The pros: Trader Joe's Almond Nog is soy free, gluten free, diary free, vegan, kosher, and seasonal. Best of all, it does a very good job of replicating the flavors that you might expect in a regular egg nog.
The cons: Why is there not a recipe on this carton to make this boozy egg nog? Isn't that what egg nog is supposed to be about? It's also not quite as thick as a regular nog.
The verdict: So, social media blew up a little bit over this item. Why? Well, Trader Joe's Almond Nog checks off a lot of boxes for a lot of different groups. This is soy free, gluten free, vegan, kosher, and most notably a flavor that should probably not be vegan or dairy free. Now the question remains: is it any good?
Now, I'll be honest. I don't need to fit into any of those categories. I'm fortunate enough to have no allergies, but I also make my own nog using Alton Brown's recipe. That recipe also requires a few weeks lead time in order for it to mellow. So while not quick, it is worth the wait. Now that recipe is many things and vegan is not one of them. Which raises the question: How can this non-dairy and non-egg product compare? And how can it compare when one serving of this (before booze) is just 50 calories., a fraction of the fat and sugar that is present in regular nog?
Well, opening this package I was pleasantly surprised by the smell of nutmeg (it's actually not listed as one of the ingredients beyond the term "natural flavors"). It's the right color for egg nog as well. So visually, you might be hard pressed to realize that this contains no eggs. While not as thick as a regular nog (because it's non-diary and contains no eggs), it packs all the familiar flavors. I was impressed drinking this and yes, I found it very drinkable and likable. It's about as thick as their other almond milks, so if you are used to a thick nog, I don't want there to be any surprises for you. If you've had people over who perhaps don't want to try egg nog or are afraid, then consider this drink like a set of training wheels.
Now, how to booze this up. Yes, this product will take to alcohol without separating. But in the spirit of keeping this vegan (pun intended), I'll be honest: I don't know much about how certain alcohols are made. I was even stunned a few years ago to find out that Guinness Beer wasn't always vegan. So, I'm going to hesitate on mentioning brands and let readers do their own research. I can recommend that you go mid shelf. Top shelf stuff is always for sipping and the cheapest stuff might as well be called headache in a bottle. The combination of traditional alcohols of a nog are bourbon, rum, and cognac. However, Huntington Post did play around with combinations of booze too (and yes, they tested theirs out on Trader Joe's Egg Nog, but not this product). I'm a big fan of the mentality: use what you already have. The recommended is to start at 5 parts nog to 1 part booze. I made mine with 5 ounces of nog and .5 ounces of each cognac and rum. Or, if you are making the whole quart then 6.5 ounces of liquor should be enough. However, because this isn't quite as thick as regular nog, you'll have to adapt a bit. Know your audience. Some people prefer their drinks at a higher proof. I tried it with alcohol, but that was when I was missing the thickness of regular nog. I ended up preferring this straight out of the container, but feel free to play around and leave me a comment on how you made this more awesome.
For $2.99 this is a well done soy free, gluten free, diary free, vegan, kosher refrigerated nog. While this is very well done for a refrigerated nog, it still doesn't quite have the mouthfeel of a thick nog. It just the mouthfeel of most almond milks. But I think that's ok here. On it's own it was very drinkable. It was sweet, but not too sweet. The flavor of almond milk came right through. If you have dietary needs or can/don't mind drinking a nut milk you'll find a great seasonal surprise waiting for you in the refrigerated aisle. As someone who doesn't have to worry about allergies, this was very well done and yes, I would absolutely reach for this again.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The package of Trader Joe's Almond Nog:
The nutritional information:
How Trader Joe's describes this product:
Spiked and with some fresh nutmeg grated on top:
Would I buy this again? Yes, I would buy Trader Joe's Almond Nog again. It's perfect for those who have certain dietary needs and for those who might be afraid to try egg nog. While not as creamy, it's a great drinkable alternative on it's own or spiked.
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!