Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (2024)

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A delicious dessert drink that’s perfect for the holiday season, boiled custard will make you feel all warm and wonderful inside.

Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (1)

It’s simple to prepare and tastes like a dream. So, if you like sweet milky treats, try this Southern time-honored tradition. It’s the perfect winter warmer.

Boiled custard recipe

This recipe is all about simple ingredients blending together to form something magical. There’s no wonder it’s so popular over the holidays! All you need is eggs, milk, cream sugar, vanilla and a little bit of time on your hands.

Once you’ve mastered the timing of this recipe, you’ll be whipping up a batch every year. Family and friends will absolutely love it – there’s a reason people have been making this for hundreds of years! It’s got that blissful taste and texture that seems to make time stand still for a few seconds.

Part dessert. Part drink. Part nirvana!

Products you’ll need for this recipe

There are a few key ingredients that you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Saucepan – get a good quality saucepan to make this recipe.
  • Double boiler – you can even use a double boiler, which is a brilliant kitchen tool. It’s perfect for subtle, gentle heating.
  • Wooden spoon – this recipe calls for a lot of stirring, so take the time to invest in a quality spoon.
  • Large mixing bowl – you’ll need a large mixing bowl to cool your creamy dessert, before starting the second stage of the heating process.
  • Electric whisk – get one of these to whisk up the sugar and eggs. If you want to keep it old school and like to put the work in, get a regular balloon whisk.
  • Food thermometer – having a thermometer is the best way to make sure your dessert is heated to the correct temperature.
  • Vanilla paste or vanilla extract – when it comes to vanilla, you can never have enough. Get yourself a big batch of paste or extract – you’ll most likely use it in every dessert recipe!
  • Granulated sugar – good quality granulated is a key part of this dish.
  • Whipped cream dispenser – once you’ve made your delicious boiled custard, use this nifty gadget for a delectable whipped cream topping. Make sure you keep stocked up with chargers for your dispenser.
  • Ground nutmeg – a sprinkling of ground nutmeg will add a little spice to your heavenly, creamy dessert drink.
Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (2)

What is boiled custard?

Boiled custard is a dessert drink that goes down deliciously well, particularly around the holidays when you really fancy a sweet treat. It’s traditionally made using whole milk, double cream and egg yolks, with vanilla flavoring to give it that beautiful rich taste.

Funnily enough, despite the name, the key to cooking perfect boiled custard is heating it gently. Boiling the milk is not what this recipe – or any recipe for that matter – is all about. Boiled milk is just bad, period. The key is to bring it to the brink of boiling point, then remove it. Afterwards comes the slow cook, constant stir part.

So, delicious boiled custard is all about patience and timing. Taking your time to constantly stir the hot milk - there’s a reason it’s sometimes called ‘stirred custard’ - and get it to a perfectly thick consistency.

How do you thicken boiled custard?

If your boiled custard ends up too thin, don’t despair! There are a few little tricks you can pull to get that delicious thick consistency.

First of all, you can use a thickening agent. A paste made from regular flour and water works perfectly. Use 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of cold water per cup of custard. Add the paste as the mix simmers on the stove and stir until it thickens to your desired consistency.

You can also use cornstarch, which is a really useful thickening agent. If you want to use cornstarch to thicken your custard, make a paste by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Again, add the thickener paste as it gently simmers on the stove. It should thicken in no time at all.

You can also add tapioca to your custard to get it nice and thick. Just add a tablespoon as it cooks on the hob – no water is needed.

Arrowroot is also a great thickener. Find out more about this thickener and other arrowroot substitutes.

What happens if you boil custard?

The key to a good consistency is heating it gently. The liquid reaches a temperature where the milk and egg proteins unfurl and begin to bond. Aww, how sweet.

Get them too hot though and that sweetness turns gross. Too many proteins bond and you’ll end up with one big clump fest. That’s basically a curdled custardy mess that’s far from appetizing.

It’s recommended that you get the custard to between 160°F and 180°F. Get yourself a food thermometer and you’ll never end up with it curdled or split.

If you do, there are things you can do to fix it. An immersion blender is an amazing quick fix. It’ll break down the lumps in an instant.

You could also plunge the saucepan into cold water (obviously, don’t get any cold water in the custard) and whisk the custard for up to 5 minutes. You should have perfectly smooth custard by this point.

What's the difference between eggnog and boiled custard?

Both eggnog and custard pretty much share the same basic ingredients.

There’s a big difference between eggnog and custard. Eggnog isn’t heated, whereas custard is. As it’s heated, custard is thick and creamy, almost like a velvety dessert sauce that you can drink.

Eggnog, on the other hand, is quite fluidy as it hasn’t been heated.

Is boiled custard a southern thing?

In the South, boiled custard is an age-old tradition typically made during the holiday season. Many historians agree that the dish goes as far back as 1607, when the first English boats arrived in Jamestown. Since then, this classic custard drink has been cooked in kitchens all over the South.

Around the holidays, lots of grocery stores sell boiled custard. Kroger boiled custard is particularly popular during the holidays.

Still, if you want my advice, make your own. It’ll taste infinitely better and will be WAY more satisfying.

Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (3)

More irresistible dessert recipes

  • Chocolate orange cheesecake – three words that just scream “eat me!” Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. If you’re planning on having an indulgent holiday season, this is the dish for you.
  • Chocolate fairy cakes with Amarula buttercream – these little beauties are just divine. The cakes are so light, moist and tasty, while the buttercream – with the addition of the secret ingredient Amarula – has to be tasted to be believed.
  • Cherry brownies – rich, moist, gooey and dangerously addictive, this is the brownie recipe to end all brownie recipes.
  • Vegan oat cookies – a healthier option that still tastes absolutely fantastic.
  • Cherry crumble pie –as fruit pies go, this is up there with the best.
  • If you love this recipe, you should try a retro British recipe - pink custard!
  • This Christmas pavlova wreath will definitely put you in the mood for the holidays.

What’s your favorite sweet comfort food? Let me know in the comments below!


Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (4)

Boiled Custard

★★★★★5 from 1 review
  • Author: Michelle Minnaar
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Print Recipe


Boiled Custard is a traditional holiday drink that is enjoyed in the South every Christmas. Cheap and easy to prepare, this is a family favorite!



  • 500ml (2 cups) double cream
  • 500ml (2 cups) whole milk
  • 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla paste or extract
  • 125ml (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • [optional] whipped cream


  1. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks, until the mixture has gone pale in colour and doubled in size.
  3. Temper hot milky mixture into the sugar yolk mixture, by slowly adding hot milky mixture about 60ml (¼ cup) at a time, whisking to distribute heat. Once half of the milky mixture has been added, transfer mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milky mixture.
  4. Place the saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously until mixture reaches nappé consistency, or 80°C (180°F) on a kitchen thermometer.
  5. Remove from heat and pour the custard into a large mixing bowl. Place the bowl into icy water and stir until the custard has cooled.
  6. Once it has cooled to a suitable temperature, it is ready to drink.
  7. For an added touch, top with whipped cream and grate nutmeg over the top. Enjoy!


  • Nappé consistency is when you run your finger through the mixture on the back of a spoon and the mixture doesn’t run through the gap you created.
  • If you want to experiment, you can play with all different kinds of flavours.
  • Use different flavoured extracts, such as orange, coconut, lemon and lime.
  • Spice-wise, you can add ground cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin spice, or whatever takes your fancy.
  • For a more adult version, you might even want to add some alcohol. Cointreau will give you a lovely orange taste, Baileys or Amarula for a creamy liqueur flavour. Shots of whisky works marvellously. Pssst, try honey whisky from Jack Daniel’s.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: boiled custard, southern boiled custard, christmas drink, boiled custard drink, old fashioned boiled custard, boiled custard pudding

Boiled Custard - An Old Fashioned Recipe | Greedy Gourmet (2024)
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