Custard

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This classic custard is the perfect dessert to enjoy year-round. It’s silky smooth, perfectly sweet, and much easier to make than you think. Serve it up warm, drizzled over cake or a fruit crisp, or chill it and top with berries. It’s up to you!

A glass of custard
Photo: Gayle McLeod

This classic custard recipe has a special place in my home. My dad (as a New Zealander) always prefered it warm and drizzled over some sort of cake. While my mom (an American) preferred it chilled and more pudding-like. And that’s not surprising, because based on my travels I’d say that many people in the US think of custard as a pudding, while many people in the UK enjoy it served as an accompaniment to another dessert. I’ll gladly enjoy custard either way, which just highlights the versatility of this sweet treat.

So why do I love this custard recipe? Because it’s creamy, luscious and smooth with hints of sweet vanilla. It’s also far better than any store-bought box mix, and super easy to make at home. If you’ve made my chocolate pots de creme, tapioca pudding, or coconut creme brulee, you’re already an expert on this recipe, as those desserts have custard as the base. So let’s whip it up!

Ingredients for custard

Custard Ingredients

For some context, there is a difference between custard and pudding. Puddings (like my banana pudding) rely on more starch to thicken up whereas custards rely on egg yolks as the primary thickening agent. This gives custard a more delicate and subtle flavor.

  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is the key to creating a thick and luscious custard. If you’re dairy-free, you can use coconut cream instead.
  • Whole Milk: Whole milk mixed with heavy cream is the ultimate duo for a rich consistency. But you could also use a creamier non-dairy milk such as canned coconut milk or oat milk.
  • Egg Yolks: You only need egg yolks in this recipe, so save the egg whites to make an egg white omelette or souffle dessert!
  • Honey: Any type of sugar can be used in this recipe. I prefer to use honey or maple syrup.
  • Vanilla Extract: A splash of vanilla extract add that sweet, rich flavor. But if you have fresh vanilla beans on hand, feel free to scrape one and add it in. Just stir it into the heavy cream in the first step.
  • Starch: You don’t need much for this custard, but a little bit helps to thicken the eggy cream mixture. You can use cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or tapioca flour.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

How To Make Custard

Heat the cream. Add the heavy cream and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until it’s simmering with bubbles along the edges, then remove from the heat. Note: Milk has a tendency to boil over quickly on the stove, so do keep a close eye on it!

Warming cream in a pan

Temper the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks, honey, starch, and vanilla in a medium bowl. While continuously whisking, slowly pour half of the hot cream mixture into the bowl. If you pour too fast, the eggs will curdle.

Making a warm egg mixture in a bowl

Stir together. Return the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan and stir together over medium-low heat for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the custard is slightly thickened. Note: the custard will continue to thicken once removed from the heat.

Stirring custard in a bowl

Serve or chill. You can serve the warm custard drizzled over desserts or chill and serve it cold. To chill, transfer the custard to a bowl and cover the top (so it’s touching the custard) with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.

A bowl of chilled custard

Common Questions

What are some ways to enjoy this custard?

If you want to enjoy it warm, it’s delicious drizzled it over my flourless chocolate cake or apple crisp (coming soon). If you prefer it chilled, you can serve it up with fresh, seasonal fruit. You can also layer in a trifle or use it as the filling in a fruit tart or banana cream pie (just make sure to bake the crust before filling with custard).

Why is my custard a bit lumpy?

There’s a high chance you might have overcooked your egg mixture on the stovetop. If the mixture is cooked for too long or at too high a temperature, it can start to break and become lumpy. If that happens, immediately remove it from the heat. Then use an immersion blender to blend it smooth again. Just don’t transfer it to a high-powered blender as that’ll incorporate too much air and make the custard whipped and frothy.

Glasses of custard with fruit

Storage Tips

  • To store: Homemade custard can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, which makes it the perfect make-ahead dessert. Just give it a good stir and serve with your favorite toppings.
  • To reheat: If you’ve chilled the custard and want to serve it warm again, you certainly can. Just don’t microwave it because the eggs will curdle! Instead, warm it gently in a double boiler and add more cream or milk to thin it back down.

More Easy Desserts

I’m a big fan of simple desserts, so here are a few other favorites to keep in rotation when you need a sweet bite!

I hope you, your friends, and family enjoy this creamy custard recipe! If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.

A glass of custard with fruit

Easy Custard Recipe

4.91 from 22 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This homemade vanilla custard is silky, creamy, and super easy to make! Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen (and how I serve it up both warm and cold!).

Video

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Heat the cream. Add the heavy cream and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until it just starts to simmer with bubbles along the edges, then remove from the heat.
    Warmed up cream in a pot
  • Temper the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks, honey, arrowroot powder, and vanilla in a medium bowl. While continuously whisking, very slowly pour half of the hot cream mixture into the bowl. Don't pour too fast or the eggs will curdle.
    Whisking egg mixture in bowl
  • Stir together. Return the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan and stir together over medium-low heat for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the custard is slightly thickened. Note: the custard will continue to thicken once removed from the heat.
    Creamy custard in a pot
  • Serve. You can serve the custard warm drizzled over cake, pie or other desserts or you can chill it and serve cold. If chilling, transfer the custard to a bowl and cover the top (so that it's touching the custard) with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Then, spoon individual servings in glasses to serve.

Lisa’s Tips

  • This serves 4 people if you serve it up as small puddings (about 4 to 5-ounces each) Or you can serve 2 people with larger portions. If serving the custard as a hot drizzle over another dessert, you’ll get about 4 to 6 servings. 

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 318mg | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1298IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: custard, custard recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




32 Comments

  1. Made this custard and it was easier than I’d expected to make. It’s also really good and not over sweet, just how I like it!5 stars

  2. Ohhhh My, I just tried this and love it. So easy and simple to prepare. Did I mention delicious,,,, OHHHH so good.
    Thank You, Charles S.5 stars

  3. This is hands down the most delicious one I’ve ever tasted. No need to shop in-store anymore. Grateful for this amazing find. Thank you!5 stars

  4. I made this custard for a dinner party and it was fantastic! A huge hit for everyone. It feels light so you can eat a full serving and you won’t feel heavy or regret it! (I think I could eat the entire bowl!). It’s super easy to make and great as a make ahead. Before the party, I placed a serving in individual cups, covered with plastic wrap on the surface of the custard. Just before serving, I added the berries, almonds and a sprig of mint. Came together fast. I will make this again and again.5 stars

    1. Wonderful! I’m happy you loved the recipe, Alicia! It really is the perfect make-ahead dessert as well. Enjoy!

  5. This custard had great flavor. For me it made a better sauce than a custard since I couldn’t get it to set. Tasted great over brownies and topped with berries.3 stars

    1. Happy you loved the flavor, Danielle! And next time, try simmering on the stove top a little bit longer. You could always add a bit more starch as well, though keep in mind that custard is not supposed to be super thick like American-style pudding.

  6. My type of Lisa, I use honey most of the time as sweetener , honey is like medicine for me, does not elevate blood sugar. Thank you Lisa, love your book.5 stars

      1. Thank you Lisa for sharing another delicious and easy Downshiftogy recipe. I made this Saturday night and it came out great. I think I preferred this Warm to cold the next day, although both were good. Especially with berries on top.

    1. I have a few dairy-free options written in the post. But you can use coconut cream and dairy-free milk.