I have been relegated to bringing "drinks" for a work holiday potluck. Fair enough. I love eggnog and would like to bring some. However, my recipe includes two jiggers of bourbon or brandy. It might be tempting to carry on as-is and feign ignorance, but my conscience says otherwise.

So I resolve to making a virgin eggnog. While it's tempting to merely leave the booze out, the booze adds a lot of flavor and sweetness. Is there an accepted way to substitute a brown spirit without losing all the goodness it imparts (apart from the ethanol)?

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    Might be a better fit on alcohol.stackexchange.com
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 17:19
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    @Paparazzi Interesting — I've asked if that's possible or not. However, I don't think it's off-topic here, since it's about adding a particular flavor.
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 17:27
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    Googling "alcohol free eggnog recipe" seems to yield a lot of results...
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 18:23
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    the short answer here is, "don't" :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 13:56
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    You could just buy non-alcoholic eggnog.
    – sirjonsnow
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 21:08

5 Answers 5


The easiest way is rum or brandy extract. The flavor is milder, but satisfactory enough. (Rum extract is far easier to find than brandy extract.)

Most brands still have some alcohol (significantly less than the real deal, but still present), so it's important to consider whether you're just avoiding the intoxicating effects or trying to completely eliminate the alcohol (e.g. for medical or religious reasons). If work rules mean it needs to be completely alcohol-free, you'll need to get more creative.

A side note inspired by a comment asking if eliminating alcohol increases Salmonella risk: Alcohol isn't guaranteed to kill harmful bacteria, so nog should either use pasteurized eggs or be (lightly) cooked for food safety... regardless of how much booze is or is not in your recipe.

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    I was going to say just drink the jiggers rather than dump them in. Might not test as good for everyone else but it will for you. I supposed though, that going with an extract is the more responsible and adult thing to do. Far less fun though.
    – dlb
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 16:27
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    OK, fair, drinking the booze yourself is definitely easier than finding an extract for flavoring ;)
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 16:28
  • Will removing the alcohol make salmonella more likely? Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 23:47
  • Alcohol isn't actually guaranteed to kill harmful bacteria, so nog should either use pasteurized eggs or be (lightly) cooked for food safety. I'll expand the answer to include this side note, it's a useful point.
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 23:53
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    Alcohol is actually CREATED by microorganisms, so expecting small amounts of it to kill germs is unrealistic. To work as a disinfectant the alcohol must be a very high concentration. It is really most effective as a surface disinfectant at concentrations of 70-90%. .
    – barbecue
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 0:12

I'm no eggnog expert, but when I need to substitute bourbon in a recipe that calls for both bourbon and sugar, I have substituted bourbon for a mixture of maple syrup and molasses. This will be a little bit thicker than using the rum or brandy extract, but you use much less of it. It gives that nice bitter & sweet depth of flavor similar to a bourbon, but it definitely won't taste the exact same. You may need to cut back on the sugar a little as well.

It's up to you whether you'd rather use extract or substitute with something completely different. It's sort of like the difference between veggie burgers made of tofu that try to taste like meat or veggie burgers that are just a black-bean & veggie patty. It's a matter of preference.

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    Do you mean to say that you substituted the bourbon BY the other sweeteners? Because what you said is that you replace maple syrup and molasses by adding bourbon.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 1:02

Alcohol-free vanilla extract (available in the US from Trader Joe's) is a decent substitute for the flavor you need for eggnog.

To echo other answers, you could also simply make the eggnog without the spirits. I've been using Alton Brown's eggnog recipe for years, to great satisfaction, and I just leave out the 3 ounces of bourbon.


I'm no expert either, but my mother simply never added it. She used a 50/50 milk/eggnog ratio. And to this day, I like it better than adding alcohol.

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    I'm pretty sure the milk/eggnog mix is pretty darn common. I'm surprised no one else mentioned this. +1
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 21:04
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    You lost me: you're talking as if eggnog were some sort of standard ingredient, like milk or eggs. Are you talking about the seasonally-available cartons of eggnog from the supermarket? I love that stuff, but (1) diluting it 50/50 with milk will result in a vaguely eggnog-flavored beverage that wouldn't be satisfactory as either milk or as eggnog, and more importantly (2) I'm reasonably certain that someone who is talking about making egg nog is doing so from scratch and would be horrified to be offered the store-bought stuff.
    – Marti
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 23:55
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    Assuming he is indeed talking about the seasonally available cartons, I'm with Jeff. I've been doing this for quite a few years to spread it out further... and because I find the richness/thickness of the supermarket variety to be much higher than the eggnog recipe we used when I was younger. Certainly opinions will vary, but I dispute the "wouldn't be as satisfactory as either" phrase. But I also do harmonize with the idea that store-bought stuff isn't nearly as good as doing it from scratch. Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 6:05
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    eggnog = milk + eggnog is an infinite loop... Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 8:11
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    Regarding the store-bought eggnog; quality thereof. The good quality brands (while very expensive) are very good indeed. This is unsurprising. 99.99% of eggs sold in the USA in supermarket are utter filth on many levels; I would die rather than put them inside my body. So there's no point de-facto asserting that "store bought" eggnog is rubbish. one might as well assert that the hand-made eggnog will be rubbish, because it's made with the comic cream, eggs, etc available in supermarkets (sadly).
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 13:59

7-up or Gingerale gives eggnog kind of a nice flavor and great mouth feel, I prefer to add Gingerale regardless of whether I add liquor or not. Happy Holidays!

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    The question was not "what could be added to eggnogg", but very straightforward about how to adjust recipes that list alcohol in a no-alcohol environement.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 8:59
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    Looks to me like the question is; "How to replace booze in eggnog?" and for the past 50+ years that I am aware of, 7-up and eggnog is a good simple alternative for people who prefer nonalcoholic beverages. Gingerale is my personal preference.
    – Mr.x
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 6:17
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    I guess another option, for those who want the eggnog to taste like it contains rum or bourbon; Alcohol boils at 80f, so you could bring a pint of whisky or rum to 90-100f in a sauce pan for about 20 mins and then use the resulting non alcoholic booze. But IME most people drink eggnog and booze to kill the booze flavor, and Ive not met anyone who did not enjoy a little bubbly eggnog and 7-up lightly sprinkled with nutmeg. Be sure and gently add the eggnog to the soda, then gently stir to create a thick froth.
    – Mr.x
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 6:39

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