The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Store-Bought Eggnog (It Costs Zero Dollars)|Recipes Spots

  • on December 8, 2023
The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Store-Bought Eggnog (It Costs Zero Dollars)


Glass of eggnog with a cinnamon stick in it, and in the surroundings, another glass of eggnog, cinnamon sticks, a handheld grater, and rosemary
Simply Recipes / Getty Images

One of my fondest holiday memories as a kid was seeing the golden-hued carton of Hood eggnog in the refrigerator. It was a sign that Christmas had finally arrived. After all the presents were opened and dinner was served, a pile of us gathered by the fire. My parents poured everyone cold glasses of the creamy, milkshake-like drink—the kids’ glasses left unspiked but not without a festive sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Even today, when I smell the spice, I am reminded of this childhood tradition.

As an adult, I still relish my annual glass of eggnog for the holidays. The only problem is that now, as an adult, I find store-bought eggnog cloyingly sweet and too thick. However, buying it is more convenient than making the drink from scratch, so I do still indulge in it. Here’s my game-changing (and free!) trick for turning it into a delightful holiday drink: I shake the eggnog in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice—with or without alcohol—to dilute it a bit, make it light and frothy, and make it extra cold.

The Free and Easy Upgrade Store-Bought Eggnog Needs

This clever trick is inspired by my love of shaken iced coffee, also called a caffé shakerato. This Italian drink is nothing but espresso (and usually a little simple syrup) that’s shaken in an ice-filled cocktail shaker to become frothy, extra smooth, and icy cold. My favorite part about homemade eggnog that differentiates it from the carton is its airy yet creamy mouthfeel. I thought that if a cocktail shaker could smooth out espresso and give it an airy froth, perhaps it could do it for store-bought eggnog too. It can, and I’ve never looked back.

Shaking eggnog with ice dilutes it just a little. This helps turn the volume down on its inherent sweetness and thins it so it’s not tacky thick, and viscous. It gets your eggnog nicely chilled too, which helps the store-bought stuff taste less sticky sweet. Lastly, shaking adds air to the equation, which mimics the wonderful frothiness you get from the homemade stuff.

Cocktail glass with eggnog
Simply Recipes / Getty Images

How To Shake Your Store-Bought Eggnog

The process couldn’t be more simple. Start with your favorite jug of store-bought eggnog. While I’ll forever have a soft spot for Hood, which hails from New England, I recently tasted California-based Straus Organic Creamery eggnog and I am a convert. 

For one drink, fill your cocktail shaker with about two cups of ice. Pour in 3/4 cup of eggnog and, if spiking it, one ounce of your alcohol of choice. For me, that is either dark rum or bourbon. Seal the shaker and shake it vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until the outside of the shaker is frosty. Strain the eggnog into a glass. I like an ice-filled one, but no ice is traditional and equally great. Garnish with ground nutmeg or cinnamon and enjoy.

No cocktail shaker? You can follow this same method using a lidded jar that seals tightly, such as a Mason jar.

What I love about this upgrade is that it feels special regardless of whether you’re turning it into a cocktail by spiking it or not, so it’s a treat for kids and those who don’t drink, too.

There’s also lots of room to play. Drizzle a little chocolate sauce into the shaker with the eggnog for a chocolate eggnog. Add a splash of vanilla or almond extract, or turn your eggnog into an iced eggnog latte by pouring a shot of espresso into the shaker. Either way, you’ll feel the spirit of the holidays!

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