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.

Feeling Fancy?

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.

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.

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.
5 from 112 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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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
Servings 4 servings

Equipment

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Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

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 skin form forming.
  • Custard will thicken slightly as it cools.
5 from 112 votes

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, Dip, Sauce
Cuisine American
Homemade Vanilla Custard topped with fruit with a title
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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 Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Comments

  1. This recipe was so easy to prepare and it is sooooo delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  2. I forgot to purchase cornstarch at the store. I looked up a baking substitution chart. It suggested using tapioca. This recipe makes the best tapioca pudding (which is my favorite). Delicious. BTW, I don’t use the plastic wrap – I love the skin!5 stars

  3. Delicious! I used this as the base for my fruit tart. I made the crust and added in the custard the day before I planned to serve it then refrigerated it to firm up. I added the sliced fruits and brushed them with melted jelly just before serving. It is firm enough to hold its shape when cut and still perfectly creamy. I had added a little nutmeg to the custard because I enjoy the flavor. I was searching for a new recipe. This will definitely be the custard recipe I use now. Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  4. Yummy, simple, and just what I wanted for this dish! I ate half before it cooled completely!
    Will definitely be making this again!5 stars

  5. Holly
    Your custard is 5 star I baked a pound cake sliced it into 3 layers then laid them in a 2x10x15″ pyrex pan smothered in your custard it is world class
    Thanks
    Tim5 stars

  6. Delicious smooth vanilla pudding and very easy to make.
    Thank you Holly. I’ve been making your recipes for a few months now and have enjoyed all of them.5 stars

  7. Had the same problem as others. The custard was thick when boiled, but became watery as it cooled. I think there’s too much milk in this recipe. But I’ll try it again. Also, added vanilla bean paste – and it still needs way more vanilla than recipe calls for.4 stars

    1. Sorry this recipe didn’t quite work out for you, Pearl! I would love to hear how it goes for you if you try it again!

  8. I made a different recipe from another source and your recipe back-to-back on the same day and your recipe was superb and so very easy to make. I took it to a family dinner and it was a hit. I’m making it again today for a family gathering but this time I’m tripling the recipe. THANK YOU!! (BTW I threw the other one out after my brother and I tasted it and didn’t like the consistency either)5 stars