This Is The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Your Eggnog, According To Alton Brown

Let's face it: If Food Network's brainy chef Alton Brown could see you making eggnog at home, he'd probably find a lot of things you're doing wrong. He's just fussy like that. For example, why are you using pre-ground nutmeg out of a tin? It's not going to have nearly the flavor of whole nutmeg that you grate yourself. As Brown told NPR while sharing his own eggnog recipe, "If you're going to use a spice, make it as absolutely fresh as you can get it." OK, but what if you happen to have pre-ground nutmeg in your spice rack? How much of that would you add to your eggnog? "I wouldn't, because I wouldn't bother making eggnog with store bought, pre-ground nutmeg."

Brown's point on the NPR show was this: If you're going to spend $50 on a special bottle of bourbon for your holiday-party eggnog, why would you settle for pre-ground nutmeg when you can buy whole nutmeg pretty much anywhere, even a gas station (in Sonoma or Manhattan, anyhow)? But nutmeg is not the biggest mistake you're making with your eggnog, according to Alton Brown. It's just one of many. The biggest mistake comes in the very first step.

When making eggnog, beat the yolks completely before adding sugar

When it comes to eggnog, the mouthfeel is as important as the flavor. Brown and NPR host Andrea Seabrook noticed how store-bought eggnog stuck to their teeth – an unappealing quality Brown said came from the non-food ingredients carrageenan and guar gum. To get the right silky and airy texture in your own eggnog, you must make sure to whip the egg yolks completely before adding the sugar. (You did remember to separate the egg yolks and the whites, correct?)

"The biggest mistake is that people will beat the eggs and the sugar together. This is a textural error because what you really want to do is to make an emulsion out of the egg yolks first," Brown said. He goes on to explain – because of course he does, he's Alton Brown: "Sugar's hygroscopic and it likes to pull water away, so if you just dump sugar in here before you really emulsify the egg yolks, you're going to end up with lumps." Nobody likes chunky eggnog.

Brown's recipe also calls for both milk and cream, to simulate the fattier milk historically used to make eggnog. Brown doesn't always do this, but he took extra care in his NPR segment to add the cream first, then the milk. The egg whites were whisked separately and added at the very end. Brown's eggnog isn't pasteurized, but alcohol comes standard. That's gotta kill off some of the bacteria, right?