The Sweet Delirium of the Perfect Eggnog


Every year, I do it right.

Sure, I dabble in the supermarket eggnogs, the rice and soy variations- I appreciate every earnest effort.

But the ne plus ultra of nogging ecstasy can only be found in a homemade recipe. It is another level of nog-osphere. It is the difference between twilight and Aurora Borealis.

I found the eggnog to die for [Painted sideboob jpeg ahoy, just so you know. – Joel] in one of my first cooking books when I was sixteen: Anna Thomas's "The Vegetarian Epicure."  After my first taste, I couldn't be satisified with the "Elmer's Glue" of commercial varieties.

In the beginning, I was a little shakey on how to separate an egg. But after cracking twelve beauties- more, actually, 'cause a couple landed on the floor- I was expert. The yolk and powdered-sugar slurry are then put into the fridge overnight-  the next day you add the whites and fresh cream.

 Yes, it takes a night and a  day to make The Nog of the Stars- are you ready to make the commitment?

Homemade eggnog consists of very few ingredients- and the closer you get to the hen and the cow, the more mind-boggling the results. Fresh whipping cream, raw milk, free range yolksters... that's the ticket!

My yuletide parties became famous for homemade noggin'. Guests arrive early, because the sweet nectar disappears fast. The psychoactive pungeance of fresh-grated nutmeg makes us all a little more giddy. Do you prefer virgin, or spiked?  I can make your eyes roll back in your head, either way.

Photo of "Kiss Eggs" by Raka,  whose Flickr collection is not to missed!

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)


  1. Ahhh…..egg nog. We have our old family recipe, and I make it every year. New people who come to our holiday parties balk at first, horrified by the idea. But once they see the regulars fight over line position, they try it….the stuff goes quick.

    I personally prefer light rum, leave out the citrus (contaminants, IMHO), and add some vanilla. Better with age; hits a peak about 48h after prep.

  2. MMMMM, Nogggg.

    Got any Dairy free recipes? I enjoy the snog (Silk Nog) but it seems to only be available for a few weeks.

  3. Funny! I have The Vegitarian Epicure but I’ve never tried that recipe.

    For my money, the best I’ve ever had or made is the one from The Joy of Cooking. It’s called “Eggnog in Quantity” and it’s rich and delicious and potent. I posted the recipe on a blog I abandoned.

  4. It’s shameful, I know, but the recipe I’ve been using for about the past five years is from Martha Stewart. Watching the Today Show sideways while getting ready for work one day (I know! Shut up already!), I saw her present this recipe and thought “That crazy drunk is trying to kill us all.”

    I’ve made virgin batches of it before, but the real joy of the beastly thing comes from the 5 1/2 cups of pure, crispy liquor…enough that you can clearly taste it in the final mix. Use the good stuff or regret it.

  5. Waiting a day and a night is nothing. I’ve been making the recipe and it ages for at least a month. As good as that was it was even better after aging for a year. I have around 8 mason jars full in my fridge right now and we are fixing to drink the supply in the next week.

  6. I hate to be a nagging killjoy, and I want to preface what I say by saying that I do love homemade eggnog…but I really must point out that advertising recipes that call for raw milk is reprehensible.

    Pasteurization is a very good thing that makes milk a lot safer.

    Trust me, Eggnog tastes a lot better without listeria, salmonella, and a lot of other things that you can get in raw cow milk.

    Link to Foodsafe:

  7. “The Vegetarian Epicure.”

    Excellent cookbook. I have yet to try a soup/stew recipe from it that has not been a hit with friends or family.

  8. mmmm eggnog. I like it in its virginal state, but it’s also extremely pleasant to add a splash of eggnog to a glass of good bourbon.

    I will try this recipe; I haven’t found one that I really really like — and I’m so glad you reminded me of this cookbook; the recipes are pretty much idiot proof. It’s one that I learned to cook out of too, back when I was a Serious Feminist Vegetarian.

  9. Crazy simple, but our families’ secret recipe (now no longer a secret) is melted vanilla ice cream plus booze and nutmeg. Breyers is good b/c then you get the dark flecks of supposed vanilla beans. Make it in the back where no one can see!

    Leave a lump of ice cream unmelted in the middle! Delicious.

  10. Although I can sympathize with P1RAT3, particularly if you don’t know the farmer personally, I have to disagree on this one. Some recipes, particularly cheese making, eggnog, omelet’s, and some pastry recipes are easier to make, and taste much better with raw milk and fresh eggs as opposed to pasteurized or homogenized varieties. If you can meet the farmer who gets your milk, observe the operation, and personally, or within 1 degree of trusted separation get your Milk, then I would argue strongly that raw milk is often better, healthier and tastier in recipes. If you cannot do this, then I agree the it is probably better to stick with pasteurized milk.
    I know that aging of cheese solves the problem of needing to Pasteurize, but most fresh homemade cheeses, such as Mozzarella work best with raw milk.
    Another alternative is to substitute homemade keefer or yogurt for the milk in some recipes, since these are raw products that are completely safe without pasteurization.
    If anybody has questions about how to get this type of milk, please just post a comment and I can probably dig up some good information.

  11. I always cheat and buy local home-made nog from the farmers markets. Sure I may pay a small fortune but it is super tasty. The only problem I have is since it is hyper local and made fresh everyday, I do have to drink it quick since it isn’t pasteurized.

  12. There have been some fun guest bloggers but this post makes me think Ms. Bright should be made a permanent Happy Mutant. I’m off to the store for ingredients!

  13. Seems as though if you put enough alcohol with the raw milk the bad bugs would all be killed.

    And, “ne plus ultra” is correct. Not all things, especially euphemisms, can be translated literally.

    I’m a nerd.

  14. #10 I don’t see how going to a farm and getting raw milk is any safer than getting it from a different venue. I can’t see salmonella any better on a farm than in a refrigerator isle. But I do trust a manufacturing process that produces a bazillion gallons of milk with a tiny fraction of tainted units, if any.

  15. And, “ne plus ultra” is correct. Not all things, especially euphemisms, can be translated literally.

    it’s not a euphemism, it’s latin.

    Nec plus ultra or non plus ultra, is not ne plus ultra, that’s just a bastarised anglo-saxon mistranslatamagation, though it would be very interesting to find out where in history this elipse of the c took place.

    If you say tomÄto, i’ll say it too if it pleases you ;) mr. the nerd.

  16. Cows milk does not inherently contain listeria or salmonella or any other bacteria or germy things. Those things arise from poor handling and improper care. The reason large production milk is pasteurized is because it comes from multiple sources and they need to make sure it is all free of disease before it’s mixed together.

    Going directly to a local farm you can find out about their proceeders and decide if you want to get fresh milk. I buy raw milk, butter, cheese and yogurt from a local farm which specializes in raw products. They go to great lengths to make sure their animals are naturally healthy and they test them very regularly for a long list of bacteria and microbes.

    I know a few dairy farmers in the northeast states who only consume their own products in their raw state, one told me she could only judge her products quality in the raw form. Many states where there are bans on raw dairy products the farmers are exempt from the regulation. Connecticut sells raw milk in grocery stores.

    Short point long, raw milk can be totally safe and it tastes way yummy.

  17. If there isn’t enough liquor in your eggnog to thoroughly sterilize all the other ingredients, you’re doing it wrong.

  18. wow… how difficult a nogg can you get?…. I like keep it simple.

    Eggs, Milk, cream, sugar, brandy and nutmeg.

    – separate the egg yolks and beat with some sugar.
    – warm some milk and add slowly to egg yolks.
    – add some brandy some cream and a little grated nutmeg then return to the pan to warm stirring constantly so it does not separate.
    – serve in little glass teacups.
    – enjoy your xmas morning!

  19. You are right, homemade eggnog is the best; might as well forget about the store-bought stuff. Not sure about the powdered sugar bit though…

    I came up with a soy milk alternative. It’s not eggnog actually, but is somewhat reminiscent, and healthy enough to make it whenever I feel like it.

    glass of unsweetened organic soy milk
    few drops of stevia liquid, to taste
    few drops of real vanilla extract
    pinch of nutmeg

    Mix it up, drink, and pretend it’s somewhere near Christmas. :-)

  20. In half the time it took to read this luscious little bit of erotica, I poured myself and drank a creamy concoction of coffee, irish cream and half and half over ice. Boy, that did go quick!

  21. Martha M.
    Thanks for filling in the question in reply to my post, you said everything that I would have said.

  22. MrMule

    I like to make an even simpler eggnog, ready instantly:

    in a cocktail shaker, put
    – 3 or 4 icecubes
    – 1 egg (not separated)
    – 1 ounce booze of choice (I like dark rum)
    – 1-2 tablespoons sugar
    – 3/4 pint or so milk
    – optionally a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon

    shake well, strain into a pint glass, drink

    That said, I’m also very fond of a Martha Washington-style nog with lots of cream, separate the eggs, let the yolks, booze & sugar stand a few hours, yadda yadda. Enough effort that it’s a party thing, not a quick dessert.

  23. Funny, I was concerned about the health risk, not from the milk, but the eggs.

    There is no way I would make this recipe with supermarket eggs. It would have to be eggs from happy healthy backyard chickens.

  24. I didn’t recognize The Vegetarian Epicure by its title, but the cover illustration gave me childhood flashbacks! I loved that book as a wee tot, I should get another copy.

  25. I didn’t recognize The Vegetarian Epicure by its title, but the cover illustration gave me childhood flashbacks! I loved that book as a wee tot, I should get another copy.

  26. Great article. The maligned egg nog deserves some praise. I make an “ancient family recipe” learned from my grandfather. Being Virginian, the recipe is bourbon based with some brandy and dark rum. One nuance to our approach is that we age or “ripen” the egg nog by making it about three days ahead.

    As to the food safety issues. It should be remember that egg nog is a very old drink. And in fact, it’s ingredients are as much about preservation as taste. Both sugar and alcohol are food preservatives. We don’t heat any of the ingredients in our recipe but do use a lot of booze… about 2 oz per egg. In my lifetime no one has ever gotten food poisoning.

    There are many ways to preserve food safely… other than cooking and refrigeration… although they are becoming fast forgotten. Cheers!

  27. I know that food safety is a political issue (unfortunately), but I just have to say that pasteurization is a godsend.

    It doesn’t matter how happy the chicken, how great the farmer — all animals carry bacteria and some of it is not good for us.

    Flies can transmit salmonella to a chicken. And pass it on to you IN an egg.

    I’m not trying to be alarmist. Just know the facts before you “educate” others.

    Use pasteurized milk, and eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell (Davidson’s is one brand I’m aware of). Especially if you’re serving someone in a high risk group.

  28. I am an absolute EggNog Fanatic! A True Believer!!!
    I have felt that past holiday celebrations were hollow and ruined for the lack of precious EggNog!!!
    I’ve been making my own for several years now and it always makes a stellar impression. Let others cook the holiday beast. The cousins can bring pie.
    Nothing draws more praise and holiday cheer than the maker of the NOG.
    And as for the pasteurizers and soy-based-heretics I say AWAY!!! I want no part of your save the children, protect us from ourselves nonsense.
    Not only is the Nog Delicious, it’s daring. It’s danger! John Wayne wouldn’t have worried about Salmonella. Teddy Roosevelt would have simply sterilized it with Liquor!! Were Martha Washington or Jackie O worried? I doubt it.
    All hail homemade EggNog!!! A truly American Institution.
    No really. I’ve researched this, I really am obsessed with the stuff. It’s a product of Colonial American madness/ingenuity. A “noggin” was a type of mug commonly used.
    BTW, I really like the idea for the citrus rinds, I haven’t tried that!


  29. Being a Dutch “nogger”, I want you to know
    making ‘nogg without the whites and cream is even
    more heavenly (that is, if you’re into a more
    “adult taste”.)
    Pro tip: Replacing the harsh brandy with Vodka will yield a ‘nogg with a smoother taste (less traditional, but this is what the industrial ‘noggers have been doing here since the 90’s,
    since it’s cheaper).
    In the Netherlands eggnogg is called “advocaat” or “advokaat”, while this lovely recipe of yours is called “tokkel room” (litt. “cackle cream” ;-)
    And indeed: the fresher your eggs, the better the product.

    And on the whole raw milk thing: yes you SHOULD use SAFE ingredients. Fresh raw milk is safe enough when you can trust it to have been stored refrigerated beneath 7 degrees Celcius
    (2 preferably) for three days at max, since it left the CLEANED cow/goat/etc. udder.
    Anything warmer or older than that on the market is suspicious and should never be fed to another person. Drink at your own peril, since the nasties in the milky can (and probably will) have increased their numbers and toxins into an unhealthy dose.
    This is why most “raw” milk on the market has gotten a short heat treatment anyway, up to or above 60 degrees celcius, to kill/stun most of the germs, while leaving the precious protein nutrients goodness in the milk un-denaturated and unharmed. So there. The a midway in this raw vs
    pasturised battle is already walked by millions, but remember that short “low” heat treatment
    doesn’t kill off all the baddies and so only stretches the shelf life of our raw milk only with a couple of days, up to a week. (Counting from milking time, not heat treatment!)

    And, remember we’re talking about egg-nogg here:
    all this sugar and alcohol was added by our ancestors for a reason: to kill off the germs in the egg-slurry. Leaving the yolk sugared stiff in the fridge overnight kills of germs (anything with Brix 64 or higher can be considered safe).
    Sugaring the egg-whites refrigerated overnight would be a good idea too. Leaving them out and using them to make pavlova (served with egg-nogg:
    Yom yom yom!) is more to my tastes.
    Mixing in lots of alcohol steralises the mixture even further.
    When you heat your mixture to thicken it (this is how you’d traditionally ‘nogg), cool it back down below 10 degrees Celcius, ASAP. And I mean ASAP.
    The heat and alcohol won’t kill the biggest baddie of them all: salmonella.

    So relax, but be careful.
    And let each choose their own poison.

    Happy noggin!

  30. To all the posts about the safety of raw milk, a few facts should be noted:

    Milk from grass-fed cows is essential. Feeding grain to cows changes the ph of their stomachs and has allowed the normal flora and fauna to mutate, giving us strains of e coli that are very dangerous.

    The good bacteria in raw milk will kill salmonella, listeria and all other pathogens. If you innoculate pure, fresh raw milk with any of these pathogens, within a few hours to a day or so, they will have been eliminated by the good bacteria. The FDA is lying to cover this up as they are in cahoots with the commercial dairy industry.

    If left at 90 degrees farenheit, raw milk does not spoil. The cream will rise to the top, the whey will collect at the bottom. Straining the milk solids from the whey yields the most beautiful cream cheese you have ever tasted. If, however, you put pasteurized milk at 90 degrees farenheit for even just a few hours it will indeed become rancid and even bugs won’t eat it.

    The entire debate about the safety of raw milk is political and not based on facts in evidence. Pasteurization did indeed save many lives when introduced but that was because the dairies were unsanitary and were allowing feces from the cows into the milk. In addition, the cows were being fed grain slop from the distilleraries and were sick and infested with bacteria from their own illnesses. If you’ll read the history of how pasteurization came into being in America I think you’ll be amazed at all the misinformation and disinformation that has been proprogated by the government and those with something to gain by keeping us uninformed about the real reasons for pasteurization and about the true benefits of real raw milk from healthy, grass-fed cows.

    I drink nothing but raw milk, I make my own cream cheese, buy unpasteurized raw eggs from the local farmer and the taste is far superior to anything I’ve ever had in the store. Additionally, the nutritional and health benefits are myriad.

    Try reading the Untold Story of Milk and you might be amazed at what we’ve all been told by the establishment with a dog in this fight!

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