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Vanilla Custard Sauce - A delicious and versatile recipe! This vanilla custard sauce is delicious with Poached Pears in Red Wine or with Apple Crisp. So many delicious options!

This Vanilla Custard Sauce is served with our recipe for Poached Pears in Red Wine.  It’s rich, creamy and delicious – and full of wonderful vanilla flavor!

This vanilla custard doesn’t take long to make – but you do need to keep a watchful eye as you scald the milk on the stove, and again as you temper the eggs.  (But don’t worry – we talk you through this step-by-step in the instructions!)  And, you’ll want to prepare this sauce ahead of time so that it has a chance to cool before serving with the poached pears.

Although we share this vanilla custard sauce as part of our poached pears in red wine recipe – this sauce is actually quite versatile and would be wonderful served over an apple crisp or other warm fruit desserts!

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Vanilla Custard Sauce - A Family Feast

Vanilla Custard Sauce

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Pour milk into a medium-sized sauce pan and heat to the point where the milk begins to scald. Remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar.
  3. Very slowly, drizzle about half of the milk into egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly until the eggs are tempered. Then add tempered eggs back to the rest of the scaled milk.
  4. On low to medium heat cook mixture stirring continually watching to make sure it does not get too hot. If it does, the eggs will congeal and cook. (If you have to, keep removing the pan from the heat, stirring as you go.) Continue this for about five minutes or until mixture thickens. Immediately remove from heat, then add vanilla and stir.
  5. Place a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the custard mixture through the sieve to filter out any egg bits that started to congeal. Cover the bowl with a large piece of plastic wrap, pushing the plastic down to touch the top of the custard. (This will prevent a skin from forming on the custard as it cools.) Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  6. The finished sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a day and used as needed for recipes calling for custard sauce including our Poached Pears in Red Wine or Apple Crisp.

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Poached Pears in Red Wine with Vanilla Custard Sauce

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  • Crystal Robinson wrote:

    It failed to thicken. Any suggestions on what to do with it now?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Crystal – You can add a little cornstarch to the sauce to thicken. If the sauce is cold, you can stir the corn starch right in, then heat to incorporate and thicken. If your sauce is already warm or hot, make a slurry with the corn starch and a small amount of water, stirring it until smooth, then add the slurry to the hot sauce. Depending on how thick your sauce is to start, a general rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of corn starch to thicken 1 cup of liquid, but you might use less. Hope that helps!

  • Nizzy wrote:

    I love the recipe and yummy

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Nizzy – glad you enjoyed the sauce!

  • Barbara Bunting wrote:

    Add me to your list

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Barbara – Would you please fill out the form here? – this way we know which email version you’d like us to send.
      Thank you for your interest in our recipes!

  • Pam wrote:

    Can i reheat this custard to uae over a crumble at serving?

    • Martha wrote:

      Sure Pam – I’d be gentle when you reheat it (I’d use a water bath, stirring constantly) so the finished cream sauce doesn’t separate.

  • Vickie wrote:

    I couldn’t get the vanilla custard sauce to thicken no matter how long I stirred it.
    What was I doing wrong?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Vicki – I’m not sure. The egg is the thickener in this recipe – you could try reheating the sauce and adding in an additional egg yolk to see if that thickens it more for you.

  • Jill Ramsey wrote:

    Hello it’s me again! Made a batch of this delicious custard for Apple pie.
    Cannot stress enough what a delicious easy almost no-fail this recipe is. I keep it permanently in my phone!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jill!

  • Jill wrote:

    Made this recipe, came out wonderfully, looks just like the picture, a golden creamy color.
    I have trouble with custard usually but this was very easy and the results were perfect–smooth and velvety. A saver recipe!
    I used heavy cream instead of milk as I like thick custard, also it’s a little sweet, will cut back on sugar next time.
    This custard was delicious over birthday cake!

    • Martha wrote:

      Glad you enjoyed the recipe Jill!

  • PEGGY KOUTSOS wrote:

    sounds yummy can’t wait to try it!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Peggy!

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