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Vanilla Eggnog

This homemade vanilla eggnog will be your new favorite holiday drink! It’s so creamy and full of delicious vanilla aroma. The family-friendly recipe is easy to make with just 5 simple ingredients and will convert even the staunchest eggnog skeptic!

vanilla eggnog recipe

Easy vanilla eggnog

I have nothing against store-bought eggnog, but this vanilla eggnog recipe is what dreams are made of. It’s luxuriously rich, thick, sweet, and smooth with a cozy vanilla flavor. Absolutely perfect for the holidays or whenever you crave a creamy beverage.

It ranks up there with my homemade hot chocolate as one of my favorite Christmas drinks. I love it with a chewy gingerbread cookie or snowball cookie for the ultimate festive treat.

We are non-alcohol drinkers, so this is a family-friendly eggnog recipe without alcohol. Of course, you can adult it up with booze once the kids are in bed. Up to you!

And for more eggnog ideas, try our condensed milk eggnog (the dream!), chocolate eggnog, and eggnog milkshake.

vanilla eggnog ingredients

Ingredients

This vanilla eggnog recipe uses only 6 ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen, especially around the holidays.

  • Egg yolks create the rich custard base for the eggnog. The yolks aren’t raw because we temper and heat them, so you don’t have to be concerned about food safety.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens the eggnog and helps to whip the egg yolks to fluffy perfection. Use 1/2 cup for a sweet drink or 1/4 cup for a not-so-sweet drink.
  • Heavy cream lends the drink a beautiful richness and creaminess.
  • Milk lightens up the texture. I like to use 2%, but any kind of milk is fine.
  • Vanilla: A generous touch of vanilla adds complexity and infuses the holiday drink with the magical sweetness of vanilla. I used vanilla bean paste, but you can also use vanilla extract or vanilla beans. More on this below!

What is the best vanilla for eggnog?

You have several options when it comes to vanilla. I love vanilla bean paste because it’s convenient to use, imparts incredible flavor, and the tiny vanilla flecks add visual flair.

  • Vanilla bean paste is a gel-like paste made with real vanilla seeds. Because the paste contains vanilla specks, it has a slightly stronger flavor than vanilla extract. For a delicious aroma, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste.
  • Vanilla extract is probably the most accessible type of vanilla. It’s a solution made by macerating vanilla pods in a solution of alcohol and water. You need 2 to 3 teaspoons for this recipe.
  • Fresh vanilla beans are vanilla in their raw and purest form. The vanilla pods have to be dried, cured, and aged before becoming a baking ingredient. The aroma is vibrant and intense, and you need a whole pod for this eggnog recipe.

I don’t recommend vanilla essence, which is imitation vanilla. The synthetic flavor will not taste pleasant in eggnog.

recipe for vanilla eggnog

How to make vanilla eggnog

Vanilla eggnog is thick and creamy and just utterly delicious! I doubt you will go to store-bought eggnog ever again. Let’s go over the easy process!

#1: Whisk egg yolks + sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and creamy.

#2: Heat liquids

Add the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste to a large saucepan and warm over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the mixture begins to steam and reaches a bare simmer, but do not fully simmer or boil.

#3: Temper eggs

Add a ladle of hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Continue adding milk, one ladle at a time, to temper the eggs.

#4: Cook eggnog

Once most of the warm milk has been mixed with the eggs, pour it back into the saucepan on the stovetop. Cook the mixture, constantly whisking, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 4 to 6 minutes

#5: Refrigerate

Refrigerate the eggnog until chilled. The texture will thicken as it cools.

#6: Serve

Pour the eggnog into mugs and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of spices, if desired. You can enjoy eggnog cold, at room temperature, warm, or over ice.

vanilla eggnog

Tips for success

Let’s discuss some additional tips to ensure your vanilla eggnog turns out divine!

  • Don’t walk away:  It’s important to stir almost constantly to ensure nothing burns to the bottom of the pan and the egg yolks don’t scramble.
  • Cooking temperature: To ensure that the egg yolks are safe to consume, heat the mixture until it reaches 160°F / 71°C on a thermometer.
  • Strain eggnog: Pour the eggnog through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or punch bowl. Straining removes any bits of cooked egg yolk and creates a super smooth consistency.
  • Cover with plastic: To prevent a skin on your vanilla eggnog, cover it with plastic wrap (cling film), making sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the drink.
  • Adjust consistency: For a thinner consistency, pour the eggnog into a blender, add 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, and blend until smooth.
eggnog with vanilla extract

Variations

Want to customize and add something extra to your vanilla eggnog? Feel free! Here are some particularly yummy ideas:

  • Spiced: For vanilla spiced eggnog, add 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the drink. If you feel adventurous, spice your eggnog with ground ginger and cardamom.
  • Frothy: If you love frothy eggnog, beat the 6 leftover egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently into the eggnog. I recommend doing this right before serving for the fluffiest drink.
  • Boozy: To make a boozy adult eggnog, start with 1/4 cup rum, bourbon, whiskey, or brandy. Feel free to add more to taste. Stir in the alcohol after cooking as the eggnog cools.
  • Chocolate: For a chocolaty version of this festive drink, add 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder when you heat the milk and heavy cream.
easy eggnog recipe

Serving suggestions

Do you drink vanilla eggnog hot or cold?

Both! You can enjoy your eggnog however you desire. Hot, cold, or on ice… the choice is yours!

  • Hot: Gently reheat your vanilla eggnog in a saucepan on the stove or microwave until warm. Serve right away.
  • At room temperature: Let the eggnog warm up on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
  • Cold: Cold, creamy eggnog is a delight! Pour it straight from the fridge and enjoy!
  • Iced: For delicious eggnog over ice, fill your glass with ice, then add the vanilla eggnog. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Garnish ideas

  • Spices: You can’t go wrong with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. So simple and so pretty!
  • Whipped cream: A dollop of sweetened whipped cream is a fluffy, sweet topping.
  • Vanilla bean: If you used real vanilla beans, adorn your eggnog with the scraped-out pods for serving.
  • Cinnamon stick: Propping each mug with a cinnamon stick looks incredibly festive and cozy.
  • Star anise: Like cinnamon sticks, whole star anise adds a holiday touch to your eggnog. They look so lovely floating on the drink.
vanilla spice eggnog

FAQ

Is non-alcoholic eggnog safe to drink?

Traditional eggnog is made with raw eggs and contains liquor, which acts as a preservative and sterilizer. Hardly any bacteria (including salmonella) can survive in the presence of alcohol.

While my vanilla eggnog is booze-free, it’s still perfectly safe to drink. The egg yolks are cooked until the mixture reaches 160°F / 71°C, which pasteurizes them and kills any bacteria.

What about the leftover egg whites?

Some eggnog recipes ask you to fold the egg whites in at the end, and you can certainly do that. However, I’m not a fan of the frothy texture that it creates.

Instead, I like to use the whites to make coconut macaroons or meringue cookies. I’m definitely a fan of those!

homemade vanilla eggnog

Storage instructions

How to store vanilla eggnog

Store leftover eggnog in an airtight container or lidded pitcher in the fridge. Enjoy it within 3 to 4 days.

Making vanilla eggnog ahead of time

If you want to serve this vanilla spice eggnog at a holiday party, you can make it in advance and have it ready to go in the refrigerator. Just don’t make it too far ahead. It will only last 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

Can you freeze vanilla eggnog?

Yes, you can freeze eggnog for up to 3 months. Pour the cold eggnog into an airtight, freezer-friendly container. Leave an inch at the top as the liquid will expand as it freezes. Let defrost in the fridge overnight.

You can also pour your eggnog into an ice cream maker and let it churn away. It makes the best eggnog ice cream!

vanilla eggnog

Vanilla Eggnog Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This homemade vanilla eggnog will be your new favorite holiday drink! It’s so creamy and full of delicious vanilla aroma. The family-friendly recipe is easy to make with just 5 simple ingredients and will convert even the staunchest eggnog skeptic!

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup / 100 g / 3.5 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 cup / 240 ml / 8 fl oz heavy cream
  • 2 cups / 475 ml / 16 fl oz milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (see Notes below)

Instructions

  1. Whisk egg yolks + sugar. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and creamy.
  2. Heat liquids. Add the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste to a large saucepan and warm over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the mixture begins to steam and reaches a bare simmer, but do not fully simmer or boil.
  3. Temper eggs. Add a ladle of hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Continue adding milk, one ladle at a time, to temper the eggs.
  4. Cook eggnog. Once most of the warm milk has been mixed with the eggs, pour it back into the saucepan on the stovetop. Cook the mixture, constantly whisking, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 4 to 6 minutes.
    Tip: To ensure that the egg yolks are safe to consume, cook the mixture until it reaches 160°F / 71C° on a thermometer.
    Tip: If you want boozy vanilla eggnog, remove the eggnog from the heat and stir in your alcohol of choice.
  5. Strain. Pour the eggnog through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or punch bowl. Straining removes any bits of cooked egg yolk and creates a super smooth consistency. Cover with plastic wrap (cling film), making sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the drink. This helps to prevent skin from forming.
  6. Refrigerate. Refrigerate the eggnog until chilled. The texture will thicken as it cools.
    Tip: For a thinner consistency, pour the eggnog into a blender, add 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, and blend until smooth.
  7. Serve. Pour the eggnog into mugs and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of spices, if desired. You can enjoy eggnog cold, at room temperature, warm, or over ice.
  8. Store. Keep your vanilla eggnog in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes

Vanilla

I used vanilla bean paste, but you can also use 2-3 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean. If using a vanilla bean, slit the pod open and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and scarped out pods into the milk-cream mixture as you bring it to a simmer.

Eggs and food safety

While this vanilla eggnog is booze-free, it’s still perfectly safe to drink. The egg yolks are cooked until the mixture reaches 160°F / 71°C, which pasteurizes them and kills any bacteria.

Alcohol

To make a boozy adult eggnog, start with 1/4 cup rum, bourbon, whiskey, or brandy. Feel free to add more to taste. Stir in the alcohol after cooking as the eggnog cools.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 268mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 22gProtein: 11g
vanilla spice eggnog recipe

More holiday drink recipes

If you love festive drinks like I do, then you must make our other recipes too! Try one or try them all… you can’t go wrong!

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