Easy Vanilla Custard


5 ingredients and 5 steps, that’s all it takes to make this creamy vanilla custard!

What is custard vs pudding?

Custard is the eggy cousin of pudding with much of the same ingredients, sweetened milk. The difference is the thickening agent, cornstarch or eggs and the method of cooking, stove-top versus baked. Most custards are baked, but you cook it gently on the stove top and depending on the version you are making you may or may not use the cornstarch. My recipe is meant to be quick and easy, so we are using both eggs and cornstarch.

How about all the other cousins?

img_3358Blancmange: a fancy name for pudding.

Creme Brûlée: a baked custard.

Creme Anglaise: a pouring custard (think melted ice cream).

Pastry Cream: a creamy pudding, kinda like a custard-pudding mixture. This uses cornstarch and eggs to thicken it so it really is the closest name for what we are making today. Just FYI it’s always served cold, but custards may be served warm.

Flan: yet another custard cousin from south of the border with cream and milk so it sets a little looser.

Gelato: typically has less fat than ice cream, since it is often made with milk instead of cream and contains little or no egg yolks.

Zach enjoying a Leon’s Frozen Custard Chocolate Sundae…Extra Cherries! circa 1998

Ice Cream vs. Frozen Custard: obviously the custard has egg yolks while ice cream does not. Ice cream is made in a batch freezer.  If you didn’t know it, soft-serve ice cream has ~80% air while frozen custard uses a similar machine but only adds~20% air. Resulting in my ultimate kyrptonite, Leon’s Frozen Custard. Made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I would jump over fire to get a pint of Leon’s here in Washington. You just haven’t lived until you haven’t had Leon’s!

As you can see, I am in love with all forms of custard. Hands down any of these desserts, especially when combined with fruit has me in gastronomic raptures. Chocolates, nope. The way to my heart is custard! With out further adue, enjoy!

Creamy Vanilla Custard

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Creamy, rich and full of flavor this vanilla custard is quick and easy. Use with other recipes or by itself with fresh fruit!


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2tsp. vanilla


  1. Combine milk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. cook at medium heat, continue to whisk scraping the bottom to prevent the cornstarch from burning. allowing the milk to scald.
  2. slowly add the egg yolks while whisking. Continue to heat the mixture until it begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Don not let it boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla, mixing until combined.
  4. Pour into individual cups or ramekins. Cool in the fridge for at leat 20 minutes. If you arent’t serving immediately, cover dishes until ready for serving.
  5. Garnish with fresh fruit, a sprig of mint and dust with powdered sugar and serve. Yum!

This delicious custard can be used as a filling for tarts, pies, bars, crepes, cream puffs and so much more. add some natural flavors for even more options!

I hope you’ve enjoyed cooking with me today! If you want more ideas on what to do with egg yolks, pop on over to my Lemon Berry Tart recipe. Used your egg yolks and now wondering what to do with the whites? Check out the crunchy goey sugary treats called Schaum Tortes!

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