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The Best Homemade Vanilla Custard Recipe (With Tips & Tricks)

MissMerFaery is a published author and home-educating, work-at-home mum of two. She likes to write about crafts and cooking.

A lovely custard is a great way to end a meal or satisfy a sweet tooth!

A lovely custard is a great way to end a meal or satisfy a sweet tooth!

How to Make Vanilla Custard

It's easy to throw together a pre-made custard or make one by using a powder, but there's nothing quite like a homemade pouring custard. It tastes a million times better than packet custard and is so easy to put together. Not only that, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself when everyone raves over their custard!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

15 min

20 min

4 servings


  • 150 mL full-cream milk
  • 150 mL single cream
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 15 g caster sugar (super-fine sugar)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour


  1. Add the milk, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan. Gently heat the mixture until it starts to boil.
  2. Separate your eggs and beat the yolks with sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Do this until everything is smooth.
  3. Once the milk and cream start boiling, remove the pan from the heat and discard the vanilla pod. Add everything to the bowl with eggs and sugar. Make sure to stir the entire time so that the eggs don't scramble!
  4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and set it to the lowest heat you have. Stir everything continuously and watch to make sure it doesn't boil. If it starts overheating, take the pan off the heat for a few seconds (while stirring the contents) and then put it back on the stove.
  5. The custard should start thickening pretty quickly. You'll know it's ready if you coat the back of a wooden spoon with the custard. If you see a thin layer and a trail left by running a finger along the spoon, it's ready. If it runs straight off the spoon, it's not ready yet.
  6. Make sure to read the tips and tricks I'll share with you below!

Tips and Tricks for Making Custard

Here are five ways to experiment with the custard recipe:

  • For a thicker custard, use four egg yolks instead of three.
  • For a plain custard (this recipe is vanilla), leave out the vanilla pod or extract.
  • For a fine custard, omit the cornflour.
  • For a healthier custard, use 300 mL full-fat milk and no cream.
  • For an indulgent custard, use 300 mL single cream and no milk.

Keep these tips in mind to help you make the tastiest custard possible:

  1. The problem people face when making a proper custard is the fact it curdles as soon as it overheats. Even on low heat with constant stirring, the custard can easily get too hot and become horribly lumpy. That's why powdered custard is so popular. However, I use cornflour in this recipe to stabilize the mixture and reduce the chances of curdling. The custard will have a slightly less-than-perfect consistency than true fine pouring custard, but it tastes just as good!
  2. If you want to make a perfect fine-pouring custard, omit the cornflour and keep a very close eye on your custard to ensure it doesn't overheat. Stir continuously and take the pan off the heat each time you think the mixture is getting too hot.
  3. Whether you use cornflour or not, the custard can still curdle. But don't panic! I've had mine curdle many times, and it usually happens when I'm trying to multi-task and stop stirring (gasp!) for a few seconds. Just take it off the heat and stir vigorously to the point of beating it with your spoon until it's smooth again. Then just put it back on the heat and carry on. If the worst happens and it still ends up lumpy, don't despair, it will still taste great!
  4. One of the great advantages of making your own custard is that you can tweak it to your personal taste. If you like it strong, you can add more vanilla. If you like it thick or runny, you can adjust accordingly. If you want to make it a different flavor altogether, you can add orange, cinnamon, or anything else!
  5. There is, alas, one downside to proper homemade custard: you can't freeze it. If you want to freeze your custard or make custard ice lollies, you'll need to use custard powder. A store-bought tub works nicely for custard lollies.
Try adding variety to your custard with a homemade fruit crumble!

Try adding variety to your custard with a homemade fruit crumble!

Inspiration for Homemade Custard

My favorite accompaniment for homemade custard is fruit crumble. You can see custard poured over my famous apple and blackberry crumble in the photo above!

You can add other desserts to jazz up custard such as:

  • Apple pie
  • Fruit tart
  • Sticky toffee pudding

Or, if you're a custard addict like my other half, who needs anything with the custard??Also, if you want to start home cooking seriously, Rachel Allen's cookbook is a great resource. She has a great writing style, and her recipes are delicious (at least, every dish I've tried so far have been successes!). She includes a basic custard recipe along with three variations: vanilla, orange, and cinnamon. Yum!

More Homemade Custard Recipes

© 2011 Missmerfaery444