Eggnog can be fun and safe

What is eggnog and is it safe?

December 24 is not only known as the eve of the Christmas holiday in the United States, but it is also nationally known as eggnog day. Eggnog has been known as a holiday drink for many years but for those of us who have never had the chance to try the drink, what is it?

Eggnog is a drink made of eggs, sugar, milk and a spirit (if you desire).  It originated in England as a drink for the upper class in the early 17th century. Due to the scarcity of eggs and dairy products, this drink was reserved for only those who could afford it. The drink became popular in the Americas in the18th century due to the high availability of eggs, milk and rum. The name translates into “eggs in a small cup,” however there are some disputes on where the name ‘eggnog’ originally came from.

While you can buy eggnog already made in stores, many of us choose to make our own homemade version to celebrate the holidays. One thing to keep in mind while making your own eggnog is the possibility of foodborne illness. So how do you make your own eggnog safely? Here are a few tips suggested by Michigan State University Extension:

  • Use a food thermometer to bring the egg base to a steady 160 degrees Fahrenheit, this will kill the salmonella if there is any present in the eggs.
  • Cool the egg base to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Make sure the eggnog is not sitting out and getting warm, this can cause foodborne illness.
  • Alcohol will not kill the salmonella. While alcohol does kill bacteria, it is unlikely that it will kill the Salmonella that may be present.
  • If you are still worried about salmonella in your eggnog you can substitute regular eggs for pasteurized eggs. The pasteurization process kills any Salmonella that may have been present and these eggs are available in most supermarkets.

Eggnog Recipe

From: Better Homes and Gardens

You will need:

  • 6 beaten egg yolks
  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Spirits (optional)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp ground nutmeg (optional)


  1. In a large saucepan mix the egg yolks, milk, and sugar. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and can cover the spoon.
  2. Place pan in a sink or bowl of ice to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add vanilla and spirits if desired.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
  5. Before serving whip the cream until if forms soft peaks. Gently fold into the chilled mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.

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