Basic Vanilla Pudding

Basic vanilla pudding garnished with whipped cream and raspberries

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
149 Calories
2g Fat
28g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 149
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 146mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 147mg 11%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 173mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You can buy a box of powdered vanilla pudding at the grocery store, but have you ever made pudding from scratch? It's definitely not hard to do, and it's one of those classic desserts (or after-school snacks) that you can use in so many different ways. Serve it with fresh fruit, layered in between cake for a trifle, or dusted with cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar. It's also fantastic as a cream filling for donuts.

This is a simple, basic vanilla pudding, cooked with cornstarch, milk, and sugar. If you're looking for a classic pudding, this recipe is a good choice. It takes a little bit of careful attention during the cooking process because it involves scalding the milk (cooking it just below the boiling point), but it's not tricky. Just chill in the fridge after it's made, and then it's ready to serve.


  • 3 cups milk, divided

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vanilla pudding
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  2. Scald 2 2/3 cups of the milk.

    Scald milk
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  3. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt.

    Mix together sugar, cornstarch, and salt
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  4. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup milk.

    Stir in remaining milk to sugar, cornstarch, and salt
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  5. Add to the scalded milk and cook over low heat, constantly stirring, until thickened and smooth.

    Add milk to pudding base
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  6. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes to cook cornstarch thoroughly.

    Continue cooking the pudding
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  7. Cool slightly and then stir in vanilla.

    Cool slightly and stir in vanilla
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  8. Pour into serving dishes.

    Vanilla pudding in clear glasses
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  9. Enjoy!


  • If you have a vanilla bean, use it in this pudding. It will be extra sweet and floral. Just split the bean down its length, using a paring knife, and scrape out the bean into the pot when you add the vanilla extract. You can eliminate the extract or add the bean as well, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.

  • This recipe will taste its creamiest best with whole milk, but you can use 2 percent or skim if you like.


Vanilla pudding is delicious on its own, but a great blank slate for other flavors. Try these garnishes:

  • Toasted and chopped pecans, pistachios, or walnuts
  • Sprinkle on mini chocolate chips
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Fresh chopped berries or sliced bananas
  • Swirl in some strawberry jam or raspberry jam
  • Crushed vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, or chocolate sandwich cookies

How to Store Basic Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla pudding will keep for 3 to 4 days in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Leftover pudding can be frozen for 3 to 4 months in an airtight container, or transfer it to popsicle molds for something fun and different.