Old-fashioned Eggnog

glass of eggnogEggnog is one of my favorite holiday drinks, so I decided to make a hundred-year-old eggnog recipe to see how it compared with the modern version. The old recipe made a lovely eggnog that had a hint of vanilla and nutmeg. It was less sweet and thinner than the typical modern eggnog – but, in my opinion, that was a good thing.

Eggnog is considered very festive today, so I was surprised to find the old recipe for it in a 1920 home economics textbook, in a chapter titled “Illness in the Home.”  Back then it was common for cookbooks and textbooks to include a chapter on cooking for invalids – and eggnog was considered a nutritious, easy to eat and digest food for someone who was sick.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Eggnot
Source: Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. II) (1920) by Anna M. Cooley & Wilhelmina H. Spohr

This recipe makes one fairly small serving. A hundred years ago, it was probably served in an 8-ounce (1 cup) glass.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:


  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 egg (I used a pasteurized egg.)

1 teaspoon sugar

dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup milk

dash of ground nutmeg (or grate a small amount of whole nutmeg) (optional)

Put egg in a small mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla; then gradually add the milk while continuing to beat. Strain, and pour into a glass. If desired, sprinkle or grate a little nutmeg on top. Serve at once.


37 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Eggnog

  1. I lived in an intergenerational home growing up. My grandmother always eggnog made from this recipe (minus salt) for us when we were sick. She preferred a fork to a mixer for beating (even for making cakes), and the drink frequently had unappealing strands of raw egg white floating in it. We all loved this egg nog, though, and eagerly drank it down. What a great memory!

    1. It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed this post. My mother made eggnog similarly to how your grandmother did – and I also remember bits of egg floating in it; but, like you, it never bothered us a bit. One of the thing I liked about the old recipe I posted is how it calls for straining the eggnog. Personally, I think this is an improvement over the method my mother used.

  2. Hi Sheryl, I agree with you on the less sweet and thinner version. I wonder whether the vanilla and nutmeg was more authentic, too. I have started to make an egg nog latte in the afternoon this week. My Christmas treat. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

  3. When we were little, mom would make us eggnog when we were sick, or little baked custards. I remember it actually making us feel better! Her holiday eggnog was made with canned milk, raw eggs, lots of them, a little sugar, and nutmeg. There was always a bottle of whiskey next to the punch bowl. I think I might have to dig out her recipe!

    1. Do people use punch bowls any more? Similarly to your family, we always set up a punch bowl at Christmas when I was a child, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a punch bowl.

      1. Well, I use one for my Christmas party, although none this year. And every family gathering I use the small punch bowl in the picture to make a fruit punch, no matter how simple. My niece said one year, no matter how simple, if there’s punch it’s a party!

    1. Somehwhere I have one of those small Betty Crocker cookbooks for kids. I’m going to have to look for it. I used to love to make recipes out of it.

      1. As did I! I’m so sorry that I didn’t keep my copy, which would have been from the 50s or early 60s. I think I remember something about “tuna boats” as another recipe, but I may be wrong. I might need to locate a copy of that book:)

  4. I was just thinking of eggnog this morning and remembering making it as a child. I didn’t include the salt, but everything else was the same. We didn’t seem to worry about eggs then, so it was just a raw egg. I was dismayed to first drink what is called eggnog today. It was thick and sickly sweet and not anywhere as refreshing as the original.

    1. Eggnog has changed a lot over the years – and not necessarily for the better. I’m never quite sure whether pasteurized eggs are needed for recipes like this – but I figure that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  5. This is just the way I remember my family making it. After a case of measles (early 1960’s) , I was given daily eggnogs for awhile to “build me back up.”

    1. I love it. Thanks for sharing the memory. I remember how yucky I felt after I had the measles. I probably would have benefitted if I had received eggnogs to build me back up.

  6. I always loved eggnog! I was a scrawny kid (I got fed “tiger’s milk”) and sometimes eggnog like this. The eggnog was always much better than the nasty tiger’s milk…. I still like it and make an eggnog pie for the holidays.

  7. Hubby makes the eggnog around here ,the children love it. Russell (our son) also enjoys helping out with that holiday drink. They don’t use pasteurized eggs though, just fresh chicken eggs from my hen house.

    1. hmm. . .I think I know why there was a missing ingredient. I got this recipe out of a home economics textbook that was written for school-aged students. Also, the book was published during prohibition. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s