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Overhead view of a spoon resting in a bowl of homemade pastry cream.

Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière Recipe)

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  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chilling Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ½ cups
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Thick, creamy, and smooth, this Vanilla Pastry Cream can be made in about 30 minutes. Use this recipe to fill your cream puffs, eclairs, doughnuts, or fruit tarts.


  • 2 cups (473ml) whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (95g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (18g) of cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean to a simmer. Remove from the heat as soon as the milk starts to show bubbles around the edge of the pan, right before it hits a boil. Remove from the heat and let the milk and vanilla bean steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the pods with the back of a small knife to remove any extra seeds and place them back into the milk. Return the steeped milk to the stove and bring it back to a low simmer, making sure not to boil.
  3. While the milk warms, in a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk this until the mixture becomes very thick and pale yellow and leaves a “trail” or “ ribbon” behind when the whisk is dragged through it. This should take 1-2 minutes of vigorous whisking.
  4. Next temper the egg yolks. When the milk comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and slowly pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture in a steady and thin stream, while continuously whisking at the same time. Then gently whisk the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk.
  5. Place this mixture over medium-low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture starts to burp big bubbles. Once your mixture starts bubbling, continue to cook for 60 seconds longer, and then immediately remove it from the heat, and pour through a fine mesh strainer it into a clean bowl.
  6. Quickly stir in the butter until melted and combined with the cream mixture. Place this bowl into another bowl filled with ice water and gently stir around, making sure to not get any water into the pastry cream to help the mixture cool.
  7. Once the cream is cooled to room temperature, place it into an airtight container and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to keep skin from forming on the top. Cool completely in the fridge.



Storing: Pastry cream can be stored in a covered container in the fridge (with a piece of plastic wrap placed right on top of the cream) for up to 4-5 days. Just make sure to whisk it well before use. Pastry cream cannot be frozen, as it will leach out moisture when it thaws.

Vanilla Beans: You can use vanilla bean paste or if you don’t have vanilla beans, you can simply add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract to the pastry cream instead. Do this after it comes off of the stove when you add in the butter. 

For more tips of preventing grainy or thin pastry cream, please refer to the tips sections of the blog post. 


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 105
  • Sugar: 12.8 g
  • Sodium: 55.4 mg
  • Fat: 4.1 g
  • Trans Fat:
  • Carbohydrates: 14.4 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 2.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 80.9 mg