This vanilla pudding is easy, creamy, and perfectly sweet! The best vanilla pudding you can make at home! So much better than store-bought.
Simple ingredients. The best vanilla pudding ever!
First of all, how are you guys holding up? I hope everyone is safe and healthy! These are some weird ass times to say the least.
With flour at a premium these days, I had to look at other ways to satisfy our occasional dessert craving. One of the easiest desserts that we turn to often is this very simple but classic homemade vanilla pudding.
There’s nothing complicated about this recipe. And the results are super delicious and satisfying. I’ve never been a fan of store-bought vanilla pudding. Even as a kid – if you can believe that. But now that I make my own, I could never have enough of it.
Why I love making this vanilla pudding recipe
- Super simple to make.
- And quick to whip up.
- The base ingredients are simple and can almost always be found at home.
- Versatile recipe that can easily be upgraded, or changed to your taste.
- This recipe is gluten free, and can be made dairy free too!
- Make it as thick or as thin as you like.
- Perfect for serving with fruit or cake.
Vanilla pudding is a lighter version of pastry cream (or custard), but made with the same ingredients. My husband likes his pudding super thick and set, whereas I like mine to be thick but creamy. And you can make this either way – depending on your preference.
Reduce the cornstarch even more and make a classic vanilla pudding that is less thick. Either way, this is an adaptable vanilla pudding recipe that your family will love!
Ingredients for homemade vanilla pudding
This is also why homemade vanilla pudding is so much better than store-bought. Just a handful of ingredients, and no preservatives at all.
- Egg yolks
- Cornstarch (or cornflour in the UK/AUS)
How to make homemade vanilla pudding even better
- Substitute half of the milk with evaporated milk, OR
- Add a little dry milk powder to the mixture.
- Add a touch of salt. I always do this because salt elevates dessert. ALWAYS.
- If you can, use vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste.
- You could even use vanilla infused sugar instead of regular sugar.
- Add 2 tbsp of bourbon or rum (for the adults of course).
So, let’s do this!
Making homemade vanilla pudding is easy.
In one bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk. Make sure the mixture is nice and smooth. You can also mix all the sugar cornstarch and salt with the egg yolks if you are planning on infusing the milk with any flavors.
In a medium saucepan, place the rest of the milk, sugar and salt (if using). Heat milk + sugar mixture until it starts to steam and the sugar dissolves completely. You do NOT need to bring the milk to a boil.
The next step is to add the egg yolks. However, you need to temper the egg yolks BEFORE you add it to the milk. If you add the eggs directly to the hot milk, you will end up with scrambled eggs.
Take about 1/2 cup (or more) of the hot milk and slowly pour it into the egg – cornstarch mix, while whisking constantly. This will raise the temperature of the egg mixture, without scrambling it. Then, it’ll be safe to add the warmed milk mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Whisk to combine.
Return the milk mixture to the stove and heat it again. Heat and whisk the pudding base constantly. Make sure to whisk all the corners and the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the custard from sticking. The custard will now start to thicken.
When the pudding mixture comes to a boil (bubbles will break the surface), remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk the butter in until it has melted and completely mixed into the pudding.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap, while making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface of the pudding. This prevents a skin from forming on the surface.
Let the pudding chill in fridge for at least a few hours until completely chilled.
Once chilled, the pudding should be set (if you make the thicker version). My husband prefers the “set version” that you can scoop like jello. But I like to whisk the chilled pudding, which then becomes a really thick but creamy pudding consistency.
If you make the runny version, then this isn’t an issue.
Top it with some berry coulis or fresh berries and whipped cream and serve!
How to substitute ingredients
This is already gluten free because this recipe uses cornstarch.
Instead of white sugar, you can substitute brown sugar for a butterscotch version.
Add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder for an easy chocolate pudding version.
Add some chopped ripe bananas for a classic banana pudding.
Mix in some espresso powder to make a coffee pudding instead.
Or instead of milk and butter, use any plant-based milk and butter for a dairy free version.
Use coconut milk and top it with toasted coconut for a coconut pudding.
Homemade Vanilla Pudding
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp dry milk powder (optional)
- ¾ cup sugar for a sweet version, (add only ½ cup or 100 g for a less sweet version)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp cornstarch 2 tbsp (20 g) for a thinner version
- 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- In a large bowl, place the egg yolks, cornstarch and about ¼ cup of the milk. Whisk to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, place the rest of the milk, milk powder (if using), sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat and whisk to dissolve the sugar and salt. Heat until the milk starts to steam.
- Remove the milk from the heat.
- Place the bowl with the egg yolk mixture on a non-slip surface (e.g. on a cloth napkin or non-slip mat).
- Take about ½ cup of the hot milk and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking the egg yolk mixture constantly. Here you're only adding enough milk to warm the egg yolk mixture.
- Add the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the hot milk.
- Heat the pudding mixture while whisking constantly until it starts to thicken. Make sure you reach the edges and the bottom of the saucepan as well while whisking. Otherwise the pudding will catch at the bottom of the pan and become lumpy and burnt.
- Whisk and heat the pudding mixture until a few bubbles break the surface.
- Remove the pudding from the heat and add the vanilla extract and softened butter. Whisk until the butter completely melts and mixes in with the pudding, along with the vanilla.
- Transfer the pudding into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the whole surface of the pudding (this is to prevent a skin from forming on the surface).
- Let it chill in the fridge for at least a few hours, or until the pudding is completely chilled.
- Remove the plastic wrap and scoop the pudding into individual bowls. If you like a thinner, creamier pudding, whisk the set vanilla pudding with a whisk until smooth and creamy (using a balloon whisk). This can then be spooned into individual bowls for serving.