Creme Patissiere: Pastry Cream

Creme patissiere pastry cream

The Spruce

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

Creme patissiere, known as pastry cream in English, is a vanilla-flavored custard filling similar to pudding which is used in a wide variety of French fruit tarts and pastries, many of which have been embraced by Morocco. In traditional Moroccan cuisine, it most famously shows up in a stacked dessert known as Milk Bastilla, and it may also be used as an optional ingredient to make frangipane, a French almond pastry cream sometimes used in place of creme patissiere.

While boxed American vanilla pudding mix may be acceptable as a substitute, don't be tempted to buy packaged creme patissiere mixes in Morocco. Instead, try making your own creme patissiere from scratch, as the end result will be far superior to the boxed varieties and truly takes only a little more effort.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • vanilla bean (split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon ​vanilla flavoring)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and have them at the ready.

    Ingredients for creme patissiere pastry cream
    The Spruce
  2. Set out a large bowl, a medium saucepan, a whisk or heavy spoon, and a sieve or strainer.

    Saute pan, strainer, bowl
    The Spruce
  3. In the medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean over medium heat almost to boiling.

    Milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan
    The Spruce 
  4. While the milk is heating, mix the egg yolks and sugar together in the large bowl.

    Whisk and a bowl of milk and eggs
    The Spruce
  5. Then whisk in the flour and cornstarch until the mixture is smooth.

    Whisk in flour and cornstarch
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  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk.

    Vanilla bean and milk in saucepan
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  7. Then gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Do this very slowly as you don't want the yolks to cook from the heat of the milk.

    Whisked milk
    The Spruce
  8. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan.

    Straining custard mixture
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  9. Place over medium heat, stirring or constantly whisking until the mixture thickens and reaches a boil. Continue cooking for half a minute longer, stirring hard and constantly to keep the pastry cream smooth.

    Custard in a pan
    The Spruce
  10. Remove the pastry cream from the heat. Stir in the vanilla flavoring at this point if you did not use a vanilla bean.

    Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to avoid a skin forming, and leave to cool to room temperature.

    Plastic wrap on surface of pastry cream
    The Spruce
  11. The pastry cream can be used when cool, or covered and refrigerated for up to several days until needed.

    Stir chilled pastry cream before using.

    Pastry cream
    The Spruce


  • Creme patissiere will keep for several days in the fridge, allowing you to plan ahead. The amount of sugar may be adjusted to make the pastry cream as sweet as you like.
  • The recipe yields enough pastry cream for two 9-inch or 10-inch sweet tart shells. Also, use it to make mille-feuille (Napoleons).