Forget boxed mixes or pre-packaged pudding cups. Making Homemade Vanilla Pudding is as easy as can be and the results are beyond delicious!
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.
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.
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!
VANILLA PUDDING INGREDIENTS
Homemade Vanilla Pudding is made with some staple ingredients:
- Whole milk
- Granulated sugar
- Egg yolks
- Pure vanilla extract
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Friday 17th of March 2023
Easy af recipe made it 5 times comes out perfect each time. I never made pudding before and the first time it was amazing.
Monday 20th of March 2023
So glad you enjoy this recipe, Melanie! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie
Thursday 16th of March 2023
If you don't like super sweet desserts cut the sugar about in half! I couldn't find my normal pudding recipe so I made this. I thought the sugar ratio looked really high but I went with it. It was so sweet when I pulled it off it's all I could taste. I put it back on the stove added about 2 more cups of milk, 2 more eggs, and another couple tsps of cornstarch (eye balled it) and it was still really sugary. I prefer a pudding with delicate flavor where you can really taste the buttery, custardy, vanilla goodness. This is just far too sweet for me. I can still taste it after a bite, the sugar biting my tongue. The texture was nice though! I will make homemade whip cream without any sugar and cut it with some tart fruit when I serve it which will take care of the extra sweetness. I get that some people really like things sweet. I just am not that person haha. So I'm sure it's delicious to the people that love a sugary dessert. But if you're like me go way down on the sugar, and a little more salt. It will be more balanced in flavor.
Friday 17th of March 2023
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Happy baking! Jamie
Sunday 12th of March 2023
This was so good! Fairly simple. The most stressful part is hoping your eggs don’t scramble, but if you follow the instructions you’ll be fine. I added ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger to mine just to play around with flavors and it was delicious. Will make again for sure!
Wednesday 15th of March 2023
Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Victoria - I'm glad you enjoyed! Happy baking! Jamie
Tuesday 14th of February 2023
Tasty and set up perfectly but too sweet. This is a basic recipe that you can find lots of places—1 cup milk, 1 T cornstarch, 1 egg yolk, but most recipes use 1/6 cup sugar per cup of milk rather than the 1/4 here.
If yours didn’t thicken up, you either didn’t use whole milk or didn’t stir over low-medium heat long enough. You will feel the pudding start to thicken at about 7-8 minutes and it takes almost that much longer to start bubbling. I put the milk on to heat and the pot wasn’t off the heat for almost half an hour. It thickened perfectly and was yummy except for being too sweet.
Sunday 5th of March 2023
@Nan, I think you can recheck your math. This recipe calls for 1 Tblsp + 1 tsp cup sugar per cup of milk.
Thursday 16th of February 2023
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback, Nan! Happy baking - Jamie
Sunday 5th of February 2023
If you’re short on time or don’t want to do the bazillion steps, just put all the ingredients into a large pot over medium-high heat and stir continuously w/rubber spatula 1 minute past boil.
Took me 5 minutes from start to finish and my wife is dying over how good and creamy it is :)
(Oh — almond extract is a GREAT addition for flavor boost.)
Tuesday 7th of February 2023
Glad you enjoy it! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie