What’s Up With The “Nog” in Eggnog? (Eggnog History and Recipes)

What is "nog" anyway? We have the interesting origins of this holiday drink, plus recipes to make your own!

Eggnog is one of those things, like fruitcake, that just seems to show up every year around Christmastime. And, like fruitcake, eggnog has gotten a bad rap, mainly from people who have only tried the overly sweet store-bought kind that comes in a carton. But eggnog has a rich history that stretches back much farther than the modern grocery store version. We’ve got some history and a few eggnog recipes to try!

A Drink For The Well-To-Do: The History of Eggnog

The drink we recognize as eggnog probably dates back to at least the 17th Century, during which time it would have been enjoyed by members of the upper classes, who could afford luxury items such as eggs, cream, and sugar. This iteration of the beverage was probably just one of many variants of posset, a medieval drink that combined hot milk and wine or ale. The contemporary practice of using rum likely originated during the colonial era in the United States, when the Caribbean-derived spirit was more readily available than alternatives from Europe.

Why “Nog”?

There is some controversy over the etymology of the name. Some say the word eggnog comes from noggin, a type of wooden mug used in the middle ages. Noggin was also a word for a type of beer, possibly derived from the other meaning, as the beer may have been consumed from a noggin and become linguistically paired with the vessel. Given that, eggnog would literally mean “egg beer.”

Another possibility is that eggnog is simply an abbreviated version of the phrase “egg and grog” or “egg’n grog.” “Grog” was a word used in colonial North America to describe any thick beverage, of which eggnog is definitely one.

Wherever the name came from, true, homemade eggnog is a sweet, creamy, decadent treat perfectly suited to the holiday season. In addition to it being a holiday tradition, indulging at this time of year is in our genetic makeup. Humans who live in regions with dramatic seasonal variation have always relied on rich, high-calorie foods to carry them through the cold, dark, food-scarce months of winter.

If your only exposure to eggnog is from a carton, do yourself a favor and try the real thing this year. You’ll never go back!

Classic Eggnog

Eggnog - Dulce de leche

Classic Eggnog

5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks


  • 12 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 7 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups rum
  • 1 cup brandy
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • cinnamon sticks


  • In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until they start to thicken.
  • Add 1 cup sugar, beat until thick.
  • In a second bowl, beat egg yolks and salt until thick.
  • In a third large bowl beat cream until it starts to thicken. Add 2 Tbsps sugar and vanilla. Then Add milk, rum, and brandy, beating continually.
  • Combine beaten egg whites with yolks and beat until mixed and thick.
  • Mix all ingredients and chill.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg on top of each glass and a cinnamon stick garnish.
  • If you are nervous about using raw eggs, there are many recipes that also use a cooking process. We like this one.
Keyword eggnog recipe, traditional eggnog recipe

Vegan Eggnog

Vegan Eggnog

5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks
Cuisine American


  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1-oz. shots rum
  • 2 1-oz. shots brandy
  • cinnamon sticks


  • Place the almond milk and macadamia nuts in the blender and blend on high until very creamy.
  • Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar and blend well.
  • Pulse in the rum and brandy and divide among four glasses.
  • Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and garnish with cinnamon sticks.
  • For a nonalcoholic version, simply replace the alcohol with additional vanilla extract to taste, one additional tablespoon at a time, or use a nonalcoholic rum flavoring.


Use these basic recipes to experiment with different flavors of eggnog. It’s easy to use a little flavored extract, or a flavored brandy or other alcohol, such as schnapps, to add favorite holiday flavors such as gingerbread or peppermint to your eggnog recipe. Or add some chocolate syrup or canned pumpkin. Let your imagination be your guide!
Keyword vegan cashew eggnog, vegan egg
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Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Can this be made without the run and brandy as nd still have same texture

Susan Higgins

Hi Susan, yes!


you can make it slightly different and bring it to a low heat so the eggs are technically cooked. it may give it more of a custard texture but still thin enough to drink.


When I was a kid, we made eggnog by the glass
1 egg
2 tsp. sugar
1 cap full vanilla
Mix thoroughly in a glass
Fill with whole milk, and mix again.
If you want, stir in a pinch of nutmeg.


My mom did this for me every time I got sick. It always worked and I loved it! 🙂


5 stars
I agree this is how my Dad taught us as well!’


I love eggnog, but the home made kind always has that eggy taste I don’t like. I’ll stick with the store bought.
P.S. I love good fruit cake. Do you have a good recipe? I have a couple, but not like the old kind of cakes.

Mary Cayartin

How about a teetotaler’s version?

Judy W Dunn

I love eggnog and I’m glad to finally find a good recipe for eggnog. The other recipes I haven’t heard of,I’m going to try them with out booze.


9 cups of liquid would be 72 ounces of using 8-ounce cups, so that would be a bit over two quarts (64 oz). If you used a punch bowl cup for serving, they usually run 4 oz, so that would be 18 serving or so.

My dad would make this every year. I don’t like milk so it held no interest for me. As I recall, this recipe was similar to the one he used. The eggnog would last several days. I remember him shaking it up every so often if it sat for a day or two. We kept it in the refrigerator, and as people dropped by, they would get a serving of eggnog.

MaryJane Sasser

You need to have the booze that you’re adding to your eggnog recipe REALLY COLD to prevent it from curdling the mixture. I found this out the hard way and ruined a whole big batch (expensive!) of eggnog. You can put your rum/brandy whatever, in the freeze to get it good and cold…..it won’t freeze. But you don’t want to leave it in there too long either.


How long does this last in the fridge?

Judy Justice

Wondering how many this serves or is this a gallon?

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