How to Make Vanilla Pastry Cream (video)

vanilla pastry cream in a glass bowl, with a strawberry

A simple, no-fail recipe for classic, creamy vanilla pastry cream! This is one recipe for custard cream 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!

My Pastry Cream Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube video recipe for all the instructions on how to make this easy vanilla pastry cream! Want to receive an alert when a new recipe goes live? Make sure you’re subscribed to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel  and turn on notifications.

Ingredients for Vanilla Pastry Cream

This delicious vanilla filling is so easy to make! Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this versatile and easy cream filling:

  • Whole Milk: use whole milk for best results and for a rich and creamy filling.
  • Eggs: use organic, free-range eggs for the richest tasting cream. Have the eggs at room temperature for best results.
  • Sugar: use white granulated sugar or sugar fine sugar.
  • Flour & Cornstarch: both of these ingredients act as thickeners for the pastry cream.
  • Vanilla: vanilla beans are the best option for this recipe but they can be more expensive. You can replace the vanilla bean with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Flavor Variations for Cream

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!

creamy vanilla custard cream in glass bowl

How to Make Vanilla Pastry Cream

This traditional filling is actually quite easy to make! Knowing how to make this cream is must if you love making cakes and pastries!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
vanilla german buttercream in bowl with strawberry

Using Pastry Cream for Recipes

This classic pastry cream can be used for so many different recipes! I use it for filling cakes, cookies, pastries and even as a glaze! Here are a few recipes to try that you’re sure to enjoy!

a slice of chocolate coffee cake on a plate

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

Supplies & Tools

Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):

How to Make Vanilla Pastry Cream

10 mins prep + 10 mins cook + 4 hrs Chill Time:
2.5 cups
Learn how to make the best vanilla pastry cream for filling desserts! It's perfect for filling cakes, pastries and cookies!

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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. I recommend chilling for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  • Nutritional facts: approximately 40 calories per tablespoon.

Nutrition

Calories: 629kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 347mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 1683IU | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 1mg