How to Make Classic Eggnog (with Alcohol)

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.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Things You'll Need

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups half & half, divided
  • Optional: a splash of pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup bourbon or spiced rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
  • Saucepan
  • Thermometer
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spatula

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Step 1: 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.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 2: Combine the Egg Yolks and Sugar

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 3: 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.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 4: 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.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 5: Strain the Eggnog

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

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 6: 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.

(Image: Jennifer Farley -

Step 7: Serve

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

(Image: Jennifer Farley -
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