I truly love vanilla custard for its delicate texture and light vanilla flavor. Best of all, it’s easy to master!

Make this sweet, thick, and velvety rich custard with egg yolks, milk and cream, butter, sugar, and some vanilla. Serve it on its own or add it to all kinds of recipes as an ingredient, a sauce, or a topper!

top view of plated Vanilla Custard with spoons and berries

What is Vanilla Custard?

Vanilla custard is a pudding-like dish that can be enjoyed on its own, layered in cakes, or dolloped onto fruit desserts or pastries. While pudding is thickened with starch, a true custard uses cornstarch and extra egg yolks, giving it that sweet, rich flavor.

  • This recipe uses simple ingredients that are probably already in the pantry and fridge!
  • Easy to master, custard up-levels everything from waffles to gingerbread to fruit desserts like this cranberry trifle recipe.
  • Turn vanilla custard into ice cream by freezing it for about 3 hours, whisking it every 30 minutes to keep it aerated.

ingredients to make Vanilla Custard with labels

Ingredients

DAIRY: The best custard is made from fresh eggs, milk, cream, butter, and sugar. Use large eggs, whole milk, and full-fat cream and butter for best results.

FLAVORINGS: Real vanilla beans can be used by scraping out the tiny beans from inside the pod and adding them in Step 4. Rum, maple, coconut, lemon, or banana extracts will add more flavor to pies, tarts, and other desserts.

process of adding ingredients together to make 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.
  3. Bring to medium heat, whisking for about 15 minutes.
  4. Allow to boil for one minute while whisking.
  5. Remove from heat & stir in butter & vanilla.
  6. Cover the surface of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap & place in the refrigerator to cool at least 2 hours.

Vanilla Custard before and after setting

Tips

  • 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 a skin from forming.
  • 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 a crust from forming. Vanilla custard can be frozen in a zippered bag for up to 2 weeks, however, once it’s thawed it won’t have the same consistency and would be better used mixed into a shake or smoothie. Or add some orange juice and make a grownup spiked creamsicle.

Vanilla Custard in a bowl with a spoon

What Does Vanilla Custard Go With?

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 vanilla custard is such a delight! Serve with some fresh fruit for a simple yet satisfying treat.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients  

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 ¾ cups milk
  • ¾ cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Whisk granulated sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan (before putting it on the stove). Add egg yolks, milk, and cream. Whisk to combine.
  • Heat the mixture over medium-low heat while whisking, this will take about 15 minutes.
  • Once boiling, let bubble 1 minute while whisking.
  • 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 custard.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Notes

  • 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 a skin form forming.
  • Custard will thicken slightly as it cools.
5 from 30 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

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
Cuisine American

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Vanilla Custard with berries and a title
Vanilla Custard in bowls with spoons and 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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Comments

  1. Loved this custard. Mine took closer to 30 minutes to come to bubbling on a med-low heat but could be my stovetop. The wait was worth it.5 stars

  2. Very very smooth creamy and tasty….warm or cold. Used whole milk and half n half for liquid part. Thanks for sharing recipe!5 stars

  3. My mom used to add less milk because she wanted it super thick to use the custard and make butter cream icing. I also remember her to use a butter stick and lightly rub the stick over the surface of the hot custard to prevent a skin forming. Icing has one stick butter and about 2 cups of confection sugar and beat till smooth, then she would add small amounts of custard at a time, about a 1/4 of the custard recipe. She also added different extract flavors to the icing, but my favorite was mocha.5 stars

  4. Can the Vanilla Custard recipe be used to make banana cream pie exactly as the listed instructions? I’m interested because most all recipes for custard to be used in pies require tempering the eggs. This recipe seems so much easier. Thank you

    1. Hi Nancy, we have not tried using this recipe in a pie but I think it should hold up well. You will have to let us know how it turns out!

  5. I’m from South Africa and back here we like to serve custard with winter desserts especially Malva pudding or Tipsy tart, totally divine.

    1. I haven’t heard of Tipsy Tart before but just looked it up and it sure sounds delicious, thank you for sharing!

  6. I’m having company for Sunday breakfast. I’m adding a fruit bowl. I was thinking of making your custard to put on top of the fruit. I think that would be yummy.5 stars

    1. That would be delicious! It’s perfect for guests since it’s best made ahead of time so it can cool.

      1. Do you think this custard would be firm enough to use for filling for cream puffs?
        I’m thinking of making for Sunday’s dessert.5 stars

      2. Hi Sara, I don’t think it will be firm enough hold up in a cream puff but I would love to hear how it turned out for you!