Vanilla lovers, this one’s for you. If you are looking for an almost impossibly silky vanilla pudding recipe, you have found it.

I tested many different ways, using different dairy, varying amounts of sugar and butter, and using more or less vanilla. What I’ve finally hit on is pretty much vanilla pudding perfection, whether you enjoy eating it straight from the bowl, pouring on some strawberry syrup, or using it to make banana pudding, you’re going to love this recipe.

You may also want to take a peek at my butterscotch pudding recipe. For ease of browsing, you can find all my pudding and custard recipes in one place. Now, let’s make this pudding.

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A vertical image of 4 bowls of vanilla pudding. The bowls are rectangular with a red rim around each one. There is also a container of sugar, a bottle of vanilla extract, and a salt cellar in the background.

At a Glance

✅Skill Level: Beginner
✅Skills: Whisking and Simmering. Straining
✅Type: Stirred Custard/Stove Top Pudding
✅Number of Ingredients: 7
✅Prep Time: 5 minutes
✅Cook Time: 10 minutes
✅Yield: 8 servings
✅Related Reading: Custards and Puddings

Jump Straight to the Recipe

Tasting Notes

A high-angle shot into a white ramekin of vanilla pudding with a spoon in it.

This pudding is all about the flavor and the texture.

The flavor is cool, creamy dairy and pure vanilla with enough salt to bring everything into focus.

The texture is really what makes this pudding sing. It’s very delicate and silky. It wobbles just the slightest bit, even when fully set. And it is so smooth on the tongue, you really have to taste it to believe it.

If this sounds like a winner to you and you end up making it, please do me a quick favor, if you would.

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How to Make Vanilla Pudding

If you are an old hand at making stirred custard, you can jump straight to the recipe.

Otherwise, let’s take a look at the ingredients and potential substitutions, how to make it, and do a little vanilla pudding Q & A.

Labeled images of the ingredients for making vanilla pudding against a white background: whole milk, sugar, cornstarch, eggs (2), egg yolks (2), kosher salt, and vanilla extract.
  • whole milk: This is the main liquid for making the pudding. I tested with half and half and varying proportions of milk to fattier dairy, and whole milk is the clear winner for a standard pudding with a delightful texture. You can substitute some half and half for a portion of the milk if you would like. I don’t recommend using 2% unless that is really all you ever use. In that case, consider increasing the cornstarch by an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • sugar: Pure granulated sugar is the way to go here. I generally use sugar labeled “pure cane sugar” for the most reliable quality
  • cornstarch: Cornstarch assists the eggs in thickening the pudding. You may also use all-purpose flour instead. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two, flavor-wise or consistency-wise
  • eggs: Provide richness, color, and additional liquid in the form of the egg whites. The almost pure protein of the whites adds the most silky, magical consistency to the pudding while increasing the yield by a bit
  • egg yolks: Using yolks along with whites adds additional richness and body without adding more liquid, and that means a richer pudding. If you are feeling very fancy, substitute 2 yolks for the 2 whole eggs for a more dense and rich pudding
  • kosher salt: Salt is really vital in custard. It snaps the mild dairy flavors into focus and brings dimension to an otherwise fairly boring dessert. If you have ever had pudding or custard and thought it was boring, it was probably missing salt
  • vanilla extract: Use the best quality vanilla you can afford here. Vanilla definitely carries the day when it comes to vanilla pudding. My recommendation is to use an excellent-quality Mexican vanilla which has a lovely, full flavor and richness and is lovely in pudding.
Best Mexican Vanilla
Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Traditional Gourmet Mexican Vanilla Extract
$29.95 ($3.57 / Fl Oz)

If you want to try some excellent Mexican vanilla, go with the Blue Cattle Truck Trading Company, based in the US, they source all their beans from a small farm in Mexico. This is the real deal, friends, and worth buying. Use it to make Mexican flan or to flavor the flan layer in chocoflan. You won't regret it!

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03/02/2024 12:07 am GMT

Why I Don’t Call for Butter in This Pudding

Butter adds richness and also helps a pudding set more firmly. Think about it: butter is hard at refrigerator temperatures.

All those are good things, flavor-wise, but butter throws off an otherwise perfectly smooth texture. I find that little bit of firm butter in a cold pudding to mess with my silky pudding bliss.

If you are serving the pudding warm, by all means, add up to 1 1/2 ounces of butter.

If, however, you are looking to make the smoothest, silkiest vanilla pudding, do yourself a favor and leave the butter out. It is rich enough without it.


If you know how to make a stove top pudding, feel free to head straight to the recipe.

If this is a new skill for you, stick with me and I’ll go over the steps in detail.

Start by putting all the ingredients except for the vanilla in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and whisk them really well.

Add the vanilla to a large bowl and place a fine-mesh strainer over the top.

Bring the pudding to a boil, whisking frequently and then constantly as it heats up and begins to steam.

Visual Cue: As you whisk, the pudding will get very frothy with a ton of bubbles on top. As the mixture heats and begins to thicken, the bubbles will dissipate and eventually disappear entirely. (See photo below)

A collage of four images of vanilla pudding mixture in a pan. Each image shows how the bubbles are very frothy at the beginning of mixing and get progressively smaller until they disappear entirely once the pudding is at maximum thickness.

Note how frothy and bubbly the pudding is and how the bubbles begin to dissipate as the pudding thickens. By the time the pudding is at a boil, all the froth has disappeared. Boil for 2 minutes from the start of the boil.

Turn down the heat and keep at a low boil, whisking constantly, for two minutes once you notice that the pudding is boiling.

After two minutes, pour the pudding through the strainer and into the bowl, being sure to scrape the back of the strainer to get all the pudding sticking to the underside.

Stir well until the vanilla is uniformly mixed in, then pour into 8 4oz ramekins or 6 6 oz ramekins or bowls.

A collage of four images showing how to finish making vanilla pudding: 1)Pouring the cooked pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl with vanilla in it. 2)Little bits of egg left behind in the strainer. 3)Whisking the pudding and vanilla together, and 4)Pudding in small bowls. Some are rectangular with a red rim and others are round, white ramekins.

Recipe Variations (Make It Fancy)

There is nothing wrong with sitting down with a bowl (or a vat) of plain vanilla pudding and going to town, but if you are feeling fancy, here are some ideas for variations and serving suggestions

  • Add chopped chocolate to the bowl with the vanilla, pour the pudding through the strainer, and the stir everything together for a rich, chocolate custard. You’ll get more bang for your buck with this method if you use a dark chocolate, between 65%-70% cacao solids.
  • After the pudding has set, sprinkle with sugar and brulee the top for a quickie version of creme brulee. This particular pudding is so delicate, people probably won’t even know it’s not “real” creme brulee.
  • Let the pudding set up in a large bowl with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface. Once chilled, whisk it really well and then fold in some hand-whipped cream to make a mousse-like vanilla dessert.
  • Pass chocolate syrup or hot fudge sauce to spoon on top of the pudding.

A Little Vanilla Pudding Q & A

A close shot of 2 white ramekins of vanilla pudding on a jade green tile surface with two spoons.
Can I add butter to this pudding?

Absolutely. Just know that at refrigerator temperatures, the pudding will not be as ethearally smooth and silky as it would be without the butter. If you want that buttery richness in your pudding, add up to 3 Tablespoons of butter to the bowl with the vanilla when you’re making your pudding.

How long will it keep in the fridge?

Keep it well covered, and it will last for up to five days. In my experience, it has never lasted that long.

Can I freeze it?

Sure! Make pudding pops in popsicle molds or just freeze it in individual servings and let it thaw in the fridge overnight before enjoying. If you are planning to freeze it, definitely leave out the butter.


If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

My recipes are almost all written by weight, including liquids, unless otherwise specified.

For accuracy and consistency of results, I encourage you to buy–and use–a kitchen scale.

I promise that baking and cleanup will be so much quicker and easier.

This is the scale that I recommend for home use. I have owned and used one for years.

Best for Home Use
Escali Primo Digital Food Scale

Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.

Purchase Now How & Why to Use a Kitchen Scale
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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT

Love This? Please Take a Moment to Rate and Review

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A high-angle shot into a white ramekin of vanilla pudding with a spoon in it.

Silky Vanilla Pudding

Jennifer Field
This vanilla pudding recipe has been tested six ways from Sunday, and it is, without a doubt, the most delicate and silky, perfectly sweetened vanilla pudding you'll ever have. Enjoy it on its own, with some fresh strawberry sauce, or use it as the custard for banana pudding. You're going to love it.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 218 kcal


  • 32 oz whole milk 907 grams or 4 cups
  • 7 oz granulated sugar 198 grams or a scant 1 cup
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 whole eggs large
  • 2 egg yolks large
  • 4.5 grams salt 1 barely scant teaspoon Morton's kosher or 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond crystal kosher salt, or 3/4 teaspoon table saltCrystal
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract 30grams or 1 oz, Mexican vanilla is my preference here, but use your favorite


  • Pour the vanilla in a large, heat-safe bowl and set a fine mesh strainer on top convenient to the stove.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk, sugar, eggs, yolks, cornstarch, and salt and whisk well to combine.
  • Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and then constantly as it heats and begins to steam.
  • The pudding will be very frothy to begin with, and as it thickens, the bubbles will begin to dissipate. Keep whisking, and when you note that it has begun to boil, reduce the heat to maintain a low (not volcanic) boil for two minutes. NOTE: If you are using all-purpose flour instead of cornstarch, boil for about 30 seconds.
  • Once the boiling time is up, pour the pudding through the fine mesh strainer and into the bowl with the vanilla. Be sure to scrape the underside of the strainer to get all the goodness into the bowl.
  • Whisk to completely and uniformly incorporate the vanilla, and then pour into 8 4oz ramekins or 6 6oz ramekins. You can also leave the pudding in the bowl, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding, and cool. Either way, leave at room temperature for no more than an hour, and then refrigerate until completely chilled.
  • Enjoy within 5 days.

Did You Make Any Changes?


To Make a Half-Batch
  • 16 oz/2 cups/453 grams whole milk
  • 3.5 oz/1/2 cup/99 grams sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 grams salt (1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal or a slightly generous 1/2 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt. If using table salt, use about 3/8 teaspoon
  • 1 Tablespoon/1/2 oz/15 grams vanilla extract


Serving: 4.5ozCalories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 6gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 280mgPotassium: 196mgFiber: 0.04gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 308IUCalcium: 152mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword vanilla
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