Homemade Custard Powder 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 a winner.

Custard is my go-to dessert sauce, long before ice cream and cream. and works perfectly over pies and tarts like this Warm Apple Crostata, Apple Crumble or this Apple Plum Cobbler.

A piece of baking paper with yellow custard powder piled on top.

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.

So what is it?

This fine yellow powder is made up of thickeners, milk powder and flavouring that turns into a rich, sweet vanilla sauce once heated with milk and sugar. 

Typically it’s used as a quick version of a traditional creme anglaise or vanilla sauce. 

Custard being poured over a piece of cake.

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 custard powder comes close and could be just what you need.  

Custard powder ingredients

Just 4 simple ingredients are all you need.

  • Milk powder
  • Corn flour (cornstarch)
  • Vanilla sugar
  • Powdered yellow food colouring (optional)

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

  • make your own by blitzing together vanilla bean seeds and granulated sugar in a food processor
  • use vanilla extract – this will result in lumps but as long as they are as small as possible and distributed evenly it will be fine. 
  • use regular granulated sugar in place of the vanilla sugar and add the seeds from half a vanilla bean to the mixture.
A round glass jar filled halfway with yellow custard powder.

How to make it

This quick mix dessert powder is incredibly simple to make.

  1. Place the milk powder, corn flour, vanilla and food colouring into a food processor or blender and blitz to combine for about 10 seconds. 
  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

  1. Add 1/2 cup of custard powder to a saucepan with 2 cups of milk and  1 tablespoon of sugar. 
  2. Whisk it until there are no lumps, then heat and stir with a spatula until it thickens and just starts to bubble. Make sure to stir it constantly so you don’t get lumps.

Substitutions / Options

  • Powdererd milk – you can use skim or full cream powdered milk. I use skim.
  • 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)
  • Milk – when adding the liquid milk you can use light or full cream milk or even water if you want to keep it lighter.
  • 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.

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A round glass jar fillled with yellow custard powder.

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A piece of baking paper with yellow custard powder piled on top

How to Make Custard Powder

4.74 from 26 votes
This post will show you how to make custard powder from scratch. With this easy custard recipe, you'll have a warm, creamy vanilla sauce ready to top all your pies and desserts, in no time. 

Ingredients

FOR THE HOMEMADE CUSTARD POWDER

  • 1 cup milk powder
  • ½ cup corn flour (cornstarch)
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered yellow food colouring
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (6 teaspoons) vanilla sugar

TO TURN IT INTO CUSTARD

  • ½ cup homemade custard powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

Equipment

Instructions
 

FOR THE HOMEMADE CUSTARD POWDER

  • Add the milk powder, corn flour, food colouring and vanilla to a food processor or blender, then blend for about 10 seconds.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and store in the pantry.

TO TURN IT INTO CUSTARD

  • Add 1/2 cup of custard powder to a small saucepan with the sugar and milk. Whisk to combine, then heat over low heat stirring constantly until thick and beginning to bubble. Add more milk if you want a thinner consistency.

Video

Notes

  1. I use a standard 20ml Australian tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. Milk powder: You can use skim or full cream versions
  3. Vanilla: I like to use vanilla sugar as it blends in easier. You can use vanilla extract but you will get a few lumps. This isn’t a problem – 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.
  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
  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.
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