Eggnog and custard are two classic egg-based desserts that seem similar at first glance. But when directly compared, they have some distinct differences in ingredients, texture, uses, and more.


Eggnog descended from early medieval British posset—a hot drink blending eggs, milk, and wine or ale. It gained popularity in America and Canada as a Christmas tradition.

Custard also originated in medieval Europe. It was traditionally a pudding made by thickening milk and eggs. The French later refined techniques for the smooth, silky custards we know today.

Main Ingredients

The primary ingredients in both custard and eggnog are eggs and dairy. However, eggnog also contains sugar and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Custard relies on eggs and dairy alone for flavor.

Eggnog uses egg yolks only while custard uses whole eggs. Thick, fatty cream is also key to eggnog’s richness, while custard is made with milk or half-and-half.

Texture and Consistency

The textures of the two desserts differ significantly. Properly made custard has a lush, silky smooth texture thanks to its cooked egg and dairy base. It can be thin enough to sauce a cake or thick like pastry cream.

Eggnog has a much thinner consistency, similar to whole milk. It contains less egg relative to dairy, giving it a lighter body. The eggs are also not cooked, unlike in custard.

Preparation Methods

Custard requires careful cooking. The egg-milk mixture is heated gently to thicken the eggs properly without curdling them. A water bath (bain marie) is often used.

Eggnog just involves whisking egg yolks with cream, milk, sugar and spices. It is not cooked, retaining a raw egg texture. Some recipes pasteurize or cook eggnog briefly for food safety.

Uses and Serving Suggestions

Thick, rich custard can be used as a pastry filling, topping pie, served over fruit, paired with cake, and more. Its versatility makes it both a sauce and stand-alone dessert.

Eggnog is classically served as a holiday drink, often spiked with brandy, rum, or bourbon. It can also be adapted into parfaits or milkshakes, but its thin texture prevents it from being used like custard.


Custard and eggnog are both high in calories, fat, and cholesterol due to whole eggs and heavy cream or milk. Custard may be slightly higher in protein since it uses whole eggs. Eggnog contains added sugar. Neither is very nutritious despite having eggs and dairy.

Food Safety Concerns

Raw eggs carry a small risk of salmonella, especially for sensitive groups like pregnant women, children, and the elderly. Cooked custard is safer. For eggnog, pasteurization or briefly cooking the mixture eliminates risks.

Storage and Shelf Life

Custard and eggnog last 5-7 days refrigerated. Custard keeps its texture better over time. Eggnog tends to separate and liquify as it sits. Both freeze well for longer storage when tightly sealed.

In Summary

While eggnog and custard share a base of eggs and dairy, they have marked differences in ingredients, texture, preparation, and usage. Custard is a cooked, silky egg-thickened sauce. Eggnog is a thinner, spiced raw egg and cream beverage classically served at holidays. Both deliver rich decadence and can add festive flair to desserts in their own unique ways.

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julia jane

Julia Jane is a home cook inspired by her mother's cooking. With the desire to share my cooking experiences with everyone, she created this website

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