Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream)
Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream) – quick and easy to make, foolproof custard recipe that can be served on its own, or used as a cake, pie, tart and pastry filling.
If you have been following me for a while, you may know I love baking and making pastry.
Even though I try to follow low-carb diet now, this old custard recipe that I originally shared back in June 2014 desperately needed new pictures.
This is by far my favorite way to make pastry cream.
It produces the thickest, most yellow and perfectly sweet custard that does not release water and works well as a filling in pastry, cakes, tarts or donuts. This egg custard is the best!
No more store bought powdered pudding mixes.
This is a homemade pudding made from scratch.
What is custard?
Custard is generally referred to as a dessert or sweet sauce made with milk, eggs, and sugar.
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations, based on cooked mixture of milk (cream) and egg yolk.
Some other pastry cream variations I’ve shared with you are: Bavarian Cream and Lightened Up Pastry Cream.
Most popular custards are used as desserts or dessert sauces and include sugar and vanilla.
This custard is not cooked over a double boiler. It is cooked in a saucepan on the stove top at medium-low temperature.
What ingredients do I need to make this custard?
- egg yolks
- vanilla extract or vanilla bean
- whole milk
How to make this homemade Custard (Pastry Cream)?
In a large pot pour milk and half of the sugar and bring to just below boil. Reduce heat to medium.
Keep the milk at low simmer. In a bowl whisk egg yolks.
In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and cornstarch.
Add egg yolks to the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine.
!!! DO NOT MIX THE sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch too far in advance(no more than 2-3 minutes), do it when the milk is starting to boil and you are ready to add them to it.
Add 1 cup from the warm milk and carefully mix, then add mixture to the remaining warm milk and heat gently (on low heat), stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk.
Keep stirring until custard thickens, or for 3-5 minutes.
Turn off heat and add butter, which will thicken the custard even more, after it cools down.
Add vanilla.Stir again and remove from heat.
You can strain custard to get rid of any lumps.
Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap on top.
Cool to room temperature.
Serve at room temperature or cold.
Why is my egg custard watery?
There are many reasons why custard could turn into a watery, unusable (but not inedible) thing.
I can say that if you follow my instructions you shouldn’t run into the watery custard problem.
Here are a few reasons why egg custard might not set properly and be watery:
- The recipe and ratio of ingredients definitely can be the main reason.
- Custard made with whole eggs vs egg yolks might be more watery, because egg whites can thin it.
- Not using the correct amount of cornstarch may result in a egg custard that is not thick enough.
- Mixing the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch too far in advance may cause the custard to become watery when cooked.
- The amount of milk is too much and the custard can not thicken.
- Not cooking the custard long enough. This homemade pastry cream needs to be cooked until thickened and it should coat the back of the spatula you are stirring it with.
- Bubbles should start to appear in the custard when done, make sure you stir constantly.
- Then you cook for 1 extra minute after you get the desired thickness, stirring constantly so it does not burn.
What temperature does egg custard set at?
This is for cornstarch thickened custards.
If you are not sure whether your custard is done, you may want to use a pastry thermometer.
Custard making is a delicate operation. A temperature increase of 3–6 °C (5–10 °F) leads to overcooking and curdling. Generally, the
temperature of a fully cooked starch thickened custard should be around 185 °F, it begins setting at 70 °C(~160 °F).
Make sure you cook at 185 F for a minute, but not more than this, since custard will overcook and become watery.
Cornstarch Based Custard Not Thickening, a Troubleshooting guide:
I’ve received some questions and concerns from readers stating that this egg yolk and cornstarch is not thickening.
Here are the main reasons why custard may not thicken:
- Make sure you mix the sugar and cornstarch together with the egg yolks no more than 3-4 minutes, before you add them to the hot milk.
- While I have not had issues with this, some readers are pointing out that if you mix them together too far in advance, custard may turn watery, due to the cornstarch looking its custard setting power.
- Don’t overcook the custard.
- It needs to be cooked to 185 F-190 F but only for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Reaching temperatures beyond 190 F will cause watery, overcooked custard.
- Egg yolks have a starch digesting enzyme called alpha-amylase. In order for a successful thickening of the custard in the recipe, the enzyme has to be killed by cooking the custard almost to1850190 F).
- Otherwise the left-over enzymes digest all of the nice firm starch gel and your custard is nothing but liquid. (All other custard cooking methods without starch can curdle if cooked beyond 185 degrees.)
Some reputable sources on that issue:
Is custard made with eggs?
There are many variations of the traditional custard recipes and every single one of them uses different amounts and ratios of ingredients.
Some recipes call for whole eggs, others for egg yolks only.
If you are looking for thick, foolproof homemade custard recipe, I recommend using egg yolks only.
Feel free to check out my Bulgarian Funiiki Cookies Recipe, where I fill the cream horns with homemade custard made with whole eggs.
Can it be frozen?
I personally would not freeze a batch of custard, because it does not freeze well and has a tendency to separate, once defrosted.
If you make donuts for example and fill them with custard, you can freeze them.
But I don’t recommend freezing custard cakes and tarts.
Making a custard ice cream is a different story.
Most of the time (of not all) you ned to use an ice cream machine to churn the ice cream.
This is not a baked custard recipe.
Baked custard usually contains whole eggs.
Creme caramel or Flan is a variation of baked custard.
When preparing baked custard, you make the egg, milk and sugar mixture, place in oven safe cups (or bowls) and bake at 300-350 F in a water bath until he custard thickens.
How to serve custard?
I enjoy eating it by the spoon full topped with some fresh berries.
You can always drizzle some chocolate sauce or sprinkle some nuts or shredded coconut on top.
More Recipes You May Like:
Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 2/3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cornstarch — (can use cornflour) TABLESPOONS
- 1 oz soft butter — unsalted
In a large pot pour milk and half of the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.
Keep the milk at low simmer. In a bowl whisk egg yolks. In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and cornstarch. Add egg yolks to the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine.
DO NOT MIX THE sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch too far in advance, do it when the milk is starting to boil and you are ready to add them to it.
Add 1 cup from the warm milk and carefully mix, then add mixture to the remaining warm milk and heat gently (on low heat), stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Keep stirring until custard thickens, or for 3-5 minutes. This custard needs to be cooked to 185 F in order for it to become thick and not turn wattery in the fridge.
Turn off heat and add butter, which will thicken the custard even more, after it cools down. Add vanilla.Stir again and remove from heat. You can strain custard to get rid of any lumps.
Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap on top. Cool to room temperature.
Serve at room temperature or cold.
Turned out fabulous! Light creamy color and perfect custard consistency like the custard-filled donuts of my childhood. Once everything is in the pot, the key is to allow the custard to get hot enough to thicken. At first, I had the burner too low and the custard wasn’t thickening, but once I turned it up a tad, it all came together (I didn’t have a thermometer). Delish!
Very easy to follow, clear directions. It worked perfectly, but since I had EXACTLY 2 cups of milk left, I used 2 cups of milk and 4 tbs of cornstarch. The only critique I have is that this is very sweet. Even though I used extra milk and was skimpy on the 1/2 cup of sugar. Our taste runs to much less sweet desserts…and nearly every American recipe for desserts is too sweet for us. I’ll be trying this with 1/2 the sugar next time.
I rated this recipe 5 stars. As a newbie to make this custard, I did not encounter any mishap. It turned out good as I followed the directions well. Very nice textures. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Real appreciated indeed.
Great! Thank you! Glad it worked for you!
LOVED this recipe, so simple to follow and this turned out perfect. Thank you so much
Very similar to the recipe I learned in Culinary school. Produces a nice pastry cream 🙂 I added some maple bourbon syrup and cinnamon and got what was like cinnamon bun custard! Yum.
I followed this recipe to a T. Although it was simple to make and the consistency was perfect. It was WAAAAAAAY too sweet. Like inedibly so. I ended up making a new batch with half the sugar.
Can you use this pastry cream custard recipe in a trifle?
Yes, it will work great for triffle.
Hello, how long does this custard keep for?
Lovely custard. My family requested it again. I would just add more cornflour if you needed it thicker.
This is a great custard recipe. The main change we make is using half the amount of sugar for our preferred sweetness level. We’ve also tried adding a heaping spoonful of matcha powder to make matcha custard, and it works great!
Just made this custard to use as one of the layers of a spring/summer trifle I make with sliced fresh strawberries, white cake cubes and fresh whipped cream. The custard came out wonderful. Beautifully smooth and creamy (no lumps!). I did not think it was too sweet. I intentionally used salted butter. I used 50% more ingredients so I would have enough for two layers, no problem! I will use this recipe again for a banana cream pie.
Far too much cornstarch. I’d cut it by a third at least. You could eat this with a fork.
If it is not thick enough, if you fill cakes or eclairs with it, they will fall apart.
This recipe is so easy to make, and it is delicious as well.
Sorry not what we were expecting are you certain 3 1/2 T cornstarch? Ours congealed in the cups and could be scooped all up on one little spoon it was so thick after cooking what happened? I was wondering if it was supposed to say TSP, instead. Not creamy at all just thick .
IT IS 3 AND 1/2 TABLESPOONS
Fantastic recipe! I have made this several times and have never experienced anything but perfection. I use this as a base for banana pudding and have ditched the boxed junk forever. Thanks for posting this. I have also found this recipe can be doubled easily with no issues. Simply awesome.
Thank you for this recipe. I was making a dessert in which custard was just ONE part of the dish (poached apples mixed into custard, meringue topping) but the custard I made from the recipe I had was just terrible! I threw that out and tried again with this recipe and it came out perfectly.
Easy recipe with way too much sugar
Your 1st recipe at top of page for custard you post ingredients but forget to put the amounts of the ingredients, you just go straight into stating using half the amount of sugar! What are the amounts!?
Thank you in advance
Hm i should’ve gone with my gut about the huge amount of corn starch in here. I thought it may need it because I used 1% milk instead of whole, but it still came out solid, like flan. I halved the sugar which was the right amount, and the taste is quite nice but just way too much corn starch.
Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I used it in some mini graham cracker crust tarts that I made for the Fourth of July. I used vanilla infused sugar and homemade vanilla extract with your recipe, it was a hit. I’ve only made custard one other time and was very nervous but this recipe hit it out of the park. Thank you so much. Delicious!
I followed instructions exactly and it turned out great…..UNTIL I cooled it down and it turned watery??? Why?
Hi Sue. You probably overcooked it. If eggs are cooked for too long or reach a (too) high temperature water will leak afterwards 🙂 hope this helps.
Hey can I bake this in a custard tart? I made it and it’s amazing but I am Wondering if I could use it for the filling of a custard tart if I could bake it with berries? Or should I just bake the crust, put the custard and top with berries?
It’s my first time!
I have not baked the custard inside a tart crust, so I can not tell. But you can definitely bake the crust first, then fill it with the cooled custard.
SO good! If I were to make a chocolate custard using cocoa powder, how would you suggest to change the other ingredients? I’d probably have to add a little more sugar but would that affect the texture?
Hi, I have not tried this recipe for chocolate custard. I have to try and see what adjustments need to be made.
Grew up with custard pie and made this perfect custard today using this exact recipe and it was so easy if you pay attention to the details of how to mix the custard and cooking instructions. This will be my go to custard recipe. It is truly a 5 star recipe
For me this is éclair filling and not the custard I was expecting which I used to make from the no longer available Americana custard boxes. I prefer a less sweat version with more custard flavor. Good recipe though and worked well.
I’ve been making custard for years but decided to try a new recipe and THIS IS IT! I’m shocked on how my custard turned out tasting so good.
Definitely a keeper. Thank you 🙂
I used soy milk for this recipe and it was the perfect consistency, so I’m afraid it might be a bit too thick with whole milk. If it is, you can always add a little milk to thin it, so I’d rather err on the side of too thick.
I used the full amount of sugar and it was a bit sweet for my taste, but probably the right amount for most people. I’d reduce it by about 2 T next time.
I added 1/2 t. of cinnamon and some dried cranberries and topped it with sliced almonds and it was sooooo good!
Excellent and easy!
Used it as a delicious layer in my son’s angel food birthday cake. 😋
Good recipe and instructions but WAY TOO SWEET. I have a major sweet tooth and this was too sweet even for me (which I don’t think I’ve ever said before). I doubled the recipe the first time so I made a second single batch without sugar and mixed them and it was still too sweet. I would reduce sugar to 1/4 cup and taste.
This is a basic recipe and you are welcome to reduce the amount of sugar.
Very good recipe
Can this be made one day in advance?
Yes, it could.