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Creamy and luscious homemade Vanilla Pudding
Rich and silky with loads of pure vanilla flavor.
Homemade Vanilla Pudding should be rich and velvety smooth with a simple but complex vanilla flavor. This real-deal luscious homemade pudding proves vanilla doesn’t have to be boring!
Easier to make than you’d think, this pudding comes together in minutes on the stovetop. Homemade pudding requires 3 to 4 hours refrigeration before serving, so it’s easily made a day ahead.
Ingredients needed to make Homemade Vanilla Pudding:
- egg yolks – you’ll need 4 large egg yolks for this recipe. Refrigerate the leftover egg whites and make Chocolate Walnut Cookies next!
- granulated sugar – substitute brown sugar for granulated and make butterscotch pudding.
- cornstarch or arrowroot
- whole milk – 2% milk will work in this recipe but the pudding won’t be as rich
- vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract) – we recommend trying vanilla bean paste in this recipe. The paste infuses amazing vanilla flavor along with tons of vanilla beans adding great visual appeal. If you’re going to have a vanilla dessert, make sure you can taste the vanilla!
- unsalted butter – just 1 tablespoon adds a silky, creaminess and slight buttery flavor to the pudding.
- rum or bourbon – completely optional but highly recommended. One tablespoon of rum adds a lovely grown-up zing to this dessert. If adding rum to your pudding at the end, increase the cornstarch to 4 tablespoons.
Gather a few simple tools to make homemade pudding:
- small mixing bowl for tempering the eggs.
- medium saucepan – preferably one with a spout for easy pouring.
- a fine mesh strainer
- medium mixing bowl for refrigerating the warm pudding.
- plastic wrap for pressing on top of the hot pudding to prevent a film from forming.
How to make Homemade Vanilla Pudding:
- First, whisk together the egg yolks with a few tablespoons of granulated sugar. Set aside
- Next, combine the remaining sugar, salt and cornstarch in a heavy bottom medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk.
- Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and starts to boil.
- Off-heat, drizzle about half the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking constantly. (See PRO TIP below)
- Pour the egg custard back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook another few minutes until thickened.
- Off heat add the butter, vanilla and rum, if using.
- Pour the pudding through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium mixing bowl to remove any solids.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool slightly then refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
PRO TIP: This simple step is referred to as tempering eggs. All you need to do is add hot milk to beaten egg yolks in a slow and steady stream to gently warm the eggs without cooking and scrambling.
This simple method for blending eggs into a hot mixture is used for making creamy pie fillings, puddings, egg based ice cream recipes and even soup.
Once you’ve tempered eggs once, you’ll have it mastered! Next, you’ll be whipping out homemade Lemon Curd, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Pudding, Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie and even Amaretto Cream Pie!
Can you use this pudding as pie filling?
Yes you can! Simply adjust the cornstarch to 1/3 cup and add one tablespoon of all-purpose flour at the same time. Cook until very thick then pour directly into your pre-baked pie crust. Cool and refrigerate, then garnish as desired.
How to serve Homemade Vanilla Pudding
Once set, spoon the pudding into individual bowls or jars, or any decorative glass. Serve the pudding as is, or top with whipped cream and fruit for a nice pop of color.
For a little textural contrast and crunch factor, try serving Vanilla Pudding with a simple chocolate shortbread cookie or our toasty pecan sandies.
Vanilla Pudding is also great as a creamy layer in a Trifle or classic Southern Banana Pudding.
You’re going to love this recipe!
Easy to make, fun to serve and delicious to eat, Vanilla Pudding is a great year-round dessert. If you’ve only tasted Vanilla Pudding made from a box, you owe it to yourself to try homemade.
This basic recipe is one I’ve been making for more years than I care to mention. It works perfectly every time, is not overly sweet and is always a favorite when served to guests.
Here are a few more of our favorite pudding recipes:
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Homemade Vanilla Pudding
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided (100g +)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
- 3 cups whole milk (24 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon rum, or bourbon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until well blended. Set aside.
- In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan combine the remaining sugar, salt and cornstarch. Whisk in the milk.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and just starts to boil. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle about half the hot vanilla cream into the egg yolks to temper.
- Add the egg custard mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Bring to a boil and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes. The pudding should be very thick.
- Off heat, whisk in the vanilla, rum (if using) and butter. Stir until the butter is melted and well blended.
- Pour the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean bowl. Discard solids. Press a piece of plastic wrap flush to the surface of the hot pudding to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool slightly then refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 to 4 hours. Whisk the pudding lightly just before serving.
- Top with whipped cream and/or fruit and serve.
- Pudding can be made one day in advance.
- For thicker pudding or if you're adding rum or bourbon, use 4 tablespoons cornstarch.
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