How to Make Custard Powder

Custard powder may seem like an unusual pantry ingredient, but it's actually a handy staple for making quick and easy vanilla custard sauce.

How to Make Custard Powder

This shelf-stable powder is simple to whip up from just a few ingredients - milk powder, cornflour, sugar, and vanilla - transforming into a silky, creamy custard with the addition of milk and heat.

Custard powder is a mixture of powdered milk, cornflour, sugar, coloring, and flavoring that thickens into a pourable custard sauce when combined with milk and gently heated. It has a deliciously sweet, eggy vanilla flavor reminiscent of traditional egg-thickened custards, without the fussy prep and complicated cooking process.

It originated in 19th century Britain when Alfred Bird, a chemist, created an egg-free custard alternative using cornflour as the thickening agent for his wife who was allergic to eggs. The eggless innovation became a big hit and the popular Birds brand of custard powder remains ubiquitous in Britain and many Commonwealth countries today.

While homemade poured custard made properly from egg yolks is sublime, custard powder is an unfussy, reliable shortcut that makes enjoying warm vanilla custard sauce a breeze. Keep reading for helpful info on ingredients, storage, substitutions, and more as we dive into all things custard powder.

Key Takeaway: Custard powder is an easy-to-use powder that quickly transforms into rich, creamy vanilla custard sauce with milk and heat - no egg tempering required.

Custard Powder Ingredients

Only a handful of dry pantry ingredients are needed to make DIY custard powder.

Milk Powder - Provides richness, bulk, and a creamy background note. Skim or full fat milk powder works well.

Cornflour - Thickens the custard sauce once heated with milk. Can swap for other starches like arrowroot or potato starch.

Sugar - Sweetens and balances out the other ingredients. Granulated white sugar is most commonly used.

Vanilla - Offers that lovely aromatic vanilla flavor. Use vanilla powder, vanilla sugar, vanilla paste, or vanilla extract.

Food Coloring (optional) - Adds vibrant color, typically yellow to mimic egg yolks. Use powder or liquid food coloring.

When making your custard powder, any wet ingredients like extracts, pastes, or liquid food coloring should be left out of the initial dry mixture. Simply stir them in after adding the custard powder to milk when making your finished custard.

How to Make Custard Powder

How to Make Custard Powder

How to Make Custard Powder - Recipe

Making DIY custard powder truly couldn't be easier. Here's a simple walkthrough:


  • Milk Powder
  • Cornflour
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Food Coloring (optional)


Combine the Dry Ingredients

  • Add 1 cup milk powder, 1/2 cup cornflour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tbsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp vanilla paste, seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1-2 tbsp vanilla sugar) to a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until fully blended.

Transfer to an Airtight Container

  • Funnel the powder into a clean, dry jar, tin, or resealable plastic bag. Press out excess air before sealing and store in a cool, dry spot.
  • And that's it - you now have homemade custard powder ready to transform into sweet vanilla custard whenever a craving strikes!

How to Make Custard with Custard Powder

Using your DIY custard powder to make velvety smooth pouring custard takes just a few easy steps:

Step 1: Combine Custard Powder and Milk

Whisk 2-3 tablespoons custard powder with just enough cold milk to form a smooth paste, dissolving any lumps.

Step 2: Heat the Milk

Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk and 2-3 tablespoons sugar over low heat until steaming hot but not boiling.

Step 3: Stir Continuously

Keep stirring as the mixture slowly thickens to prevent scorching on the bottom. Once bubbles start breaking the surface, cook while continuing to stir for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Step 4: Remove from Heat

Take the pan off the heat once the custard reaches your desired thickness - it will thicken up a bit more as it cools. Stir in any additional flavorings if needed.

And your simple, foolproof custard powder custard is ready to enjoy!

Helpful Tips, Substitutions, and Variations

Use Exact Measurements

Custards are sensitive mixtures that depend on the right ratios. Carefully measure all ingredients for best results.

Prevent Lumps

Mixing the custard powder with a bit of milk first prevents clumping when adding it to the main milk mixture.

Choose the Right Dish

Use thicker glass and ceramic dishes to retain heat for a slower cook; thin plastic bowls speed up heating time.

Add Flavor

Stir in melted chocolate, maple syrup, espresso powder, citrus zest, ground spices, or other mix-ins once thickened.

Make It Dairy-Free

Substitute plant-based milk for the regular milk. Coconut and almond milk work well.

Boost Richness

Blend in a splash of cream in addition to or in place of some of the milk for extra richness.

Storing and Reheating Custard Powder Custard

Storing Custard Powder

An airtight container in a cool, dry spot keeps custard powder fresh for up to 6 months. Refrigeration extends shelf life.

Keeping Leftover Custard

Cover leftover made custard directly with plastic wrap before refrigerating for 3-4 days.

Reheating Custard

Microwave in short bursts, whisking regularly, until hot and smooth. Thin with extra milk if too thick.

Making and enjoying homemade custard powder custard is simple with the easy tips and recipe provided above. From puddings to trifles and more, this versatile vanilla sauce delivers sweet creaminess in minutes minus the fuss of traditional egg-based custard methods. Give it a try!


What can I use if I don't have custard powder?

Cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with milk and gently heated makes a simple substitute, though it won't have the creamy egg flavor. Add sugar and vanilla to taste.

Is custard powder vegetarian and gluten-free?

Yes, standard custard powder contains no animal products or gluten ingredients, making it vegetarian and gluten-free. Always check labels to confirm for specialty diet needs.

How is instant custard different than custard powder?

Instant custard is a pre-made powder that simply needs water added to transform it into custard, while custard powder requires mixing with milk and heating to make the finished sauce.

Can I make chocolate or other flavored custards?

Yes! Stir cocoa powder or melted chocolate into finished plain custard powder custard for chocolate custard. Other options are strawberry, caramel, maple, etc.

What's the best way to thicken up thin custard?

If your custard turns out too thin, mix a little extra cornflour with milk to form a smooth paste and stir it in. Gently reheat, stirring often, until desired thickness is reached.


Enjoying warm, velvety vanilla custard is now an anytime treat with this easy DIY custard powder recipe.

Whether you're a nostalgic Brit craving a taste of back home or just a lover of creamy dessert sauces, custard powder is a handy kitchen staple that guarantees sweet satisfaction.

Give it a try and treat yourself to flavorful custard perfection in minutes!

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating