Learn how to make pastry cream, a classic French stirred custard (crème pâtissière) used it to fill cakes, pastries, tarts, and pies. It’s delicious plain or try one of my flavor suggestions.

A tart crust filled with pastry cream.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. How to Make Pastry Cream Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Pastry cream ingredients.

Ingredient notes

  • Vanilla: ½ vanilla bean, split, may be substituted for the vanilla extract.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat, warm milk until tiny bubbles appear on the surface, about 6 to 8 minutes (about 180 degrees Farenheit). Stir to prevent the milk from scalding.
Milk simmering at 180 degrees in a saucepan.
  1. Meanwhile, In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cornstarch and salt. While whisking constantly, pour in half of the hot milk. Whisk in remaining hot milk and return to saucepan.
Stirring hot milk into pastry cream.
  1. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a firm consistency, about 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in vanilla.
Adding vanilla to a bowl of pastry cream.
  1. Scrape in to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on to the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 to 3 hours.
Pastry cream in a bowl with parchment pressed down on top.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 4 cups (1 quart) pastry cream, enough for 1 Fresh Fruit Tart.
  • Storage: The pastry cream can be made up to 4 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed directly on its surface.
  • Butter: For a buttery flavor, softer texture, and a lovely shine, add 2 tbsp. butter with the vanilla in Step 3.
  • Chocolate pastry cream: Stir 2 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate into the pastry cream with the vanilla in Step 3.
  • Coffee pastry cream: Add ½ ounce coffee extract to the pastry cream with the vanilla in Step 3.
  • Coconut pastry cream: Substitute 8 ounces (1 cup) of the whole milk with an equal amount of unsweetened canned coconut milk.
  • Mousseline pastry cream: Whip 6 ounces heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold in to the chilled pastry cream. This will lighten the pastry cream and makes a great filling for eclairs or cream puffs.
If you’re looking for the irresistible cream puffs that have been served at the Wisconsin State Fair since 1924, you’ve come to the right place. These light-as-air pastries are filled with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Everyone has their own special way of eating them, but absolutely no one can resist the power of a cream puff.

More classic desserts

A tart crust filled with pastry cream.

How to Make Pastry Cream

Learn how to make pastry cream, a classic French stirred custard (crème pâtissière) used it to fill cakes, pastries, tarts, and pies. It's delicious plain or try one of my flavor suggestions.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Chilling time 2 hrs
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 8 servings (½ cup each)
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Calories 194

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (see note 1)

Instructions 

  • In a medium non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat, warm milk until tiny bubbles appear on the surface, about 6 to 8 minutes (about 180 degrees Farenheit). Stir to prevent the milk from scalding.
  • Meanwhile, In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cornstarch and salt. While whisking constantly, pour in half of the hot milk. Whisk in remaining hot milk and return to saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a firm consistency, about 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Scrape in to a bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on to the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 to 3 hours.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Vanilla: ½ vanilla bean, split, may be substituted for the vanilla extract.
  2. Yield: This recipe makes about 4 cups (1 quart) pastry cream, enough for 1 Fresh Fruit Tart.
  3. Storage: The pastry cream can be made up to 4 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed directly on its surface.
  4. Butter: For a buttery flavor, softer texture, and a lovely shine, add 2 tbsp. butter with the vanilla in Step 3.
  5. Chocolate pastry cream: Stir 2 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate into the pastry cream with the vanilla in Step 3.
  6. Coffee pastry cream: Add ½ ounce coffee extract to the pastry cream with the vanilla in Step 3.
  7. Coconut pastry cream: Substitute 8 ounces (1 cup) of the whole milk with an equal amount of unsweetened canned coconut milk.
  8. Mousseline pastry cream: Whip 6 ounces heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold in to the chilled pastry cream. This will lighten the pastry cream and makes a great filling for eclairs or cream puffs.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 194kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 106mgPotassium: 95mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 293IUCalcium: 86mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

  1. I don’t care for cornstarch. How much Wondra flour per 6 eggyokes should I use to thicken it.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Dusica, I haven’t tested substituting Wondra for cornstarch in this recipe, sorry! Looking into it though, it seems you would us half as much when a recipe calls for cornstarch, so for 6 egg yolks you would use 2 tablespoons Wondra. If you do try this, please stop back on by and let me know how it turns out! I hope it works and doesn’t ruin your day. – Meggan

  2. I was looking for a thorough recipe on how to make pastry cream and I found it. So yummy I could eat it with my finger.5 stars

  3. I’m going to make a pastry cream pie and use the leftover egg whites to make meringue on top of it!