This creamy, dreamy Vanilla Custard is one of the easiest dessert sauces around. Learn how to make this simple and easy version of Crème Anglaise without using eggs or artificial custard powder with my easy to follow recipe and step-by-step photos.
Table of Contents
What is Custard
Custard is a family of pudding-like sauces and desserts that are often made with a mixture of milk, eggs and sugar.
Whether you are speaking about pourable sauces like crème anglaise; baked sweets like flan or crème brûlée; thick donut fillings like pastry cream; or even frozen and churned desserts like ice cream – all of them are a type of sweet custard.
If you weren’t aware, however, custard can also be made without eggs. Swapping in cornstarch for the egg yolks results in a sauce or pudding that is still nice and thick.
And can be enjoyed by anyone with an egg allergy. In addition, you can make a delicious vegan custard sauce, too!
About Crème Anglaise Recipe
To make egg-free vanilla custard, all the ingredients like milk, sugar and cornstarch are mixed and slowly simmered on a low heat till the sauce thickens. The consistency of custard can be made thin or medium or thick by altering the proportions of milk or cornstarch.
Making custard without eggs is very easy – you don’t have to worry about tempering the eggs or dealing with the hassle of a double boiler! Just remember to cook the custard sauce mixture on a low heat and stir gently.
In place of cornstarch, you can use custard powder which is a sweetened and dyed cornflour mix. Other thickening agent options include rice flour, arrow root flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch.
This recipe is very helpful if you do not have custard powder. Custard powder is nothing but cornstarch mixed with a few flavorings, coloring agents and preservatives.
How to Make Vanilla Custard
1. In a heavy sauce pan take 3 cups milk.
2. Add ¼ cup cornstarch. In India we call cornstarch “corn flour” and it is a white colored flour.
3. Add 8 tablespoons sugar or add as per taste.
4. Next add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ of a vanilla bean, scraped. I have used vanilla bean. If using vanilla essence, then add only ½ teaspoon of it.
5. Mix everything and keep the pan on stove top on a low to medium-low heat.
Make Vanilla Custard
6. Stir so that all the sugar dissolves. Use a wired whisk for ease of use and best results.
7. Simmer on a low to medium-low heat.
8. When milk gets hot, stir often so that the vanilla custard mixture does not stick to bottom of pan or form lumps.
9. Continue to stir till the custard sauce starts to thicken gradually.
10. Make sure to keep to a low to medium-low heat.
Do not rush the process. You don’t want a lumpy custard or a browned or blackened custard.
11. The sauce will thicken.
12. Continue to simmer and stir continuously till the sauce thickens more.
13. Continue to whisk and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back side of a spoon.
14. Turn the heat off. Place the pan on the kitchen countertop and cover the pan with cotton kitchen towel or napkin. Placing a cotton kitchen towel helps to prevent a layer of skin from forming on top.
Let the vanilla custard sauce cool at room temperature before storing in fridge. As the sauce cools, it will thicken even more.
15. You can use this custard sauce to make desserts like fruit custard, bread & butter pudding, baked custard, or trifles. You can also use it to jazz up any baked goods by drizzling it on top. Enjoy!
Types of Custard
Custards can be either sweet or savory, though when we think of the word, our mind most often goes to desserts.
Examples of savory custards are the wobbly filling of French quiches, delightful bowls of Japanese Chawanmushi, or slices of Swedish Ostakaka or Italian frittatas.
In addition to these various savory applications, custards can also be used across the dessert spectrum: as toppings or fillings for other desserts or sweets; as baked goods like flan or cheesecake; as puddings; or even as frozen desserts.
Did you know that ice creams are made with custard sauce that is churned and frozen?
Here’s a relatively short list of dessert recipes made with custard:
- Fruit Custard
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Bread and Butter Pudding
- Trifle Recipe
- Caramel Pudding
- Chocolate Pudding
- Baked Custards (e.g. flan, crème brûlée)
- Custard Tart
As you can see, the term “custard” is quite broad. In this particular recipe post, I am referring to a vanilla flavored sauce that is essentially a crème anglaise that I make without eggs.
How to make a vegan custard
For vegan custard, I prefer to use almond milk. Just be sure to simmer it on a very low heat and do not let the almond milk come to a boil, lest it curdle. You can also easily swap in your favorite plant based milk, though you should note that soy and coconut milks will have the most pronounced flavors.
Ingredient Swaps & Variations
- For a thicker and firmer vanilla custard, add more cornstarch than what is mentioned in the recipe. You can add up to 1 to 2 tablespoons more.
- Instead of adding more cornstarch, you can also add reduce the quantity of milk.
- You can use either whole milk or toned milk to make crème anglaise.
- Use high quality ingredients for the best flavor. While artificial vanilla essence can be used, using real vanilla beans or pure vanilla extract will yield the best results.
- If you do not have vanilla, don’t fret. You can use other flavorings like green cardamom powder or ground cinnamon powder and even a bit of nutmeg powder. Word to the wise: cardamom flavored custard pairs exceptionally well with blueberries!
- You can turn this recipe into a fruit-based custard sauce. Make custard and let it cool. Then add fruit purées like mango, apple, banana, or strawberry purée to the sauce. Mix and refrigerate. When using fruits, especially very sweet fruits, reduce the amount of sugar in the basic custard sauce recipe.
- Chocolate custard pudding can also be made by adding chocolate chips to melt into the custard sauce and then whisking to combine. Another option is to add cocoa powder initially and cook the custard sauce till it thickens. Later refrigerate for the chocolate pudding to be set.
- Cooking on a low heat: While cooking, simmer gently on a low or medium-low heat. Regulate the heat if needed while the sauce is cooking.
- Stir often: Stirring often ensures that the custard sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Type of pan or pot: Use a good quality, heavy-bottomed steel pan so that the sauce does not get browned or burnt from the bottom.
- Refrigeration: After the crème anglaise cools down to room temperature, you can refrigerate it. It keeps well for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. If making fruit custard, mix the fruits in the chilled custard just before serving.
- Preventing the top skin from forming: After the sauce is done, turn off the heat and keep the pan on the kitchen countertop. Cover pan with a cotton kitchen towel or a cotton napkin. Keeping a cotton kitchen towel instead of lid on top of the pan does not allow to form a layer of skin on the top.
- Scaling: The recipe is easily scaleable to make a large batch of the crème anglaise.
DIY & Collections
DIY & Collections
DIY & Collections
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Vanilla Custard | Crème Anglaise Recipe
- 3 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup cornstarch or cornflour
- 8 tablespoons sugar or add as required
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ of a vanilla bean, scraped or ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- In a heavy saucepan take the milk.
- Add cornstarch and sugar.
- Next add vanilla extract or vanilla bean, scraped.
Making Vanilla Custard
- Mix everything and keep the pan on stovetop on a low to medium-low heat.
- Stir so that all the sugar dissolves. Use a wired whisk for ease of use and best results.
- Simmer on a low to medium-low heat.
- When milk gets hot, then stir often so that the custard mixture does not stick to bottom of pan and forms lumps.
- Continue to stir till the custard sauce starts to thicken gradually.
- Do remember to cook on a low to medium-low heat. So do not rush. You don’t want a lumpy custard or a browned or blackened custard.
- The sauce will thicken. continue to simmer and stir continuously till the sauce thickens more.
- Take the sauce in a spoon and it should coat the back side of the spoon.
- Turn the heat off and cover the pan with cotton kitchen towel or napkin. Placing a cotton kitchen towel prevents from forming the layer of skin on top.
- Let the custard sauce cool at room temperature. Later you can keep in fridge. Do note that on cooling the sauce will thicken more.
- You can use this custard sauce or egg-free crème anglaise to make desserts like fruit custard, bread & butter pudding, baked custard, trifle etc.
- After the custard sauce cools down to room temperature, refrigerate it. It keeps well for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
- Note that the sauce will thicken more after refrigeration.
- Remember to cook all the while on a low or medium-low heat. Stir often so that the custard sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Ensure to use a good quality, heavy-bottomed steel pan so that the sauce does not get stick to the pan or gets burned.
- You can use whole milk or toned milk to make the custard sauce. But for toned milk you may need to increase the cornstarch quantity by 1 to 2 tablespoons more.
- The recipe is easily scaleable to make a large batch of the crème anglaise.
- Note that the approximate nutrition info is for the entire amount of vanilla custard made from this recipe.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Vanilla Custard from the archives first published in July 2018 has been updated and republished on February 2023.