Christmas Drinking Custard

Like a heady vanilla eggnog (but no raw eggs), drinking custard is a delicious and easy southern Christmas tradition that is perfect with or without alcohol.

I’ve been watching the photographs for years.  Thick liquid custard, dressed up and poured into a mug.  Can you look and not be tempted?  This special drink is known by many names: boiled custard, drinking custard, crème anglaise–and bears a strong resemblance to egg nog.  But in lieu of eggnog’s nutmeg and cinnamon, you get a heady dose of fragrant vanilla–and the eggs aren’t raw!

Christmas Drinking Custard

Christmas Drinking Custard

Sign me up! 

Although most likely of European origin, drinking custard is probably best known in the southern U.S. Here it is a special drink served at Christmas or a soothing and nourishing beverage for someone who is feeling under the weather. 

Drinking custard for Christmas

Drinking custard for Christmas

The recipe is based on one from A Southern Grace, my first introduction to this beverage and the healthiest version I found (e.g. uses whole milk vs part cream).  I added one extra egg yolk to make it divide evenly (on the odd chance I someday want a smaller batch), used vanilla beans instead of extract and simplified the preparation (In full America’s Test Kitchen mode, I did try the original instructions which came out exactly the same as my easier version.)  

And it isn’t at all difficult to make!  Just blend, cook, strain and cool.

Flavor with vanilla bean or vanilla extract

Flavor with vanilla bean or vanilla extract

Rich with egg yolks

Add rich egg yolks, sugar and milk

Cook drinking custard

Cook drinking custard

Strain cooked drinking custard

Strain cooked drinking custard

And the family was just as excited as I was.  My oldest daughter came home for a party this weekend, and in her best starving young person impression, rummaged through the refrigerator.  “How can you not have egg nog?” she said, incensed. 

“Wait until you see what we have instead,” I replied.  After she and my youngest got their first taste of drinking custard, I realized I would probably never make a half batch. 

Drinking Custard Serving

Drinking Custard Serving

There is actually a special reason I started making boiled custard this year.  You see, we are participating in a rarely mentioned holiday ritual: winter break impacted wisdom teeth removal.  Times two kids.  One before Christmas, one after.  Yup, there’s going to be a lot of creamed soup going around.  But also some sweet drinking custard.  A spoonful of sugar, you know!  drinking-custard-pitcher

Of course, just like with eggnog, you can add something a little more potent. So, if the cooking and nursing start to get hard, Mom is going to get her own special Christmas drinking custard. 

Fire up the stove! 

Drinking Custard
Serves 8
Like a heady vanilla eggnog (but no raw eggs), drinking custard is a delicious and easy southern Christmas tradition that is perfect with or without alcohol
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr
303 calories
37 g
209 g
12 g
10 g
6 g
287 g
113 g
38 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
287g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303
Calories from Fat 113
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
19%
Saturated Fat 6g
31%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 209mg
70%
Sodium 113mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 37g
12%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 38g
Protein 10g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
30%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 gallon (8 cups) whole milk
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 8 large egg yolks
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans
Instructions
  1. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks and sugar. Split vanilla beans, if using, then scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla pod to the saucepan. (If using vanilla extract this will be added later.)
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until custard coats the back of a spoon--about 185 F. If using vanilla extract, add it now.
  3. Strain to remove vanilla bits and any thickened egg, then refrigerate until cool.
  4. Serve with or without a shot of alcohol.
beta
calories
303
fat
12g
protein
10g
carbs
37g
more
Art of Natural Living https://artofnaturalliving.com/

33 thoughts on “Christmas Drinking Custard

  1. Beth

    If I’d had some of this when I was recuperating from my own wisdom teeth surgery, I might have been a little less unhappy! Sounds like it was a big hit in your house.

      1. Solomon

        Use the Egg whites to mix in with fried rice, or you can make an eggwhite omelet. There is also a different type of egg nog made with eggwhite and sugar and brandy or rum. Not as good, but when you are stuck with family and need to get drunk to get through the holidays, it’ll do.

  2. Lynn

    This looks good! I always find Eggnog too ‘nutmegy’ – I’m glad to learn there is an alternative, similar style drink.

    I hope both your daughters have speedy recoveries from their wisdom teeth removal!

    1. Inger Post author

      Your kids would probably like this too Lynn–I may even try reducing the sugar a smidge to make it a little healthier! And thanks for the good wishes on the recovery!

  3. grace

    this is our holiday treat every year! SO rich and delicious. the touch of vanilla beans makes it extra special and lovely, and your glasses are cool!

    1. Inger Post author

      The glasses were a second hand store find–wasn’t that lucky! Thank you so much for introducing me to this!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Thao! The first one had her pre-appointment yesterday and the oral surgeon was very reassuring. That was good for her to hear after all the scary stories her friends were telling!

    1. Inger Post author

      Sorry to be replying so late–just saw this. But yes, you should be able to use an egg substitute. That should thicken it similarly to an egg, though it would be a little less rich.

  4. Pingback: Hot drinking custard recipe – Kriya Gangiah

  5. Fred

    If you grew up in Jackson TN, you would have had this every Christmas (Walmart now carries it as early as Halloween. If you were diagnosed with type 2 this year, you would be going through your first Christmas without boiled custard. Does anyone have a good recipe using almond milk and swerve?

    1. Inger Post author

      My condolences Fred. Traditions help make holidays special! I would suggest that you try my recipe substituting almond milk for the dairy milk. The swerve website says you can use it in cooking just like sugar, so that should be easy–or it might also work to add it to taste at the end, while the custard is still hot enough for it to dissolve. If it seems to need some extra thickening you can use an additional egg yolk (or a whole egg in place of one of the egg yolks). Good luck–I believe this is possible with some experimentation! Wishing you a wonderful Christmas.

    2. Carla

      I grew up in Union City TN & had boiled custard every Christmas. Most places only have eggnog which is not the same. Floridians & other places I’ve lived have never heard of it either.

      1. Inger Post author

        I have had eggnog for ages, Carla, but now I prefer the boiled custard. It isn’t very common in Wisconsin, so I’m glad I was following a southern blogger!

  6. Barbara May

    This recipe has been handed down from my great-grandma and I am now a great-grandma. My kids – all now grown – generally like this better than eggnog (I don’t like nutmeg). Grandma always used a double boiler (a large pan over water in a canning kettle). I have tasted eggnog just once and didn’t enjoy it, but I certainly have always loved drinking custard. This year I will be using a combination of almond and coconut milks and now I won’t have to worry about my reactions to chemically treated dairy products. We have never added alcohol as we are not drinkers. Thank you for memory lane.

    1. Inger Post author

      Glad you enjoyed the article Barbara May! Once in awhile I will find a commercial eggnog that doesn’t have nutmeg, but not often. My kids laugh at me for not liking nutmeg, and now I can tell them I’m not alone! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Sharon

    I always remember my mother making boiled custard when I was a young kid. Now as I am a mother and had my kids try store bought boiled custard knowing it’s not the same as homemade and the holidays have came to a end one of my twin boys is in love with boiled custard so I am going to try this recipe out and see what he thinks. Thank you so very much for the recipe. I will try to let you know how it turns out after surprising him.

    1. Inger Post author

      I’d love to hear what you think Sharon! I think it’s so much fun introducing a new generation to things we remember!

  8. Vickie

    65 years ago my grandmother used to make this. It was made several times between Halloween and Christmas. It was a favorite among all of my cousins and siblings. It was a great tradition she had at her house and I have many many fond memories of that. I have been looking for this recipe for many years, and this is the recipe she used to use. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing me to find this. Be blessed.

  9. Vickie

    Another note, I failed to mention, she made meringue cookies out of the egg whites and they were served with the custard … hence no waste.

    I believe the only ingredients in them were stiffly beaten egg whites, sugar, and vanilla. They were baked and when they came out of the oven she sprinkled various colors on them. Some were red, some were green, some were blue, and some were. I also remember that sometimes she tended the egg whites with a couple drops of food coloring added into the vanilla.

  10. Kathy McIntyre

    I believe my grandma made this when we were very young. And she sprinkled raisins into the cup as well. My cousin remembers grandma whipping the egg whites up and dropping a dollop or two onto the top with a sprinkle of cinnamon as well.

    1. Inger Post author

      I am thinking about 15 minutes Danny. I’ll try making it again to double check and update the recipe. I know it seems not to thicken much at first, then it changes pretty quickly. Also it will thicken a bit more as it cools. If you have an instant read or candy thermometer that is helpful too. I hope this helps and thanks for the update suggestion.

  11. Elizabeth

    I came to this site because my daughter just had her impacted wisdom teeth removed! Not a very fun way for her to spend Christmas break. My mother made her a boiled custard almost just like this one (my grandmother’s recipe) but it didn’t set. After a night in the fridge, it’s still completely liquid. I hoping to find a way to salvage it. Maybe bread pudding?

    1. Inger Post author

      The custard is supposed to stay liquid so that you can drink it, just thicker than the milk alone. If it is still completely thin like milk, you may not have gotten it hot enough to set the egg. You could still drink it thinner, though the FDA would say if it didn’t get hot enough it is more likely to be unsafe (though I think the odds are small–how many times have we all eaten raw cookie dough with egg). You could also try heating it again until it’s thicker–beat in an additional couple egg yolks, or even a whole egg first, if you’d like. If you have an instant read thermometer that is helpful since you can test that it gets to 180-185. I always get nervous it’s going to boil on me and curdle the eggs and that’s when I know it’s hot enough.

      If you would prefer more of a baked custard, I do have a recipe for creme caramel which would be a wonderful wisdom teeth recovery treat as well at https://artofnaturalliving.com/2018/03/22/you-can-make-creme-caramel-a-giveaway/

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your daughter!

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