The Very Best Vanilla Pudding

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

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding | The Suburban Soapbox

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.

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding | The Suburban Soapbox

I loved 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. 🙂

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding | The Suburban Soapbox

It wasn’t until much later in life….like 20 years or so…that I started dabbling in the “from scratch” pudding arena. It was really out of desperation and necessity….I had run out of pudding and I was having a late night craving that needed to be satisfied. So, I did what any self-respecting pudding lover would do and I started to experiment a bit with ingredients I already had on hand. 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.

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding | The Suburban Soapbox

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 box 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. 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 Plugra 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. So tell me….what was your favorite recipe that got you started in the kitchen?

The Very Best Vanilla Pudding

Buttery and sweet, this easy Vanilla Pudding is super simple to make from scratch!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 12 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 221 kcal


  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter I use Plugra European Style Butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract I use Nielsen-Massey
  • 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.


Pudding can be made up to 48 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1gCalories: 221kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 2gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 33mgPotassium: 107mgSugar: 19gVitamin A: 400IUVitamin C: 0.7mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword vanilla pudding
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

36 comments on “The Very Best Vanilla Pudding”

  1. 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!

  2. Vanilla pudding is one of my all time favorite desserts and you’ve convinced me to make one from scratch!

  3. Dear Kellie, this vanilla pudding is calling to me! What a wonderful light and creamy. Pinning for later! xo, Catherine

  4. This pudding looks so thick and creamy, I just want to dive right in!

  5. There is nothing like homemade pudding made from scratch. The taste is incomparable to what you get in the stores. Your recipe looks fantastic.

  6. Oh wow, I want it now! So delicious.

  7. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had homemade pudding, but your pictures have definitely convinced me to try!

  8. 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!

  9. This is just beautiful! I am totally going to try making it!! Pinned!

  10. I have to admit I’ve never made pudding from scratch, but this looks so simple to do! Can’t wait to try it 😀

  11. 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 .

  12. Oh this looks so good! My kids would go crazy! And I love that is is from scratch, so much better!

  13. I never knew pudding was so easy to make from scratch. Wow! What a scrumptious dessert.

  14. What a classic recipe! I think my little girl would love this!!

  15. Making this now but where do I use the butter?

  16. 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.

  17. What is that biscuit? It looks like a Dutch cookie that friend brings me..

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. Using this recipe for Thanksgiving, to offset the pumpkin. Hope it goes well. Thank-you for a wonderful recipe.

  22. 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. 🙂

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