Pastry Cream Recipe

This recipe creates a smooth and decadent pastry cream, perfect for filling pastries, éclairs, or simply enjoying on its own.


  • 2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream for a richer flavor)
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean pod, split)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)


  1. Heat the milk: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Bring the milk just to a simmer (small bubbles around the edges). If using a vanilla bean, split the pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add both the pod and seeds to the milk.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks: In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until smooth and thick.
  3. Temper the eggs: Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking. Once all the milk is incorporated, whisk the mixture until smooth.
  4. Thicken the pastry cream: Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. It will take a few minutes for the cream to thicken considerably. Be patient and continue whisking to avoid scorching the bottom.
  5. Strain and finish: Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla extract, and salt (if using). Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps.
  6. Cool and store: Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let the pastry cream cool completely at room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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