Vanilla Custard

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I love this custard recipe for its delicate texture and light vanilla flavor.

Rich, velvety, and delicate, this custard recipe comes together quickly on the stovetop. It’s made with ingredients you likely have on hand like egg yolks, milk and cream.

Serve it on its own, or use it as a cake filling, sauce, or topper!

bowls of Homemade Vanilla Custard

What is Custard?

Vanilla custard is a pudding-like dish that contains egg yolk. Thickened with cornstarch, it’s also known as pastry cream and can be enjoyed on its own, layered in cakes, or dolloped onto fruit desserts or pastries.

  • This recipe uses simple ingredients that are probably already in the pantry and fridge!
  • Easy to make, custard up-levels everything from waffles to gingerbread to fruit desserts like this cranberry trifle recipe.
ingredients to make Vanilla Custard with labels

Ingredients Needed

  • Dairy – The best custard is made from a mixture of fresh milk and cream.
  • Eggs – You will need only the yolks in this recipe, use large eggs for the best results.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar lightly sweetens this custard recipe.
  • Flavor – Vanilla extract adds flavor. It can be replaced with other baking extracts like rum, maple, coconut, lemon, or banana extracts will add more flavor to pies, tarts, and other desserts.

Replace the vanilla extract with real vanilla beans. While real vanilla beans (or vanilla pods) are a little bit pricey, they have a rich authentic vanilla taste. You can buy vanilla beans at almost any grocery store.

How to Use Vanilla Beans:

  1. Using a sharp paring knife, make a slit down the length of the pod without cutting all the way through.
  2. Open the bean up and use the back of your knife to scrape out the tiny black seeds.
  3. Stir the seeds into the custard before cooking.
flour and sugar in a pan to make Homemade Vanilla Custard
adding egg and flour to pan to make Homemade Vanilla Custard
cooking Homemade Vanilla Custard
adding butter and vanilla to pan to make Homemade Vanilla Custard

How to Make Vanilla Custard

A thick and creamy custard is easy to make:

  1. Whisk cornstarch & sugar in a pan before heating (per recipe below).
  2. Add egg yolks, milk, & cream. Bring to medium heat, whisking slowly until thickened. Stir in butter & vanilla.
  3. Cover the surface of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap & place in the refrigerator to cool.
Homemade Vanilla Custard in a bowl with saran wrap before setting
bowl of Homemade Vanilla Custard after it sets

Tips for a Creamy Custard

  • Whisk the cold ingredients before heating.
  • Heat the milk mixture over a low, gentle heat; this keeps the custard smooth without “scrambling” the eggs. Whisk while it cooks to avoid lumps or burning the milk.
  • Once cooked, ensure the plastic wrap rests on the surface of the custard as it cools. This keeps a skin from forming.
  • The custard will thicken slightly as it cools.

Storing Custard

Keep vanilla custard in the refrigerator for up to 5 days with a piece of plastic wrap directly spread across the top to avoid skin from forming.

Vanilla Custard in a bowl with a spoon

Serving Suggestions

Serve this homemade custard recipe with fresh berries, over ice cream, or use it in pies or as a cake filling.

What do you serve with Vanilla Custard? Leave us a comment below! 

bowls of Vanilla Custard.

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Vanilla Custard

Rich and creamy, this vanilla custard recipe is a delight! Serve with some fresh fruit or use as a cake filling.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Chill Time 2 hours

Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 ¾ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch, and a tiny pinch of salt (before putting it on the stove). Add egg yolks, milk, and cream. Whisk to combine.

  • Heat the egg mixture over medium-low heat while whisking, until it begins to boil. This will take about 15 minutes. Once boiling, let bubble for 1 minute while continuing to whisk.

  • Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

  • Pour into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap allowing the wrap to rest on the surface of the warm custard.

  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until chilled.

  • Mix the ingredients before heating.
  • Heat over a low gentle heat, this keeps the custard smooth without “scrambling” the eggs. 
  • Whisk while it cooks or the milk can burn and the mixture won’t be smooth.
  • Once cooked, ensure the plastic wrap rests on the surface of the custard as it cools. This keeps skin form forming.
  • Custard will thicken slightly as it cools.

Calories: 366 | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 243mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 980IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 245mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dessert, Dip, Sauce

Cuisine American

© SpendWithPennies.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

Homemade Vanilla Custard topped with fruit with a title
close up of Homemade Vanilla Custard with writing
Homemade Vanilla Custard with fruit and writing
plated Homemade Vanilla Custard and close up photo with a title

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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