Christmas Spiced Custard Sauce

Elaine Lemm
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6

What is the perfect partner for a traditional Christmas pudding? It could be a proper English custard sauce or, as traditionalists would have you believe, a white sauce laden with rum or brandy. If you can't decide between the two, you're in luck! There is a middle ground with this Christmas spiced custard sauce. With hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves—the spices of a good old British yuletide—you will be able to have the best of both worlds. These warming flavors are so perfect for the cold winter months, and as such, fit perfectly with the festivities. 


  • 5 ounces/150 ml full fat milk
  • 8 1/2 ounces/250 ml heavy cream
  • Pinch nutmeg (freshly ground)
  • Pinch mace
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 ounces/55 g caster sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod (split and seeds removed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Put the milk, cream, and spices into a heavy-based saucepan. Bring to a very gentle boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to allow the spices to infuse into the milk. 

  3. Place the sugar and egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric or hand whisk until light and frothy. The egg yolks should turn pale in color when they are whisked enough. 

  4. Strain the milk and spices through a sieve.

  5. While still whisking the eggs, pour the warm, spice-flavored milk into the egg mixture.

  6. Strain the custard sauce through a fine sieve a second time, back into the saucepan.

  7. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod and keep stirring, over a low heat, until the custard gradually starts to thicken. Whatever you do, do not speed up this process or the sauce may curdle and all will be wasted, especially if the sauce burns. 

  8. Once thickened, remove the spiced custard from the heat and once again, pass through a sieve.

  9. Serve the sauce piping hot over your traditional Christmas pudding. It also works wonderfully over a plate of mince pies.


  • The sauce can be cooled completely, covered with plastic wrap, and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The sauce freezes great as well.

Recipe Variations

  • The Christmas spices in the recipe above are just one combination, but they can be varied to suit your taste. Like a little more mace or nutmeg? Go for it! If cinnamon is not your thing, then feel free to leave it out.
  • Try adding a little orange or lemon zest to the infusion to add a different medley of tastes. If you really want to zap up the spices, then a few chili flakes or a pinch of sea salt adds a whole new dimension to this sauce. All variations go wonderfully with the Christmas pudding.