Hot Chocolate vs. Egg Nog: Which is Healthier?

By: Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.

Both of these winter drinks taste sinfully delicious, but which is a healthier choice?

The past few weeks have seen the return of two seasonal drinks—hot chocolate and eggnog. Both taste sinfully delicious, but one of them trumps the other in terms of healthfulness. So which holiday drink wins out when it comes to nutrition?

Eggnog Pros & Cons

eggnog in two glasses

Eggnog Cons

Made of whole milk, cream, eggs and sugar, eggnog is rich and its nutritional profile reflects that. A 1/2-cup serving has 180 calories and about 20 grams of sugar. Plus, oftentimes eggnog is spiked with booze, which ups the calories even more. 

Get our healthier recipe: Eggnog

Eggnog Pros

All that dairy translates into one major pro for eggnog—calcium. A half-cup delivers 13 percent of your daily dose. You’ll also get 4 grams of protein in this small serving.


Hot Chocolate Pros & Cons

Spiced hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate Cons

Depending on how it’s made, hot chocolate’s nutritional profile can vary greatly. A standard coffee-shop hot chocolate with whole milk and sweetened chocolate syrup will set you back 190 calories per cup (although, let’s face it, most coffee shops serve at least 12 ounces, not the standard 8). Add whipped cream and the calorie count goes up to 250.  Not to mention the 24 grams of sugar (that's about 6 teaspoons) you'll get in each cup.

Try This Healthy Recipe: Spiced Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Pros

Hot chocolate made with milk delivers 20 percent of your daily value of calcium and 7 grams of protein per cup. Not too shabby. Plus, unlike eggnog, you can tailor your hot chocolate order—or make it yourself. To lower the calories, swap out the whole milk for skim (you’ll save 55 calories per cup). Use less sugar when you make it home. Or choose a non-dairy milk to blend with for a creamy, vegan cup. If your cocoa is made with natural cocoa powder (the nonalkalized kind), it will give you a healthy dose of antioxidants—the kind that are shown to quell stress and lower your risk of heart disease.

Related: This Red-Wine Hot Chocolate Is Everything We Need Right Now

The Verdict

pouring hot chocolate into a mug

Hot chocolate wins out although classic hot chocolate and eggnog are actually quite similar nutritionally, but that's only if you compare an 8-ounce serving of hot chocolate to a 4-ounce serving of eggnog. Per serving each drink has about 185 calories and similar amounts of sugar. The hot chocolate has an edge, though, when it comes to calcium and protein. And considering it may be hard to stick to just 4 ounces of eggnog, hot cocoa is the safer bet if you don’t want to overindulge.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe

If you’re making it yourself, try this easy recipe for the healthiest cup:
Combine 1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon sugar in a mug. Swirl in 1 cup steaming low-fat milk. Spice it up with one of these add-ins:

  • Orange peel and ground cloves
  • Ground cardamom and vanilla
  • Chili powder and cinnamon

 

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