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Homemade Vanilla Pudding

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

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

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

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. 
  5. 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.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 233Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 110mgSodium 94mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 0gSugar 31gProtein 5g

Did you make this recipe?

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Merle

Wednesday 28th of September 2022

I'm about to make this recipe and went to your butterscotch pudding recipe for the technique and noticed that recipe uses a mix of milk and cream for a creamier pudding but this one doesn't - can you please clarify? Can I use a mixture of the two? using the pudding for individual banana pudding baby jars.

Thank you!

Jamie

Thursday 29th of September 2022

Hi Merle – The recipes are a bit different because they are different puddings. You could certainly use both milk and cream in this one, but I didn't necessarily feel like it needed it. Happy baking! Jamie

Lisa

Saturday 24th of September 2022

This was yummy as is! Also tried a small amount with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Happy Fall!

Jamie

Thursday 29th of September 2022

So glad you enjoyed the pudding, Lisa! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Happy baking – Jamie

Rachel

Friday 9th of September 2022

Made the recipe as written and it was thick and delicious! Such a simple and elegant dessert to have ready for visitors. I had no trouble with the pudding thickening. You do have to keep stirring until it starts to bubble for the thickening to happen. I use cornstarch as a thickener often in my cooking, so my advice to others would be to use a small dish without sharp/deep edges to mix up with cornstarch/milk. That way the mixture doesn't clump up and get stuck in the edges. I used an oversized rounded base coffee mug bc it was handy, and it worked great. And yes use a spatula to mix and get all the sides.

Can't wait to serve this up with some whipped cream! With pumpkin season around the corner, will probably make some layered pumpkin spice pudding creations as well using this recipe as a base. Yum!!

Jamie

Tuesday 13th of September 2022

So glad you enjoyed the pudding, Rachel! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie

GiannaThe Chef

Thursday 1st of September 2022

This is the best pudding I've ever eaten in my entire life!! It's so delicious. I will definitely make this again soon. 5 stars!

Jamie

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie

Claire

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

I would like to make this ahead for a fun family get together. How long can it keep in the refrigerator? It sounds easy and delicious! Thanks

Jamie

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Hi Claire – It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. I find it is best in the first 1-2 days. Hope this helps! Happy baking – Jamie

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