations. When the drink jumped the pond to the Americas and came to be known as eggnog, it was still part of celebrations including the most important Christian celebration, Christmas. When you are making homemade eggnog at Christmas, you are following in a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

How to Make Homemade Eggnog

Although you can certainly buy eggnog at the grocery store as the Christmas season approaches, you may not like it as much as a richer and more flavorful drink made at home. Here are some tips to help make your eggnog the best tasting and most memorable.

Egg Whites versus Whipping Cream

Eggnog recipes going back to the days of George Washington separated the egg yolks from the egg whites. Then they whipped the egg whites and folded them into the drink. Today many choose to use whipping cream as they find it easier to whip than egg whites. If you are unsure of how to whip egg whites, take a look at how Good Housekeeping does it.

How to Make Homemade Eggnog includes knowing how to make whipped egg whites.

Whipped Egg Whites for Making Homemade Eggnog

Adding Spirits to Eggnog

Higher proof spirits balance the sweetness of eggnog. And, the flavors in eggnog will overpower the more delicate aspects of premium liquor. So, your best bet is a higher proof but not the most expensive booze. Good choices for adding to eggnog are aged rum, rye, bourbon, Irish whiskey, brandy, or blended Scotch whiskey. And, if you want something special and different, consider adding a cordial such as a white chocolate liqueur, peppermint schnapps, or ginger liqueur.

(The Manual)

What Spices Do You Use with Eggnog?

Today a standard eggnog recipe typically contains nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove. But, you are making the eggnog in your kitchen and you are in charge. So, you can also add shaved bittersweet chocolate or pumpkin puree. (Bustle) Or, you might try adding lemon zest and using buttermilk or going the Caribbean or South American route with toasted coconut flakes, coconut milk, and allspice. Another option is to add peanut butter and a little hazelnut liqueur for a “double nut” eggnog. (Serious Eats)

Although standard eggnog uses whipped egg whites, you can use some whipped cream instead of, or in addition to, the egg whites!

But, before trying a lot of variations on the eggnog theme, start by making standard eggnog and getting that right. Here is a basic home recipe.

Basic Eggnog Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ½  to 1 ½ cups of bourbon, rum, or brandy
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated

Equipment:

  • Three mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Pitcher
  • Electric (or hand) mixer
  • Microplane or standard nutmeg grater

Preparation:

First: Separate the eggs, yolks into a medium bowl and whites into a large bowl. Cover the whites and put in the refrigerator until you are ready to whisk them and add to the eggnog.

Second: Add the sugar to the yolks and whisk or mix with a mixer until it is a lemon-yellow color and a creamy and smooth texture.

Third: Whisk in the milk, cream, and liquor if you are making an alcoholic version and continue whisking until well-combined.

Fourth: Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator.

NOTE:

If you have not added alcohol you will need to use within a day
Add up to a cup of liquor and this mix will be good for several days
If you added a cup and a half of liquor, the mix will keep for several weeks and will thicken even more

Fifth: You will whisk the egg whites just before serving the eggnog. Mix until stiff peaks form on the top of the egg whites.

Sixth: Fold or gently stir the thickened egg whites into the bottom of the yolk mixture.

Seventh: Serve in individual glasses and sprinkle the grated nutmeg on top as a finishing touch.

(Kitchn)

Coffee Eggnog or Eggnog Coffee

Once you get the basics down for how to make homemade eggnog, one nice touch is to add a touch of freshly roasted, ground, and brewed coffee. Since eggnog can be served chilled or warm, you can either let the coffee cool a bit, or add hot coffee to the warm eggnog. Thus you have coffee eggnog.

And, you can add eggnog to coffee like you would cream, making eggnog coffee or go a step further and make eggnog latte!




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