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Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere)

Patricia Reitz

Vanilla Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere) - ButterYum

Vanilla Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere) - ButterYum

Vanilla Pastry Cream (aka creme patissiere, creme patisserie, or creme pat) is silky and delicious - no wonder it's a component of countless desserts. Fruit tarts (like this one), eclairs (I have a great step-by-step tutorial here), cream puffs, Portuguese custard tarts, trifle, profiteroles, mille-feuilles, Boston cream pie, and so many more.   

I've made a lot of pastry cream over the years and this recipe is definitely the easiest.  All the ingredients are placed in a saucepan and cooked together until they thicken.  Strain, chill, and use!  Here's how I make it.   

To begin, place sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan.

Whisk them together to break up any cornstarch clumps. 

Add milk.  I like to use whole milk.

Whisk to mix.

Add egg yolks.  Just check out the color of those yolks - it really pays to buy free-range eggs from a local farm.

Whisk to mix.

Add butter.  No need to soften, just throw it in cold. 

Next scrape the seeds from half of a vanilla bean pod.  Cut the pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds out.

how do you make pastry cream, crem pat, creme pat, creme patissiere, creme patisserie - recipe with how to photos

Add them to the saucepan.  Now it's time to start heating our mixture.

You can substitute pure vanilla extract if you don't have vanilla bean pods, but wait until the pastry cream is finished cooking before you add it (or it may taste bitter).

The easiest recipe for making pastry cream, creme patissiere, creme patisserie, crem pat - recipe and photos

Whisk constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches the boiling point.

Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for a full minute.  

Mmm - see how the mixture has thickened?  Now turn off the heat. 

how to make pastry cream, creme patissiere, creme patisserie, crem pat - recipe and how to photos

Immediately pass the pastry cream through a sieve.  Actually, you don't have to do this step, but it'll remove any lumps.  

See?  There were some bits of cooked egg and some vanilla bean strands, but not anymore! 

How to make pastry cream - with photos - ButterYum

The last step is to cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, directly on the surface of the cream, and chill completely before using. 

how to make vanilla sugar - ButterYum

Oh, and don't throw that vanilla bean pod away.  See all those old vanilla bean pods in the jar?  I've been saving them for years to make vanilla sugar.

How to make homemade vanilla sugar - ButterYum

Every time I use a pod, I put it in the jar...

Yes, you can make your own vanilla sugar at home - ButterYum

And whenever the level of sugar in the jar gets low, I top it off with more.  The sugar will absorb the flavor of the vanilla.  I use it for baking and sweetening beverages.

how to make vanilla sugar at home - with photos

Give it a try!

Here are links to some of the items used to make this recipe:

Vanilla Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere or Creme Patisserie)

makes 2 cups

Printable Recipe


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • pinch table salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean pod (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)


  1. In a 2-quart heavy bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, cook all ingredients (except vanilla extract, if using), stirring constantly, until it begins to boil; continue whisking for a full minute.
  2. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve.
  3. Cover pastry cream with a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface; chill completely before using. 

adapted from Martha Stewart


  • When using vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans, stir in to thickened pastry cream AFTER it is removed from the heat.
  • To make vanilla sugar, place used vanilla bean pod in jar and cover with sugar.  Use for baking or sweetening beverages.