A spoonful of perfect pastry cream

Perfect Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Author: Rebecca Blackwell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus refrigeration time)
  • Total Time: 30 minutes (plus refrigeration time)
  • Yield: 3 cups


This is the BEST tried and true recipe for silky smooth, luscious Vanilla Pastry Cream. It’s super simple and the perfect filling for any pastry.


  • 1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tsp cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks (Save the whites for Italian Meringue Buttercream or Angle Food Cake)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. In a small dish, stir the gelatin and water together to combine. There should be just enough water to moisten the gelatin, creating a rubbery paste. Set aside.
  2. Add the egg yolks and cornstarch to a medium size bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Set a 1 or 2 cup glass measuring cup next to the stovetop. Add the milk, sugar, and salt to a 4-quart or larger heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, just until it barely begins to boil. Pour 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups of the hot milk into the glass measuring cup. (This tempering process will help prevent the eggs from scrambling.)
  4. Slowly pour the hot milk from the measuring cup into the egg yolks, pouring slowly, and whisking constantly. Then, pour everything back into the saucepan and set it over medium-low heat. (You want to continue to heat the eggs slowly so they won’t scramble.)
  5. Cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick and begins to boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for about 20 seconds, then remove from the heat and whisk for about 20 seconds longer. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl.
  6. Break the gelatin into small pieces, dropping them into the hot pastry cream. Whisk until the gelatin is completely incorporated, about 20 seconds. Whisk in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap over the surface of the pastry cream.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
  8. Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until medium peaks form.
  9. Remove the cooled pastry cream from the refrigerator and add to the whipped cream. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer to combine, about 1 minute.

The pastry cream is now ready to use in any recipe.


Adding whipped cream to this pastry cream gives it a lovely light consistency. But, if a thicker consistency is desired for a recipe, just leave the whipped cream out.

  • Category: pastry cream

Keywords: pastry cream, dessert filling, cake filling, pastry filling, French pastry