Tom & Jerry Batter – Classic Recipe & History

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Tom and Jerry Batter
Tom and Jerry Batter

What Is The Original 1860s Tom & Jerry Batter Recipe by Jerry Thomas?

This is the Original 1860s Jerry Thomas recipe for the Tom and Jerry from his 1862 Edition of The Bartenders Guide.

  • 12 Eggs
  • 8 cups (2 kg) of sugar
  • 2 oz (60 mLs) gold rum
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground cloves
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground allspice
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground cinnamon

Separate the egg whites and yolks.  Add the spices and sugar to the egg whites and beat the whites to a stiff meringue. Beat the egg yolks to thin them out and then mix them with the meringue.

What Is The Difference Between The Original Recipe, Modern Recipes, And This Improved 1860s Recipe?

Modern recipes are quite fattier than the original, and I can see why. Fats like butter prevent the egg proteins from linking together when heated, but butter also completely changes the drink’s flavor. I did quite a few experiments, and the issue with this recipe is you can not use hot water or hot milk because it will cook the egg whites and make the drink lumpy—only warm water will work. Every recipe you find online that is not fatty does not use hot water but just warm water or milk. This is a common issue for desserts like flan and soufflé and thus why they are cooked in water baths to prevent them from getting too hot. The trick to maintaining the flavor of the original Tom and Jerry and making it, so the drink does not get lumpy when hot water is added is to make this like a custard. Adding a small amount of thickened cornstarch will not change the drink’s flavor or texture and prevent the egg proteins from binding into poached eggs.

The more modern butter or heavy cream-filled tom and jerry recipes are good, but they are a bit too thick. Too close to egg nog, in my opinion. I like the original recipe because it’s flavorful and very drinkable. Not too thin and not too thick, but it doesn’t heat well. Anytime a Tom and Jerry recipe calls for hot water or milk; they mean “lightly heated.” This makes for a lukewarm drink that feels like it was forgotten on the counter. Cornstarch is a stabilizer in the dextrin family, along with flour. One of the properties of dextrins is that they stabilize proteins from denaturing and binding together in high heat and acidic environments. By simply adding a cornstarch slurry, this improved version is true to the original flavor and texture while also being able to be heated like a proper hot drink. Obviously, don’t use flour. Cornstarch, unlike flour, is flavor neutral and does not need to be made into a roux. (I also reduced the sugar, as it was too sweet). It all comes down to personal preference, and the best way to find out is to make each one and try them.

Should You Buy Tom & Jerry Batter Or Make It?

A jar or bucket of Tom & Jerry batter is oddly expensive, considering these are ingredients you probably have in your fridge right now. It’s mostly a midwest drink too, so it’s hard to find if you don’t live in the midwest. Making Tom and Jerry Batter does require some baking skills, too, as the meringue is not the easiest ingredient to make right, and you will need an electric mixer of some sort (a hand mixer is fine, it doesn’t have to be one of those larger KitchenAid ones). Do not try and make this by hand with a balloon whisk. Making meringue with a whisk is almost impossible. It would help if you had an egg beater or electric mixer; otherwise, your forearms will be on fire.

Again, if you do not live in the midwest, you are forced to make this yourself, but even if you do, a homemade Tom and Jerry Batter is worth it. Better product, you know what you put in it, easily adjust the sweetness to your taste, much cheaper to make it than buy it, and it only takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Recipe Resources

NOTE: If what you are looking for is the Tom & Jerry drink recipe the link for that is here. Also, the video attached to this recipe below provides simple step-by-step instructions to make the batter and drink.


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Tom & Jerry Batter

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American




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An Improved version of the original Jerry Thomas Tom and Jerry recipe that maintains the spirit of the original.


  • 6 whole Eggs

  • 1.5 cups Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tbs Corn Starch

  • 1 oz Gold Rum

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon


  • Combine the spices and rum in a bowl and set aside to bloom the flavors.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • Combine cornstarch and a little cold water, stir till the cornstarch is dissolved, then set aside.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • Add the sugar to the egg whites and using an electric mixer (you would be crazy to do this by hand) beat the eggs into a soft or medium peak meringue.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • Once you are done beating, still using the electric mixer, slowly add the thickened wet corn starch. The cornstarch can only be added after you are done beating the meringue. The cornstarch prevents the meringue from cooking when you add hot water and turn into poached eggs.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • In the second bowl with the egg yolks add the rum and spice mix. Using the electric mixer again beat the yolks till they mixed and runny.Tom and Jerry Batter
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the meringue and fold to combine.Tom and Jerry BatterTom and Jerry Batter

Recipe Video



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  1. Patricia Gruenhagen says:

    Why don’t you cook the egg yolk

    1. Tomas Curras says:

      That’s a good question, and the mixture does cook once it is mixed with hot water. The fat in the egg yolks helps protect the egg white proteins from forming large clumps when mixed with alcohol. The alcohol will try to bond with the yolk fats and egg white proteins, but it prefers to bond with fat. By bonding with the fat, it will not bond to the meringue and “cook it,” letting it form clumps like scrambled eggs. It’s the same way the heavy cream doesn’t curdle in a White Russian, but milk (or even half and half) will.

      I suppose you could double-boil it and continuously whisk it like hollandaise, but cooking it before mixing it into a drink would run the risk of it forming large clumps. I’m not sure if the fat in the yolks would still protect the meringue if they were cooked. I can experiment with that in the future. Thank you for asking!

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