Vanilla Pastry Cream + German Buttercream Recipe

Vanilla Pastry Cream buttercream recipe

A simple, no-fail recipe for classic, creamy vanilla pastry cream! Plus, a recipe for German buttercream! This is one recipe that every baker must have in their recipe collection. You can use this creamy custard recipe as a filling for tarts, cakes, cupcakes, eclairs, cream puffs or even cookies! I love the versatility of this recipe and use it quite often in my kitchen!

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Tips For Success!

A few tips for making the perfect creamy vanilla pastry cream and German buttercream!

  • Do not cook the custard over high heat. High heat will overcook the starch, causing the custard to separate. If this happens, create another slurry using 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Add it to the broken custard and cook again for a few minutes until the custard thickens.
  • This custard can be made with or without the butter. I prefer adding the butter because it makes the custard super creamy.

Flavor Options!

I also love that this recipe can be easily changed to incorporate other flavors other than vanilla. I’ve made this custard with coffee – just add a teaspoon of coffee extract, or a few teaspoons of instant coffee; chocolate – add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips along with the butter; caramel – add 1/2 cup dulce de leche or my salted caramel sauce. Whichever flavor you go with, vanilla or otherwise, this custard is simply delicious. It’s creamy, smooth and aromatic!

easy vanilla pastry cream recipe with vanilla bean

How To Make German Buttercream

Bonus recipe alert! As I was filming the recipe for the vanilla pastry cream, I knew I had to share a traditional recipe for German custard buttercream! If you have never tried this buttercream, give it a try for your next cake! This recipe yields a super smooth, creamy and pipe-able cream that holds its shape very well.

  • For the German buttercream, add the chilled custard slowly, about 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time. Adding too much custard at once will cause it to separate, as will over mixing.

It’s a great buttercream recipe for cakes and cupcakes and it’s also not too sweet. If you want to add additional sweetness, add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar to the frosting. As I mention in my video, I find that using a hand mixer works better for this frosting; my stand mixer always over-mixes the buttercream, causing it to separate.

vanilla german buttercream in bowl with strawberry

More Recipes!

Looking for more frosting and cake recipes? I have an entire ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series, showing you how to make simple, everyday recipes that you can mix and match to create your own cake recipe!

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Easy Vanilla Pastry Cream +German Buttercream video recipe


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Vanilla Pastry Cream+German Buttercream Recipe

10 mins prep + 10 mins cook
2 cups
Learn how to make the best vanilla pastry cream for filling desserts! Plus, a recipe for German buttercream using this custard!


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar, optional


  • This recipe can be made with or without the vanilla bean; increase the amount of vanilla to 2 teaspoons.
  • Split the vanilla bean in half and add into a sauce pan along with the milk and flour. Whisk the flour in until no clumps remain. Cook the milk over medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the milk is steaming hot but not boiling. Remove the vanilla bean and scrap out the seeds with a knife and add the seeds to the milk, discarding the pod.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale and ribbons off of the whisk. In a small ramekin, combine the cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Add the slurry to the egg yolk mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.
  • Once the milk is hot, slowly temper the milk into the egg yolks. Add a little at a time and whisk well after each addition. Once the two mixtures have been combined, pour the custard base back into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Custard is ready when it holds its shape on the back of the spatula. Avoid cooking over high heat; this can cause the custard to separate.
  • Remove the custard from heat and add the 1/2 cup butter and vanilla extract. Whisk the butter into the hot custard until it's completely melted. Cover the custard with plastic wrap touching the surface, to prevent a film from forming on top. Refrigerate the custard until completely cooled, then use as a filling or for the custard buttercream.

For German Buttercream:

  • For the buttercream. first beat the softened butter on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is light and fluffy. Begin adding the cooled custard, a few tablespoons at a time, and whisk on medium speed after each addition. After adding the last few tablespoons, whisk for just 30 seconds. If desired, add an additional 1 cup confectioner's sugar to sweeten the frosting.