Last year I tried eggnog for the first time, following a homemade recipe involving egg, cream and sugar. The result tasted like a thin vanilla ice-cream milkshake (with spices and alcohol). Recipes for homemade ice-cream use similar ingredients (without spices and alcohol).

Is this just superficial, or do the definitions of ice-cream milkshake and eggnog overlap so that it is reasonable to conceive of eggnog as a flavoured milkshake?

(I am looking for a technical answer that rules out my milkshake theory, or suggests it's an acceptable substitute.)

  • 1
    Milkshake is flavoured milk. There is no milk in eggnog that you could say is the base you enrich with flavour. There is Lait de poule where the milk is used. Dec 20, 2018 at 13:48
  • Definitely not. I don't think I have enough to add a full answer in terms of knowledge and explanation but I do want to add a minor antecdote. There are eggnog milkshakes! Which are quite possibly the superior form of both beverages. They use eggnog ice cream, or just some other ice cream and then instead of milk, use eggnog as the thinner. No alcohol in them, but still soooooo goooooooood. Dec 20, 2018 at 16:20
  • 1
    Grocery store eggnog doesn't seem to contain alcohol.
    – Joshua
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:21
  • @Joshua In many states, grocery stores can't sell liquor. That's likely why you don't see this in the US (I never have.)
    – JimmyJames
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:39
  • 1
    @Joshua The grocery stores in my area (Maine) sell eggnog with alcohol or without. The ones without alcohol are located in the dairy section and are typically refrigerated, whereas the ones with alcohol are located in the liquor section at room temperature and have a significant alcohol content. All that being said, I'm not sure how that in any way impacts the quality of the question.
    – jmbpiano
    Dec 21, 2018 at 23:38

6 Answers 6


Not really.

For a start there's no milk in it (there's cream, but milk is the defining factor in a milkshake). Second, egg isn't a normal ingredient in a milkshake, and neither is alcohol. Of course they can be added, but they take you away from what's normally meant by the term. When that happens it's normally reflected in the name.

In general, trying to precisely categorise foods is an exercise in futility - defining a category that includes everything you'd expect it to invariably includes things that don't belong, or you end up with categories so broad as to be useless. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Even calling eggnog a cocktail (An alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice or cream.) is slightly problematic, as "cocktail" usually implies it's mixed just before serving, rather than bottled in between (as is common with eggnog).

  • 10
    According to the cube rule, hotdog is technically a taco :) cuberule.com
    – Luciano
    Dec 20, 2018 at 12:46
  • 18
    @Luciano So.... pizza is toast in Naples, a quiche in Chicago, and a taco in New York... that sheds so much light on the pizza wars. Dec 20, 2018 at 13:59
  • 6
    I would think it's the ice-cream that is the key ingredient that defines a milkshake. You can't just shake up some milk and call it a milkshake. I'm not sure that the name of things is the best evidence of it's contents. Head-cheese is not cheese, for example.
    – JimmyJames
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:48
  • 5
    A milkshake never contains egg directly, but the ice cream in a milkshake might. (Of course that leads into other debates about different styles of ice cream, and the difference between ice cream and frozen custard...)
    – MJ713
    Dec 20, 2018 at 21:00
  • 2
    @ChrisH I've actually encountered three different varieties of "eggnog" in my region of the US. There is alcoholic eggnog containing whiskey, brandy or other spirits. There is a very heavy, undrinkably thick non-alcoholic concoction intended, as you say to be mixed (and thinned) with the alcohol of your choosing. Finally, there is moderately thick non-alcholic eggnog intended to be consumed as sold, which would be a bit too thin if mixed with alcohol. The third is the by far the most commonly seen commercially around here.
    – jmbpiano
    Dec 22, 2018 at 0:38

Egg nog is a custard. The only difference is you don't freeze it in an ice cream mixer. It has all the same ingredients as ice cream except a heavier use of alcohol.

I haven't tried but I'd bet you could freeze it, too.

  • 1
    Egg nog ice cream is excellent IMO, better tasting than the drink to me. The spices come through better and if you like the adult hit, a smaller amount of alcohol seems to impart a smoother flavor without affecting the freezing.
    – dlb
    Dec 20, 2018 at 13:54
  • 1
    That depends on your definition of custard! Many say it hasd to be cooked to be custard, while others permit freezing as well. Eggnog can be raw.
    – Chris H
    Dec 20, 2018 at 14:47
  • 6
    Cooked eggnog- like what you buy in the grocery store and what I make at home- is a custard. Traditional eggnog is basically just eggs and bourbon/rum and is not a custard at all. Dec 20, 2018 at 15:42
  • 1
    @ChrisH I've never come across a definition of custard that referenced freezing at all... Is this one of those US/UK language things, like how in the US 'sherbet' is apparently a frozen thing rather than a powder.
    – Spagirl
    Dec 20, 2018 at 16:34
  • 2
    Would most agree that egg nog is a custard base or at least a custard-like base as an accurate description? To me an unset custard base regardless of if a cooked or uncooked egg nog seems accurate. You are basically going through the custard motions without gelling it or at least only slightly.
    – dlb
    Dec 20, 2018 at 17:01

For one thing, eggnog (around in one form or another for hundreds of years) significantly predates milkshakes. Even switching the order of invention, though, still no :)

A milkshake is based on ice cream and milk, blended with flavoring. Some variants don't include ice cream, but a milkshake is always thick and cold. It doesn't include any eggs. You could have an eggnog flavored milkshake by adding spices and alcohol, but it wouldn't be eggnog.

Eggnog must include eggs, with cream and milk added to make it richer and thicker. Traditionally it is alcoholic (and milkshakes traditionally are not). While not served hot, it is never as cold a drink as a milkshake.

  • 1
    Where do you find milkshakes that don't contain ice-cream? I've never seen such a thing. I thought you have ice cream in order to call it a milkshake in the US and that's why it's a 'shake' at McDonald's or a 'frosty' at Wendy's.
    – JimmyJames
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:51
  • @JimmyJames the sticking point on the fast food versions would be the milk, not the ice cream. Even milk could be stretched to be made with cream as that is still milk fat. But once you go non-dairy, then you have cross over and using milk-shake is false.
    – dlb
    Dec 20, 2018 at 20:48
  • @dlb I found this which says it's state by state. Bizarrely in Mass. you can't even have cream or ice-cream in a 'milkshake'. Where I grew up we'd get milkshakes made with frozen custard which isn't too far off of eggnog.
    – JimmyJames
    Dec 20, 2018 at 21:01
  • 1
    @Erica I was just totally wrong so carry on.
    – JimmyJames
    Dec 20, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    Interesting bit from the "Milkshake" article on Wikipedia: When the term "milkshake" was first used in print in 1885, milkshakes were an alcoholic whiskey drink...described as a "sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat". (Emphasis mine.)
    – MJ713
    Dec 20, 2018 at 22:29

The similarity is not superficial in that the ingredients and preparation of eggnog is essentially the same as those for making a custard style ice cream. In effect, drinking eggnog is drinking unfrozen custard style ice cream base, with some liquor thrown in.

The difference is in the subsequent preparation: a milkshake involves blending ice cream and milk and flavorings into a frozen thick drinkable concoction while eggnog is traditionally served warm.

Is eggnog a milkshake? No the final product is too different. Is the similarity superficial? Again no, the ingredients and initial preparation are essentially the same (though the proportions will differ).


No. Eggnog is more a thin custard (especially the lightly cooked versions, the raw egg recipes less so)

  • 1
    Disagree with the review comment. There are better answers here, but it is an answer. Dec 21, 2018 at 13:30

A milkshake is made from milk, while eggnog is made from cream. If an eggnog has milk, it is technically a form of milkshake. However, this would be stretching the definition of milkshake. The same applies to the cocktail argument.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.