Vanilla Pastry Cream+German 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!

Watch My Video!

Watch my video recipe for all the instructions! Want to receive an alert when a new recipe goes live? Make sure you’re subscribed to my  YouTube channel  !

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!

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.

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

This is a similar stainless steel sauce pot to the one I have – so handy for making the custard.
I love this set of nesting glass mixing bowls – a must for food prep.
My favorite whisk – this sturdy All-Clad whisk is amazing!
And my handy, handheld KitchenAid mixer gets the job done when I don’t want to get out my larger stand mixer.


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