No-Fuss Pastry Cream

Prep Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Making pastry cream from scratch is as easy as the name of this recipe suggests. Simply bring all the classic pastry cream ingredients—sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and milk—to a boil and cook for one minute. Then chill the rich vanilla custard for up to two days, and use to fill donuts, cream puffs, pies, or tarts.


  • ½ cup sugar

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk together egg yolks and vanilla seeds (if using) in a glass measuring cup; whisk in milk. Add to saucepan along with butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 1 minute, still whisking; then remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (if using).

  2. Strain pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Just before using, whisk until smooth.

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