Rich, creamy and sweet, Homemade Vanilla Pudding is the epitome of comfort food. So simple to make with just cream, butter, vanilla, sugar and cornstarch, you’ll never reach for the instant stuff again. Fantastic for an every day treat but elegant enough for entertaining.

Vanilla PUdding in a small glass jar with a mini stroopwafel on top. Jar is placed on a small piece of burlap.

Vanilla Pudding

One of the first things I ever learned to make was vanilla pudding. It was so simple, especially when you bought a package of instant pudding….you, literally, had dessert in a matter of minutes. I always preferred the stovetop instant pudding over the “mix and stir” variety, there was something about the whole process of steaming the milk and then whisking in the powder that made me feel totally like a culinary wizard even at the ripe old age of 8.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding isn’t that much more difficult to make and once you make your first batch I can guarantee you’ll never buy it in a box again.

I love the first bite of the pudding…still warm from the saucepan, like a sweet custard that was supposed to be filling a pie or a mountain of cream puffs. But I could eat it out of the bowl….just with a spoon…and enjoy everything about that simple dessert without the mess of a crust or pastry getting in the way. 

Four small jars with vanilla pudding in them and mini stroopwafels on the side.

What is Vanilla Pudding made of?

There’s nothing quite like vanilla pudding…..a little under appreciated in my opinion, it’s creamy, smooth, sweet and comforting. And the fact that it’s made with ingredients you always have in the kitchen make it easy to come by when you’re craving something dessert-y.

You can use it as a pie filling or for your favorite poke cake recipe but we just love it in a bowl topped with a bit of whipped cream for a decadent and easy treat.

So simple to make in just a matter or minutes, this pudding recipe is made with sugar, half and half, vanilla, butter…..simple ingredients that just needed a little hand coming together to create the ultimate creamy, sweet bowl of heaven. The Very Best Vanilla Pudding ever.

silver spoon in a jar of vanilla pudding

How To Make Vanilla Pudding From Scratch

Homemade pudding is made without eggs because eggs are typically used in a custard or creme brûlée. This pudding is thickened with cornstarch keeping it light and creamy but still rich.

  1. Simmer the half and half, or milk, over low heat.
  2. Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  3. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Stir in the butter.
  5. Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining half and half.
  6. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pudding.
  7. Continue cooking until the mixture had thickened.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  9. Serve with stroopwafels, pizzelles or use for your favorite recipes.

This recipe for the Best Vanilla Pudding takes less than 15 minutes to make, about the same time it would take you to make it from the box. The instant vanilla pudding is filled with preservatives and additives that I can’t even pronounce.

And you’ll save some money too because I bet you have everything you need to make this Vanilla Pudding right in your kitchen. The rich, cream is studded with vanilla bean flecks and is smooth like a pudding should be. One spoonful of this and you’ll never buy it in the box again.

jar of vanilla pudding with a mini stroopwafel stuck in the top

Pro Tips

  • Dairy – I used half and half for this recipe but you can use heavy cream for an ultra rich pudding or whole milk. 
  • Thickener – Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent but you can easily substitute with flour, arrowroot powder or Tapioca flour.
  • Eggs – There are no eggs used in this recipe but for richness you can stir in one egg yolk along with the butter. This step will add a more yellow hue to your pudding, as well.
  • Stir – Don’t stop stirring or whisking your pudding while cooking so the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn. You need to keep the dairy in constant motion to avoid scalding.

Be sure to use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on…I love Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste for the pure vanilla flavor and gorgeous flecks. And I always use a European style butter for added richness.

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding would be fabulous with a little of this caramel sauce stirred in or alongside a stack of THESE chocolate chip cookies. 

More Easy Pudding Recipes

If you love this vanilla pudding, you may also like this Homemade Chocolate Pudding….it’s just as simple to make with the same richness and creamy factor. Also, be sure to try this Butterscotch Pudding….it’s amazing or my grandfather’s Rice Pudding. OMG…delish.

Want to take it up a notch? This Banana Pudding recipe is a classic and so, so easy. You can even use this vanilla pudding for the base….win, win, win!

Rice pudding in a blue and white tea cup stacked in another tea cup.


jar of vanilla pudding with a mini stroopwafel stuck in the top

Get the Recipe: The Best Vanilla Pudding Recipe

Buttery and sweet, this easy Vanilla Pudding is super simple to make from scratch!
4.86 from 14 votes


  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch, add an extra tablespoon for a thicker consistency.


  • 1 saucepan


  • In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of half and half to a simmer (do not boil). Add both sugars and vanilla. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring constantly to prevent scalding.
  • Stir in the butter until melted. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining half and half with the cornstarch.
  • Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the half and half whisking constantly. Continue cooking until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap being sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the pudding. (This will prevent a skin from forming.)
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.


Pudding can be made up to 48 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Serving: 1g, Calories: 221kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 34mg, Potassium: 110mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 399IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 87mg, Iron: 1mg