How to Make Classic Eggnog (with Alcohol)

by Jennifer Farley ; Updated August 31, 2017

There's no better drink for the holiday season than good old fashioned eggnog! While many versions of this classic custard drink use raw eggs, this recipe is gently cooked to ensure it's safe to consume (and to appease those who might be squeamish about raw eggs). It comes together in no time, and it's a huge crowd pleaser at parties. It's also perfect for a quiet winter night when you want to cozy up with a soothing, sweet drink.

Gather your Ingredients and Tools

Half & half is 50% heavy cream and 50% whole milk. You can purchase half & half as is, or you can buy whole milk and heavy cream separately to play around with the ratio for a richer or lighter eggnog. If you'd prefer to omit the alcohol, replace it with 1 additional cup of half & half so the liquid ratio stays the same.

Combine the Egg Yolks and Sugar

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.

Temper Hot Cream into the Yolks

Meanwhile, heat two cups of the half & half in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. If using, add a splash of vanilla to the saucepan. Once the cream is simmering, turn the heat to low. Slowly ladle the liquid into the yolk mixture while whisking. This is known as tempering, and it will prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Cook the Custard to 160 Degrees Fahrenheit

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, scraping out the bowl with a spatula. With the heat on low, stir constantly until a thermometer registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the remaining half & half, the alcohol and nutmeg.

Strain the Eggnog

Strain the eggnog through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed.

Cover and Chill

Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the plastic film directly against the eggnog to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.


Serve in cups or mugs topped generously with grated nutmeg (ground cinnamon and/or whipped cream are also tasty garnishes).

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About the Author

Jennifer Farley is the creator of Savory Simple, a blog dedicated to gourmet food and quality ingredients. She graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine and has worked as a chef and cooking instructor. Her work has been featured by Parade Magazine, Williams-Sonoma, Bon Appetit and Food52. She resides in Washington, D.C.