Homemade Vanilla Pudding
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.
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.
Homemade Vanilla Pudding
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.
How To Make It From Scratch
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.
This recipe 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.
Simmer the half and half, or milk, over low heat.
Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
Cook until the sugar is dissolved.
Stir in the butter.
Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining half and half.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the pudding.
Continue cooking until the mixture had thickened.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Serve with stroopwafels, pizzelles or use for your favorite recipes.
This recipe for the Very 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.
- 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!
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Get the Recipe: The Very Best Vanilla Pudding
- 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.
- 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.
50 Comments on “Homemade Vanilla Pudding”
I never realized making pudding was so simple. I’m going to have to make this for my kids… I think they’d love it topped with fresh berries! YUM!
Vanilla pudding is one of my all time favorite desserts and you’ve convinced me to make one from scratch!
Dear Kellie, this vanilla pudding is calling to me! What a wonderful treat..so light and creamy. Pinning for later! xo, Catherine
This pudding looks so thick and creamy, I just want to dive right in!
There is nothing like homemade pudding made from scratch. The taste is incomparable to what you get in the stores. Your recipe looks fantastic.
Oh wow, I want it now! So delicious.
I used 1 1/4 cup milk 1 1/4 cup heavy cream since I didn’t have half and half. Turned out great! Thank you!
Great! Thank you so much for your comment and substitution suggestions.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever had homemade pudding, but your pictures have definitely convinced me to try!
Vanilla pudding is so simple yet it’s always been one of my favorite desserts. Nothing beats the richness of homemade and I’ve got to give your recipe a try, it looks so creamy and delicious!
This is just beautiful! I am totally going to try making it!! Pinned!
I have to admit I’ve never made pudding from scratch, but this looks so simple to do! Can’t wait to try it 😀
There is something so comforting about a simple, yet delicious, vanilla pudding. I feel like I’m 6 years old again! And I love hat you have little stroopwafels on top! I fell in love with those delicious treats in Europe. A perfect accompaniment to this pudding .
Oh this looks so good! My kids would go crazy! And I love that is is from scratch, so much better!
I never knew pudding was so easy to make from scratch. Wow! What a scrumptious dessert.
What a classic recipe! I think my little girl would love this!!
Making this now but where do I use the butter?
After the cornstarch mixture is added, I edited the recipe. Thanks for pointing it out! 🙂
Haha! I just went back and looked again and saw it in the recipe! I thought I had lost my mind! glad to know you added it. Thanks!!!
What is half and half? Half of what? May sound dumb I know but this is really got my mind thinking what is half and half at first I thought it was half brown sugar half white sugar but I’m sure that’s not it is it? Some one help I want to make this it looks delicious!
Hi Lucy! Half and Half is a dairy product. It’s a mixture of milk and cream, I like to use it instead of heavy cream because I feel it makes it less likely to break or curdle during heating. You could substitute whole milk if you can’t find it but it may not be as rich as the original recipe.
What is that biscuit? It looks like a Dutch cookie that friend brings me..
Hi Thalia, It’s called a stroopwaffle. It’s a caramel filled waffle cookie, I purchased them at my local grocery store. Thanks for visiting!
This looks amazing I must try it. What cookies are in the picture with the pudding though?? My husband can’t eat chocolate or I would make the recommended chocolate chip cookies. The cookies in the picture look delicious!
Nevermind I just saw the answer lol sorry.
They’re stroopwafels! 🙂
So I have a question and I didn’t see it already posted ( I looked this time lol) should I let the pudding cool before i cover it and put it in the refrigerator? I made this last night and for some reason even after about 10 hours of it being in the refrigerator it’s all liquidy… Not sure what I did wrong. I am going to try again in a couple of days though.
I let it cool just a bit but I do cook it until it’s beginning to thicken quite a bit before pulling it off the heat. Please let me know if you’re still having trouble and I’ll go back and retest the recipe. Thank you!
I think the cornstarch may be too low. Typo? Mine won’t set up either. Too bad, the flavor is divine.
Hi Erin! I’m so sorry…I’ll be testing it out again later today. Stay tuned…I’ll come back and let you know how it goes. Thank you so much for letting me know!
Hi Mary and Cecilia, I went back and tested the recipe again, and the original amount of cornstarch of 2 1/2 tablespoons worked. You want to be sure your custard mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (dip your spoon in the mixture and run your finger across, the mixture should remain with a line through it) before adding the cornstarch/dairy mixture. IF you still find your pudding is really thin, then feel free to add an additional 1 teaspoon cornstarch/2 tablespoons half/half whisked together until desired consistency. This pudding is not super thick but it should definitely not be running like melted ice cream.
I made this lastnight and let set in the fridge overnight…OMG, it is delish! I substituted whole milk for half and half because it’s just what i had on hand. I doubled the recipe because I’ll be using this in my banana pudding today. Thanks for sharing!
Yay! I’m so glad you like it! I bet it’s better with whole milk, I’m gonna have to try your way too!
Using this recipe for Thanksgiving, to offset the pumpkin. Hope it goes well. Thank-you for a wonderful recipe.
I was scalding the milk when I realized the recipe didn’t have any eggs! Seems like a panna cota with cornstarch. I was too scared to go that route so I added three eggs and 3 1/2 T cornstarch. I was drawn to the use of brown sugar because I knew that would be an adult flavor. It does taste so much better than a packaged product and it didn’t take 20 minutes.
Panna cotta is usually made with buttermilk, in my experience. This is an egg free pudding. The eggs make it more of a custard but you do you. 🙂
It is so creamy and tastes great but I think it needs berries to because it’s a little sweet so I can’t eat that much but I will totally make again yumm
Berries are great with this pudding!
I made this and used it in a yellow poke cake and topped it with fresh sliced peaches. Thank you! Great summer dessert!
That sounds wonderful! Thank you for your comment!
First time I have ever made home made pudding, and I only made it as I was looking for a recipe to use up 2 cups of half and half before its expiry date.
Easy instructions, easy ingredients (I had to use regular vanilla extract as I didn’t have paste), but still turned out great! Could only imagine what it would have tasted like with the quality ingredients.
Couldn’t resist a few spoonfuls warm from the pot 🙂
I’m so glad you loved it! It’s hard to not eat it straight from the pot….I totally agree!
trying this out now! can i use granulated sugar instead of brown sugar or some other substitute?
You can use granulated sugar but not sure about the sugar substitute.
We made this last night in a double boiler and loved it. The flavor delicious and texture is silky smooth. I love that this is an eggless custard which is easier to work with. Thank you!!
Can proportions be doubled without affecting taste?
Thank you so much! You can definitely double it without ruining the recipe.
Can the pudding be frozen?
Hi Isabella! I haven’t tried to freeze it so I can’t really say for certain. I’m sure it would freeze well but thawing may not turn out as hoped.