The Kitchen Shrink says use your noggin before sipping this seasonal fave

Catherine L. Kaufman
Catherine L. Kaufman

My kids and I love eggnog. At the supermarket the other day when I was reaching for a carton, a fellow shopper warned me to avoid products containing raw eggs. Should I boycott eggnog altogether or are there safe alternatives?

Eggnog has been the signature beverage of upper crust Brits since the 17


century when large estates had adjacent farms with an abundance of eggs and dairy. Pioneer smoothie makers whipped up concoctions with the milk, eggs, spices, and to spike up the drink and warm the cockles of the heart in the dank, depressing winters added a splash of brandy, Madeira or sherry. Etymologists surmise that the name originated from a carved wooden beer mug called a “noggin,” typically used to serve alcoholic drinks.

Eggnog has become a celebratory and seasonal winter beverage around the globe with various cultures and countries adapting the recipe. The Mexican version known as 


has a heavy-handed sprinkling of Mexican cinnamon and rum, the Germans enjoy an eggnog soup with beer, while in Puerto Rico rum and coconut milk are the weapons of choice in their 



Whatever your eggnog druthers, make sure it has been prepared safely. As eggnog typically contains raw eggs, there is a risk of contracting salmonella infection (at highest risk are children, elderly folks, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems). This risk, however, is surprisingly low, and according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study, of the 69 billion eggs produced annually in this country, a paltry 2.3 million are tainted. This translates to .003 percent of the egg supply or 1 in 30,000 eggs. So your chances of meeting up with a bad egg are once in every 42 years.

Now, if you’re a self-proclaimed germaphobe (like this Kitchen Shrink) and are still worried about getting salmonella from raw eggs, this miniscule risk decreases even more dramatically with the use of high quality, cage free, organic eggs. And if that doesn’t give you a dose of comfort, then make sure your eggnog is made with pasteurized eggs. This process gently heats the eggs under controlled conditions to destroy microorganisms that could cause a food-borne illness. Fair warning – although pasteurization does not eliminate microorganisms altogether, it greatly reduces the risks. If whipping up your own homemade eggnog, you can buy pasteurized eggs by the dozen or in liquid form.

And always use your noggin when buying, handling and storing fresh eggs.  Check the expiration date on the carton, and buy with a one-week or more leeway; discard cracked eggs and bloodshot ones, and always refrigerate.

Here are two recipes for safe eggnog -- one uses cooked eggs, the other is a vegan version without eggs, that is also a good choice for the cholesterol-conscious or egg allergics. Cheers!

Worry-Free Eggnog

(where possible, use organics)


4 egg yolks

16 ounces whole milk (3.25% milkfat)

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup cane sugar

3 ounces bourbon or rum

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg



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