Learn how to make delicious vanilla-infused pastry cream! It's plant-based, super creamy, and requires just 6 ingredients. Perfect for fruit tarts, donuts, shortcakes, and more!
Pastry cream can be used in so many desserts that I thought it deserved its own recipe!
It requires just 6 ingredients and about 15 minutes (not counting refrigeration), let's do it!
📘 What is Pastry Cream
Pastry cream, also called custard, is a French preparation used in many desserts.
Traditionally, it is made using milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch or flour, and is flavored with vanilla. It has a thick, yet rich and creamy consistency and is often used as a filling in mille-feuille, éclairs, strawberry tarts, layer cakes, and more.
🥣 How to Make Pastry Cream
Preparing this vegan pastry cream requires basic ingredients you most probably already have in your pantry:
- Milk - The base consists of plant-based milk, you can use almond, cashew, or soy milk. Just make sure to use the unsweetened kind, and preferably one with no gums or thickeners.
- Starch - Then, to thicken, we use a combination of potato starch and cornstarch. After testing, it seemed that using only cornstarch gives the pastry cream a slimy texture. By adding potato starch, we get a thick yet rich and creamy texture without the sliminess.
- Sugar - Now let's talk about the sugar. I recommend using white sugar for this recipe. If you want your pastry cream to be naturally sweetened, you can definitely use coconut sugar or maple syrup, however I found these tend to overpower the vanilla flavor.
- Butter - To replace the fat from the eggs, we add vegan butter that also gives the pastry cream a golden color.
- Vanilla bean - Finally, the vanilla: use seeds from one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Fresh vanilla bean is obviously the best, bringing more freshness and aroma.
Simply combine all the ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it thickens. Next, transfer to a bowl or deep plate and immediately cover with plastic film to touch to prevent the cream from forming a crust.
Once your pastry cream is chilled, whip it for a few seconds in a stand mixer. This step is optional, but it helps give the cream the perfect texture: smooth and creamy!
🍩 Where to use Pastry Cream
- As a layer in fruit tarts: spread a thick layer of pastry cream on the bottom of a baked crust and top with fresh fruits.
- In layer cakes, strawberry shortcakes, or in pastries such as Mille-feuille, crêpe cake, or even yule log.
- As a filling for donuts, croissants, brioches, and more.
How long can I keep this pastry cream?
Vegan pastry cream will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
What is the best way to store pastry cream?
Store the pastry cream in a container or a bowl covered with plastic film to touch. This will prevent the top of the cream from drying.
My pastry cream is grainy, how to fix it?
Simply pass it through a fine-sieve mesh, you will end up with a silky smooth pastry cream!
🍰 More French-Inspired Sweet Recipes
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
How to Make Vegan Pastry Cream
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoon potato starch
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To a medium saucepan, add the almond milk, sugar, potato starch, and cornstarch. Whisk to dissolve the starches. Add the vegan butter, and seeds from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract).
- Heat over medium heat, whisking regularly until the butter is melted. Keep heating, and whisk constantly until it thickens. It will thicken once the mixture almost reaches a boil.
- Remove from heat as soon as the milk has thickened, transfer to a bowl or deep plate and cover with plastic film to touch immediately (this will prevent the cream from forming a crust). Let it cool for 20 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Once chilled, the cream will have thickened even more, that's normal. Transfer the cream to a stand mixer and beat it on high-speed for 10-15 seconds. This step will make the cream smoother and a bit lighter.
- You can now use it to make your favorite desserts! Keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Hello. Does this freeze please? A great recipe thanks!
I would guess it does but I haven't tested it personally. You can halve the recipe easily if you think you will have too much.
I have a question, is the almond milk sweetened?
It is the unsweetened kind. Thanks for pointing that out, I edited the recipe.
I love everything about this website. From the content, to the pictures, to the name. Great work, Tomas!! Congrats! Wishing success today and always! 🙂
Thanks so much for your kind words Carol! 😉
I try that recipe but infortunatly thé cream was very liquid even after one night in the fridge. I coudn t spead it on my tart.
Anyway it tastes good.
Hello, sorry to hear that!
With the potato starch and cornstarch, it shouldn’t be liquid at all. Did it thicken when you heat it? Also, which milk did you use?
It did not thicken on the heat.
I used soya milk
I'm thinking maybe you didn't heat it long enough. Once it starts to boil the mixture will thicken.
I love that you shared this, Thomas; it's such a big part of pastry. I flavored it with a tablespoon of fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, which was delicious. I think I overcompensated slightly with extra starch, but I'll adjust next time. 😉 Thank you!!
Thanks Scott! 🙂
Whipping the cream in a stand mixer can give it a creamier texture, so you could try that if it's too thick.
Would oat milk work for this recipe as well?
I think some brands might work and some won't. It really depends on the thickeners in the milk, for example, I had mixed results depending on the brand of almond milk.
Thank you, looking forward to trying. Yuzu is also great thickener for custard. Cheers
My recent berry cake needed a little something extra without being overly sweet & this was perfect. We make a lot of desserts around here so I know we'll be making this one again and again. Excellent recipe and so easy!
Sounds delicious! Thanks for your feedback Manda!
Hi, can potato starch be substituted with tapioca flour ?
Unfortunately the texture will be more liquid and slimy if using tapioca instead of potato starch.
I'm wondering if I can sub out canned, full fat coconut milk for the almond milk, and then potentially eliminating the vegan butter since the coconut milk has so much fat already. Thoughts?
P.S. I love your blog and recipes!
I think that should work, if you don't mind the coconut flavor!
Thanks for your kind words 🙂
Delighted to see a recipe like this. A staple for many and healthy. I love you didn't use coconut milk. Thanks for this great blog. Happy New Year!!!
Will rate after I try it. Best to you.
Thanks for your message! Hope you will like it 🙂
Happy New Year to you!
Hello - great recipe! I'm thinking of trying this with only potato starch for a Passover dessert. Please let me know if you think it will work. Love your site and all your recipes!
I guess it will work, but you might have to add an extra tablespoon of potato starch if you omit the cornstarch.
Thank you Thomas, this is such a useful recipe, so versatile. I use the yellow cornstarch, which gives a custardy colour. Sometimes I include half a tin of coconut milk , or add equal amount of silken tofu to cold product and whip it up for trifle and tiramisu. Also good with pinch or two of speculoos spice in.
Glad you like this recipe Stephanie 😉
And thanks for sharing, I'm sure it makes a delicious cream for tiramisu!