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How to make the Perfect Custard

When I first started working as a chef, a good custard was the foundation of many of our restaurant desserts. We called it crème anglaise and it was a velvety, smooth sauce made from egg yolks, whole milk, cream, vanilla bean and sugar. You can flavour it with anything you like such as cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, citrus, coffee or pistachio.

Poured over a warm Christmas pudding or fresh strawberry trifle, or served as egg nog with an added touch of brandy a dusting of nutmeg.   These days I like to make them a little healthier, using less saturated fat and less sugar and that’s a lot kinder to the arteries. This custard is made from a combination of eggs + low fat milk, which are a great source of quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair.  I’ve given you a few different  variations so that no matter what your eating style you’ll pretty much find the right custard for you to serve this Christmas.

500 ml (2 cups /17 fl oz)  milk (see note)
2 whole free range/organic eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract
2 tablespoons organic maple syrup or 1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoons cornflour or kudzu
pinch nutmeg

Heat milk in a saucepan with vanilla and honey and bring to almost boiling point, then remove from the heat.
Beat the eggs and cornflour in a stainless steel mixing bowl until combined.
Pour the hot milk over the eggs and whisk in well.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
Remove from the heat quickly and pour back into the  mixing bowl.
Whisk well to cool a little and smooth it out.  If you see any lumps then strain through a sieve.
Serve hot or cold and enjoy. Serves 6

To warm up a cold custard, place into a bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water.  Stir and heat through gently.

Nutrition info using reduced fat milk – Per serve:

Protein: 5.8 g
Total fat: 3.2 g
Saturated: 1.4 g
Carbs: 9.6 g
Calcium: 122 mg
Kilojoules: 371
Calories: 88.7

NOTE: in terms of milk you can use any combo that suits your eating style:

reduced fat milk (calcium enriched)
Organic milk
Almond milk
Soy milk
Rice milk
400 ml Rice milk + 100 ml coconut milk combo if you want it richer

NOTE: To make a delicious egg free custard heat  500 ml almond milk with  2 tablespoons  honey  or 100 % maple syrup + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract until almost boiling.  Thicken with a slurry made from 2 tablespoons cornflour, arrowroot or kudzu then add a little nutmeg to finish.

NOTE: for a no cook custard –  blend the pulp from 1 mango with 1/2 cup coconut milk and the juice of 1/2 – 1 orange depending on thickness  - it’s totally delicious and great in a summer trifle or poured over seasonal fruit such as strawberries or papaya.

Phew !!! I think that’s all bases covered ….

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73 Responses to “How to make the Perfect Custard”
  1. Margaret says:

    You’ve definitely thought of everything! Thanks for the amazing recipe. :)

  2. Brett says:

    Whole eggs or just yolks???

  3. kahlia says:

    Done it again T!!! Salivating haha x :)

  4. Keiarna says:

    OMG, custard is my one weakness and since going GF/DF custard is always disappointing.
    Cant wait to try this =] xoxo

  5. Jacquie says:

    Thanks so much for this. Can’t wait to try it and yr Christmas puddings :) yummm

  6. ecobabe says:

    Today as I finished my Xmas lunch at Toko I said to my friend that I wanted to make a lemon curd style creme anglaise for my Xmas pudding this year, and voila, here is your recipe! Will try it this weekend – how should I incorporate the citrus? Grated zest and juice after the custard is cooked? I’m worried about splitting/curdling the custard. Many thanks for a year of great recipes!

    • Ecobabe – lemon juice will curdle and split any dairy based creme anglaise you make. 2 ways you can go. Use lemon zest only and a little vanilla which will be lovely. or Use a non dairy base such as almond milk or 1/2 coconut + half rice milk base. You can then add a little lemon juice and zest without splitting. :)

  7. Whitney says:

    FANTASTIC Teresa! You have mentioned Strawberry Trifle in your missive above – can you produce a recipe for that now too!? PLEASE……. PLEASE!????

  8. carolyn says:

    Cant wait to test custard it looks amazing. Have a happy Christmas and New Year with yoour family
    L
    Carolyn Hartz

  9. Veronica says:

    Thanks Teresa
    Do you have a good recipe for Christmas Red cabbage? Without sugar, dairy, gluten … !?

  10. Emma says:

    Yum! I’ll definitely be whipping up some for Christmas! Thanks.

  11. lizzie says:

    YUM!! Thank you Teresa, I have been on a quest to find a sugarless custard recipe, to give my baby. I have just finished making it and its is glorious!

    Lizzie

  12. Velma says:

    I get to make dessert this year and was thinking of making Trifle…regular and a dairy free for me. :-) Is corn flour and corn starch the same? Or should I go looking for the corn flour?

    • Hey Velma, they are both the same however some corn flours contain wheat so look for a gluten free corn flour if you can. Also you can look for Kuzu or arrowroot which is perfect. If I were you – no need to make 2 versions – just make one lovely dairy free trifle for everyone. Have a great Christmas :)

      • Velma says:

        If it was my family or friends, I would make just one. :-) I have corn starch in the pantry, so I’m set. Now I just need to decide if it’s almond milk or include coconut milk. Might do coconut milk with mango and maybe pineapple…go tropical.

  13. Lou says:

    Hi Teresa,

    What could I substitute for the honey? I make my own custarf for my baby and want to try this but cannot give him honey? Thanks!

  14. Becs in Britain says:

    I just tried this and was amazed at how easy it was! Fantastic recipe, and one I’ll be making again and again – thank you! x

  15. Just made this and it was TO DIE FOR!!!! A complete hit, I had to x4 as we had 11 kids to feed :-) thanks again for such wonderful supportive desserts xx Dani

    http://fitnessfoodandstyle.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/day-5-tt12-ab-challenge.html#.UC9_NKkp_ao

  16. Lauren says:

    Awesome recipe. Just wondering with the coconut version if you would tend to use the full fat coconut milk or the lighter alternative. I’ve heard the full fat version is good for you

    • I always use the regular version Lauren as it tastes better and is more pure. If you want to reduce the fat content, blend 1 mango + 1/4 cup orange juice or coconut water and 1/4 cup coconut milk. Thin down if needed with more coconut water or orange juice. :)

    • I always use the regular version Lauren as it tastes better and is more pure. If you want to reduce the fat content, halve the amount of coconut milk and replace with more orange juice. :)

  17. Jen says:

    I made this last night AND again tonight to go with our dessert. My family live it and so do I , thank you so so much. Jen

  18. sue says:

    Love your work! Thank you, Teresa, for assisting us so very well in our healthy-being endeavours, especially your consideration of food intolerances & allergies.

  19. rabeea says:

    Today I didnt have custard powder and I made custard by this recipe, its so amazing and delicious..thank you!!

  20. Leah says:

    Teresa can u tell why mine hasn’t thickened :-( I’ve made this twice now and it is just runny. I made it once with half almond milk half raw cows milk, then once all almond milk and then the recipe exact, but it just won’t thicken, it turned out like slightly thick soup. Delicious though! Could I have over cooked it?

    • Hey Leah – a crème anglaise or basic French style custard is supposed to be a little like the consistency of pouring cream – not too thick, however if you would like to have a thicker style of custard all you need to do is increase your cornflour or arrowroot by another 1/2 tablespoon – 1 tablespoon until you achieve your desired consistency. Once your custard boils remove from the heat immediately – overcooking can denature the delicate protein of the egg and cause it to curdle and become watery. Hope this helps :) x

  21. Anna says:

    Last time I tried to make custard it was a disaster. This recipe was so quick and easy. Used maple syrup and normal milk, so yummy with our apple crumble. Next time I want to try it with almond milk.

  22. Caitlin says:

    Yum! I defiantly want to try this! Do you think coconut flour would work well as a thickener to replace the corn flour?
    Thanks for the delicious recipes!

    • Anghared finch says:

      Hi I am really enjoying reading your recipes. I am going to make the custard to go with the baked Christmas pudding..could I use coconut flour or almond flour instead of corn flour or arrowroot? (SCD) Thanks.

  23. Caitlin says:

    Hi Teresa, in place of the corn flour could I could the healthy chef pea protein powder instead or some coconut flour? Thanks :)

  24. Felicity says:

    Can you freeze this? I made half a batch for my son – which he loved – but I would like to make more and freeze for later on rather than making it fresh all the time. Thank you.

  25. Stacy says:

    Do you think all of these healthy custard recipes would work to make ice cream?

  26. Lissie says:

    i started making this thinking all was well, but i discovered i had no cornflour! as a had the milk heating and the eggs waiting to be whisked i threw caution to the wind and grabbed some regular plain flour and hoped it worked. and it did! my custard turned out a little lumpy but i think that was due to my lazy stirring!

  27. Harpreet says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Its a pretty nice and precise recipe you’ve put in here. I hope I would cook well to get a nice taste and the final product I want. lolz!!.
    However, I would like to ask that can I use Whey Protein Powder instead of Cornflour that You’ve mentioned with eggs? Will that solve my purpose to get the custard ready?

    Thanks in advance.

  28. Abby says:

    Just made this custard, I added 1 tablespoon of cocoa and it is delicious. Thanks for the great recipe. It’s just the right consistency and sweetness YUM

  29. Lauren says:

    Delicious! Just made some!

  30. Alex says:

    Thank you! I substituted rice malt syrup in for sryup/honey for a completely sugar free custard and it was gorgeous! Can I ask why whole egg and not just yolk like traditional recipes? :)

  31. Rebecca says:

    Could I add chocolate to the recipe to make chocolate custard?

  32. Neha says:

    Thanks for this healthy recipie.. I am going to try making it for a dinner party tonight… Is it possible to add a splash of rum or brandy to it to make it a more adult version… Or would it make the custard too runny?

  33. Christy says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Do you know how long this will keep in the fridge?
    My kids love custard!

    Thanks

  34. Kat Howard says:

    Perfect gluten, dairy sugar free custard, wow. My sister’s friend who has a completely normal diet said it was lovely, so that’s a good sign :)

  35. Bianca says:

    Yum! How long will it last in the fridge afterwards do you think?

  36. Claire says:

    I’ve just made the custard and it is great! Easy and yum. Could this be used in a bake? I.e. With apples in the oven as a custard and apple bake?

  37. Candice says:

    I used rice/coconut milk and at first it wasn’t thickening, so I added a second egg and it turned out perfect! Thank you for such a great recipe!

  38. Ree says:

    I seem to have big issues making custard!!! I’ve followed your recipe to a tee & it still won’t thicken for me :( I’m starting to wonder if it’s because I’m using rice & chickpea milk….any ideas? I really want to make a successful dairy free custard for my little one but I’m not having any luck with any recipe so far they just won’t thicken no matter how much I stir

  39. Monica Neil says:

    Hi I just tried to make this recipe with almond milk but it has separated. Do you know why this would have occurred?

    • Almond Milk when heated to higher temperatures will thicken and seperate slightly. Heat it gently over a low flame….and don’t boil it. Adding the yolks and cornstarch will emulsify everything back together so you’ll be ok.

  40. Martha says:

    Can I flavor this custard with some sort of fruit purée??

  41. Jodie says:

    I have never made custard… until now. I was looking for a recipe to make a custard in my Vitamix and they all had heaps of double cream and sugar. Then I came across this recipe and wondered if it would work the same as the other vitamix recipes. I used 3 eggs because they were small. I put all the ingredients (including extra cornflour as suggested for a thicker custard). I flicked the vitamix onto high and let it go for about 5 minutes till it was steaming hot. It thickened more as it cooled a little. The taste was delicate and creamy with my apple crumble. The left over did seem to split a bit in the container but I put it into a bowl and lightly whisked and it returned smooth and creamy. I will definitely make this again. Super easy.

  42. Sarah says:

    I make this custard at least twice a week, I generally use cows milk and it’s delicious, tonight I decided to make it swapping the cows milk for homemade coconut milk. AMAZING!!! I will never make this with cows milk again! Can’t wait to give the left overs to the kids tomorrow with lots of berries for breakfast.

  43. Anna says:

    Your recipe looks absolutely scrumptious! I’m Jewish, diabetic, and lactose-intolerant, and I’ve been searching for a custard recipe that I can actually eat, and voila!nNow I just have to get the ingredients and find the time to make it.

    The only questions I have (for now, at least!) are:

    1) Thank you SO MUCH for the notes about milk. I read them, but am still confused: would this work with all almond milk? Or almond milk and coconut creamer? Or would all coconut milk or all soy milk be better?

    2) What is corn flour? Is it cornstarch? Cornmeal?

    Thank you in advance!

  44. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the recipe- it was very easy to follow and yielded a delicious custard!
    I used Bonsoy and maple syrup, and added a big splash of dark rum right at the end.

  45. Jacob Estrin says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Just wanted to thank you for this recipe. I have printed it around 10 times now as my wife LOVES it!!

  46. LINA says:

    Can I add a different type of flour? like Almond or chickpea or coconut flour? instead?\Thanks!

  47. Cookie 101 says:

    So clever ! I’m a new subscriber. Season’s Greetings :))

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