How to Make Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)

An easy to follow recipe for Crème Pâtissière, also known as pastry cream or vanilla custard. Comprehensive recipe with step-by-step photos.

Pastry Cream Recipe

Pastry cream is a popular component of many French desserts. It is a thick, vanilla custard which you will often find inside Profiteroles or Éclairs, spread between the layers of a Millefeuilles, or used as the filling for fruit tarts.

In France, it is called crème pâtissière.

In the US, crème pâtissière is called pastry cream.

In Australia, the UK and many other countries, crème pâtissière is sometimes known as vanilla custard. However, there are different types of custard – pouring custard or thickened custard – which can make the term “custard” a bit confusing to use sometimes.

What is Crème Anglaise?

Crème anglaise is the French term for what the non-French would call a thin pouring custard, typically served alongside desserts and puddings common in British cooking (hence the name).

A crème anglaise uses the same ingredients as that for a crème pâtissiere, except for the addition of a stabilising agent like cornflour (cornstarch) or flour.

Hence, making crème anglaise requires a bit more technical skill, especially since the custard is at risk of splitting or curdling if it becomes too hot.

What is Crème Pâtissière?

Crème pâtissière is a thickened vanilla custard. It is a custard made using cornflour (cornstarch) or flour to thicken the mixture, giving it stability for uses in desserts like profiteroles or éclairs.

Crème pâtissière is much easier to make than crème anglaise as there is little to no risk of the mixture splitting or curdling.

How to Make Crème Pâtissière

Making crème pâtissière is relatively quick and easy because the flour in the mixture helps to bind and thicken the ingredients without any risk of splitting or curdling.

Step 1

Start by warming the milk and cream together in a medium-sized saucepan. I also like to add a splash of vanilla extract at this stage to intensify the vanilla flavour.

saucepan with milk and cream

Step 2

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and flour in a large bowl, preferably with a pouring lip.

mixing bowl with eggs whisked with sugar and flour

Step 3

Once the milk and cream is just about to simmer, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking quickly as you do so to prevent any lumps from forming, and to stop the egg mixture from scrambling.

It is a good idea to place a wet cloth under the bowl to stop it from moving while you are whisking.

custard mixture in mixing bowl with whisk

Step 4

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, and return the saucepan to the stove.

Continue to whisk over medium heat until the custard thickens considerably. This should only take a few minutes. The custard should be thick and smooth, and free from any lumps.

Pour the custard into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a sheet of clingfilm pressed against the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

pastry cream or creme patissiere in saucepan with wooden spoon

Recipes Using Crème Pâtissière

If you are looking for recipes using crème pâtissière, you might enjoy the following:

Chocolate Éclairs

profiteroles with chocolate sauce on white plate

Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce


This recipe was first published 5 October 2018. It has been updated with new photos.


Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream or Vanilla Custard)

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 750 ml (3 cups)
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: French

How to make Crème Pâtissière, also known as pastry cream or vanilla custard. Easy to follow recipe with step-by-step photos.



  1. Pour the milk and cream into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Warm the mixture until it just starts to simmer.
  4. In a large bowl or jug, beat together the egg yolks and sugar, and then whisk in the flour.
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture (not the other way around or else you will have scrambled eggs), whisking as you do so until the custard is smooth.
  6. Pour this mixture into a clean saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat until the custard thickens. This should take only a few minutes.
  7. Continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes to allow the mixture to release a few bubbles.
  8. Pour the custard into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  9. I recommend covering the bowl with a layer of clingfilm pressed against the custard to stop a skin from forming.

Kitchen Notes

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: Makes 3 cups
  • Calories: 1499
  • Sugar: 118.4g
  • Sodium: 584.4mg
  • Fat: 79.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 141.5g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Protein: 53g
  • Cholesterol: 1280.1mg

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  1. Madeleine 1 June 2019

    Great recipe! Thanks for the step by step photos – very helpful!

  2. Shaheena Chowdhury 15 August 2019

    Creme patissiere is not as complicated as it sounds. Thanks a bunch, Thanh! ?

  3. Tammie 2 October 2019

    I’ve made pastry cream several times now but I’ve always used cornstarch to thicken it. A few weeks ago I came across a few recipes that used flour only and the creator said it was safe for us to freeze any leftovers. Can I do the same with yours? One last question. How much does this make? To be honest yours is the first recipe I’ve come across that seems so easy to make even though we have to temper the mixture….

    • Eat, Little Bird 21 October 2019

      Hi Tammie,
      Sorry for my late reply. I have never tried to freeze pastry cream, but I think it would be fine to freeze this recipe. This recipe makes about 3 cups of pastry cream. Hope this helps.

  4. Phil C 3 February 2021

    STEP 3 – One moment, you say to ‘whisk the mixture together quickly’, but in the image which follows this, you contradict yourself and state to ‘whisk slowly’.


    • Eat, Little Bird 4 February 2021

      Hi Phil,
      Sorry for the confusion! I have corrected the image above. You should pour the warmed milk and cream slowly into the egg mixture, but whisk quickly as you do so. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

  5. Mary Hearrell 24 July 2021

    Very good, and not that difficult to make. I did get a few lumps but that was my fault–I stopped whisking a little too soon. Nothing a good sieve cant fix!

  6. Monique 29 April 2022

    Very good recipe!

  7. Mimi 12 May 2022

    Great, easy to follow recipe.

  8. Jon D Cheney 26 November 2022

    I have never made one before but this was easy to follow and comes out well.

  9. Brigitte 4 December 2022

    I am going to try this recipe to make little tarts with fruits on top.
    Question, can i make the crème pâtissière the day before I use it

  10. Beth 21 December 2022

    This was so easy! I have avoided making cremr patisserie because I thought it was complicated and scary. This recipe is super simple and easy to follow! Thanks!

  11. Steph 15 August 2023

    Happy to report, I halved the recipe for use for donuts and used bob’s red mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour and this recipe worked perfectly! Thanks!