This vegan custard tastes so much better than boxed custard. It's made with just a handful of simple ingredients and without coconut milk! It is perfect for dolloping over vegan apple tart.
This recipe will be a keeper, it's versatile, quick, and easy to make. It also forms the base of my vegan pastry cream which is a thicker version of custard that can be used to fill tarts and pies.
For this recipe, we're going for that classic custard consistency like boxed custards such as Devon custard, but the flavor is better as we're using real vanilla. Plus, it's completely eggless and dairy-free!
What to expect from this recipe
✔️ Easy to make with just 5 ingredients.
✔️ Thick and creamy with a pourable consistency.
✔️ Versatile and can be served hot or cold served over puddings, tarts, pies, and ice cream.
✔️ Completely eggless, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free.
🗒 What is custard?
Custard is a pretty loose term that is used to describe a preparation made by blending eggs with some form of milk or cream (via The Spruce Eats). Usually, custard bases are made with eggs and dairy.
It can be made as a pouring custard sauce (crème Anglaise), but can also be found in various forms of set desserts such as crème caramel and crème brülée or tarts like rhubarb custard tart and pumpkin custard pie.
🥛 Ingredients Needed
Notes about the ingredients
I've tested this recipe with soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk. I definitely find soy milk makes the best vegan custard with the nicest flavor, color, and level of richness. Almond milk and oat milk both gave a slightly paler color and lighter consistency. You could probably also try coconut milk or rice milk.
As vanilla is the main ingredient of this vegan vanilla custard, I strongly recommend using a real vanilla pod. The flavor will be totally worth it! Alternatively, you can also go for vanilla bean paste. Vanilla extract won't give you those beautiful vanilla specs, but if you plan on using it go for a good quality pure vanilla extract, not vanilla essence.
This dairy-free custard uses cornstarch as a thickening agent. This ingredient thickens the custard instead of eggs, giving it a rich consistency
🥣 How To Make vegan custard
(Full ingredient quantities and instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post)
(1) To start, add the cornstarch and sugar to a saucepan along with the soy milk. Whisk the mixture really well to ensure that there aren't any lumps.
(2) Slice the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add the seeds to the saucepan along with the scraped-out pod. Place over medium heat and stir the custard, alternating between using a whisk and a rubber spatula to prevent it from burning to the pan.
(3) After about 4-5 minutes of heating the custard, the mixture will become thick. Once thick and the mixture coats the back of your spoon, remove it from the heat and stir in the sea salt until thoroughly mixed through.
(4) Lastly, pour the dairy-free custard into a bowl and cover it with some plastic wrap. This prevents air from getting at it which can cause the custard to form a layer of skin. Chill the mixture for at least an hour before using it or serve immediately while still hot over desserts.
🥧 Ways To Use this recipe
- For trifle, layered with sponge cake and jelly.
- Dollop it cold or heat it and pour over fruit crumble, apple tart, chocolate cake, or ice cream.
- As a base for vegan ice cream.
- For custard-filled donuts.
- Heated and poured over sticky toffee pudding or Christmas pudding.
👩🍳 Recipe Success Tips
- Always add cornstarch to cold liquid where possible, as when heated it will coagulate and become lumpy and gloopy.
- Make sure you whisk together the cornstarch with the non-dairy milk and sugar really well before heating.
- To save lumpy custard, simply pass it through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Switch up the flavors for a fun twist on this recipe. Add a tablespoon of matcha powder for matcha custard, or 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to make chocolate custard.
💬 Frequently Asked Questions
I don't recommend freezing vegan custard as it contains cornstarch, which can turn spongy when defrosted (via Cooks Info). There are exceptions to this rule (like vegan ice cream for example).
Yes, you can heat the custard on the stove over gentle heat. Make sure you stir it frequently to prevent a skin from forming. Alternatively, you can also heat it in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
This can happen if the cornstarch wasn't whisked properly or was added to hot liquid instead of cold.
➕ More Vegan Basics
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- 520 ml (2 ⅕ cups) unsweetened soy milk, *see notes for swaps
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar, *see notes
- 45 g (⅓ cup) cornstarch
- 1 vanilla pod
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Add the soy milk, sugar, and cornstarch to a saucepan and whisk well to remove any lumps. Cut the vanilla pod down the center and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan and place on medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes whilst whisking. Alternate between using a whisk and rubber spatula to make sure the custard does not stick to the pan. The mixture will become thick once the cornstarch is cooked, remove it from the heat. Carefully remove the vanilla pod and stir in the sea salt.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm to prevent a skin from forming and allow the custard to cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to the fridge to cool fully for an hour before using. You can also serve it hot as a pouring custard over desserts.
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days. Once chilled, whisk the custard well before serving cold, or gently heat on the stove whilst stirring.
- You can swap soy milk for unsweetened almond milk or oat milk. I find that soy milk gives the best color, consistency, and flavor.
- Some white sugar in the US is not vegan, if in doubt use organic sugar.
- To save lumpy custard, simply pass it through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Whisk in a tablespoon of matcha powder for matcha custard, or 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder once the custard is off the heat.
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