Eggnog is kind of like black licorice — you either love it or hate it. Either way, it is a beloved holiday tradition for many. And like many traditional foods, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to nutrition. A typical homemade nog is made with three to four whole eggs, egg whites, heavy cream and a lot of whole milk and sugar, plus spices, bourbon and sometimes also rum.
These days, you can find a store-bought nog to suit your taste and dietary preferences, from ones made with grass-fed dairy to ones that are vegan and nut-free. All of the options we've rounded up can be found for a limited time in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Let’s have a seat by the fire and explore the best better-for-you nogs to fill your cup with holiday cheer.
If you like a dairy-based nog, but want something with less fat and calories, this one is your best bet. It’s USDA certified organic and each half cup serving has 140 calories, 3 grams total fat and 15 grams of added sugar. It’s lower in cholesterol — only 40 milligrams — than the full-fat dairy options and has the most protein, at 6 grams per serving. We liked the visible bits of nutmeg in the mix. This nog is on the sweeter side and isn’t too thick, so it’s a good option for kids.
At 80 calories and just 1.5 grams total fat per half cup serving, this is a pretty light holiday drink. With 11 grams of added sugar, its sweetness factor falls in the middle of the lineup. This soy-based nog is gluten-free and, because it’s plant-based, cholesterol-free and lactose-free. Our taste test found this nog to be smooth-tasting and heavier on vanilla notes over spice.
For a traditional-tasting nog that is crafted with higher quality ingredients, try this creamy version. It was the thickest of the ones we tasted and is made with non-GMO and USDA-certified organic ingredients, as well as Fair Trade nutmeg and vanilla. This nog contains eggs, but ultra-pasteurization makes it safe to consume. Each half-cup serving delivers 170 calories, 9 grams of total fat and 11 grams of added sugars. Keep in mind that adding an ounce of bourbon to your eggnog will add another 70 calories to your cup.
This new-to-the-market nog is made with certified humane eggs from free-range chickens. It’s ultra-pasteurized, making the eggs perfectly safe to consume. It follows a pretty standard eggnog recipe, including antibiotic-free milk, cream and plenty of sugar, as well as high-fructose corn syrup. At 180 calories, 8 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar per half cup, it’s the richest of the bunch. It has a delicious vanilla pudding flavor and is super creamy.
For folks who avoid dairy, nuts and soy, this flax milk option allows you to have your creamy fireside sipper free from worries about allergies. Each half cup serving contains just 45 calories, 1 gram of total fat and 8 grams of added sugars. And since it’s made entirely from plants, it contains zero cholesterol. If you’re looking for a nog that literally everyone can enjoy, this is your pick.
Another dairy-free option, this nog is also free from soy and carrageenan, one of the thickeners that is commonly used in creamy beverages. Each half cup serves up 50 calories, 1.5 grams total fat and 8 grams of added sugar. Like the other plant-based options, Califia’s nog is cholesterol-free and gluten-free. Plus, it’s made from non-GMO almonds. This nog had a rummy flavor, though you’ll need to add your own for a real kick.
Here’s to toasting to traditions old and new! And since there is almost always leftover eggnog, here are a few ideas for how to use it up: French toast, overnight oats (simply replace the milk in the recipe with eggnog), pancakes or waffles, bread pudding and coffee.