German Vanilla Sauce for Cakes Recipe

Vanilla sauce
Vanilla sauce. Maximilian Stock Ltd./Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups sauce (32 servings)
Ratings (11)

German vanilla sauce for cakes (Vanillesauce für Kuchen) is also known as vanilla pudding sauce or cornstarch pudding. Despite its name, this sauce, served warm, is great not only with cakes but over fruit or other sweetened bread products. Vanilla sauce is one European habit you should definitely adopt.

Vanilla Sauce is used in all kinds of German desserts and sweet main dishes. There are three types of vanilla sauce: The instant kind that comes in a package labeled Ruf or Dr. Oetker, the enriched vanilla sauce kind which is a deep yellow and uses egg yolks to thicken it, and the third kind, recipe below, for a cornstarch-thickened, thin pudding sauce. A bonus is that the flavor is fresher than packaged instant sauces, but the time it takes to make it is about the same as for the packaged variety.

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons sugar (1 tablespoon can be​ German vanilla sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 dash salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla sugar)

How to Make It

  1. In the bottom of a 1-quart saucepan, mix together 3 tablespoons sugar (or 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar), 2 tablespoons cornstarch and a dash of salt. Gradually add the 2 cups milk, stirring to dissolve.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. It is especially important to stir after the milk becomes hot or you will end up with lumps and burn the bottom of the sauce.
  1. Remove from heat and stir in the 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla sugar in step 1, above). Cool slightly and serve.
  2. Refrigerate leftovers. Serve warm or cold.


  • Do not use the butter in step 3, above, if you are serving the sauce cold because it will become grainy.
  • Instead of vanilla extract or vanilla sugar, try using 1/2 vanilla bean that has been steeped in the milk used in step 1, above, for 15 minutes. Scrape out the seeds and add them to the milk.
  • Try some vanilla bean paste for extra vanilla flavor without the hassle of the bean.
  • Penzey's Spices usually has a good price on whole vanilla beans.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 19
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 12 mg
Carbohydrates 2 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)