I'm looking at the ingredient list for Alton Brown's aged eggnog recipe, and I see the following:

1 pint half-n-half
1 pint whole milk
1 pint heavy cream

Does the half-n-half play any specific role here?

I calculated the final fat ratio of the mix and it's ~20%

Wouldn't it be easier to just mix milk and cream to get the right ratio, skipping the half-n-half altogether?

By my math that's 3.25 cups of milk + 2.75 cups of cream.

2 Answers 2


The main purpose of the one part of Half-and-Half is to aid in homogenization of the one part of milk and one part heavy cream.

Per this article (toward the end):

Half and half is also a good solution for desserts that call for equal parts milk and cream, but have a tendency to separate. The fat has been homogenized in the half-and-half, so using it in desserts like panna cotta will deliver a smoother, more consistent result.

The half-and-half also enhances desired texture/mouth feel properties.

  • 1
    This makes sense, but only if I'd be mostly substituting the milk and cream with the half-and-half. Wouldn't you have the same separation problem by mixing all three together? (Side note: I don't think I've ever had a milk+cream recipe separate on me. ) Dec 28, 2016 at 17:07
  • 2
    @LennyMarkus it is not uncommon when mixing very different solutions to do this stepping method. In this case the half-n-half will be better suited for mixing with the milk and with the cream and staying in solution than the cream and milk would be with each other, making it act almost like a binding agent. There is no doubt you can mix the cream and milk directly, it is often done for ice cream for instance, but doing so may require other agents, beating, heating, etc. By using an intermediate that more readily mixes with either it tends to make it happen more easily and less likely to break.
    – dlb
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:48

milk and cream are usually sold in pint sized cartons, making this recipe call for convenient pre-measured quantities without leftovers of an infrequently used dairy item--which would not be the case if you omitted the half annd half. Homogenation aside, convenience may also have played a role in the recipe.

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