Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce

With just 4 ingredients, you’ll find yourself making this Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce to spoon over everything from fresh fruit, cobblers and crisps, pancakes, or even a traditional English trifle.

Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce | @TspCurry

Despite the fact that I originally discovered creamy, velvety Vanilla Custard Sauce in a retro Christmas cookbook, I make this recipe all year round. 

How could you not?

After all, a little bit of magic happens when you gently cook together egg yolks, milk and sugar – and then stir in vanilla at the end. Together, these few ingredients combine to form a spoon-coating, rich-tasting sauce that makes even a bowl of fresh fruit taste like a special dessert.

And in my opinion, it’s healthy. (:

Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce | @TspCurry

I originally discovered the lovely concept of Vanilla Custard Sauce in ‘The Twelve Days of Chrismas Cookbook,” by Suzanne Huntley, copyright 1965 by Galahad Books. In this book, detailing glorious (complicated!) Christmas feasts, was an easy recipe for “Boiled Custard for Trifle”. I made the recipe even easier by:

  • using less sugar
  • making it with reduced-fat milk
  • ditching the double boiler
  • cutting the step of scalding the milk, using less of it
  • adding vanilla extract and a shake of salt

Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce | @TspCurry

The sauce takes no more than 20 minutes. And the first thing you MUST pour it onto is a stack of pancakes. (You may never go back to maple syrup.)

I’m happily sharing my recipe for Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce as part of this month’s challenge for The Recipe ReDux. Our challenge was to show you a cookbook we’re using in our kitchens. 

And while this is certainly not an everyday-cookbook, our very own cookbook (#shameless plug here) The 30-Minute Mediterranean Cookbook: 101 Easy and Flavorful Recipes For Lifelong Health contains recipes you’ll use over and over again. 

And because I’m a total retro-cookbook buff, I must share a few other recipe title gems from the ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook”

  • Whole Baked Fish
  • Peach Eggnog
  • Mexican Christmas Eve Salad
  • Orange-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  • Cranberry Crumb Cake
  • Jellied Curry Ring (just kidding on that one!)

May you enjoy many holiday recipe this time of year – retro, or not.


Simple Vanilla Custard Sauce

Serve this simple 4-ingredient creamy sauce over fresh fruit, poached pears, pancakes, cake, or even English trifle.

  • Author: Serena Ball
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt (optional)


In a medium, saucepan (preferably with a heavy bottom) whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the milk.

Place the pan over low heat and cook until the mixture is thickened, about 12-15 minutes, stirring almost constantly, especially at the end. The mixture should not bubble or boil; it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and if desired, a shake of salt.

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We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

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