Holiday celebrations call for a celebratory drink. And nothing fits that bill quite like a cup of rich, creamy eggnog (with or without a splash of bourbon, brandy, or rum). Last year, Americans bought about 60 million quarts of eggnog, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But as with many holiday treats, eggnog—traditionally made with eggs, cream, milk, and sugar—is loaded with calories, fat, and sugar. “You should let yourself celebrate, but just remember to indulge in moderation,” says Maxine Siegel, R.D., who heads up Consumer Reports' nutrition lab.

Check out these nutrition facts before raising your cup of holiday cheer.  

A Serving Is Smaller Than You Think

Know that the calories, fat, and sugars numbers you see on cartons of eggnog at the supermarket are for just a ½-cup serving. The nutritional content of different brands varies, but a serving of eggnog generally has 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, and around 20 grams of sugars. (Add a splash of alcohol and the calories would increase to about 200.)

For homemade eggnog, those counts can be even higher. Using a traditional eggnog recipe spiked with bourbon or rum, Siegel calculates that a ½-cup serving contains 265 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 18 grams of sugars.

Toasting with another holiday beverage instead could save room in your diet for dessert—or one extra cocktail. Red, white, and sparkling wine have about 125 calories per 5-ounce glass; spiced cider with a splash of bourbon has about 175 calories per cup; and alcohol-free mulled cider contains about 120 calories per cup. All of these have zero grams of fat and no added sugars.

Lightened-Up Versions of Eggnog

When you’re scanning the selections of packaged eggnog at the store, you’ll see several takes on the traditional recipe. Those labeled “low fat” or “light” typically contain about 140 calories and less than 3 grams of fat per ½ cup serving. However, the sugars content is similar to or only slightly lower than regular eggnog.

If you’re making your own and want to lighten it up a bit, Siegel suggests substituting 1 percent milk for the whole milk and half and half for the heavy cream and using about half the sugar called for in the recipe.

You Can Get the Nog Without the Egg

Holiday nogs made from nut or soy milks will give you the flavor of the season, and they tend to be lower in calories, fat, and sugars since they don’t contain cream, eggs, or milk. A serving of a nut-milk or soy-milk eggnog has 50 to 80 calories, around 1 gram of fat, and around 11 grams of sugars.


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How to Make Eggnog That's Safer to Drink

Classic eggnog recipes call for raw eggs. “Eggnog made with raw, unpasteruzied eggs can contain salmonella, a leading cause of food poisoning,” says James E. Rodgers, Ph.D., director of food safety, research, and testing for Consumer Reports. The bacteria can make anyone sick, but young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system are all particularly vulnerable.

You can ensure that you and your guests are sipping safely, though, says Rodgers. Almost all the eggnog sold in stores is pasteurized, which kills bacteria, but he says to be sure check that the carton or bottle is clearly labeled as such.

If you make your own, use pasteurized liquid eggs, which are sold in a carton. Or heat raw eggs (mix them with milk and stir constantly) to 160° F to kill any salmonella bacteria that may be present before adding them to your recipe. “Don’t count on alcohol to kill the bacteria,” he says. “The concentration isn’t high enough to reduce the risk of illness.”