German Vanilla Sauce Recipe

Vanilla Sauce poured over desserts on white plates

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
164 Calories
6g Fat
21g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 164
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 161mg 54%
Sodium 87mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 120mg 9%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 164mg 3%
*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.)

Apple strudel and dumplings are iconic German desserts, and in Germany, they often come with vanilla sauce on top. The Germans love this sweet, custardy sauce so much they also dollop it on cake and ice cream. It's served warm or cold, depending on what you are putting it on. Germans generally use it instead of whipped cream, but sometimes they do a double topping hit and use both vanilla sauce and whipped cream. On top of whichever sweet these are paired with, it makes a triple threat of deliciousness.

It’s a thin egg custard and especially good if you make it with pure vanilla and eggs.


  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 cups milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vanilla Sauce ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the yolks are thick and pale yellow and the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes.

    Egg yolk and sugar mixture in a bowl, and a hand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and then pour over the egg yolks and sugar mixture in a thin stream, using a whisk or electric mixer to stir constantly.

    Egg yolk mixture added to milk in a pot on a burner, while mixed together with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Pour the mixture back into pan and heat without boiling until it coats the back of a spoon.

    Vanilla Sauce in a pot on a burner with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Sauce can be served warm or cold.

    Vanilla Sauce in a pot, stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of foodborne illness.


  • If you this recipe difficult to make, you might want to cook the egg yolk and milk mixture in a double boiler, which heats gently and makes it easier to heat the sauce without letting it boil. Boil 2 inches of water in the bottom pan of the double boiler and cook the custard over that, stirring constantly.
  • You might also choose to have a bowl of ice water standing by to place the saucepan in if you heat it too much and want to stop the sauce from boiling. Place the pan in the ice water if it looks like it’s curdling and stir briskly until it smooths out.
  • Alternately, you can make a sauce thickened with cornstarch.