Heat Eggs To Safe Temperature In Holiday Recipes

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  12/1/2005 10:52:30 PM

Eggnog and other holiday treats may call for uncooked or lightly cooked eggs, but experts say that’s a recipe for food-borne illness. For safety’s sake, cook eggs to a temperature of 160 Fahrenheit.

News You Can Use For December 2005

The holidays abound with tasty treats such as eggnog, cream pies and other dishes containing eggs. Eating raw or undercooked eggs is an invitation for foodborne illness. The same is true for lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes.

LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says it is important for the cooking temperature to reach 160 F to kill bacteria, including salmonella.

While baking holiday treats such as cookies and gingerbread, avoid licking the spoon or the mixing bowl if the batter contains uncooked eggs.

"Tasting cookie or cake batter can be tempting, but remember bacteria could be lurking in those uncooked eggs," Reames says.

Make homemade eggnog and ice cream safely using a cooked base. Heat the egg-milk mixture gently to 160 F. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. The mixture should coat a metal spoon.

Desserts such as crème brûlée, molten chocolate cakes, Key lime or chocolate silk pie, tira misu and chocolate mousse are typically made with raw eggs or egg whites, which are not cooked or are undercooked. To ensure that these desserts will be safe, the eggs must reach a safe temperature. Heat the eggs in a liquid or melted ingredient from the recipe, such as lime juice or chocolate. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 F or the results may be "scrambled eggs."

Meringue-topped pies are safe if baked at 350 F about 15 minutes. In chiffon pies and fruit whips, substitute whipped cream or whipped topping instead of using raw, beaten egg whites.

Dry meringue shells, which are baked in the oven, are safe. Divinity candy also is safe. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites. However, "7-minute frosting," made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, is safe.

Cook egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles to 160 F as measured with a food thermometer. The same is true for casseroles and other dishes containing eggs.

Reames adds other handling tips for safe desserts made with eggs. She says to buy only clean, refrigerated eggs with uncracked shells. Wash hands, utensils, equipment and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs. Don't keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours.

The LSU AgCenter nutritionist offers this eggnog recipe that meets the standards of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.


1 quart of 2-percent milk
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
ground nutmeg


  • Heat milk in large saucepan until hot (do not boil or scald). While milk is heating, beat together eggs and salt in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar.
  • Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while continually stirring.
  • Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and cook on medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens and just coats a spoon. The food thermometer should register 160 F. Stir in vanilla.
  • Cool quickly by setting pan in a bowl of ice or cold water and stirring for about 10 minutes.
  • Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight.
  • Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped cream. Dust with ground nutmeg, and enjoy!

Yield: 2 quarts

Calories: 135 per 1/2 cup

Cholesterol: 120 mg per 1/2 cup

Note: And no, a dash of rum won’t make it safe!

"Adding alcohol cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria," Reames warns.

For additional information about the food safety, contact the FCS agent in your parish. For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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