Crème Patisserie (Pastry Cream)

Crème patisserie also known as pastry cream is a wonderful filling for many desserts. Used as a filling for fruit tarts, eclairs and cream puffs to mane a few this is a versatile custard for many types of desserts. 

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for any time I want a light dessert. Crème patisserie is a simple and easy to make custard that goes well with so many pastries and other types of desserts. I think the reason I like this so much especially in fruit tarts is when I was younger they were one of my favorite desserts to get on my birthday. Whether it is stacked between layers of puff pastry or in the middle of a Boston cream pie you cannot go wrong with this baker’s workhorse. 

In this recipe

There are just a few ingredients in this recipe which makes it easy to make since they are normally found in your kitchen. 

Milk: this is the basis of custard. You will want to use whole milk, heavy cream, or half and half. This gives it that luscious consistency. 

Flour/Cornstarch: this is the thickening agent and is necessary for the final product. 

Vanilla: you will want to a high quality extract or vanilla bean 

Egg yolks: these help give the luscious texture of the crème patisserie. Also since there aren’t any egg whites this recipe it will help keep it from curdling when it starts to boil. 

Ingredients for crème patisserie on a wooden cutting board
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Heating the milk

The very first thing you want to do is make sure that you heat the milk. If you are using a vanilla bean then you will want to scrape the inside of the bean and add it to the milk along with the pod. You do not want to let the milk boil as it will scald. Just stir and heat it until you see steam start to rise from the milk. Once that happens add the cover and remove from the heat. This will let the vanilla infuse with the milk and intensify. Let this cool while you make the next part. 

Milk and vanilla in a saucepan
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Egg yolks and other ingredients in a metal mixing bowl
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Whisked egg yolk mixture in a mixing bowl
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Saucepan of milk to pour into the egg mixture
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Whisked egg yolk mixture with milk in a metal bowl
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Cooking the crème patisserie in a saucepan
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Whisking the yolks

While the milk is doing its thing you will want to prepare the egg yolk base. When you start to whisk the yolks everything will clump up in the bottom of the whisk. Keep going, the yolks will thin and the mixture will become lighter and more pale. Once that happens add the milk slowly to the egg yolks. If you add it all at once the heat of the milk may cook the yolks. Continue to whisk until the milk is completely combined. If using a vanilla bean remove the pod just before mixing. 

Thickened crème patisserie in a saucepan
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Butter added to crème patisserie
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Whisked cooked crème patisserie in a saucepan
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A bowl of crème patisserie with cling film on top
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Cooking the crème patisserie

When you start to cook the crème patisserie you will want to keep whisking. This will help prevent the pastry cream from burning and creating clumps. Once it starts to boil you need to let it cook for at least another minute. This will help it set up properly when cooked. Don’t cook it too much longer than that additional minute. If you cook too much liquid out you might get a firm or rubbery result. By placing the cling film directly on top of the pastry cream it will prevent it from forming a skin. 

A jar of crème patisserie
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Looking for other custard desserts?

Crème patisserie in a glass jar
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Crème Patisserie (Pastry Cream)

A creamy vanilla flavored custard that is perfect for tarts, eclairs, and other pastries.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 14 servings
Calories 86 kcal


  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Cling film


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean
  • ¼ teaspoon salt kosher


  • In a saucepan over medium heat mix the vanilla and milk until it just starts to steam, cover and remove from the heat.
  • While the milk is heating fill a large mixing bowl with ice and water.
  • In a smaller mixing bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour. Whisk until pale and smooth. In a slow stream add the warm milk mixture whisking constantly. If your bowl is prone to sliding place a damp towel under it. Once all of the milk has been added pour the custard back into the saucepan.
  • Over medium-high heat whisking constantly until the pastry cream starts to thicken, about 5 minutes, keep cooking until it starts to boil. Once boiling heat for a minute before removing from the heat. It needs to cook for the full minute. Then remove from the heat.
  • Whisk in the butter until smooth and evenly combined. Clean out the smaller mixing bowl and place the fine mesh sieve on top. Pass the pastry cream through the fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Place cling film directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Place into the ice bath to cool for at least thirty minutes before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.


Makes about 2 1/2 cups of pastry cream
If using a vanilla bean let the bean steep in the warm milk after scraping out the insides before placing in the milk. Add the inside of the bean as well. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 86kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 39mgPotassium: 60mgFiber: 0.02gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 181IUCalcium: 50mgIron: 0.2mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Custard, Pastry, Pastry Cream
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
crème patisserie pinterest pin
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11 thoughts on “Crème Patisserie (Pastry Cream)”

  1. 5 stars
    I just got some vanilla beans and know what I’ll be making with them! This looks so easy and perfect for many treats.

  2. 5 stars
    I have no idea that this pastry cream dessert is so easy to make.
    I am glad that I bumped into your page to know and learn how to make this. So delicious! Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I never thought that pastry cream could be so simple and easy to make! Making this for our dessert made me feel like a true pastry chef haha! Delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Well, I’ve had my go-to pastry cream recipe for quite a while now, but it looks like that is about to change… This recipe is outstanding!

  5. 5 stars
    I used this pastry cream to fill some cream puffs and wow — it made for such a wonderful filling! It had the most luscious texture with the perfect touch of vanilla.

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