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pastry cream in bowl with strawberry
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5 from 7 votes

Pastry Cream

This vanilla bean pastry cream recipe is a perfect filling for cream puffs, tarts, pastries, cakes, and other delicious desserts!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chill2 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Servings: 8
Calories: 161kcal


  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • fine mesh strainer


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch 2 1/2 tbsp for a looser consistency filling
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted or salted butter optional


  • In a saucepan bring milk, vanilla, and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil the milk as it can overflow the pan and also overcook the eggs when tempering.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch. It should be thick, creamy, and pale yellow.
  • While whisking, slowly add ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture to temper it. This insures that the eggs don’t overcook and curdle.
  • Add the remaining milk mixture half a cup at a time, while continuously mixing. 
  • Return to saucepan and cook over medium low to medium heat until the mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat once the mixture boils.
  • If adding butter, add one tablespoon at a time and mix until fully incorporated before adding the next. Sometimes the butter separates a bit and makes the mixture greasy. If this happens, whisk continuously for a few minutes until it’s fully combined and cooled down a bit.  It should recombine and no longer be greasy. 
  • Once everything is fully combined and slightly cooled but still warm, pour the mixture through a  fine mesh strainer into another bowl. This will make for a very smooth pastry cream.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on top of the pastry cream filing so it doesn’t get a film on top.
  • Then chill until ready to use, at least two hours or overnight.


  • While not necessary, free range pasture raised egg yolks make a big difference in the final flavor and gives it a lovely deep yellow color! 
  • Heat the milk until just simmering. If it’s too hot it can scorch the milk and overcook the egg yolks.
  • Once you return the milk and egg mixture back to the stovetop, be sure to cook very slowly over low heat. If you cook too fast or over too high of heat it can cause the mixture to curdle or get lumpy.
  • If the mixture does get lumpy or curdle - no problem! Just be sure to strain out the lumps one or two times.
  • This recipe last 3-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 346IU | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg