Around the holidays, eggnog is the drink that everyone serves at parties and get-togethers. If you’re wondering whether this classic seasonal beverage is gluten-free, I’m here to tell you in this article.
Is eggnog gluten-free? Eggnog is usually gluten-free, but it never hurts to read the ingredients list. Some eggnog manufacturers still use gluten in the seasonal beverage, which means you’d have to avoid it. If at a party or a restaurant and eager to enjoy eggnog, ask about its gluten-free status before you start sipping.
Today, I’ll unpeel the cover to reveal which ingredients go into eggnog and when those are wheat-based (versus when they aren’t). I’ll also talk further about how to determine whether your eggnog is gluten-free. If it isn’t, I’ll tell you how to make it that way with a homemade recipe!
What’s in Eggnog? Is It Gluten-Free?
Some people avoid eggnog because they don’t like the taste. Others, such as yourself, have heard that eggnog might contain gluten, so you shy away from it for that reason.
Eggnog usually calls for only a few simple ingredients: egg yolks, whipped egg whites, sugar, cream, and milk.
It’s the eggs in eggnog that provide the frothy texture and dairy flavor.
Although distilled spirits and eggnog go together like peanut butter and jelly, eggnog is usually alcohol-free when you buy it on store shelves. If it has booze, it’d be clearly labeled (and probably in a different section of the store).
Eggnog manufacturers have been known to slip wheat or wheat-based ingredients into eggnog. Usually, this is in the form of flavored alcohols, which are added to the spirits during distillation.
Granted, few flavored alcohols contain gluten, but some can, so you need to be on alert.
In other cases, the distilled alcohol itself can contain gluten.
To make it clear, gluten in eggnog is rare, but it can happen!
How Do You Know Whether Your Eggnog Is Gluten-Free?
Whether you have celiac disease or you’re on a diet that restricts gluten, you want to tread carefully when it comes to gluten consumption. How can you be clear about whether your eggnog has wheat in it?
Here are my top tips.
Read the Ingredients List
This suggestion remains among your best defenses against consuming gluten in eggnog (or in other foods and beverages).
On the carton of nog, all the information you need about the ingredients should be printed right there.
If the ingredients are listed plainly on the label to save space, I suggest checking the eggnog brand’s website. Sometimes you’ll find a more thorough list of ingredients or a product description that should answer your question.
Avoid Alcoholic Eggnogs
As mentioned before, eggnog is simply eggs, sugar, cream, and milk. Some eggnogs include a dash of nutmeg, but many more leave eggnog mostly plain so you can garnish it as you wish.
It’s the alcoholic eggnogs that are at a higher risk of containing gluten due to the flavored alcohols or distilled spirits.
While reading the ingredients list will still be a big help, if you want to stay on the ultra-safe side, you might decline to consume any alcoholic eggnogs this holiday season or any other.
Or Add Your Own Alcohol
If the idea of sitting through your in-laws’ annual holiday soiree without a splash of spirits in your drink is too hard to bear, fret not.
You can always buy nonalcoholic eggnog for the party and then jazz it up with your favorite spirits when you get there.
The most complimentary spirits in eggnog are bourbon, brandy, or rum, so pick up a gluten-free version of one of those spirits and then have at it!
If Still in Doubt, Contact the Manufacturer
Are you still concerned about possibly ingesting gluten in your eggnog? In that case, I’d recommend reaching out to the eggnog manufacturer to double-check that the product (and its alcohols or spirits, provided it contains any) are gluten-free.
These days, it’s easier than ever to connect with brands. You can post on their social media wall, send them a direct message, shoot them an email, chat online, or even pick up the phone. You’ll quickly get the information you seek.
Ask Your Party Host or Waiter/Waitress
What if you’re not the one providing the eggnog, like at a party or a restaurant?
You don’t want to take any chances, so be sure to bring up your concerns. The party host will likely be happy to show you the carton of eggnog they bought so you can inspect its ingredients list.
Although you might feel like you’re being a nuisance if you quiz a waiter or waitress about the ingredients in their eggnog, trust me, you aren’t. According to BeyondCeliac.org, up to 18 million people in the United States are gluten-sensitive.
You’re far from alone, and you’re likely not even the fifth or sixth person who’s visited that restaurant and asked questions about what’s gluten-free and what isn’t.
Make Your Own Eggnog
Another way to be 100 percent certain whether your eggnog is gluten-free is to make your own from scratch. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual holiday cookies!
Homemade Gluten-Free Eggnog Recipe
You’ll impress your holiday party guests with homemade eggnog. The freshness and flavor are better than anything that comes out of a carton.
For your benefit, you can be completely confident that your eggnog is gluten-free, and that’s a great feeling.
This recipe for homemade gluten-free eggnog comes courtesy of Gluten-Free Baking.
First, gather these ingredients:
- Nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon, ground)
- Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
- Whole milk (4 cups or 32 ounces)
- Granulated sugar (1 cup or ¾ cup if you want your eggnog less sweet)
- Eggs (6, large)
- Cold water
Pour cold water and ice into a big bowl. The size of the bowl should be able to accommodate a saucepan while keeping the water and ice in the bowl from overflowing.
Grab a separate smaller bowl. Add a cup of milk, half the granulated sugar, and the full quantity of eggs. Use a whisk to beat the ingredients.
Take a four-quart pot with a heavy bottom and pour in the rest of the granulated sugar and milk, stirring the ingredients until they’re incorporated.
Turn your stovetop on to medium-high. Put the saucepan with the milk and sugar over the burner and let it heat up until it boils.
After the milk boils, turn the heat setting to low. Then transfer a cup of the boiled milk into the bowl with the egg, granulated sugar, and cool milk.
Pour the rest of the contents of that bowl into the hot milk saucepan without turning off the stovetop. As you pour, turn the heat knob to medium-high.
Once you pour the ingredients in, continue to stir. The eggnog should sit on the hot stovetop until the temperature hits 185 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll know your eggnog is done by using the wooden spoon test. If the eggnog coats the surface of the spoon, it’s ready to come off the heat.
Put the warm saucepan into the ice and cold water bath. Continue whisking by hand until the eggnog cools down. Put a pinch of nutmeg and vanilla into the eggnog.
Pour the eggnog into a container such as Tupperware and add a lid. Then put the treat in the fridge until the next day.
When you’re ready to serve the eggnog, pour it into a festive holiday glass and garnish it with some nutmeg. You can also add your favorite gluten-free spirits at this time.
In some cases, the eggnog might be a little lumpy after overnight storage in the fridge. By straining it and then serving it, the lumps will vanish.