Why we love it

This homemade custard powder recipe is a great kitchen hack to have on hand. When you want a creamy, vanilla flavoured sauce, at the ready in your pantry, this shelf-stable version is always a winner.

Custard is my go-to dessert sauce, way before ice cream and cream. and works perfectly over pies and tarts like this warm apple crostata, apple crumble or this apple plum cobbler.

I also use it in it’s powdered form in some recipes like these homemade custard creams  which had a number of readers ask “What is custard powder”. This was the first time I realised that not everyone grew up with it.

This recipe was first published here on September 4th, 2019. It has been updated with new images and more information.

A glass overflowing with custard powder on a marble plate.

What is custard powder?

So, what is custard powder, anyway? This fine yellow powdered ingredient is a shelf-stable version of a runny custard or crème anglaise. Custard powder is made up of thickeners, milk powder and vanilla flavouring that turns into a creamy, sweet pourable vanilla sauce once heated with milk and sugar. 

It’s readily available in many parts of the world including Australia but, alas, not everywhere. You could buy some via this link but it’s just as easy to make it yourself using everyday ingredients.

Yes, homemade runny custard from scratch is better but, if heating milk and tempering eggs is not your thing, then vanilla custard powder comes close and could be just what you need.  

Custard powder ingredients

Just 4 simple ingredients are all you need.

Ingredients for custard powder on a baking tray.
  • Milk powder.
  • Corn flour (cornstarch) – NOT maize flour. This is just the starch, we call it cornflour in Australia but other places in the world may know it as corn starch.
  • Vanilla sugar / vanillin sugar – I use my homemade vanilla sugar but there are many store-bought brands out there too like the Masterfoods one shown in the picture above.
  • Powdered yellow food colouring (just for colour so it’s purely optional).

What is vanilla sugar?

Vanilla sugar is a vanilla infused sugar and you can find it in the spice aisle of many local grocery stores. If you’re unable to find vanilla sugar you have a few options

  • make your own homemade vanilla sugar by blitzing together vanilla bean seeds and granulated sugar in a food processor.
  • use vanilla extract in the custard powder – this will result in lumps but as long as they are as small as possible and distributed evenly it will be fine. You can also skip it and add it when cooking the custard.

Substitutions / Options

  • Powdererd milk – you can use skim or full cream powdered milk. I use skim just because it’s the one I keep on hand.
  • Vanilla Sugar – you could use vanilla extract or real vanilla beans (the mixture will have lumps but as long as they’re evenly dispersed, it’s still fine to use). It won’t last as long as the all powdered version.
  • Milk – when adding the liquid milk you can use light or full cream milk or even water if you want to keep it lighter. You can also use plant-based milk alternatives if you like.
  • Sugar – when cooking, add sugar to your own taste. The amount in the recipe for me is perfect sweetness but you may like it sweeter.
  • Cornflour / cornstarch: You can swap this for an equal quantity of potato starch.

How to make custard powder

This quick mix dessert powder is incredibly simple to make.

Two images showing how to make custard powder.
  1. Place the milk powder, corn flour, vanilla and food colouring into fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Whisk with a ballon whisk until all fully combined. 
  2. Tip it into an airtight container and it will store for as long as the expiration date on your powdered milk.

How to turn it into custard

Two images showing how to make custard from powder.
  1. Add ½ cup of custard powder to a saucepan with 2 cups of milk and 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar. 
  2. Whisk it until there are no lumps, then heat and stir with the whisk (don’t agitate, just stir) until it thickens and starts to bubble. Once bubbling, cook for 30 seconds. Make sure to stir it constantly so you don’t get lumps.

Tips and tricks

  • For the perfect smooth, creamy texture make sure to continually stir the custard sauce while cooking.
  • Use a higher ratio of custard powder to milk, to create a thicker custard perfect for trifle.
  • If you can’t find powdered food colouring (from cake shops) you can leave it out entirely. Or just add some liquid colouring while cooking if you want the yellow colour.
  • Chocolate custard: Add ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the mixture for chocolate version.
  • Strawberry custard: Add ¼ cup freeze dried strawberry powder to the mixture for a strawberry version.
Custard being poured over a danish.

Did you try this vanilla custard powder recipe?
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A spoon in custard powder in a marble dish.
4.9 from 16 ratings
Want to know how to make custard powder from scratch? It takes just minutes and is shelf stable so you can have warm, creamy vanilla sauce at the ready, in no time. 



  • 1 cup milk powder (120g/4.2oz)
  • ½ cup corn flour (US cornstarch) (65g/2.3oz)
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered yellow food colouring
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (6 teaspoons) vanilla sugar


  • ½ cup homemade custard powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 ½ tablespoons white granulated sugar (or to taste)

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided



    Add the milk powder, corn flour, food colouring and vanilla to a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and store in the pantry.
    Add ½ cup of custard powder to a medium saucepan with the sugar and milk.
  • Whisk to combine, then heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until beginning to bubble. Continue to stir while bubble break the surface for 30 seconds until quite thick.
  • Add more milk if you want a thinner consistency.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.


  1. Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
  2. Milk powder: You can use skim or full cream versions. I use skim and nutritional info provided is based on skim milk powder.
  3. Vanilla: I like to use Masterfooods Vanillin Sugar as it blends in easiest and remains shelf stable. There are many other brands of vanilla sugar too.
    1. You can use pure vanilla extract but use a food processor or blender to combine the mixture instead of the whisk and bowl.
    2. If using extract, as it’s a wet ingredient you will get a few lumps. This is fine – just try not to blend it too long as the warmer the mixture gets, the bigger the lumps get and just make sure any lumps are well dispersed in the mix. This way, when you scoop out the powder to use it, each batch will still have vanilla in it. You can also use vanilla beans straight from the pod blended through.
  4. Milk in the custard: Whole / full cream milk will give a creamier sauce, however you can use light or skim milk or even water if you’d like a lighter version. You can also use other milk alternatives though they will add their individual flavour to the custard.
  5. Storage: Store in an airtight container in the pantry. Dry mix will last as long as the expiration on your milk powder. If you use vanilla extract or beans, you should try to use the custard powder within a month.
  6. Nutritional values are based on just the custard powder made with skim milk powder. Values for the made custard will depend on the type of milk you use.
Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Custard Powder
Amount Per Serving (94 g)
Calories 94 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.01g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.03g
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 81mg4%
Potassium 269mg8%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 0.1g0%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 327IU7%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 189mg19%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.