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 67 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



  • 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.
5 from 67 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
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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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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Recipe Rating


  1. This was delicious! Question though – this was nice a thick and creamy the day I made it. We ate it the next day though, and by then it had a runny texture, like that of melted ice cream.

    Is this best served day of?5 stars

    1. Oh no, I haven’t had this problem even after storing it overnight. I’ve done a little bit of research into the science of custard, and it appears that it may have needed to cook just a little bit longer, did you let it boil for the full minute? I hope that helps!

  2. So easy to make! No fuss at all! And it works beautifully! Just remember to use UNsalted butter, otherwise with the added pinch of salt, it is slightly too salty! But it was still very yummy!5 stars

  3. I put a bit more cream because I ran out of milk. I also used heavy cream because I had it on hand. still came out great. Good easy recipe.Thanks!5 stars

  4. Why do you call it custard? It’s pudding, custard is not made with cornstarch, the eggs provide the thickening agent. I love a lot of your recipes and enjoy your posts and recipes.5 stars

    1. Cindy- You have a last name that I know very well!! Jessica has been my friend for almost 30 years. Art and Lorraine as well! Such a SMALL world!

  5. What if my ingredients at the moment are very limited and I have no vanilla extract, maple syrup, any various extracts, or rum, brandy or any other alcohol that are used as flavourings? What can I use to replace that? I think we have honey and corn syrup. I was hoping to make custard as a cupcake filling for a family bbq this weekend, planning to make it tomorrow/today (it’s currently almost 3am).

    1. Hi Lina, for flavor I would add the zest from any citrus fruit. Lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit would all be delicious!

  6. The recipe was well written and easy to follow. I made it for a filling for my husbands birthday cake and everyone like it. The flavor was perfect because the custard was not too sweet and a good vanilla flavor. Thank you for sharing this recipe!5 stars

  7. This was a wonderfully simple yet delicious custard! I injected some alongside a delicious raspberry preserve into fresh croissants!

    Absolute heaven!5 stars

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!