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Forget boxed mixes or pre-packaged pudding cups. Making Homemade Vanilla Pudding is as easy as can be and the results are beyond delicious! 

Vanilla pudding in a small white bowl, topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries

When I was a kid and even into my college years, I was a huge fan of pudding cups with a little dollop of Cool Whip or spray of Reddi-Wip. It was the perfect after school snack or simple dessert to keep on hand in a college dorm fridge.

Then I just stopped eating the little snack packs and didn’t purchase them again for like 15 years.

However, one day a package of vanilla and chocolate swirl pudding cups caught Elle’s eye at the grocery store and ended up in our cart – with a can of Reddi-Wip of course. And now my sweet girl loves pudding just like her Mama.

Overhead view of three white bowls of homemade vanilla pudding on a marble board, surrounded by spoons and homemade whipped cream

HOMEMADE VANILLA PUDDING

Look, pudding mixes have their place and so do those little cups. I use them in my recipes all the time! 

My Doctored Cake Mix wouldn’t be the same without instant pudding mix, and recipes like Eclair Cake and Banana Cream Pie Fluff are so easy because of pudding mixes.

Homemade vanilla pudding ingredients on a marble countertop

But when I want to indulge in a bowl of pudding? Honestly, homemade pudding is the only way to go. 

I love my Homemade Chocolate Pudding with Baileys Irish Cream or even a good butterscotch pudding, but there’s really nothing quite like a bowl of Homemade Vanilla Pudding topped with some fresh berries.

Don’t be freaked out by the idea of making your own custard (because that’s really what pudding is). Making this vanilla pudding recipe is easier than you think – I’ll show you how!

Milk and sugar in a saucepan set on a blue towel on a marble countertop

VANILLA PUDDING INGREDIENTS

Homemade Vanilla Pudding is made with some staple ingredients:

  • Whole milk
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Pure vanilla extract
Hot milk being streamed into a white bowl with 3 egg yolks

I recommend using whole milk when making pudding. I find that the texture of the pudding is best with whole milk. 

That said, you can use reduced fat milk or even a milk alternative, such as almond milk or coconut milk. Just keep in mind that using an alternative milk will affect the flavor of the pudding slightly.

I like to use both cornstarch and egg yolks in my pudding recipe. Both act as thickeners, but the egg yolks make it super rich while I find that the cornstarch helps to stabilize it a bit. I’ve made puddings without cornstarch in them and they’re a bit more unpredictable. 

Hand pouring vanilla extract into vanilla pudding in a saucepan

Think of the cornstarch as pudding insurance.

I also must ask you to please use pure vanilla extract when making your Homemade Vanilla Pudding. You want that real vanilla flavor, not the artificial stuff here! 

Sometimes when I want to be really fancy, I’ll use vanilla bean paste in this recipe in place of the extract. There’s just something about those beautiful vanilla bean flecks in the pudding!

Whisk stirring homemade vanilla pudding in a saucepan

HOW TO MAKE VANILLA PUDDING FROM SCRATCH

To make your vanilla pudding, start by whisking together ¼ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Set this aside. 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the rest of the milk, salt, and sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it is steaming, but don’t let it boil. 

While the milk mixture heats up, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. When the milk mixture is hot, slowly stream ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This is called tempering and brings the temperature of the eggs up without scrambling them.

Small white bowl full of homemade vanilla pudding with plastic wrap pressed onto the top of the pudding

Slowly add the now-warmed egg mixture back into the pot, followed by the cornstarch slurry. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to simmer and has thickened.

Remove the pudding from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.

And that’s it! You’ve made Homemade Vanilla Pudding!

You can serve the pudding warm or let it chill before serving it. If you refrigerate it, be sure to place plastic wrap over it, touching the surface of the pudding, so that a skin does not form on the top.

Close up of homemade vanilla pudding in a small white bowl

HOW TO SERVE YOUR HOMEMADE VANILLA PUDDING

Don’t be fooled by what people might have made you think about vanilla – this vanilla pudding is anything but plain.

It’s delicious as-is but even better when topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and some fresh berries. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries…whatever is in season and looks best!

This recipe is also an amazing base for homemade banana pudding. 

Heck, you could even pour the pudding into popsicle molds for amazing, creamy vanilla pudding popsicles. 

I promise that once you make this recipe, you’ll be making it again and again. It’ll absolutely rekindle that childhood love for pudding!

Spoonful of vanilla pudding being held up to the camera
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Homemade Vanilla Pudding

By: Jamie
4.52 from 952 ratings
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Forget boxed mixes or pre-packaged pudding cups. Making Homemade Vanilla Pudding is as easy as can be and the results are beyond delicious! 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the remaining milk, salt, and sugar. Allow the mixture to heat over medium heat until it is steaming; do not let it boil.
  • While the milk heats, whisk the egg yolks in a separate small bowl. Once the milk is steaming, slowly stream ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture back to the pot, followed by the cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to simmer and has thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. 
  • Pour into individual serving dishes. Top each with a layer of plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and serve warm or allow to chill for several hours before serving.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 117mg, Sodium: 66mg, Potassium: 195mg, Fiber: 0.04g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 386IU, Calcium: 163mg, Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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167 Comments

  1. Dolores Mynatt says:

    5 stars
    Husband fell in love with this and me too when I made this vanilla pudding as part of a soft diet after dental surgery.

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to see that you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!
      -Jamie

  2. JJ says:

    5 stars
    Your recipe appeared at the best time. It’s a rainy, cool day and I had a craving for vanilla pudding. I made this recipe and truly, it is the best I ever made or even tasted. My husband agrees. Thank you!

  3. TB says:

    Good and easy recipe. But way too much sugar in my opinion. I would suggest adding significantly less sugar to the milk

  4. Maureen says:

    5 stars
    So easy and delicious. Reminds me of the pudding my mom used to make when I was a kid. This is a keeper. Used it to fill mini custard and fruit tartlets for Easter, and it worked perfectly.

  5. Emily says:

    5 stars
    Incredible base for banana pudding! Thanks to the detailed instructions and other commenters’ suggestions, I was able to make a successful batch of this recipe despite having only 2% milk in the house (my mistake for forgetting I needed whole milk until I was back home from the store). To be on the safe side, I heated the milk very slowly and added a little extra cornstarch to compensate (7 Tbsp total for a doubled recipe that called for 6). The cornstarch slurry went in while the milk was around 150* F (just starting to steam) and I whisked constantly until it had fully thickened (around the 190* F mark).

    You can absolutely reduce the sugar to taste—I used 1 cup instead of 1.5 cups for the doubled recipe. Just start with a little while the milk is warming up initially and add until it tastes right to you.

    Used the finished product for a double batch of banana pudding (also from this website) and my family loved it. Will be making this again!

  6. Nikki Pevito says:

    Awesome. My grandson was licking the the pot as we we’re making banana pudding for Easter dinner

  7. Ronald says:

    Bravo! Real pudding from scratch is often desired. Tons of THANK YOU. Now, do you have suggestion or instructions to produce real banana pudding?

  8. Linda says:

    5 stars
    Delicious and easy!

  9. Kimberly says:

    5 stars
    Just made this and it’s wonderful!! Very creamy, thick and delicious!!
    Ty for sharing this recipe!!