Easy vanilla custard recipe from scratch, homemade with simple ingredients. Thick and creamy. Enjoy on its own or in cakes, pies, tarts as filling.
I love the creamy, smooth deliciousness of this classic dessert. It pairs well with so many other yummy recipes, which makes it a great staple to know how to make. A few other no bake recipes that are similar in consistency include Homemade Vanilla Pudding, Chia Pudding, or Rice Pudding.
How to make easy vanilla custard recipe from scratch?
- Heat milk and sugar- To a boil.
- Reduce heat- To a simmer
- Mix other ingredients separately- This includes sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, some warm sugar milk mixture.
- Whisk mixture- Until smooth.
- Pour this egg mixture in saucepan- While constantly mixing.
- Remove from heat- When mixture is thickened.
- Mix in- Butter and vanilla extract.
- Transfer- To a serving bowl.
- Allow to cool- Then, refrigerate to set further.
What is the difference between custard and pudding? Can I substitute one for the other?
One of the main differences is that custard has more egg yolks and is thicker. Pudding on the other hand uses a smaller quantity of eggs and isn't quite as thick and some pudding recipes don't even use eggs. Traditionally, only eggs were used as thickener and not cornstarch. Now, both are used for convenience and fool-proof results. However, pudding has almost always been thickened with cornstarch.
Why didn’t my egg custard set? Why is it not thickening?
It's no secret that this can be a tricky thing to make. There could be a few reasons for this. The mixture has not been cooked long enough or measurements were inaccurate and not enough cornstarch was added. It may not have been chilled at the end, which also allows it to set further.
Why is my custard grainy? How to fix it?
You do not want the eggs to cook so quickly that you end up with scrambled eggs, which is what caused this graininess. Tempering the eggs with the warm milk mixture first will help you avoid this. Another reason could be that sugar wasn't dissolved fully or the cornstarch wasn't dissolved fully and created little lumps in the mixture.
Thick homemade custard toppings
- Whipped Cream or Chantilly Cream
- Fresh berries- Such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries.
- Nutella Syrup
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chopped nuts- Such as pistachios, pecans, or walnuts
- Chopped up candy bars
- Sliced bananas
- Cinnamon and sugar
- Shredded coconut
- Caramel Sauce
Add zests- Such as lemon, orange, or lime.
Use other extracts- Such as almond, lemon, maple, or another one of your favorites to add unique flavor.
Add spices- Such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.
Make it chocolate flavored- By adding a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in the mixture.
Pair it- With a fruit crumble or cobbler, cakes, cupcakes, pies, or tarts.
Tips and techniques
You must use a candy thermometer- To make sure that temperature reaches 185 degrees F. This ensures that it does not become watery while cooling in the fridge.
Make sure the plastic wrap sticks to the top of the mixture before chilling- Otherwise condensation water builds on top and when you remove the wrap, the water droplets spill in the bowl, making mixture watery.
For ultra smooth consistency- You can strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve at the end to get rid of any possible lumps. I don’t usually do this. You can also use a hand held immersion blender at the end.
Use full fat whole milk- Because this will make the treat creamier, tastier, and have a better overall texture.
Use unsalted butter- Because you don't want this sweet treat to be overwhelmed with a salty flavor.
Use only egg yolks and not egg whites- The results will not be the same if a whole egg is used.
Use nonstick saucepan- So that clean up is easy and it also prevents sticking and burning.
Consistently stir- With a wooden spoon or whisk so that the mixture does not scorch to the bottom of the pan and you don't end up with lumps.
Don't leave boiling- Be sure to bring it to a simmer quickly after it comes to a boil, otherwise the mixture will curdle.
Slow down- Take your time to make this and don't rush the process or else you are likely to make mistakes like burning or curdling.
Cook on stove top- Don't try to microwave this recipe, because it won't work out well. Since it is fickle, it needs an even distribution of heat and stirring.
Fridge- Keep in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Freezer- I don't recommend this as the mixture can curdle and separate upon thawing.
More vanilla desserts
- Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
- Best Vanilla Cake Recipe (From Scratch)
- Iced Oatmeal Cookies (With Vanilla Icing)
- Powdered Sugar Vanilla Cake Glaze
- Ice Vanilla Latte
Easy Homemade Vanilla Custard
- In a large nonstick saucepan, add milk and half the sugar.
- Cook on medium-high heat until mixture comes to a to a boil.
- Then, reduce heat to low heat and allow mixture to simmer.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together remaining sugar and cornstarch.
- Add whisked egg yolks to this sugar mixture and mix until smooth.
- Remove 1 cup of the warm milk from the saucepan and mix that into this sugar/egg/cornstarch mixture until smooth.
- Pour this mixture into the saucepan, while constantly mixing with a wooden spoon or whisk. You can bring up the heat from low to medium, if you like.
- Keep stirring until custard thickens and starts sticking to your whisk or spoon.
- Use a candy thermometer to ensure temperature reaches 185 degrees F. This ensures that custard does not become watery while cooling in the fridge.
- Remove saucepan from heat.
- Add butter, vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl or separate small bowls.
- Let it cool to room temperature.
- Cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface of the custard.
- Let it cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours. It will thicken more, as it chills.
- Enjoy with a topping of fresh berries or whipped cream.
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.