Custard Powder Uses

Custard powder is a versatile pantry staple used in making creamy desserts, baked goods, and more.

Custard Powder Uses

Understanding how to use custard powder can open up a world of delicious recipes to try at home.

What is Custard Powder?

Custard powder is a powdered ingredient used to make custard desserts and to thicken recipes. It is made from cornflour (cornstarch), dried milk powder, coloring, flavorings, and stabilizers.

The main use of custard powder is to produce a creamy custard dessert when mixed with milk and gently heated. It can also add body and richness to recipes without eggs.

Custard powder has a smooth, velvety texture and a sweet vanilla flavor. When whisked into milk or cream and cooked, it produces a lush creamy custard.

Popular brands of custard powder include Bird's Custard and Dream Topping. Custard powder can also be found under names like custard mix or vanilla custard powder.

Key Takeaway: Custard powder contains cornstarch, milk powder, and flavorings. It thickens liquids to make creamy desserts and baked goods.

Types of Custard Powder

There are a few varieties of custard powder:

  • Regular custard powder - The most common type. It requires cooking with milk to thicken into custard.
  • Instant custard powder - Thickens with cold milk without cooking. May contain more stabilizers than regular custard powder.
  • Flavored custard powders - Come in flavors like chocolate, caramel, banana, etc.
  • Low-fat or fat-free custard powder - Uses skim or low-fat milk powder.

Look for popular brands when buying custard powder, as quality can vary between store brands. Check the ingredients list to identify the type of custard powder.

How is Custard Powder Made?

Custard powder contains just a handful of ingredients to create its signature creamy texture and sweet flavor:

  • Cornstarch - The main thickening agent. Cornstarch gelatinizes when heated to thicken liquids.
  • Milk powder - Provides a dairy flavor and richness.
  • Flavorings - Usually vanilla extract and vanilla powder.
  • Colors - Yellow food coloring.
  • Salt - Enhances flavor.
  • Sugar - For sweetness.
  • Stabilizers - Help prevent separation.

The ingredients are simply combined and milled into a fine powder. When mixed with milk and gently heated, the custard powder dissolves and thickens the milk into a lush creamy custard.

Custard Powder vs Cornstarch

Custard powder and cornstarch are both used to thicken recipes, but they differ in a few ways:

Custard PowderCornstarch
Contains milk powder for richness and flavorNo milk powder, so no inherent flavor
Has sugar for sweetnessUnsweetened
Includes flavorings like vanillaPlain starch, no added flavors
Yellow colorWhite color
Thickens at lower temperaturesRequires higher temperatures to thicken
Smoother, creamier textureCan have slightly gloopy texture

While both thicken liquids, custard powder produces a richer, sweeter, smoother result than plain cornstarch. The milk powder gives it a velvety texture, while the sugar and flavors result in a pleasantly sweet custard.

Cornstarch requires higher heat to thicken and does not have the creamy dairy flavor of custard powder. Use custard powder when you want richness and sweetness, and cornstarch for savory applications.

Key Takeaway: Custard powder contains flavorings and milk powder, unlike plain cornstarch. It creates creamy, sweet custards and desserts.

How to Use Custard Powder

Custard powder shines in dessert recipes, but it can also add richness and body to savory dishes. Here are some of the main uses for custard powder:

Making Custard

The classic use for custard powder is making creamy egg-free custard and puddings.

  • Whisk the custard powder into cold milk until smooth.
  • Heat gently, stirring continuously, until thickened. Do not boil.
  • Pour into serving dishes and chill to set.

Flavor the custard with extracts like vanilla, almond, or lemon. Or make chocolate custard by blending cocoa powder into the milk.

Use whole milk or half-and-half for an ultra-rich custard. For a lighter version, use 2% or skim milk.

Key Takeaway: Whisk custard powder into milk and cook gently to create a creamy egg-free custard.


Custard powder can be used to add tenderness, richness, and moisture to baked goods:

  • Cakes - Add 2-3 tablespoons per cake recipe for softness and moisture.
  • Cookies - A few tablespoons makes cookies like shortbread extra tender.
  • Pastries - Use in the dough for danishes, croissants, etc. for flakiness.
  • Pie fillings - Thicken fruit pie fillings with custard powder instead of cornstarch.
  • Meringues - Fold into meringue for a creamy interior.
  • Cream puffs/éclairs - Add to pastry cream fillings.

Since custard powder contains dairy, limit the amount used in recipes without eggs or other leaveners. Too much can make baked goods dense. Start with 1-2 tablespoons per recipe.


Custard powder isn't just for baking - it can also thicken and enrich savory dishes:

  • Gravies and sauces - Use instead of cornstarch or flour for thickness.
  • Soups - Whisk in a little at the end for body.
  • Casseroles - Fold into cheese or creamy sauces.
  • Meat mixtures - Add to meatloaf or meatballs for tenderness.

For savory dishes, look for low-fat or fat-free custard powder. Use sparingly, as the sweetness may stand out amongst savory ingredients.

Key Takeaway: Fold custard powder into batters, doughs, and fillings for tenderness and richness. It can also thicken savory sauces.

Tips for Cooking and Baking with Custard Powder

Follow these tips when using custard powder for the best results:

  • Custard powder dissolves and thickens best in cool or cold liquids. Whisk into cold milk before heating.
  • Cook gently over low heat, stirring often, until steaming hot but not boiling. High heat can cause separation.
  • Chill custard mixtures thoroughly before using in recipes to allow custard to set.
  • Limit custard powder in recipes without leaveners like baking powder or eggs. Too much can weigh down baked goods.
  • For a healthier version, choose low-fat or fat-free custard powder.
  • Make sure custard powder blends smoothly when whisking into liquids. Any lumps can result in thin or uneven texture.
  • Custard powder should have a uniform fine texture with no sediment or clumps. Discard any that appears lumpy.

Following basic precautions when using custard powder will help ensure you get beautiful results in all your recipes!

Custard Powder Recipe Ideas

Custard powder is endlessly versatile in both sweet and savory applications. Here are some delicious ways to use custard powder:


  • Classic pouring custard
  • Pots de crème
  • Crème brûlée
  • Cheesecake
  • Panna cotta
  • Trifle
  • Fruit tarts
  • Éclairs
  • Custard doughnuts
  • Banana pudding
  • Bread and butter pudding

Baked Goods

  • Custard powder scones
  • Custard chocolate chip cookies
  • Vanilla custard cake
  • Custard cream puffs
  • Custard Danish pastry
  • Custard pie
  • Flan

Savory Dishes

  • Chicken pot pie with creamy custard sauce
  • Custard cheese sauce for vegetables
  • Custardy meatloaf
  • Custard enriched mashed potatoes
  • Lobster or shrimp risotto made creamy with custard powder
  • Vegetable or tomato custard tart

Custard powder works in countless dishes, both sweet and savory. Experiment with adding it to your favorite recipes for rich, creamy results!


Does custard powder have egg in it?

No, custard powder is egg-free. It uses cornstarch and milk powder to create a creamy egg-free custard.

Is custard powder gluten-free?

Custard powder itself is gluten-free, as it contains no wheat. However, some brands may be processed in facilities that also process wheat. Check labels if avoiding gluten.

Is instant custard powder the same?

Instant custard powder thickens with cold milk without cooking. It may use more stabilizers like gelatin or guar gum to help it set. The flavor and results may be slightly different.

Is custard powder healthy?

Regular custard powder is high in sugar and made with whole milk powder, so it is quite high in carbs and calories. Look for low-fat or fat-free versions and enjoy treats made with custard powder in moderation.

Does custard powder go bad?

Like other powdered products, custard powder has a long shelf life of 9 months to a year before losing potency. Store in a cool, dry area in an airtight container. Discard if any moisture, clumping, or off odors develop.


Custard powder is the secret ingredient that takes desserts, baked goods, and more to the next level.

With its velvety texture and lightly sweet flavor, custard powder enriches everything from cakes to cheese sauces.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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