Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

Foolproof Creme Anglaise (Classic Vanilla Custard Sauce)

4.72 from 63 votes
My Foolproof Creme Anglaise is a sweet custard-like sauce, the name of which is French for "English cream," and my method truly is foolproof. 

Hi Bold Bakers!

My Bold Baking Basics series is all about giving you guys the recipes and tips to bake confidently anytime, anywhere, from the ground-up. One of the most important parts of baking is using quality ingredients. I know it can be hard to find certain staple ingredients, and classic technique-based sauces like creme anglaise can seem hard to make, but I’m here to show you just how easy it is.

My Foolproof Creme Anglaise (Classic Vanilla Custard) really is just that: foolproof. This recipe and video not only includes all the tricks to making the perfect creme anglaise, but I share a chef’s tricks on how to salvage this delicate custard if things happen to go wrong!

What desserts go with creme anglaise?

First of all, for those of you who might not have had creme anglaise, you’re probably wondering what it is and how it’s served. This sweet custard-like sauce is French for “English cream.” It’s rich in texture and the flavor is developed by cooking together sugar, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla.

[ Need to get some Vanilla Beans for my Creme Anglaise? Here you go! ]

The mixture is cooked enough to cook the egg yolks, but not too much as to keep a creamy, pourable, sauce-like texture. While this sauce may seem intimidating to make it’s so easy to master with all of my tips and tricks. I love creme anglaise served in the traditional fashion alongside a warm slice of Apple Pie, poured over my Peach and Blueberry Crisp, or generously drizzled over fresh fruit.

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What’s the best way to avoid curdling?

The crux of making creme anglaise is cooking the sauce just enough, but not too much, as there is a fine line between a thick and decadent sauce and sweet creamy scrambled eggs. Since there’s nothing worse than putting in the time and effort to prepare a recipe than having it go south, this simple creme anglaise recipe has your back.

Not only do I show you in the video how to avoid overcooking the custard, but I share one of my favorite tips for saving a curdled creme anglaise. If for some reason your custard does in fact curdle during the cooking process, it can be saved by blending the custard while still warm. I know this seems too good to be true, but this will bring your custard back together and create a smooth lump-free sauce.

Can creme anglaise be made ahead of time? How far in advance?

My recipe can be made in advance! Considering it’s the kind of thing you will always want to have on hand this is great news. Once the creme anglaise has cooled, you can store it in the fridge for 4 days.

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Is Creme Anglaise Served Hot or Cold?

The beauty of keeping this easy creme anglaise covered in the fridge is it’s always ready to roll as it can be both be served hot and cold. It can be reheated by placing it over a Bain-marie or very carefully over low heat while constantly stirring. Take care when reheating because you don’t want to ‘cook’ the eggs causing them to curdle.

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Foolproof Creme Anglaise (Classic Vanilla Custard Sauce) Recipe

4.72 from 63 votes
My Foolproof Creme Anglaise is a sweet custard-like sauce, the name of which is French for "English cream," and my method truly is foolproof. 
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3 cups
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins
My Foolproof Creme Anglaise is a sweet custard-like sauce, the name of which is French for "English cream," and my method truly is foolproof. 
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) cream (any type of fresh cream will do)
  • 1 1/2 cups (12floz/340ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/115g) sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions

  • In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan add the cream, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla pod and beans
  • Simmer over medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble around the edge of the pan, for about 2 minutes, do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 20 minutes.
  • While the cream mixture is infusing, whisk the egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium bowl.
  • Ladle some of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then swiftly whisk to combine. Add another ladle of the infused milk to the eggs until the egg mixture is warm to the touch. This method is called tempering and it prevents the eggs from curdling. 
  • Pour the tempered cream and egg mixture into the remaining cream in the saucepan, then return the pan to the heat. 
  • Continue to cook over medium heat while constantly stirring until the custard coats the back of a spoon, this will take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Once the custard has thickened, remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a medium bowl to remove any lumps and the vanilla pod. 
  • Place the custard in an ice bath to cool it down quickly and prevent overcooking. 
  • Once cooled, cover and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up 4 days. Serve with pies, crisps and cobblers. 

 

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77 thoughts on “Foolproof Creme Anglaise (Classic Vanilla Custard Sauce)

    1. Hi Jean,
      yummy! I will google that recipe, sounds divine.
      Thank you for this kind review of this recipe. I am delighted that you loved it, and your comment will encourage others to give this recipe a go.
      Best,
      Gemma 🙂

  1. Great recipe! A great trick is to cook it in the sous vide. I brought all the ingredients to room temperature and mixed well so the sugar dissolved. I poured it into a heavy plastic freezer bad and placed in the sous vide for an hour. Every 15 minutes or so I squished the bag several times to mix the crème anglaise around. After an hour, I strained it and it was perfect! Wonderful texture and taste! Thanks again for the great recipe! Merry Christmas!

      1. I just realized I didn’t share the temperature. In case you were wondering, I set the temp to 180°F.

        I hope you and your family have have a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with happiness, love, health, and success!

  2. Gemma, I plan on making a fresh peach French toast bake that calls for 1/2 C heated cream drizzled on top before baking. I would like to replace the cream with your custard – will it work? It would be poured over the French bread peach and egg mixture and baked at 350 for 50 minutes.

  3. Thank you for the excellent video explanation and the tip for fixing curdled sauce. I wonder if it possible to add alcohol, for example an amaretto liqueur, to the eggs before adding the milk or will the addition of alcohol cause the egg to curdle?

    1. Hi, Sandra ! Add it by 1/2 teaspoonful after the sauce cooling down. Alcohol will evaporate some underheat and may also affect the texture if added during cooking.

      Hope this is of help and you get on well!
      Best, Gemma

  4. You say to set the mixture aside for 20 minutes and then laid all the hot mixture into the egg yolks… if it sits for 20 minutes it’s not exactly going to be hot anymore so can you explain this please?

    1. Hi Nathan,
      I suppose ‘hot’ is not a precise temperature – nor is ‘warm’. It is unlikely however that this will be ‘cold’ in 20 minutes, and there are two objectives.
      1. to allow the vanilla to infuse the milk with its flavor.
      2. to prevent the egg yolks from cooking on contact with the really hot milk straight from the simmering point – that is not good.
      I hope this helps, the warm milk will allow the egg to mix through well so that it does not separate in the cooking,
      Gemma 🙂

      1. I thought the same thing but followed the recipe with exact timings – and it worked perfectly. I’ve made this with your Apple strudel two weeks on the trot now – thank you!

  5. Excellent recipe with great directions. I didn’t have a vanilla bean to use so had to use vanilla extract. The recipe came out great and it didn’t curdle.

    1. Hi Richard,
      now I am donig my happy dance, not a pretty sight, but I am delighted. Well done you, custard is a tricky thing, get it right one time and you will always get it right,
      Gemma 🙂

    1. Hi Claire,
      This sauce is made with milk and cornflour, with the addition of sugar and vanilla extract.
      Cornflour/cornstarch was commonly used in recipes to replace eggs.
      You would use about 1 liter of full-fat milk, about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch/cornflour, it depends on how thick you want this custard, a teaspoon of extract, and about 2 ozs of sugar or to taste. If it is too thin you can add more cornflour.
      I suggest you bring the milk, sugar and extract to a simmer. Blend the cornstarch with a little of the cold milk, then off the heat whisk it into the milk. Return to the heat, it takes very little cooking, if it is too thin, add a little more cornflour, it will need to be blended with more milk.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

        1. Hi Claire,
          sure you can use skimmed milk, however, it will lose a lot of the richness provided by the fat in the milk. Full fat milk is usually about 3.5% fat content, it is not a lot for a big difference,
          Gemma 🙂

  6. Is there any substitute of using egg yolk? Is such a waste throwing away the egg whites….
    Thank you

    1. Don’t throw the egg whites away, use them to make an Egg white omelette for breakfast the next day or merengue on a dessert

    2. Use whole eggs instead, I always do. It just makes a less rich custard which is a good everyday custard and very nutritious. So instead of two yolks, use 1 whole egg etc.

  7. Absolutely amazing, super simple to make. Used it for a pour-over custard for Tarte Tatin. Thank you, it was delicious!

    1. Hi there,
      yes there is. This is English custard, and it can be made with low-fat milk as readily as cream, though it will not be as rich, of course.
      I say, give it a go,
      Gemma 🙂

    1. Hi there,
      sure you can. If you can get vanilla beans local to you at a good price then the flavor is unsurpassable. However, when you cannot, or if it is too expensive, then use what you can get. Vanilla beans vary a lot in quality and in price.
      I hope you manage this recipe well,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. What a lovely website! I want to make bread pudding with a cream sauce. Your video is so well done and very well done! I have vanilla beans, so off I go. I’m subscribing, too!

    1. Hi there,
      thank you! I am so pleased you like the website, which is currently undergoing an upgrade. In a few weeks, it should be even more accessible to all.
      I am delighted you are going to make the bread pudding, great comfort-food for sure.
      It is good that you are here with us, don’t forget to submit pics too, and give us the benefit of your knowledge too, other bold bakers appreciate that,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Hi Gemma. Have your ever tried freezing your creme anglaise? I’m guessing due to the eggs in the recipe that it doesn’t freeze well, but thought I’d ask. Thank you!

    1. Hi Joanne,

      Yes you are correct. Unfortunately you can because of the dairy and eggs. You need to use it. I tried to vacuum seal it in my house to make it last longer but that didn’t work really well either.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  10. Yum! I learned how to make Creme Anglaise when I worked for a French Hotel chain years ago. Nowadays, I prefer to do low carb so I subbed a new product and wow. I used 1:1 ratio of Bocha Sweet for sugar and it came out just as I remembered. Now if I could only figure out how to make Isles Flotant sugar free!!!!

  11. Can this sauce recipe be converted into Confectionaire’s Custard to make custard slices (one of my favourite things to enjoy especially on a Sunday for afternoon tea), perhaps by adding some cornflour? Tx

    1. Hi Wendy,
      Yes – ish! I think you can certainly do this, it is a step on the way to a creme pat. Just be a bit cautious not to over thicken, the good thing about cornflour is that it can be added little by little, does not need cooking out in the same way as flour.
      Let us see the results, love this treat too,
      Gemma 🙂

  12. I served this with your flourless chocolate cake recipe
    Both recipes were excellent for Valentine’s Day

  13. Hi Gemma!
    I’m making your vanilla birthday cake tomorrow and was looking for something to do with all the extra egg yolks, which is how I ended up here!
    Instead of the cream, would I just add an extra cup of whole milk to the 1.5 cups? Also, instead of the vanilla beans, how much vanilla extract can I add in instead?

    Cheers!

    1. Hi there Harsha,
      This is not really possible! It is possible to make a vanilla sauce, milk or cream, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla.
      If you use heavy whipping cream then you will not need to thicken it, heat it through with the vanilla and sugar. If you use milk then you will need to use about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, blended with the sugar, to 16 ozs/2 cups of milk.
      Try it! it is a useful thing to have in your repertoire,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. Gemma, I subscribe to a couple vidlogs and cooking sites but I love yours by far the best. Your recipes are awesome and foolproof and not so exotic you constantly have to rush out and get unusual ingredients, great basics indeed!!

  15. Hi Gemma,
    Thank you so much for the recipes you share with all of us! I love reading the recipes, making them, eating them and sharing them!! 😀
    I have a question; How can I make this recipe tighter, so that it isn’t as thin? I thank you in advance.
    Big BoldBaker,Carolyn

    1. Hi there,
      Yes, this is a thin custard. To make it thicker you can reduce the amount of milk, use a larger egg, or add a little cornstarch to thicken it.
      If you use a 35% whipping cream it will also be thicker. Really it depends on the use you wish to make of it. one to two teaspoons of cornstarch, blended with the egg yolks before adding the cream/milk will give you a thick custard, add a little more milk if it seems too thick for your need.
      Creme Patissiere is a similar thing, used as a filling in things like choux pastry/mille feuille, that uses about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ap flour, blended with the eggs, cooked out in the cream/milk. Different ways for different applications!
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  16. I’m trying to find the address where I can purchase vanilla pods but I can’t seem to find it. Could you furnish it please? Thank you

  17. Hello mam I m your huge fan I always watch ur recepies your work is great you have made baking so easy that any one can try your recepies mam I wanted to know how can we substitute eggs in this recepie

    1. Hi Dia,
      You cannot make a custard, which this is, without eggs. I am sorry. You can make a vanilla sauce, with cornstarch/cornflour, sugar, vanilla, milk. It will not be the same thing but it will fit the bill for some recipes. Google it, there are a number of suggestions,
      Gemma 🙂

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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