What is Eggnog? And is it healthy?

What is Eggnog?  And is it healthy?

What is Eggnog and is it healthy?

Do you know what is eggnog?  Eggnog can be purchased from any grocery store, but you may not know what is inside this traditional holiday drink.

Do not worry; you are not alone in your eggnog confusion.  I did not know what was in eggnog until I worked for a dairy company.  My job was to create the best eggnog recipe.  I learned that eggnog does tend to vary from region to region, but the basic flavors and recipes are universal.

What is eggnog?

When you think of traditional holidays drinks, eggnog is likely at the top of the list. Again you may be wondering, what is eggnog? Traditional eggnog is based on milk and cream with whipped eggs, sugar, spices and alcohol.   

Traditionally, eggnog includes dark liquor such as rum or whiskey.  Additionally, the spices of eggnog include cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Is eggnog healthy?

No, eggnog is not considered healthy.  It is high in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and added sugars.  Eggnog is a treat and should be consumed in moderation. 

According to the USDA, a one cup (250 ml) serving of eggnog contains:

  • 343 kilocalories (1,440 kilojoules) (17% of a typical person’s daily value)
  • 34.4 grams of carbohydrates (11% of DV)
  • 21.4 grams of total sugar, with approximately 15 grams of added sugar
  • 19 grams of fat (29% of DV)
  • 9.7 grams of protein (19% of DV)
Nutrition Facts Panel 1 cup or serving of eggnog per USDA database
Nutrition Facts Panel for 1 cup (or 1 serving) of eggnog per USDA database

Eggnog is delicious because of the high amounts of sugar and fat.  If you love eggnog, try to limit yourself to 1 serving per sitting. 

Why is eggnog so bad for you?

Eggnog is “bad for you” because of the high levels of fats, sugars and other ingredients.  Eggnog is high in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and added sugars. 

Eggnog is an indulgence that should be consumed in moderation.  Ideally, you will only have a few glasses throughout the entire holiday season.

Why is eggnog so fattening?

Eggnog is fattening because of the high fat levels from milk, cream and egg yolks. 

What is eggnog made of?

what is eggnog here are the ingredients to make it
What is eggnog? Here are the ingredients to make it – milk, cream, dark liquor, eggs and nutmeg.

First, the name gives you a hint as to what is inside, “egg” nog.  Egg is a key ingredient in eggnog.  Nog as defined in British English is a drink, especially an alcoholic one, containing beaten egg. 

Homemade eggnog is made from milk and cream, whipped eggs, sugar, spices and dark liquor. 

Homemade Eggnog Recipes

When I was working on my holiday cocktail recipe round up, I tried to find healthy eggnog recipes.  After extensive searching, I did not find anything that I would consider healthy because eggnog is not healthy. 

On the other hand, there are healthier options. Here is a skinny eggnog recipe from skinnytaste that has less added sugar and uses 1% milk instead of cream.  This recipe is healthier than most eggnog recipes, but is still a treat.  Enjoy in moderation.

Prepackaged Eggnog

Prepacked eggnog that you can buy from the grocery store likely includes additional ingredients (aka additives).  These ingredients include stabilizers such as gelatin or guar gum or thickeners like carrageenan.  In addition, flavors and colors are added to prepackaged products. 

Prepackaged Eggnog
Prepackaged Eggnog

Here are the ingredient statements from prepackaged eggnogs:

Southern Comfort Traditional Eggnog: Milk, Cream, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Egg Yolks, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Spice, Fat Free Milk, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Annatto and Turmeric (For Color), Salt, Disodium Phosphate. Contains: Milk, Eggs

Horizon Organic Eggnog: Organic Grade A Nonfat Milk, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Grade A Cream, Organic Egg Yolks, Organic Tapioca Starch, Natural Flavor, Organic Nutmeg, Organic Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

PET Eggnog: Milk, Cream, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Pasteurized Egg Yolks, Corn Syrup, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Nutmeg, Annatto And Turmeric Extracts (Color), Nonfat Milk, Whey Powder, Dextrose, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Mono And Diglycerides.

As you can see, the first ingredient is milk followed by sweetener (HFCS or sugar).  Many prepackaged eggnogs contain high-fructose corn syrup, dairy fat, and additional additives.  Starches, flavors, colors and other ingredients keep the prepackaged eggnog stable and tasty. 

One positive thing for buying premade eggnog is that it is safe to consume immediately.  Prepackaged eggnog has been prepared with pasteurized eggs, so you do not need to cook it.

Eggnog is an indulgence and a treat, so regardless of whether you make it at home or buy it prepackaged consume in moderation. 

Is eggnog alcoholic?

Traditionally yes, eggnog is alcoholic.  Historically, brandy, rum, whiskey, sherry or bourbon are added to eggnog to make it alcoholic. 

As explained above, the meaning of nog in British English includes the definition of an alcoholic drink (with egg).

What does eggnog taste like?

Eggnog in silver serving bowl
Eggnog in silver serving bowl

Eggnog is creamy due to its high fat content, with a sweet flavor instead.  Eggnog is high in sugar so it is sweet.  As someone wrote on Reddit, “it tastes like a thin vanilla pudding with nutmeg….no, its not eggy in the slightest.” 

Another great comparison is a glass of eggnog tastes like melted ice cream or custard.  I have worked on ice cream and the ingredients in eggnog are very similar to ice cream.  Eggnogs include spices so they have a spicy flavor, due to the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. 

Is it safe to drink eggnog?

Yes, eggnog is safe to drink as long as you follow some guidelines.  The University of Minnesota Extension has a great post with lots of food safety information.  Here are the highlights:

How to make eggnog safe at home:

  1. Eggs must be cooked to 160 F.  This temperature is critical to kill bacteria such as Salmonella.  Even if your eggnog recipe calls for raw eggs, do not add unpasteurized raw eggs. 
  2. Use pasteurized eggs for eggnog.  Pasteurized eggs are located next to regular eggs in the store.  Another options is to use egg substitutes because they have also been pasteurized.  If you use pasteurized egg products, you will not need to cook the recipe further. 
  3. Cook regular egg mixture to 160 F.  You will need to cook your recipe if you do not use pasteurized egg or egg products. 

Please note, that buy prepackaged eggnog from your local grocery store, it is safe to consume as is.  Packaged eggnog has been pasteurized, therefore you do not need to cook it.

What is eggnog?   Here you see a glass pictured in front of a christmas train.
What is eggnog? Eggnog is a dairy, egg based drink. Pictured are two glasses of eggnog.

Why does eggnog make you sick?

Eggnog can make you sick if not properly processed or cooked due to raw eggs.  With egg products, the biggest concern is Salmonella.  Foodborne illness can affect anyone but is especially risky for some people, so be particularly careful when serving eggnog.

In addition, overconsumption of alcohol can make you sick.  If you consume too much alcoholic eggnog, you may get hungover or sick from alcohol.

Cheers with Eggnog

Eggnog is a traditional holiday drink that can be enjoyed at Christmas and New Years.  Remember, eggnog is an indulgence. 

This traditional holiday drink has milk and cream with whipped eggs, sugar, spices and alcohol.

Eggnog is delicious because it is full of fat and sugar, so be mindful of your consumption.  Try to consume in moderation.

Related Holiday Posts

10+ Christmas Cocktails so Delicious You Will Forget They’re Healthy (ish)

11 Healthy, Delicious Cranberry Recipes to Try Now

Healthy Thanksgiving Sides


Nog in British English.  https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/nog.  Retrieved 3 Dec 2020.

Can someone describe to me what eggnog tastes like? https://www.reddit.com/r/food/comments/2oe8bj/can_somebody_describe_to_me_what_eggnog_tastes/.  Retrieved 3 Dec 2020.

Making homemade eggnog that’s safe.  https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/making-homemade-egg-nog#:~:text=Eggnog%20may%20be%20safely%20made,products%20have%20also%20been%20pasteurized.  Retrieved 3 Dec 2020.

Egg Products Food Safety.  https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation.  Retrieved 3 Dec 2020.

USDA FoodData Central: Eggnog.  https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?query=eggnog.  Retrieved 3 Dec 2020.

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