December 17, 2019

Is Eggnog Safe to Drink?

Tips for safely consuming this holiday beverage

Delicious eggnog with mini candy canes

Drinking raw eggs might not appeal to everyone’s holiday tradition, but eggnog continues to hold its ground despite the skepticism.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

And what exactly is in this festive drink?

Well for starters it contains – you guessed it – eggs. Most classic recipes call for raw eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream, alcohol and spices like nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon.

But we can’t help but think of the universal warning of moms everywhere to not eat raw cookie dough. So how is consuming eggnog any different?

Dietitian Maxine Smith, RD, LD, gives us the low down on this classic holiday beverage.

Raw eggs safety guidelines

According to the FDA, to reduce your risk of contracting a food-borne illness from consuming raw eggs – you should use pasteurized eggs in the shell.

“The primary concern with consuming raw eggs is salmonella, but the risk of actually contracting it is pretty small,” explains Smith. “Still, buying and using pasteurized eggs is your safest and easiest bet.”

Eggs that have already been pasteurized have gone through a heating process to kill the bacteria that cause salmonella. You can pasteurize your own eggs at home, but it can be a little tricky.

Advertisement

If you overcook the eggs you could end up hard boiling them. And if you undercook the eggs, you risk not killing all the bacteria. The FDA says that pasteurized eggs need to reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter to be considered safe.

Most egg products like liquid egg whites and commercial eggnogs are already pasteurized, so no need to worry there.

“The more handling that is involved in a product the more prone it is to exposure and contamination,” says Smith. “That’s why it’s recommended to use pasteurized eggs in the shell instead of a pasteurized egg product when a recipe calls for raw eggs.”

There are also recipes that instruct you to heat up the eggnog after all of the ingredients are combined. So cooking it at the end would kill the bacteria and risk.

Homemade eggnog basics

How far in advance can you make eggnog?

Homemade, chilled eggnog can last two to four days in the fridge. So toss it after the fourth day. Also don’t let it sit out for longer than two hours.

Will the alcohol in eggnog kill the bacteria if you don’t use pasteurized eggs?

Advertisement

Nope. Smith says that there have been small studies that show alcohol might kill some of the bacteria, but don’t count on the alcohol to provide a safe product.

Is there a way to enjoy eggnog without sacrificing your diet?

Eggnog is loaded with saturated fat and sugar. It also has a significant amount of cholesterol, which you really can’t do anything about since it’s from the eggs. (And without the eggs in eggnog it would just be, well, nog.)

Try substituting heavy cream and full fat dairy products with low fat dairy products or a milk alternative like almond or oat milk.

If you want to cut back on the sugar, substitute or replace part of the sugar that is called for with honey (although still a form of sugar, it can provide good flavor from a smaller amount), stevia or monk fruit.

And you can always skip on the alcohol or limit yourself to one small glass.

Related Articles

Closeup of a frittata with zucchini and onions on blue plate
February 29, 2024
Recipe: One Yolk Vegetable Frittata

Filled with veggie goodness

plated Mediterranean egg scramble with avocado on top
December 25, 2023
Recipe: Mediterranean Egg Scramble With Greens

Jumpstart your morning with this delectable dish

Close up of white and brown eggs in egg container.
August 10, 2022
Best Eggs to Buy: When Labels Matter Most

Pasture-raised and organic eggs have additional nutritional benefits

Poached eggs over roasted mushrooms and asparagus
May 11, 2022
Recipe: Poached Eggs Over Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Elevate the humble egg with this delectable dish

cracked egg in bowl
April 5, 2022
Is Eating Raw Eggs Bad?

The scoop on whether it’s safe to eat raw eggs

chef cutting up chicken
March 20, 2022
How To Stay Safe From Salmonella Poisoning

Cleanliness and food preparation precautions are the best defense against infection

A cast-iron skillet filled with scrambled eggs, herbs and tomatoes
June 29, 2021
Recipe: Scrambled Eggs With Tomatoes, Herbs and Goat Cheese

A quick and easy protein-packed meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad