What Is Custard?

We all love desserts, but some are definitely more delicious than others. Custard, for example, is so versatile and tasty. 

What Is Custard

But what is custard, and how do you make it? Let’s find out.  

Types Of Custard

There are many different types of custard which can be made in all sorts of ways and for different dishes.

In fact, they vary from savory to sweet. A quiche has a custard base as does a crème brûlée, so it depends on what you are actually making. 

One type of custard can be made on the stove and is used for things like zabaglione, or simply as a custard sauce to go with an apple pie or fresh fruit. This type of custard is a stirred custard. 

Another type of custard is baked in the oven. Examples are crème brûlée, quiche and cheesecake. Unsurprisingly, this is a baked custard and is made from eggs, sugar, milk, nutmeg and vanilla. 

Pastry cream custard is made from sugar, flour, eggs and milk. As the name suggests this custard is used to fill pastries such as tarts and cream puffs. 

Powdered custard is a dried mixture made from maize, wheat starch, sugar, flavoring and coloring. It is combined with milk in a pan and heated up until it has thickened. 

How Is Custard Made?

The main ingredients in custard are eggs, milk and sugar. When a starch is added to the custard to stabilize it as in pastry cream custard you do not need as many eggs. 

A pouring custard that is made on the stove top and is used as an accompaniment to pies and pudding is very straightforward to make.

It is a combination of eggs, milk, sugar and some vanilla flavoring. You can add heavy cream to the milk to make it more luxurious. 

Crème brûlée is a traditional French dessert that can be a bit intimidating, as with any French cuisine.

But it is a rather simple dessert of custard, caramelized on top. The name means burnt cream and this custard is baked in the oven with the help of a water bath. 

Pastry cream custard is made in much the same way as the other custards but with the addition of flour and some cornstarch.

You can also add some interesting flavors to pastry cream custard such as Grand Marnier. It is then used to fill pastries. 

Using Custard

Using Custard

Custard is used as a sauce in its own right, as the base of many desserts, as a filling for pastries and also as an important ingredient in quiches. The egg custard forms the filling along with vegetables, or meat, or more likely a combination of the two. 

Depending on the intended use of the custard you will prepare it accordingly. So for a simple pouring custard that is going to be used over a dessert you would make a stirring custard on the stove. 

A custard such as you would use in a quiche is a baked custard. It is made in a similar way to stove top custard but is then poured over the quiche filling and baked in the oven until firm. 

When you are making pastries such as cream puffs you will want a pastry cream custard. This is a basic custard with added flour and starch to thicken and stabilize it. The custard is then piped into your pastries from the bottom. 

So the basis for all custard is the same, but the method of cooking will change according to the recipe you are making. 

How To Store Custard

When you have made your custard you may be wondering how you can store it. You should allow the custard to cool down and then cover it and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

If you don’t cover the custard it will develop a tough ‘skin’ on the surface as it dries out. Custard doesn’t freeze well, and the texture will alter if you try to freeze it. 

Having said that, ice cream can be made with eggs to make it richer, so this is a similar composition to custard. Ice cream is typically a combination of milk or cream and sugar. 

Simple Custard Recipe

Let’s take a look at a fairly simple custard recipe so that you can try it out at home

Preparation time is 15 minutes and cooking time is just 10 minutes. You will need to leave the custard to chill for about 3 hours, however. 


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  1. In a bowl mix together the cornstarch, sugar and salt. 
  2. Add the egg yolks and whisk the mixture until it is a pale color with a smooth texture. This should take about a minute. 
  3. In a heavy, medium saucepan heat the milk and cream, bringing them to a simmer. Stir occasionally. When you see little bubbles around the edges, take it off the heat. 
  4. Slowly pour the milk onto the egg mixture while whisking constantly. 
  5. Now pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low to medium heat, stirring constantly. 
  6. Cook for around 5 minutes until the custard begins to thicken. 
  7. When it starts to bubble gently cook for another 30 seconds to cook out the starch. 
  8. Take off the heat and add the butter, whisk until it is incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. 
  9. Pour through a fine strainer and a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure it is touching the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
  10. When you are ready to serve the custard, whisk it again until it is smooth. 

Serve with fruit cobbler, baked apples or just some fresh fruit such as sliced banana. 

In Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to custard and will make some for yourself using our recipe. 

Mark Williams