Easy Dairy-Free Custard Recipe (Stovetop, 10 Minutes, No Tempering!) (2024)

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of baked custard. But stovetop custard is like pudding’s silkier cousin. And it’s much easier to make than you might think! This dairy-free custard recipe does away with the fussy tempering. It’s a simple whisk and go-style that yields the same results delicious as traditional methods, but with less margin for error. You can enjoy it as a simple dessert on its own, or as a component in a more elaborate dessert.

Easy Dairy-Free Custard Recipe (Stovetop, 10 Minutes, No Tempering!) (1)

Easy Dairy-Free Custard made on the Stovetop in Minutes!

The recipe is easy, but I’m sure you have a few questions. I’ve done my best to answer any top concerns in this section, and you can find more options in the Notes of the dairy-free custard recipe below.

Wait, Don’t the Eggs Need to Be Tempered?

Tempering is one of those customary things that people get used to doing, and then assume it always needs to be done. Tempering is required when you are adding eggs to hot liquid. You slowly add a little of hot liquid into the eggs, whisking constantly, in attempt to avoid scrambling them (it still happens sometimes!). But this tricky step is only needed when you must heat the liquid in advance for some reason. For example, if you want to infuse vanilla bean into the liquid by simmering it for a little while.

If you’re using vanilla extract or paste, or don’t need a long infusion, you can simply whisk the unheated milk alternative, egg, sugar, starch, and salt together, and then place the pan over the heat. It works perfectly. It’s important to continuously whisk as it heats, but it comes together rather quickly. And believe it or not, heating the eggs and starch together actually helps ensure proper thickening with smooth results.

Isn’t Starch for Pudding?

Technically, traditional custard uses only eggs for thickening, and is either baked to set, or made on the stovetop. The stovetop custard is creme anglaise, and it’s a runnier, pourable custard. Stovetop custard that’s thickened with starch or flour is usually referred to as pastry cream. But for a thicker stovetop custard that you can eat as a stand alone dessert, starch or flour is also needed.

It might not be the most traditional method, but people around the world have been using starch to thicken custard for generations. It isn’t a new or unheard of thing. In fact, Bird’s Custard Powder is basically cornstarch and flavoring. This instant blend was first marketed in England in 1844, and has since become a household name.

Is Egg Required?

Egg does give it the telltale custard taste. If you omit the egg, your dairy-free custard won’t thicken quite as much, and it will taste like vanilla pudding. Not a bad thing, but not like custard. You can use Bird’s custard powder, an English tradition, which is egg-free and vegan. As mentioned above, it’s essentially cornstarch, salt, and custard flavor. If you confuse eggs with dairy, you’re not alone! See this post: Are Eggs Dairy?

Easy Dairy-Free Custard Recipe (Stovetop, 10 Minutes, No Tempering!) (2)

Special Diet Notes: Easy Dairy-Free Custard

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian. You can make it paleo-friendly with the lite coconut milk and with a paleo-friendly sweetener.

Easy Dairy-Free Custard

Easy Dairy-Free Custard Recipe (Stovetop, 10 Minutes, No Tempering!) (3)


Prep time

Total time

We make this simple "no temper" recipe for two, but you can double or even triple the batch, if needed. It's a basic, versatile formula that's just sweet enough. The flavor develops more if refrigerated, so don't hesitate to make it ahead.

Author: Alisa Fleming

Recipe type: Dessert

Cuisine: British

Serves: 2 servings


  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (increase to 3 tablespoons for a sweet custard)
  • 1 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup cold unsweetened soymilk or lite canned coconut milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste


  1. In a saucepan, whisk together the egg, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the starch, and about ¼ cup of the milk alternative. Whisk until the starch is dissolved. Whisk in the rest of the milk alternative.
  3. Place the pan over medium heat, and cook, while whisking, until the mixture begins to steam. Try not to let it boil. Turn the heat down to medium low (or low if needed) and continue whisking or stirring until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  5. Let the custard cool for a few minutes and serve, or pour it into a container and cool completely before covering and refrigerating. If you do not let the custard cool to room temperature before covering, it will break the custard down.


Prefer Egg Yolks? You can substitute 2 egg yolks for the egg, if preferred. It doesn't thicken quite as much, but does produce a silkier texture.

Sweetener Options: Simple cane sugar produces the "cleanest" taste. You can substitute another sweetener, like maple syrup or honey, but it does heavily influence the flavor. We have not tested this recipe with a sugar-free substitute. They do tend to perform differently in recipes.

Milk Alternatives: You can use another dairy-free milk beverage, but keep in mind that the results might be thinner, and some brands and types can curdle. I prefer a two-ingredient soymilk (soy and water) with no added thickeners or other ingredients (like WestSoy or Trader Joe's) or a simple lite canned coconut milk.

Starch Options: Cornstarch is ideal for dairy-free custard. But if you need corn-free, you can substitute arrowroot starch. If you prefer to use flour, double the amount - use 2 tablespoons.

Nutrition Information

Serving size:rounded ½ cup Calories:136 Fat:4.2g Saturated fat:.9g Carbohydrates:17.5g Sugar:12.9g Sodium:144mg Fiber:1g Protein:6.3g

More Dairy-Free Custard Creations

Paleo Almond Milk Custard

Crème Anglaise (Custard Sauce)

Coconut Frozen Custard

Easy Dairy-Free Custard Recipe (Stovetop, 10 Minutes, No Tempering!) (2024)


What are the mistakes when making custard? ›

The most common mistake people make in baking a custard is not putting enough water in the hot-water bath. The water should come up to the level of the custard inside the cups. You must protect your custard from the heat.

What is dairy free custard made of? ›

Plant milk: we use soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk to make a low-fat vegan custard. We use coconut milk to make a richer, full-fat one. Cornstarch: we use it as a thickening agent. We find this hard to replace.

How do you make custard without burning it? ›

Pour boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in oven until the custards are just set. The bain-marie or water bath protects the custards from the direct heat of the base of the roasting pan, so they cook gently and don't overheat and separate.

Does custard thicken on stove? ›

While some custards will need to be cooked longer on the stovetop to thicken (to give the ingredients a better chance at binding together), others need to be cooked on a lower oven temperature than what the original recipe calls for.

What is the purpose of tempering when making a custard? ›

Tempering is a technique that allows you to add eggs to a hot liquid without scrambling them. We see tempering in recipes for crème brûlée, vanilla sauce, pastry cream, and some savory cooked egg dishes.

What are the steps to tempering a custard? ›

How to Temper Eggs
  1. Step 1: Boil the Milk. Bring the milk to a boil. ...
  2. Step 2: Whisk the Eggs in a Bowl. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them. ...
  3. Step 3: Add the Milk to the Eggs. Add the milk in 1/2-cup increments to bring the temperature of the eggs up gradually while whisking.

What are the 3 types of custard and their ingredients? ›

All the Major Stirred Custard Variations (and there are a lot of them)
  • mousse = base + whipped cream/meringue + stabilizer.
  • bavarian/ bavarois/ crème bavaroise = creme anglaise + gelatin + whipped cream.
  • blancmange = milk/cream + gelatin.
  • crème anglaise = milk/cream + egg yolks.
Jul 20, 2021

What are the 4 components of custard? ›

Combine milk, eggs, sugar and gentle heat and one of our most treasured comfort food appears.

Can I replace milk with water in custard? ›

It depends what type of custard. In general it's mainly eggs, usually mostly egg yolks, often mixed with cream or sometimes whole milk, and usually sugar and flavoring, usually vanilla. The answer is no, you can't make a custard with beaten egg and water in the way that you can with, say, beaten egg and milk.

What can I do with failed custard? ›

Rescuing the custard turned out to be a cinch with an immersion blender. A quick buzz effectively broke down the clumps, restoring a perfectly creamy texture (which didn't break when we refrigerated the fixed custard).

Why do you cook custard in a pan of water? ›

The water bath stops the custard from splitting and keeps the texture perfectly silky and smooth.

Why do you bake custard in water? ›

"A baked custard, such as a cheesecake, is prone to cracking, but the moisture provided by a hot-water bath can help prevent that." The hot water bath also helps ensure a silky texture for creamy, custard-like desserts.

Why won't my custard thicken? ›

Keep an eye on the heat when cooking the custard - too low and it won't thicken, too high and you'll have scrambled eggs.

Can you microwave custard to thicken it? ›

Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-LOW (30% power) 4 to 5 minutes, whisking every minute, until custard thickens and no eggy taste remains. (Watch carefully during final 1 to 2 minutes--mixture must not boil, to prevent curdling.) In ovens of 700 watts or more, it may be necessary to microwave custard on LOW (10% power).

What happens when you overcook custard? ›

In general, egg-based puddings and custards can curdle if cooked beyond 185 degrees, unless a thickening starch is present.

Why not use whole egg in custard? ›

Texture: Custards made with whole eggs tend to be firmer and more set due to the additional proteins in the egg whites. Custards made with only egg yolks are typically smoother and silkier, resulting in a creamier texture. Flavor: Egg yolks have a higher fat content and contain more flavor compounds than egg whites.

What happens if you overbake custard? ›

However if the proteins are overcooked, either by using a temperature that is too high or just cooking for too long, then the proteins will come together so tightly that they will start to squeeze out water and this causes the weeping in an egg custard (or the scientific term for this is syneresis).

What causes curdling in a custard? ›

Custard is a delicate mixture that requires gentle heat. Overheating the custard can cause it to curdle or separate. To prevent this, cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Do not let the custard boil.


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