Vanilla Custard | Crème Anglaise Recipe

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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.

custard recipe

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.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Vanilla Custard

Preparation

1. In a heavy sauce pan take 3 cups milk.

milk in a saucepan.

2. Add ¼ cup cornstarch. In India we call cornstarch “corn flour” and it is a white colored flour.

cornstarch added to milk to make crème anglaise.

3. Add 8 tablespoons sugar or add as per taste.

sugar being added to milk and cornstarch mix.

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.

vanilla bean added to saucepan.

5. Mix everything and keep the pan on stove top on a low to medium-low heat.

whisking milk mixture for making crème anglaise recipe.

Make Vanilla Custard

6. Stir so that all the sugar dissolves. Use a wired whisk for ease of use and best results.

continue whisking as the milk heats.

7. Simmer on a low to medium-low heat.

crème anglaise beginning to simmer around edges of pan.

8. When milk gets hot, stir often so that the vanilla custard mixture does not stick to bottom of pan or form lumps.

whisking egg free crème anglaise sauce.

9. Continue to stir till the custard sauce starts to thicken gradually.

still whisking.

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.

custard sauce beginning to thicken.

11. The sauce will thicken.

spoonful of egg free crème anglaise showing slightly thin consistency.

12. Continue to simmer and stir continuously till the sauce thickens more.

crème anglaise continues to thicken.

13. Continue to whisk and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back side of a spoon.

making custard thick enough to coat the back 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.

towel draped over saucepan.

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!

vanilla custard sauce in a bowl with a wooden spoon next to a plate of fresh fruit.

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:

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

  1. 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.
  2. Instead of adding more cornstarch, you can also add reduce the quantity of milk.
  3. You can use either whole milk or toned milk to make crème anglaise.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Expert Tips

  1. 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.
  2. Stir often: Stirring often ensures that the custard sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Scaling: The recipe is easily scaleable to make a large batch of the crème anglaise.

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custard recipe

Vanilla Custard | Crème Anglaise Recipe

This recipe of a creamy Vanilla Custard is one of the easiest dessert sauces that you make. Learn how to make this simple and easy version of homemade Crème Anglaise without using eggs or artificial custard powder.
4.96 from 22 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine World
Course Desserts, Sweets
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Easy
Servings 1 medium bowl
Units

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • 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.

Storage

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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)

Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Custard | Crème Anglaise Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 956 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 88mg29%
Sodium 284mg12%
Potassium 1133mg32%
Carbohydrates 160g53%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 131g146%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 1186IU24%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.4mg27%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 0.5mg25%
Vitamin B12 4µg67%
Vitamin D 8µg53%
Vitamin E 0.4mg3%
Vitamin K 2µg2%
Calcium 913mg91%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 91mg23%
Phosphorus 745mg75%
Zinc 3mg20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Vanilla Custard from the archives first published in July 2018 has been updated and republished on February 2023.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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6 Comments

  1. This is the best custard recipe ever! Super simple and quick to make, and it tastes so good! I have made this so many times and it’s always been a hit with visitors as well.

    I sometimes add fresh sliced bananas or apple into it after as well to add some freshness. Tastes great the next day, cold as well. You need to try this!5 stars

  2. If I need this to be yellow like regular custard , would it be okay to use yellow food coloring? Or is there something better to dye it or is it better to leave it alone

    1. You could add a few drops of natural food color if you prefer or can opt to leave it as is.

  3. I made custard to make creme brulee using this recipe and it was one of the best custard i made. Too good , smooth, velvety and creamy. On top of that, it is egg free. Loved the custard recipe. This is going to be my base recipe for making custard delights now. Thank you very much.5 stars

    1. thanks a lot susan. so glad to read your feedback. most welcome and happy cooking.